Glen McGregor CTV National News Senior Political Correspondent
ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — Canadian race automobile motive force Josh Cartu strikes a glamorous posture on social media: surrounded by highly-priced sports activities cars, hobnobbing with film stars and fashion models, and visiting on his non-public jet to European party hotspots along with Ibiza and Cannes.
Cartu, who grew up in St. Catharines, Ont., boasts more than seven hundred,000 fans on an Instagram account (@jcartu) that files his exploits racing Ferraris, attending Milan Fashion Week and taking a trip in a Russian MiG fighter jet to the edge of the choices stratosphere.
Among those following carefully are securities regulators in Ontario and the choices United States, who accuse Cartu and his more youthful brothers of enriching themselves through an unlawful online stock trading scheme run from an workplace in Israel.
U.S. officers allege the choices Cartus ran a “large fraudulent” trading operation among 2013 and 2017 that looks to have helped fund Cartu’s lavish lifestyle via multi-million-dollar transfers to off-shore financial institution money owed in the Caribbean.
Regulators accuse the choices Cartu brothers of selling unstable “binary options,” correctly bets on the choices future direction of a publicly traded inventory’s price. Like sports bets, they’re all-or-not anything propositions. Guess effectively which manner a stock will go and the choices investment will pay out in complete. Guess incorrect and it’s gone.
Investors have been allegedly recruited on line and provided returns of “between 60-eighty five%” but most lost money.
A put up shared via Josh Cartu (@jcartu)
Last week, the case became up for a listening to earlier than the Ontario Securities Commission, which last yr brought a civil enforcement action in opposition to Josh Cartu and his brothers Jonathan Cartu and David Cartu, claiming they illegally sold binary options to about 700 Ontario investors.
U.S. regulators allege the choices Cartus’ groups misrepresented the choices results of the trades and wouldn’t refund buyers once they requested for their cash again.
Among the alleged victims is a Barrie, Ont., man who works as a controller for a strength software. He swore an affidavit last month saying he had invested $628,000 via one of the Cartu businesses and changed into unable to get better any of it.
“This become a devastating loss as it represented truly all of my retirement financial savings,” he stated within the declaration.
David Cartu has due to the fact settled with the choices OSC and is not part of the choices prison movement however remains being sued in the U.S. and Ireland.
Eldest brother Josh Cartu, forty two, changed into dropped as a consumer via the Toronto workplace of regulation organization Dentons within the OSC case. The company told the choices commission in January that he hadn’t paid his criminal charges and that they have been unable to get instructions from him.
WHERE IS JOSH CARTU?
Finding Josh Cartu has additionally been hard for the choices Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the U.S., wherein he and his brothers face allegations involving a good deal extra money and many extra traders from all over the global.
The Cartu brothers, along with a Texas guy and other Canadian brothers — Leeav Peretz and Nati Peretz, from Windsor, Ont., however now in Israel — are accused of securities violations regarding businesses that took in US$one hundred sixty five million in credit card bills from buyers.
“These agents additionally falsely claimed that the choices supplied binary option transactions have been worthwhile, while the majority of customers lost cash,” the CFTC said in a declaration, alleging the choices groups “manipulated the choices consequences of a few trades to force customer losses and generate profits for themselves.”
The case is presently before the choices Texas court docket and none of the choices allegations were proved.
David Cartu did take part via felony recommend within the OSC case and in May agreed to a settlement in which he admitted breaching Ontario securities regulation. He will pay $315,000 in consequences and charges — a small percent of the money U.S. regulators say he obtained from their on line operations.
Josh Cartu can be seen in this picture posted on his Instagram. (jcartu/ Instagram)
OSC investigators said they have been glad that David Cartu “was now not the fundamental actor within the binary options buying and selling application and did now not result in the choices buyers to enter into the choices trades.”
The Cartus grew up in St. Catharines, where as a minimum one attended Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School and their father, Lazar Cartu, operated neighborhood Honda dealerships. Their mom, originally from Ottawa, died all at once when Josh Cartu become six years vintage. Lazar later remarried a lady from Florida.
In a 2018 interview about his racing profession, Cartu defined himself as “a nerd” and stated he turned into a poor student growing up but had an interest in computers, turning off the phone ringers in his domestic so humans calling into a bulletin board gadget he ran wouldn’t awaken his parents. He said he had labored washing cars and later as a salesperson at a Honda dealership.
How Cartu were given his start promoting options is doubtful, however in 2008, he turned into employed as CEO of a small on line gaming company called Dice Partners, included in Panama. The enterprise operated in a gray location of regulation that prohibited playing websites run from the U.S. Cartu helped set up the gaming platform distant places. Two investors in Wyoming sued Cartu, alleging he had seized manage of the choices corporation’s web sites and diverted greater than US$10 million of its money to his very own financial institution debts.
Cartu denied the choices allegations inside the lawsuit and stated he changed into a citizen and resident of Israel at the choices time and had by no means even been to Wyoming. The Egans’ lawsuit changed into brushed off in 2013 at his request after the court docket determined it didn’t have jurisdiction over a non-resident.
Kelly Egan, a Jackson, Wyoming-based totally attorney who represented her husband, Bruce Egan, one of the buyers, stated they went to the FBI but the bureau wasn’t interested in a dispute involving a commercial enterprise that operated on the choices margins of U.S. law.
But on-line playing seems to have springboarded Cartu into new ventures. According to the choices criticism filed via the U.S. CFTC, one of the on line options trading groups, BeeOptions, began working in 2013 out of the convention room in the office of a gaming agency run by Josh and David. The commission says the Cartu brothers additionally ran a network of other groups, Rumelia Capital and Glenridge Capital— reputedly named for the choices St. Catharines neighbourhood wherein their dad and mom nevertheless live.
Investigators say the companies made electronic mail solicitations to investors for binary options trades with the choices promise of excellent returns.
The trades had been pitched by Glenridge CEO “Vincent Glenn,” who the CFCT believes is a completely fictional person. Jonathan Cartu, they allege, used the choices alias “Jon Cartier” when contacting traders.
A retired guy from the Orangeville, Ont.-area told CTV News he started investing small quantities however was advocated to keep installing more money, and turned into even supplied bonuses to preserve making an investment. But he may want to by no means pull the money out, eventually losing nearly $30,000.
“I’m now not loaded, it changed into loads of cash,” he said. “I changed into silly. I was taken.”
The man is now one among 35 investors from around the sector who’re suing over the choices trades in Ireland.
The Cartu brothers’ commercial enterprise, in keeping with the CFTC criticism, become exceptionally moneymaking. Josh and Jonathan each transferred US$nine.2 million in earnings from these companies to offshore money owed, the criticism alleges: Josh’s money went to a agency set up in Belize; Jonathan’s to the choices Seychelles; even as David acquired US$four.nine million through a company inside the British Virgin Islands and some other US$four.1 million through a U.K. company.
‘I KISSED A FROG AND GOT A PRINCE’
Josh Cartu’s wealth is clear in his extravagant social media presence. It functions photographs and motion pictures of him driving Ferraris in annual week-lengthy Gumball 3000 rallies among towns in Europe and past. In one video, he shows off what’s presented as his very own Cessna Citation government jet, retrofitted to encompass a carbon-fibre staircase, tray tables and even a carbon-fibre rest room in the lavatory.
Cartu became as soon as romantically concerned with Israeli model Lee Levi, who had previously dated the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I kissed a frog and got a prince,” she said of Cartu in an Israeli TV interview. “I didn’t even want to go on his personal jet at the start.” Cartu participated in the interview with the aid of video chat on Levi’s telephone, saying he had no qualms about courting someone inside the public eye.
Older images Cartu published identified his girlfriend as Olle Henriett, a Hungarian version and previous Miss Bikini competitor in Budapest.
“I wasn’t a groovy child developing up,” Cartu stated in a 2018 interview.
“I wasn’t getting desirable grades. I wasn’t getting ladies… I definitely by no means imagined I’d be here.”
Joe Pesci, left, Robert De Niro, centre left, Martin Scorsese, centre proper, and Josh Cartu, right, may be visible in this image. (jcartu/ Instagram)
He has additionally been photographed with actors Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Richard Madden from Game of Thrones, and director Martin Scorsese. Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, superstar of 300: Rise of an Empire, drove as Cartu’s “co-pilot” in a single Gumball 3000 rally.
The Ferrari website lists Cartu as a driver in its Challenge Series racing team, which lets in owners of high-quit Ferrari models to try competing on the choices race track. And he affords himself as an ambassador for Hublot, a Swiss organization that sells luxury wristwatches. The business enterprise advised CTV News that it never had any contractual association with Cartu but acknowledged he’d been at Ferrari occasions wherein Hublot provided reliable timing.
A put up shared by means of Josh Cartu (@jcartu)
Cartu’s speeding on-line presence has made him an object of fascination for motor sports lovers and the monetary press. He has been profiled in Forbes and Huffington Post, defined as a millionaire race vehicle motive force, entrepreneur and branding and advertising expert.
Media insurance has been less favourable in Israel, in which binary options schemes flourished until regulators started out to crack down in 2016. Cartu and his brothers have been covered inside the Times of Israel’s “Wolves of Tel Aviv” research into binary buying and selling boiler rooms.
CTV’s W5 said final 12 months that hundreds of Canadians had been gulled via binary trading schemes run from Israel, consisting of an Edmonton man who died via suicide after dropping $three hundred,000 to a corporation called 23Trading.
Whatever the choices final results of the choices U.S. case, the choices Cartus face simplest capacity financial penalties, until the choices allegations are escalated to the U.S. Department of Justice for crook investigation.
Similarly, the Ontario Securities Commission can not convey criminal charges, both — best fines and prohibitions on future buying and selling.
But if the Cartus are located in violation of securities law, the choices companies may want to take steps to freeze belongings they preserve in Canada or the choices U.S. Still unclear: whether any cash will ever be recovered from Josh Cartu or his brothers, whose whereabouts are unsure.
According to courtroom filings, the CFTC believes Josh is currently dwelling in Budapest or probably somewhere in Russia and Jonathan is in both Israel or Russia.
David Cartu remains listed as a director of a Canadian corporation he registered in 2019 at the St. Catharines cope with of a domestic owned by way of his spouse, however she sold the property two years in the past. The cutting-edge proprietor instructed CTV News she believes Cartu and his wife moved to the republic of Georgia, placed at the intersection of jap Europe and western Asia.
The Cartus’ father additionally claims he doesn’t recognize wherein his sons are actually.
“You can do your investigation,” he stated.
Glen McGregor may be reached at [email protected]
Josh Cartu can be visible signing autographs in this photo published on his Instagram. (jcartu/Instagram)
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