Where are the
investor dollars going?

by Jeff Colbourne and Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 03/97) - The compact size of the Northern business community often gives rise to appearances of conflict of interest.

A look at the major players in the Aurora Fund is a prime example.

At the suggestion of an MLA who asked not to be named, News/North investigated the recent purchase of a Yellowknife government office building.

Neither Aurora Fund managers nor Immigration Canada, which monitors fund activities, are disclosing any information about where investment dollars are being spent.

What is known, however, is that before NWT businesses get loans, the money is held in escrow by Saskatchewan-based Pacific and Western Trust Corp.

Pacific and Western is the same company that, on Sept. 29, mortgaged the purchase of Lahm Ridge Tower.

To make the purchase possible, Pacific and Western Trust loaned $4.2 million to a Yellowknife numbered company, 974102 N.W.T. Ltd.

Aurora Fund manager Roland Bailey, holds 50 per cent of the shares of 974102 NWT Ltd. He is former deputy minister of Economic Development. His most recent post with the territorial government was cabinet secretary.

Bailey makes recommendations on the placement of Aurora fund money in territorial businesses and manages the fund.

Owner of the remaining half of 974102 Ltd. is Mike Mrdjenovich, a major Northern developer who has a long-standing business relationship with Premier Don Morin.

Mrdjenovich also built the house Morin occupies in Yellowknife.

Bailey had no official response to questions surrounding the Lahm Ridge purchase. He referred all questions to Aurora Fund president Lew Voytilla, who said that no Aurora money was used to finance the mortgage.

Though the mortgage is for $4.2 million, the building is worth $5.8 million, according to the certificate of title.

Aurora fund directors:
John Todd GNWT finance minister and chairman of government's Financial Management Board.
Stephen Kakfwi GNWT Resources, Wildlife and Resources minister.
Lew Voytilla GNWT comptroller general and secretary of the Financial Management Board.
Andrew Gamble GNWT deputy minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Devlopment
Donald Cooper GNWT deputy justice minister
Jonathan Taylor Vice-president and director of Pacific and Western Credit Corp., the fund's escrow agent. Also an officer of Arctic Financial, a NWT company that manages the Aurora fund's Canadian investments.
William Thomson Toronto resident on several boards.
Douglas Bachman Senior manager with Bank of Montreal in Edmonton
Source: offering memorandum