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Duncan man fined $150,000 for securities fraud donated to two pro-development candidates in North Cowichan

‘Guiding light’ to family, friends, clients banned 25 years by BC Securities Commission

A Duncan man fined $150,000 and banned 25 years by the BC Securities Commission made substantial donations to the election campaigns of two pro-development candidates in the 2022 municipal election in North Cowichan, according to data posted by Elections BC.

Michael Ernst Ruge supported the campaigns of John Koury and Tek Manhas despite the fact he still hasn’t paid his $150,000 fine — 18 years after it was issued.

A review of Elections BC data shows that Michael and Elly Ruge together donated $1,250 to Koury.

Asked by if two individuals can jointly make a campaign donation, Elections BC confirmed they cannot. “Two individuals cannot make a campaign contribution together,” said spokeswoman Melanie Hull. “Only an eligible individual may make a contribution. We will be following up with the financial agent for this candidate to clarify the source of this contribution.”

In addition, Michael Ruge donated $750 to Manhas.

Elly Ruge donated $1,250 — the maximum allowable under B.C. election rules in 2022 -— to Manhas.

Both Koury and Manhas supported greater development during last fall’s election campaign. Koury lost in his bid for mayor, while Manhas was re-elected to council.

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The two also supported logging the Municipal Forest Reserve, which falls within the coastal Douglas-fir forest — the province’s rarest forest, according to the B.C. Forests Ministry. sought comment from Ruge, Koury and Manhas without success.

On his websites, Duncan-based Ruge variously describes himself as a business consultant, eco-advisor and author.

“I am a deal maker who gets things done. As an ‘entrepreneur’ I have created several, successful enterprises. As an ‘intrapreneur’ I have advised and lent my consulting expertise to all sizes of corporations and entities, resulting in multiplying the third bottom line (people, planet, profits).

“I live my life by my standards and my way, attacking challenges as they come up. Good-natured, happy, peaceful man, always willing to help. High energy. The guiding light for my family and loved ones, friends and clients, an incredible supporter, doing the right thing. I am an adventurer, a world traveler, a seeker of new limits.”

In a 2005 decision, the B.C. Securities Commission offered a very different perspective of the man.

The commission said in a news release it had banned Ruge “from the securities market for 25 years and required him to pay $150,000 after he admitted to committing fraud and illegally distributing securities to investors.”

Ruge was the sole shareholder, director and officer of Chivas Hedge Fund Ltd.

According to the news release, the misrepresentations made in the offering memorandum included:
— Stating Chivas LP was a hedge fund when only a small portion of the investors’ money was placed in actively traded stocks.
— Overstating Ruge’s business experience and qualifications.
— Falsely stating Chivas LP was a limited partnership in B.C.

Ruge also admitted he personally made misrepresentations to investors, the commission said.

“He stated that Chivas LP was a hedge fund; claimed that he had ‘cream of the crop people’ in a New York office when, in fact, there were no New York employees; stated Chivas had sold all of its units, reaching its $20-million cap, when it had only sold about $1.5-million units; and, falsely claimed Chivas LP had a rate of return between 26- to 45-per cent.”

The commission confirmed to that Michael Ruge has yet to pay his $150,000 fine.

The B.C. government on Feb. 8, 2023, announced new measures to crack down on white-collar crime. These measures followed Securities Act amendments in 2020
designed to strengthen the B.C. Security Commission’s ability to collect penalties from fraudsters.

Ruge ran for office in North Cowichan in 2011, placing last among 17 candidates for council with 381 votes.

He published numerous YouTube videos during the campaign, including one promoting greater efficiency at municipal hall to speed the approval process for builders and developers — the same theme promoted by Koury and Manhas during the 2022 campaign.


(John Martin photo of Michael and Elly Ruge.)

— Larry Pynn, March 31, 2023


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