Before we get into this, I just need to clear something up.
Apparently Ben Ward got word that this piece was being made, and in a brilliant PR move went on Twitter thinking the piece would appear on Equity Guru and bashed our friend Chris Parry and his site for absolutely nothing.
While this was a terrible PR move from the CEO of a $100+ million dollar corporation, the language he uses in the tweet (which has since been deleted) is what’s most interesting and pertains directly to this piece.
It’s the mafia-esque word choices like: ‘extortion’ and ‘blackmail’.
Let’s just say, Ben knows some guys who know some guys.
Ben’s First Sketchy Cannabis Deal
Back in February with the infamous insider trading fiasco it also became clear that Ben Ward was under investigation from the OSC for his work with his previous cannabis deal, The Canadian Cannabis Corp (CCAN). Nice name, almost as bad as combining Marijuana with Canada.
But the issue with Wayland (WAYL) (formerly Maricann) is that it’s not just Ward that is sketchy, it’s as if being shady is baked into the company culture.
Let’s go back in time to 2014.
During this time Ward was running CCAN, not filing the proper paperwork and hanging out with bonafide Ontario mobsters. The cannabis industry back then was still dominated by the black market..
CCAN was not only operated by sketchy people, it was run like a circus, like being six months late on its SEC filings, failing to file any quarterly filings in 2015 after posting the 2014 annual filing in October, 2015.
CCAN put out a bevy of bogus press releases to try and boost the share price, including a plan to buy Hydropothecary (THCX), (now HEXO) and another deal to buy a majority stake in Newstrike (HIP).CCAN was a clear pump & dump, just take a look at the chart.
Perhaps most perplexing was Ward’s decision to bring n Silvio Serrano into the operation, he gave him 7.6% ownership stake in the company, as well the title of vice president, with a six figure salary.
Silvio is the son of notorious Canadian Mafia figure and cocaine importer Diego Serrano. Silvo’s brother Saverio was recently the victim of an attempted gang murder. There is no direct link of Silvio to the mafia, but with his father and brother’s position, as well as Silvio’s long history in the black marijuana market, it’s pretty easy to put 3 and 3 together.
The Globe & Mail has also covered this, so this isn’t some far out conspiracy, it’s just that with the barrage of news that comes out in this sector a Globe piece from over a year ago that isn’t about a specific company can easily get lost in the stack.
If Ben’s only transgression was bringing in this character into his organization the story wouldn’t really have legs, but as we dig deeper we begin to see a pattern of strange behaviour from Maricann and its emperor.
The OSC probably saw a lot of these same issues with regards to CCAN, how could you not?
The Controversial Interview We Did With Maricann
Ward left CCAN and became CEO of Maricann (MARI).
To say Maricann was also sketchy would be a gross under statement, this company continued to be at the heart of controversy with a pile of retracted press releases, insider trading and weird loans and German property we will get into.
Maricann was all the buzz earlier this year as an ‘undervalued’ cannabis company with huge plans for the future, hell, we even interviewed them on this site back in January. That’s where things started to go south and our radar was turned on.
We interviewed Graham Farrell, head of IR for Maricann back in January after meeting one of Maricann’s sales reps at Lift in Vancouver in January, we chatted briefly and he put us in touch with Graham.
We explained the situation, what we were up to, what our intentions were and we were hopeful Farrell would do the interview, a few days later on January 29th we sent Farrell the questions, the next day he replied with his interview answers.
On February 1st we posted the Maricann interview, within a few minutes the story reached around 1,000 people with positive comments. I went into the shower, came out 15 minutes later and saw that I had 3 missed calls and 2 Facebook messages, all from Maricann.
‘CALL ME BACK IMMEDIATELY, WE NEED THIS INTERVIEW TAKEN DOWN NOW!’ was the jist of it.
Farrell also contacted people from the Maricann investor Facebook group to contact me as well saying: “CALL GRAHAM!”.
Puzzled, I called Graham back and he said to take down the interview and maybe it would be OK to post it down the road, regrettably I obliged.
We have since re-uploaded the interview here:
All in all it was about 8 hours of unpaid work on our end as we researched the company pretty in-depth to try and find interesting questions to ask beyond the softball questions that are usually asked in this industry. No one that we have seen have ever asked Maricann or Ben Ward serious questions about all of the investigation, or his track record or the McKesson Pharmacy debacle last year. In this video James West is no exception, he asks Ward one question (good on him), but then with zero rebuttal moves forward.
This is why some people in the industry dislike Chris Parry, he is one of the few that actually has the kahunas to ask the difficult questions, and again, the truth hurts.
Here is a recent interview Farell did with Follow The Money, a paid client of Wayland.
When Your First Loan Ever Is Worth $42.5 Million Dollars & You Probably Don’t Even Exist
Now it’s time to actually follow the money.
On May 4, 2017 Maricann announced a deal with The Green Streaming Financing Company to the tune of $42,500,00, this would entitle GSFC to purchase 20% of Maricann’s German production subject to the company securing a license to produce and sell cannabis in Germany according to Maricann’s 2017 year end MD&A.
With Germany re-launching its tender process, the money appears to be on hold for now, so where is that $42.5 million dollars?
We tried to get a hold of The Green Streaming Financing Company to look into the terms of this agreement, but can’t find a website, phone number or email address for the company.
It is as if the company doesn’t exist and was created by someone specifically to loan out this money. According to New Cannabis Ventures: “The Green Streaming Finance Company of Canada Inc., a Vancouver-based company that provides non-equity financing solutions for cannabis producers.” If it’s plural, where are the others?
There was a theory floating around that Ward owns the property rather than the company and that’s how keeps his seat, this was just a rumour with no verification so I will give Ward the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t look past The Green Streaming Finance Company.
The Germany project is also a bit weird in terms of property location, it seems to change quite in size and location rather frequently.
The companies current public filings do not contain any details about the Ebersbach facility in Germany touted on their website. Their German marijuana operations are described as “a 95% controlling interest in a company that has applied to produce marijuana in Germany as part of a joint venture.”
Farrell told us in our interview that the Germany property was 840,000 sq/ft, which is quite a jump from 400,000 sq/ft. Farrell also said the facility was in Dresden, not Ebersbach.
HET: MARI has been making a lot moves in Europe, what competitive advantages will those deals give you in that part of the world? MARI announced a proposed acquisition of Haxxon AG, what kinds of products would that acquisition allow you to create? CBD cigarettes? CBD vapes?
Graham: Haxxon would be CBD cigarettes, up and running in September. I believe we are the first movers in Germany given we have an 840,000 sq. ft. facility already built and paid for in Dresden
As you can see, Dresden to Ebersbach are probably the same facility. This is why I assume Maricann freaked out over the interview.
This isn’t the only time Maricann has been weird with numbers.
In an interview with the Midas Letter’s James West on February 17, 2018, Ben Ward stated Maricann currently had 44,000 sq/ft of grow space capable of 2,200 kg’s of annual production. He went on to say that the company was “fully funded up to 942,000 sq/ft, that will be done by the end of this year, starting calendar year 2019 we will have 95,000 kg’s of annual production of dry flower.”
Phase 1 of the expansion was to be 217,000 sq/ft of the total “fully funded” 942,000 sq/ft Langton, ON facility. On March 23, 2018 it was announced in a Maricann press release that phase 1 was completed ahead of schedule. That contradicts their investors’ deck, which says that “phase 1 will be fully operational in Q4 of 2018.”
Disclaimer: Why We Do Pieces Like This
We are very critical of companies on this site.
Why? Because most companies have huge promotion budgets to deploy which leaves a Google search full of positive accolades from paid promoters that newer retail investors may not be able to spot, making their research process a headache. Our mission is to bring attention to the other side of the story, the one that doesn’t get promoted.
But things are changing, our highest traffic pieces are ones like these that call out companies for their poor behaviour, our friends at Equity Guru and The Deep Dive have also gained serious of traction with a similar mindset.
We called out The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD) earlier this year to the tune of 12,000+ organic clicks from Facebook, ie no marketing budget or ad spend.
On Monday we wrote about the recent Bridgemark fiasco which put 11 companies in direct contact with a heap of sketchy consultants and firms. One of the companies that came up in the Bridgemark investigation done by the BCSC was Abbatis (ATT).
When we wrote about Sean Dollinger and Namaste being, well just plain weird the article went to the #1 spot on Google for the keyword ‘Sean Dollinger’ for 8 weeks. This is also not the first time we have been critical of Maricann.
Not only have we been critical about Namaste, there are a number of cannabis companies we have tossed under the bus for being sketchy.
This proved to us that honest journalism does have a place in the market, we are not afraid to make enemy’s here, in fact we have made a few of them along the way and plan to make even more in the future.
The truth hurts.