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Regulator freezes Lacroix's 10 million Dianor shares

Canadian Press

MONTREAL -- Quebec's financial regulator revealed yesterday it ordered a freeze on 10 million shares of a diamond exploration company that are held by the owner of Norbourg Asset Management Inc., which is under investigation.

The regulator said Vincent Lacroix, Norbourg's founder and chief executive officer, cannot sell the shares in Dianor Resources Inc. It also said Dianor has been told not to touch the shares either, which cost Norbourg an estimated $5-million.

The financial authority shocked the Quebec business community and thousands of investors last week when it announced Norbourg was under investigation for alleged irregularities, among them of spiriting away some $70-million invested in its mutual funds.

The regulator said yesterday it and Ernst & Young, mandated by courts to manage the investigation, are trying to find out if investments in Norbourg mutual funds were used to finance the Dianor investment.

Ernst & Young also announced late Tuesday it has granted permission to Gestion du patrimoine Tandem Inc., a subsidiary of Norbourg, to resume its activities under Ernst & Young's supervision. Activities at Tandem were halted by regulators from Aug. 26 until Monday pending investigation.

However, Ernst & Young said Mr. Lacroix has to keep his distance from Tandem, currently managed by president Larry Davidson.

Ernst & Young said it will be communicating soon with all investors in Montreal-based Norbourg.

Meanwhile investors are lining up at a lawyers office specializing in class actions.

As of yesterday roughly 300 people had registered, said a spokesperson with the Montreal law firm Lauzon Belanger, with hundreds more on the way.

Shareholder activist Yves Michaud was also expecting to meet with the lawyers yesterday with another list of investors.

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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