Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp.’s chief executive and marijuana industry pioneer Chuck Rifici admits the intricacies of large private placement deals are not his forte.But he trusts the Vancouver-based company’s team of legal and banking experts would have flagged any conflict of interest in the controversial $80-million private placement cancelled last Monday amid questions about the personal stakes taken in the deal by some of those very same advisers.
“As an entrepreneur, I rely on the professionals around me and this issue was not raised as an issue going into our financing as something that would preclude our deal,” he said in an interview. “What was disclosed was vetted by lawyers for both underwriters and Cannabis Wheaton. If (conflict of interest) was the case, I would suspect that our disclosure would have been different.”
Rifici moved swiftly to contain the damage fuelled by speculation about the deal’s ethics that sent the stock of the world’s first marijuana streaming company plunging 70 per cent from its peak of $3.35 per share reached ahead of its public listing in May.
Though he “categorically” denied that there was any wrongdoing in the way the company went about raising its money, Rifici spent a busy weekend negotiating with investment bankers to improve the optics of the deal, which was finally scrapped and a new $50-million deal put in its place.
There is perhaps no one more familiar with how to get up after being knocked down in the nascent marijuana space than Rifici. The man who has been called “the Godfather of Canadian weed” is used to controversy and even boasts it has helped his career.