When the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, many people thought owner Peter Pocklington must have been high. Thirty years later, it seems the mercurial and controversial businessman is looking to prove them right.
Pocklington’s misdeeds and controversies are the stuff of Canadian business legends. Starting out as an entrepreneurial car dealer before moving into oil, real estate, and the food industries, Pocklington became a part owner of the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers in 1976. By 1978 he was the sole owner and had worked out a deal for the rights to a young phenom named Gretzky. The Oilers would go on to win five Stanley Cup championships during his time as owner. By the mid-90s, however, the Oilers were losing money and Pocklington threatened to move the team over arena improvements. He eventually sold the club in 1998 and moved to California.
However, his troubles have also been following him ever since. To this day Pocklington still owes the Alberta government over $13 million from a 1988 loan used for a failed meat-packing plant. A securities fraud case involving a gold-mining scheme led to a $5 million restitution charge against him, which he refuses to pay. In 2008, his home was raided by U.S. Marshals and a number of items belonging to his wife were seized as part of a lawsuit. In 2007, a judge ordered Pocklington and an associate to pay a Florida businesswoman more than $800,000 after they breached an agreement to buy her company, a yet-to-be-paid-off debt that now sits at $1.8 million due to interest. And just three years ago, the Securities Exchange Commission charged him with securities fraud for defrauding investors over a medical device company as well as mishandling funds.
All of which might tell potential investors or business partners that Pocklington isn’t exactly the best guy to get into business with. However, when it comes to making green, bygones are often bygones. Especially nowadays, when a lot of rich people want to make lots of green on the recently legalized greenery of marijuana.
Per the CBC, Pocklington recently filed plans under the name Magic Dragon Realty to build a 20,000-square-foot “state-of-the-art indoor hydroponics cannabis cultivation facility” near Palm Springs. The filing says the company plans to raise upwards of $12.5 million to create wholesale premium cannabis and sell it through licensed dispensaries. An estimated $1.25 million of that potential investment would be to pay Pocklington and the company’s other officers.
As for how Pocklington can get away with trying to start a new business while in default and legal trouble with two different countries is one of those things that can best be answered by saying, “only in America.” That a rich white guy like him is also trying to make money off of legalized marijuana is simply par for the privileged course as well.
The best part of the CBC’s article about the company?
In an online video, Magic Dragon touts itself as “a company not afraid of questions.”
Through a spokesperson, Pocklington declined an interview request. Magic Dragon did not respond to an interview request. Pocklington’s lawyer in the SEC case, Becky James, also did not respond to an interview request.
Weird. Wonder why he wouldn’t want to talk.