Anti-fraud protest at Montreal courthouse
Published Monday, September 28, 2009 11:42AM EDT
Confirmed and alleged victims of financial fraud staged a protest march at the Montreal courthouse on Monday morning to demand stricter laws to protect against white-collar crimes.
The protesters included clients of self-styled financier Earl Jones and victims of convicted fraudster Vincent Lacroix, whose clients lost more than $100 million in one of Canada's biggest financial scandals.
The impetus for the protest was a scheduled court appearance for Jones, who four counts each of fraud and theft after clients lost nearly $75 million.
It appears the investments of some 150 people dating back to 1985 were spent and never invested as promised -- a scam that's often referred to as a Ponzi scheme.
However Jones's court appearance was postponed until October 19 because of a schedule conflict between the Crown and the defense.
The delay in court proceedings enraged Jones's former clients, including his brother Bevan, who lost his life savings.
"How do I feel about (Earl)? If they took him away today or someone did some foul play to him, I wouldn't lose any sleep. You understand? That's how I feel," said Bevan Jones.
Victims speak out
Outside the courthouse people who invested their money with Norbourg, Mount Real, Northfield, and other collapsed investment houses staged a noisy protest.
They've joined forces with Earl Jones's clients to form a national lobby group.
Activists like Janet Watson are demanding the federal government eliminate a clause that allows white-collar criminals out of prison after serving one-sixth of their sentence.
"We're going to fight this until we get these laws changed and get the penalties so they reflect the actual crime," said Watson.
Claude Robinson was defrauded by the defunct Cinar corporation, and he doesn't buy the non-violent definition.
"They are the victim of something absolutely horrible. It's a violent crime," said Robinson.
Aside from the sentencing issue, they are also pushing for a national securities regulator.