Arrest warrant issued for Cinar co-founder Ronald Weinberg
Published Wednesday, March 2, 2011 8:42PM EST
MONTREAL - The Cinar scandal is finally heading to criminal court.
The Sureté du Québec has obtained warrants for the arrest of the animation company's co-founder Ronald Weinberg and former chief financial officer Hasanain Panju. Arrest warrants were also issued for John Xanthoudakis, president of Norshield Financial Group, and Lino Pasquale Matteo, president of Mount Real.
Police said in a statement Wednesday that Panju was arrested, and Matteo was arrested around 6 p.m. Wednesday as well.
The four men face a total of 36 charges related to fraud.
The group is accused of placing more than $120 million in offshore accounts between 1998 and 2000, all while accepting grants from various government agencies.
The scandal was uncovered when Quebec animator Claude Robinson filed a plagiarism lawsuit.
He had created a character and show, Les Aventures de Robinson Curiosite and pitched the idea to Cinar in 1986.
Robinson was turned down, but Cinar later used a character that greatly resembled his for a show called Robinson Sucroe.
The animator launched a lawsuit in 1994, and in 2009 Robinson won his case, with the court ordering Cinar, whose assets had been purchased by Cookie Jar Entertainment, to pay $5.2 million.
In 2000 his lawsuit turned up other evidence of possible fraudulent acts by Cinar's board of directors.
While police investigated, and Cinar agreed to pay Revenue Quebec and the Canada Revenue Agency more than $17 million, charges have never been laid until now.