CALGARY – A sentencing hearing for two men convicted in what police say is the largest Ponzi scheme in Canadian history has been pushed back.
The move became necessary Friday when one of the architects of the scheme, Gary Sorenson, told a Calgary court he had hired a lawyer to help him. He had represented himself during the trial.
Justice Robert Hall agreed to a delay to allow the lawyer to get up to speed.
Sorenson, 71 and Milowe Brost, 61, were found guilty earlier this month of fraud and theft. Brost was also found guilty of money laundering.
The sentencing hearing is now scheduled for June 8-9, but lawyers and the judge are to meet April 22 to agree on which facts will be used during sentencing.
Authorities have said as many as 2,000 investors around the world lost a total of $100 million to $400 million in the scheme, and many people lost their life savings.
Ponzi schemes involve taking funds from new investors and using them to pay old ones.
The judge also recommended that the Crown contact as many investors as possible in case they wish to make a request for restitution when the sentencing begins.
“Those that are known should be given the opportunity,” said Hall.
One set of fraud and theft offences took place between 1999 and 2008 and involved companies named Syndicated Gold Depository SA, Base Metals Corporation LLC, Bahama Resource Alliance Ltd. and Merendon Mining Corporation Ltd.
More wrongdoing took place between 2004 and 2005 with a company called Strategic Metals Corp.
Investors were promised a 34 per cent annual return on an investment of $99,000 which was supposed to grow to just over $1 million within eight years.
They were told that the business involved selling gold for refining and that it was “low risk.”
Genie Vollmer remembers vividly the last time she saw Brost.
Vollmer and her husband, Helmut, invested $400,000 with Brost and Sorenson.
She said she attended Brost’s final investors meeting and his assurances now haunt her.
“At that time he said the government was after him but he also mentioned — and I will never forget those words — that ‘I am always a step ahead of them,'” she recalled in a telephone interview.
“I can still see him marching down the aisle. He was very nervous and … we knew something was wrong. He was an excellent talker and he was very smart. If not, people wouldn’t invest money.”
Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter