A former notary public and prominent person in the South Asian community, who masterminded a $100-million Ponzi scheme involving at least 200 investors, has been sentenced to six years in jail on Wednesday.
Provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout says Rashida Samji knew what she was doing and went forward with the scheme with her eyes wide open.
On Tuesday, Samji apologized in provincial court and said she deeply regrets the plan she pulled off between 2003 and 2012.
The RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, along with the help of Vancouver Police Department, began the investigation in February 2012, which resulted in Samji being charged on Nov. 6 with 28 counts of fraud and theft.
The B.C. Securities Commission found in July 2014 that Samji and two companies she controlled committed over $100 million in fraud involving more than 200 investors and fined her $33 million.
According to the Crown’s lawyer, Kevin Marks, the woman’s victims included a cousin and a friend she’d known for 40 years. Marks says Samji even falsely solicited money on behalf of a company that had hired her as a notary, telling investors the Mark Anthony Group was expanding its operations to a winery in South Africa. They had no idea Samji was paying them with their own money instead of up to 12 per cent a year in interest, Marks said.
Investors lost somewhere between $44,000 and $8 million as well as suffered physical, emotional and financial hardships.
In May, Samji was convicted of fraud and theft, but the theft charges were stayed and Tuesday’s sentencing hearing moved forward with the remaining 14 fraud counts.
Marks had asked for a seven to eight year sentence, while the defence said a four to five year sentence would be appropriate.
~ with files from Canadian Press