After being charged with 80 counts of fraud over $5,000, Wade Closson pleaded guilty to committing dozens of those offences in an Edmonton courtroom on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old St. Albert man ran two financial companies: Optam Holdings Inc. and Infinivest Mortgage Investment Company.
According to an agreed statement of facts, between 2005 and 2013, Closson promised investors large returns on their money — upwards of 18 per cent.
“He solicited a number of investors to invest in those companies, telling them he’d use their money for particular purposes — mostly to invest in mortgages,” Crown prosecutor Damian Rogers explained on Wednesday. “Much of that money was used for purposes that weren’t authorized by the investors.”
In 2013, Closson, Optam Holdings and Infinivest all went bankrupt. Dozens of investors met that year to try and figure out where their money had gone. It turned out they were lured into a Ponzi scheme.
“A number of investors invested more than one time. That was because they had received what they believed to be investment returns, but was in fact often money that had been invested by new investors,” Rogers said.
Closson is not currently in custody. Sitting in the courtroom and dressed in a suit on Wednesday, Closson’s face flushed repeatedly and at times it looked as though he might cry — particularly when the court clerk read the names of a lengthy list of victims.
“Many people had stresses in their families, stresses in their marriages, delayed plans that they had for their money,” Rogers said. “Some of the victims were already retired and lost some of their retirement savings. So the impacts of this on the victims were varied, but quite significant to many of them.”
Rogers said the Crown will be seeking jail time for Closson, but added his willingness to admit guilt and avoid a trial will likely be a mitigating factor in his sentence.
A sentencing date is scheduled for April 18, when dozens of victim impact statements are expected to be read to the court.
For his actions, Closson was also fined $1 million by the Alberta Securities Commission but to date, no payment has been made.