CALGARY — A judge has sentenced two men to 12 years in prison for one of the largest Ponzi schemes in Canadian history.
Gary Sorenson, 71, and Milowe Brost, 61, were found guilty of fraud and theft in February for an elaborate, multimillion-dollar scheme in which investors were promised unrealistic returns.
Brost was also found guilty of money laundering for which he received a separate, but concurrent, sentence.
More than 2,400 investors from around the world lost between $100 million and $400 million. Many people lost their life savings. The court received 600 victim impact statements prior to a sentencing hearing earlier this year.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Hall also put a heavy restriction on the men and any financial dealings.
“Each of the offenders is prohibited from seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment or becoming a volunteer in any capacity that involves having authority over the real property, money or valuable security of another person for a period of 20 years,” Hall read in Calgary court Tuesday.
Ponzi schemes involve taking funds from new investors and using them to pay old ones.
The Crown was asking the judge to sentence both men to 14 years in prison — the maximum sentence allowed.
Lawyers for the two fraudsters were asking for something in the eight- to 10-year range and pointed out the two were likely to die in jail.
One set of fraud and theft offences took place between 1999 and 2008. They involved companies named Syndicated Gold Depository SA, Base Metals Corp. LLC, Bahama Resource Alliance Ltd. and Merendon Mining Corp. 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.”