MONTREAL — A company belonging to self-described financial planner Earl Jones was declared bankrupt on Wednesday, paving the way for trustees to determine whether anything can be salvaged for people he has allegedly defrauded.
The swift decision in a Montreal courtroom came as Jones’ alleged victims held a protest outside the courthouse alongside people who have been swindled by other investors.
Bankruptcy trustee Gilles Robillard must now determine how much money, if any, is left in Earl Jones Consultant and Administration Corp.
“Time will tell once we go through (the documents),” said Robillard, a partner at RSM Richter Inc.
“There’s a lot of work. You don’t go through 20 years of accounting or transactions in three weeks.”
Bankruptcy lawyer Neil Stein said a meeting will be held with creditors in the next 21 days and that five inspectors will be named.
One of the alleged victims, Mary Sue Gibson, testified briefly at the hearing.
“I’m hoping to be able to get my life back in a few months and somehow have a somewhat normal life,” Gibson, who alleges she and her husband lost $1 million investing with Jones, said after the hearing.
“For my family also, it’s been a huge, huge change for our family and very emotional.”
Jones, 67, was not in court on Wednesday.
He was charged Tuesday with four counts each of fraud and theft, freed on $30,000 bail and told to return to court Sept. 28.
Quebec’s financial securities regulator has alleged Jones may have swindled investors out of as much as $50 million.
A petition to have Jones declared personally bankrupt will be heard Aug. 19.
On Monday, Quebec Superior Court gave the green light to appoint an interim receiver and Jones’ property and bank accounts are in the process of being seized, Stein said.
Robillard, who has the task of investigating Jones’ company, says 60 corporate bank accounts had less than a total of $50,000 in them but the corporate records for the company have disappeared.
Robillard said that between credit card and salary, Jones and his wife had monthly expenses of between $60,000 and $70,000 on various things, including plane tickets, hotels and fine dining.