Former real-estate executive to serve community sentence for multimillion fraud

No time behind bars.

CALGARY — A former real-estate investment executive who pleaded guilty to his part in a multimillion-dollar fraud will not be serving time behind bars.

Varun Aurora has been sentenced to two years less a day, to be served in the community.

Aurora, who is 33, was involved with Concrete Equities, which gave false information to investors looking to buy resort property in Mexico.

Provincial Judge Joanne Durant attached a number of conditions to his sentence, including one that Aurora complete 240 hours of community service.

He is not to leave his home for the first six months, with some exceptions that include work, medical emergencies and shopping for necessities.

Nor is Aurora — who must hand over his passport — to leave Alberta without written permission from his conditional sentence supervisor or the court.

Aurora has already agreed to pay $1 million in restitution.

Concrete Equities, which went into receivership in 2009, raised money from Canadian investors to buy undeveloped beach properties called the El Golfo de Santa Clara project in Senora, Mexico.

False information was given to investors and funds were diverted to other business ventures outside of the investment agreement between 2007 and 2009.

About 1,200 victims are believed to have lost more than $23 million. A condition of his sentence is that Aurora is not to knowingly have contact with any of them.

A total of 98 victim impact statements were filed with the court from people who lost anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000, Durant said.

She said most of those victims were of modest means.

“Many of these former investors spoke to feelings of betrayal, anger, embarrassment, violation, shame and, in one instance, even suicidal thoughts,” she said.

“They spoke of the extraordinary stress caused by the loss of potential retirement income, and in some cases believed this to be one factor in the actual disintegration of marriages.”

She noted some mitigating factors, such as Aurora showing remorse through his guilty plea, his lack of a criminal history and attempts to save the company from bankruptcy.

Prosecutor Steven Johnston said it took several months for the Crown and defence to come up with a joint submission for an appropriate sentence.

He said he expects the punishment to act as a deterrent.

“If you’re going to be an officer of a company, you have to actually act in the best interest of your investors and pay attention to what your colleagues are doing in the office,” he said.

“You’re not allowed to be asleep at the wheel, which is essentially what happened here.”

– The Canadian Press

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