A Sylvan Lake man accused in a multimillion-dollar oilpatch fraud scheme assured a judge on Monday that he has lined up a new lawyer.
Dane Michael Skinner told Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Kent Davidson that he was due to meet with his new lawyer, whom he did not name, on Feb. 19.
Skinner complained that he had been waiting for disclosure — facts of the case, including the evidence against him — since May.
Special Crown prosecutor Peter Mackenzie disputed that, saying Skinner’s previous lawyer had been given all the information. In November, Skinner was given disclosure for a second time.
Mackenzie said Skinner argued the second package was “deficient,” which turned out to be the case. However, the problem was fixed in mid-January, Mackenzie told the judge.
Skinner is due back in court on April 6 to give Justice Marilyn Slawinsky an update on the progress of the case, which is set for a seven-week trial beginning in March 2021.
Skinner has been charged with fraud, uttering threats and laundering the proceeds of crime.
Police allege Skinner was claiming to sell a product that made fracking operations at oil wells cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
An officer with the RCMP’s commercial crime unit said when the charges were announced in July 2018, that investors were pitched an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a revolutionary new fracking product.
The technology had never been tested in a commercial setting or at a real oil well, police allege. It is also alleged investors were wrongly led to believe the technology was about to be sold to another company, leading to a financial windfall.
Blackfalds RCMP allege at least 16 people sank money into the scheme and backers lost more than $2.6 million. The offences took place between February 2013 and December 2007.
Police, including Red Deer RCMP’s financial crimes unit, began investigating in 2013.
Skinner, then 53, was arrested and charged in July 2018.