from the internets: Police issue arrest warrant for Cinar founder

Here’s the link to the original story, via CBC, but I think this one’s worth pasting.

Authorities allege Ronald Weinberg took part in fraud worth $120 million

Cinar co-founder Ronald Weinberg arrives at the courthouse in Montreal in 2006. Quebec provincial police have issued arrest warrants for Weinberg and two businessmen in the alleged fraud of $120 million. Cinar co-founder Ronald Weinberg arrives at the courthouse in Montreal in 2006. Quebec provincial police have issued arrest warrants for Weinberg and two businessmen in the alleged fraud of $120 million. ((Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson))
Quebec provincial police have issued an arrest warrant for Ronald Weinberg, the former head of defunct children’s television production company Cinar, in connection with a $120-million fraud.

Warrants have also been issued for the arrest of two asset management executives. John Xanthoudakis, president of Norshield Financial Group, and Lino Pasquale Matteo, president of Mount Real, are sought by police in connection with the alleged fraud.

Ex-Cinar chief financial officer Hasanain Panju was arrested on Wednesday.

Police said Weinberg is out of the country. He is believed to be in Florida.

After an eight year investigation, authorities now allege the four men orchestrated an elaborate, large-scale fraud.

Weinberg and Panju are alleged to have invested funds, without the approval of the production house’s board of directors, in an attempt to profit personally.

Police also allege Xanthoudakis then helped invest the money in the Bahamas, while Matteo helped him camouflage the investments.

The fraud allegedly occurred between Aug. 1998 and Mar. 2000.

Both Mount Real and Montreal hedge fund operator Norshield have been the subject of other legal proceedings for allegedly fleecing investors of millions of dollars.

Mired in scandals

Montreal cartoonist Claude Robinson fought Cinar in court over plagiarism, and his investigations contributed to Cinar's demise.Montreal cartoonist Claude Robinson fought Cinar in court over plagiarism, and his investigations contributed to Cinar’s demise. (CBC)Cinar, which used to make popular children’s television shows such as Caillou and Arthur, became mired in financial scandals in the late 1990s and was subsequently sold in 2004. What remained of the production house was eventually re-branded as Cookie Jar.

Quebec provincial police said the lengthy investigation involved meeting 50 witnesses, including ex-Cinar employees, people in the Bahamas and Ernst and Young employees in Canada. Investigators spent years analyzing about 50 boxes worth of documents and about 10,000 computer files as part of the investigation.

The four men are facing a total of 36 charges among them, including fraud, forgery, using fake documents and publishing a false prospectus.

Claude Robinson recently won a long court battle with Cinar over the theft of one of his cartoon characters. Robinson’s investigations eventually led to the scandal that sank Cinar, and he said he’s overjoyed.

“[It] shows that society has a warning for these fraudulent people. … We’ll get you,” said Robinson.

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