Calgary man gets 6 years for Ponzi scheme

Nov. 18, 2011 at 3:06 PM
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CALGARY, Alberta, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A 74-year-old Calgary man was sentenced to six years in prison for a $37 million Ponzi scheme.

Murray Harold Stark was sentenced Thursday for one count of fraud over $5,000 to which he pleaded guilty, the Calgary Herald reported.

"Countless lives have been ruined in the wake of a Ponzi scheme of this magnitude," provincial Judge Mike Dinkel said. "People have had to sell vacation homes, friends and family have lost a lot of trust, they have had problems with Revenue Canada, have suffered financial problems and marriages have been affected. To say the least, the actions of Stark and people he represented were devastating."

Prosecutors say Stark and his acquaintance Robert Fyn created a joint investment program under the name HMS Financial, based in Linden, Alberta. HMS accepted money from people across North America, promising investors returns of 8 percent to 12 percent interest per month.

Fyn, prosecutors said, appear to be the "directing mind" of HMS.

"Fyn, with Stark's knowledge, induced investors to place moneys with HMS Financial by representations that investors were protected by virtue of an approximately $30 million U.S. bond in trust with Garth Bailey [the duo's lawyer] maintained to indemnify investors for investment losses," Crown Prosecutor Peter Mackenzie said.

"Fyn and Stark failed to disclose to investors investment losses and failed to disclose that investor principal and interest was paid from new investor money and not from investment income," he said.

Fyn is scheduled to plead guilty Dec. 1 as part of a plea agreement in exchange for eight years in prison.

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