Canadian fraudster sentenced to 13 years in jail

Fri Oct 9, 2009 2:55pm EDT
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Quebec financier who admitted swindling more than $100 million was sentenced on Friday to 13 years in prison by a judge who said the case highlighted the need for tighter regulatory oversight.

Vincent Lacroix pleaded guilty last month to diverting money from Norbourg Financial Services, which he headed, in a theft that defrauded more than 9,200 investors. Some of them lost their life savings.

The scheme caused serious damage to the victims and was "without precedent in the annals of the Canadian judiciary system," Quebec Superior Court Judge Richard Wagner wrote, in French.

Lacroix developed a complex system to hide his illegal activities that included trying to fool authorities by paying additional taxes, according to the court.

Wagner said the case highlighted problems with weak regulatory oversight and "the urgency of cleaning up the country's financial activity."

Lacroix was arrested in 2005. His guilty plea had come as a surprise at the start of his criminal trial on more than 200 fraud-related charges.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd, Louise Egan, Editing by Frank McGurty)