Parksville man who used investors’ money for high-end hotels gets 4 1/2 years for fraud

A Parksville man has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding two B.C. residents of more than $500,000, the B.C. Securities Commission said Wednesday.

James Waring Minnie, 56, was convicted on May 8 in provincial court in Victoria of two counts of criminal fraud over $5,000.

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He solicited money from his victims between 2014 and 2016, telling them that the fund would help pay administrative expenses for a Venezuelan hedge fund that was winding down, the commission said in a statement.

“Minnie, who was previously convicted of fraud and theft in 2007 for his role in a scheme that also involved both victims, told them that they could recoup their losses from the earlier scheme and make substantial profits after the hedge fund was liquidated.” The hedge fund did not exist.

Minnie instead used the money on personal expenses such as high-end hotels, meals at restaurants, alcohol and retail purchases and cash withdrawals, the commission said.

The RCMP arrested him in October 2017 in Parksville as a result of an investigation by the commission’s criminal investigation branch. Minnie has been in custody since the arrest.

Court ordered him to repay $543,200 to his victims. He is not permitted to contact them.

“As this sentence shows, we will use all of the legal tools at our disposal to stop fraudsters,” said Peter Brady, executive director of the B.C. Securities Commission.

Brady said the commission’s criminal investigations branch has helped secure 37 convictions and put 18 people behind bars over the past decade. “Anyone who is contemplating securities fraud should know that they could face serious jail time for their actions.”

Minnie’s jail time represents the longest sentence imposed as a result of an investigation by the province’s securities commission. He was convicted in 2007 of six counts of fraud and one count of theft for his role in an investment in a purported lumber project in Papua New Guinea. Saanich police led that investigation.

The Papua New Guinea fraud resulted in at least $1.8 million in investor losses and a sentence of two years in jail, the commission said. Minnie was sentenced to five years in prison. After that case, he was permanently banned by the commission from trading or purchasing securities or engaging in investor-relations activities.

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