Provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout said at the sentencing hearing that Rashida Samji knew what she was doing and went forward with the scheme with her eyes wide open. The court heard that Samji collected investments ranging from $50,000 to $12 million from the investors over a nine-year period.
RICHMOND — A disgraced South Asian former notary public who ran a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $100 million was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday.
Provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout said at the sentencing hearing that Rashida Samji knew what she was doing and went forward with the scheme with her eyes wide open. The court heard that Samji collected investments ranging from $50,000 to $12 million from the investors over a nine-year period, reported Canadian Press.
The Crown had called for a sentence of up to eight years for the fraudster, while her defence lawyer said a four- to five-year sentence would be appropriate.
The B.C. Securities Commission found in an earlier hearing that Samji and two companies she controlled committed over $100 million in fraud, and she was fined $33 million.
Before the judge announced the sentencing, Samji apologized Tuesday, saying her actions haunt her day and night.
"The clocks cannot be turned back," Rashida Samji told provincial court, saying she deeply regrets the plan she pulled off between 2003 and 2012. "It might sound futile but I am truly sorry for the loss, pain and grief endured by investors."
Judge Rideout said the tremors of the Ponzi scheme go beyond the victims and the Society of Notaries Public of B.C.
"The waters do run deeper and they do spread out sphere-like across all sorts of areas in society, which does potentially impact the capital markets in Canada."
Samji was convicted in May of 28 counts of fraud and theft, but the theft charges were stayed and Tuesday's sentencing hearing moved forward with the remaining 14 fraud counts.
Crown lawyer Kevin Marks said Samji's victims included a cousin, a friend she'd known for 40 years, and she even falsely solicited money on behalf of a company that had hired her as a notary, telling investors the Mark Anthony Group was expanding its operations to a winery in South Africa.
"She jeopardized the reputation of the Mark Anthony Group," he said of the woman who was paying investors with their own money instead of up to 12 per cent a year in interest.
"There's no question that this fraud was humongous," Marks said, adding Samji collected investments ranging from $50,000 to $12 million.
Investors lost between $44,000 and $8 million and have suffered physical, emotional and financial hardships, he said.
He said Samji's lies came to light in 2012 when Coast Capital Savings issued an alert saying that a financial planner was promoting a Ponzi scheme involving Samji.
Marks read from 11 victim impact statements, in which bilked investors wrote about the shame they feel for having trusted Samji.
"At this age and stage of my life it's financially impossible to recover," said retired teacher Amrit Dhaliwal, who invested $460,000 and lost $424,000.
Andreas Manning, who met Samji through a business colleague, lost $8 million of the $12-million-investment he made.
"I feel ashamed and embarrassed for allowing myself to be so gullible," he said.