The perpetrator of an apparent Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay a $54-million fine.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered the sanctions against David Holden, who was convicted of fraud and money laundering for a long-running scheme that took more than $54 million from investors in his companies, Seaquest Corp. and Seaquest Capital Corp.
The Crown sought a 14-year sentence for the fraud conviction and 10 years for money laundering. The defence asked for eight years on each count, to be served concurrently.
In its reasons, the court noted that the 65 victims of the scheme were not sophisticated investors. Some of them were relatively wealthy, while others lost their life savings, and “all were vulnerable to the slick salesmanship and calculated predation of Mr. Holden.”
“In general, the overall effect of this fraud on the victims can be characterized as catastrophic and devastating,” the court said.
The court also noted that Holden has numerous previous convictions.
In 1995, he pleaded guilty to 46 securities offences, including trading without registration or a prospectus. He was sentenced to 90 days’ imprisonment and two years of probation for those convictions.
In 2000, Holden pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud over $5,000 and was sentenced to six years in prison for misusing investor funds.
“Close to 350 investors were defrauded, many of whom had invested their retirement savings. The total amount of the three frauds was approximately $4.3 million,” the court said about those charges.
While on parole from that conviction, Holden created Seaquest Corp., “which became the primary vehicle for the commission of this fraud,” the court said.
The court also found that Holden had not taken responsibility for his actions in this latest case.
“In a word, Mr. Holden is incorrigible. He is polite, personable and cordial, characteristics that are not generally found in recidivist criminals. But they are the stock in trade of the fraudsman,” the court said.
The court ordered that Holden serve 12 years on the fraud count, and eight years for money laundering, to be served concurrently. It also imposed a $54.2 million fine in lieu of forfeiture.
Holden was given 10 years to pay the fine after the 12-year prison sentence expires. If the fine isn’t paid, he must serve another five years.