MONTREAL – Earl Jones’s relatives say they’re broke, have been swindled out of all their savings, and are feeling devastated.
But until recently the accused Ponzi schemester was, to them, a perfect family member.
“I liked him, he was a good friend, a good brother-in-law, a very good guy,” his sister-in-law, Frances Gordon, said in an interview Tuesday.
“But now he’s not the man I knew, I don’t know him, I think he doesn’t have a conscience.”
After leaving a meeting Tuesday of the alleged fraudster’s creditors – where it was revealed Jones personally withdrew more than $12.3 million from his company’s account – she was left with one dire conclusion: “I’m sure everything is gone, we’re broke.”
Between 100 and 150 investors have accused Jones of bilking them out of millions of dollars, while Quebec’s financial securities regulator has alleged the amount could be as high as $50 million.
The Montrealer has been charged with four counts each of fraud and theft and has been ordered to appear in court Sept. 28.
Jones has been using his clients’ funds for personal expenses since the mid 1980s, says accounting firm RSM Richter, the interim receiver for his company.
A report by Richter tracked down $12.3 million – from which Jones allegedly paid himself and his wife Maxine $4.6 million, along with more than $2 million in other personal expenses.
There was $593,000 spent on Jones’ two daughters’ schooling and related items, $169,000 in car purchases, and $497,000 transferred to Bermuda, RSM Richter said.
Bankruptcy trustee Gilles Robillard says the final figure could be much higher because banking records can’t be found for the years 2000 to 2008.
“So far we have been able to track approximately $12.3 million of funds that were used for personal use,” Robillard told reporters after the creditors’ meeting.
“Those funds do not include eight years of bank statements which we haven’t yet received, so the amount by the time everything is said and done could be double that.”
The transfers began in 1999.
The auditor’s report also says Jones appears to have cashed in his RRSPs earlier this year, along with an insurance policy and investments.
RSM Richter has written to 93 parties to inquire about dealings they had with Jones, including 50 banks in Canada, the United States, Bermuda, Britain, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
The parties have also been asked to freeze all of his accounts.
Jones’s company declared bankruptcy last month, and RSM Richter says it expects him to file for personal bankruptcy as early as Wednesday.
Gordon said her husband – Jones’s brother – was deeply hurt.
“He adored his brother, he idolized him, and he just can’t understand what happened,” she added.
Denise Octeau-Tesher, another alleged victim, told reporters some institutions may be held liable because they did not closely supervise cheques Jones made out to his clients.
Octeau-Tesher is also urging the public to sign an online petition which calls for harsher penalties for white-collar criminals.
“I’m hoping, for a lot people who are in bad shape right now, that something will come out of this.” she said.
“I still believe in miracles.”