MONTREAL - The whereabouts of a broker who allegedly bilked investors out of millions of dollars remained unknown Wednesday as accountants told a judge it may take several weeks to determine how much money has been drained from their accounts.
Some of the alleged victims have turned to food banks, while the services of one of Montreal's leading community service organizations will be offered during a meeting on Friday.
"We've had six overtures from people wanting help and two of them are wheelchair-bound so we're going to do everything we possibly can to help them," said Sid Stevens, vice-president of Sun Youth.
Montreal and Quebec provincial police are continuing to try and track down Earl Jones, an investment broker who disappeared last week.
They would not comment on a report Jones was spotted on a flight bound for Britain last week.
Jones has not been charged and there is no warrant out for his arrest but Quebec's securities regulator alleges between $30 million and $50 million is missing from accounts he controlled.
They also say Jones did not have the proper credentials for the job.
One of the 50 alleged victims is Jones' 70-year-old brother, according to Quebec's securities regulator.
Sylvain Theberge, a spokesman for Quebec's Autorite des marches financiers, did not have a complete number on the number of people involved but said a few more elderly people have come forward.
Accountants combing through the books of Jones' firm told Quebec Superior Court on Wednesday it could take a few more weeks before the depth of the alleged fraud is known.
The court has given Jones a few more weeks to explain himself. It extended the mandate of the accounting firm to July 29 and after that bankruptcy proceedings are expected to start so Jones' corporate assets can be liquidated to reimburse creditors.
If bankruptcy is declared, a meeting of creditors will likely be held in mid-August when the value of the assets will be divulged.
However, the court was told there are likely insufficient assets to distribute and employees of the accounting firm going through Jones' books say they have found no large-value assets.
Brook Hamilton, whose elderly mother was allegedly swindled of more than $350,000, said he's satisfied with the pace of events given proper procedures must be followed.
"I think some of the stuff has happened very, very quickly," he said, pointing out most people didn't know anything untoward had happened until last week.
"By the end of the week, the guy's business was shut down, a legal team was in place, they'd been in there and seized his files and changed the locks on his doors and the process has begun," Hamilton said in a telephone interview from Georgia.
"Emotionally, I'd love it all to happen more quickly but there's due process."
His mother is "hanging in" but has gone through a roller-coaster of emotions after the alleged betrayal by her trusted adviser.
"Her life's in tatters," Hamilton said of his mother. "Her history has been stolen, her current lifestyle has been stolen and her future has been stolen."
At Sun Youth, Stevens said he had heard that close to 150 people were allegedly defrauded.
Stevens said a lawyer representing some people called to inquire about services offered by the community group.
"They said they're devastated," Stevens said. "They have absolutely nothing. They said said there is no income at all."
(With files from Peter Rakobowchuk and Sylvain Larocque)