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Lawyer says Toronto-based financial whiz now broke and in need of legal aid

TORONTO - A man who once billed himself as a financial wizard and is accused of bilking investors out of millions of dollars is now broke.

TORONTO - A man who once billed himself as a financial wizard and is accused of bilking investors out of millions of dollars is now broke.

Weizhen Tang, a self-described "Chinese Warren Buffet," will have to scrape together a "substantial sum" of money if he is granted bail, his lawyer said Thursday.

"He doesn't have any money, so he's applying for legal aid," said Loftus Cuddy, as he stood outside a Toronto courtroom.

But Cuddy's days of representing Tang are almost over.

Tang, 51, appeared to a packed courtroom on Thursday after returning to Canada to face allegations he defrauded investors of tens of millions of dollars. He will appear in court again Friday for a bail hearing.

Tang appeared weary Thursday but smiled as he stood in court dressed in a grey suit with his hands shoved in his pockets, nodding to the hordes of media gathered inside.

He was taken into custody Wednesday evening after his Air Canada flight arrived at Pearson International Airport. He made two brief court appearances Thursday while Crown and defence lawyers discussed when to schedule his bail hearing.

Cuddy said it would likely take a lot of money to get Tang released.

"The kind of sum he's going to have to come up with is substantial," the lawyer said. "It will be in the six figures."

But Cuddy said Tang was not a flight risk, pointing out that he returned to Canada voluntarily and was co-operating with authorities.

"He knew that he was going to be arrested and came back," Cuddy said.

A woman and a teenager reported to be Wang's wife and son were holed up most of the day in a small office next to the courtroom.

After Tang's court appearance, the woman rushed out of the room and said "No, sorry," when asked for comment.

A native of mainland China, Tang came to Canada in the 1990s. He now lives in Toronto with his family.

A well-known figure in the city's Chinese community, Tang helped fund the Chinese Lunar New Year Show and put on investment summits that featured economists from China and the United States.

Toronto police had issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for Tang, who has been charged with fraud over $5,000.

The fraud warrant was in addition to 12 counts of breaching the Securities Act laid against Tang last June by the Ontario Securities Commission in connection with the hedge fund Tang administers, the Oversea Chinese Fund Limited Partnership.

Cuddy said Tang was "happy to be back in Canada" and described him as cheerful and positive.

"He's looking forward to returning to his life in Canada and proclaiming his innocence in whatever form that's required," the lawyer said.

It's alleged that between January 2006 and March 2009, more than 100 victims were defrauded of approximately $30 million through an online trading Ponzi scheme.

Toronto police allege there were victims in the United States, China and Canada, including one Toronto-area resident who allegedly lost $2.4 million.