The jury that heard evidence in one of the longest criminal trials in Canadian history reached a verdict on Thursday.
All three of the men who were on trial on fraud and related charges involving the animation company Cinar — company co-founder Ronald Weinberg, 64, and two investment executives he dealt with, Lino Matteo, 54, of Montreal, and John Xanthoudakis, 57, a resident of the St-Laurent borough — were found guilty of some of the charges they faced at the Montreal courthouse.
“We are extremely pleased,” said Matthew Ferguson, the main prosecutor in the case. “It goes to show that in serious fraud cases that last this long, the jury can work through the evidence and understand the evidence. They understood the evidence (based on) the verdicts that they rendered.”
The jury reached its verdict remarkably fast considering it began hearing evidence in 2014. One juror actually asked to be excused from the panel shortly after deliberations began, but was persuaded to remain after seeing a doctor.
“They seemed to be following the trial and understanding the evidence throughout,” Ferguson said. “For me, it goes to show that despite the enormous sacrifice these jurors made in their personal lives, they still saw through all the smoke and the mirrors.”
The evidence phase of the case closed on March 22. That was followed by closing arguments and the judge’s instructions to the jury.
The trial involved the transfer of more than $120 million funds from Cinar to secret accounts in another country.
Weinberg was found guilty on nine of the 16 charges he faced, including two counts of fraud against Cinar and one against the public in general and one count of issuing a false prospectus.
Xanthoudakis was found guilty of all of the 17 charges he faced, including the $120-million fraud against Cinar, for which all of the accused were convicted.
Matteo was found guilty of nine counts in all. He was acquitted on two forgery charges.
All three of the men were not detained during their trial, but Judge Pierre Labrie ordered that they be incarcerated immediately. Based on recent jurisprudence, most accused are allowed to remain free while they await their sentence, but Labrie ordered the trio detained because, he determined, they represent a potential flight risk. Both Xanthoudakis and Weinberg were allowed to travel outside of Canada during the trial.
A fourth man charged in the same case, Hasanain Panju, was sentenced to a 4-year prison term in 2014. He testified at one point in the jury trial.