Rashida released on bail shortly after being sentenced to 6 years in jail for fraud

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A former Vancouver notary who was
convicted of running a $110-million Ponzi
scheme has been sentenced to six years in
prison.
In his decision Wednesday, Provincial
Court Judge Gregory Rideout also ordered
Rashida Samji, 63, to pay more than $10
million in restitution to her victims.
Samji, who was convicted of 28 counts
of fraud and theft, faced sentencing on the fraud charges after the judge ordered
a stay of proceedings on the theft counts.

The judge said the aggravating factors
included that the fraud exceeded millions
of dollars, had the effect of potentially
destabilizing capital markets and involved a
large number of victims. “It was aggravating
and frankly startling that Samji would take
advantage of immediate family and close
friends to promote her Ponzi scheme.
“It was clear that she exercised a wanton
disregard of the risks that loomed large for the
complainants. They have suffered significant
financial, emotional and physical harm
arising from the scheme.”
The judge said it was difficult to accept
Samji’s argument that she became involved
in the Ponzi scheme because of a confluence
of three factors, including a large outstanding
debt, her diagnosis of cancer and her
subsequent depression.
He said Samji was apparently able to pay
back the financial debt yet continued to
perpetrate the scheme, which only unravelled
after it was discovered. Rideout didn’t accept
that she had exercised poor judgment.
“She knew exactly what she was doing
and went forward with eyes wide open. It
was aggravating that she used her position
as a notary public to lure investors who
unwittingly believed that their investment
funds would be safe in her non-existent
notary trust account.” Samji had little reaction
to the sentence. A woman in the public gallery
of the courtroom shouted out, “Bye, Rashida,”
as the accused was led away in handcuffs by
sheriffs following the imposition of sentence.
Though Samji was taken into custody, the
B.C. Court of Appeal later ordered that she be
re-released on the $100,000 bail that she has
been on since the charges were laid.
She will remain on bail pending her
appeal of a ruling by the judge that found
the decision to criminally prosecute her was
not a violation of her rights because the B.C.
Securities Commission had already imposed
a $33 million penalty against her.
The sentencing dealt with the impact on
14 investors who were defrauded out of $16
million over a 9 1/2 year period, from 2003
to 2012. The scheme saw Samji solicit money
that she told investors would be used as
collateral to provide “letters of comfort” for
Vancouver’s Mark Anthony Group so it could
obtain financing for operations in South
America and South Africa.
But Mark Anthony was unaware that it
was being used in the scheme and instead of
paying investors up to 12 per cent per year in
interest, Samji was paying them back using
their own money.

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