Montreal

Cinar fraud trial: Guilty verdicts for Weinberg, Matteo, Xanthoudakis

A jury has found the founder of Cinar, Ronald Weinberg, and his associates Lino Matteo and John Xanthoudakis guilty on most of the charges they faced for orchestrating an elaborate, large-scale fraud.

Trial of children's TV production house co-founder, associates longest-running jury trial in Canadian history

Cinar founder Ronald Weinberg (left), Lino Matteo and John Xanthoudakis have been found guilty of orchestrating a large-scale fraud. (Paul Chiasson and Radio-Canada)

A jury has found the founder of Cinar, Ronald Weinberg, and his associates Lino Matteo and John Xanthoudakis guilty on most of the charges they faced for orchestrating an elaborate, $120-million fraud at the defunct children's television production company.

The verdicts bring to a conclusion a criminal trial that began more than two years ago, in May 2014, making it the longest jury trial in Canadian history.

Dozens of charges

Weinberg, who founded Cinar with his late wife, Micheline Charest, in the mid-80s, and his associates originally faced dozens of charges, including fraud, forgery, using fake documents and publishing a false prospectus.

Weinberg was found guilty of nine of the 16 charges against him, including three for fraud. He was acquitted of seven charges, including making and using false documents.

Xanthoudakis, the former president and executive director of Norshield Financial Group, a Montreal-based hedge fund operator, was found guilty of all 17 charges against him.

Matteo, who ran the Montreal-based investment firm Mount Real, was found guilty of nine of 11 charges against him.

A fourth man, Cinar's former chief financial officer, Hasanain Panju, pleaded guilty before this trial began and was sentenced to four years in prison. Panju later testified for the Crown in the trial of Weinberg, Xanthoudakis and Matteo.

'A good verdict' says Crown

The Crown prosecutor in the case, Matthew Ferguson, said the trial's outcome is proof that "despite the complexity of the evidence, it's still possible to hold a jury trial in a fraud case."

"I think the jury rendered a good verdict, under the circumstances," Ferguson said.

The three men were immediately taken into custody after today's hearing. 

They now each face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. 

Sentencing arguments are to get under Monday.

with files from Radio-Canada

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