Crown presents closing arguments at $5M Regina fraud trial of Alena Pastuch
Alena Pastuch represented herself at trial, is scheduled to make closing remarks Friday
The lengthy fraud trial of Alena Pastuch appears to be coming to a close at Regina's Court of Queen's Bench.
Pastuch was charged in 2014 with fraud, theft and laundering the proceeds of crime. She's accused of defrauding investors in Western Canada of $5 million between 2007 and 2009.
The trial began in October. The Crown called dozens of witnesses and relied on documents such as emails and bank records.
Crown Prosecutor Dana Brule made his closing remarks Tuesday. Brule told Justice Richard Elson Tuesday that the evidence shows Pastuch committed fraud by using deceit and falsehoods to induce investors.
He said she inappropriately used investors' funds for personal gain unrelated to business purposes and that she relied on more deceitful behaviour "to stop her house of cards from folding."
"This entire thing was a fraud," Brule said, alleging Pastuch's purpose was to make herself look good.
"She lied to investors to sell herself," he said, accusing Pastuch of relying on family connections and preying on inexperienced investors with "bafflegab."
He said she kept up appearances and strung investors along with dishonesty to keep people on board.
"If people started to pull out, that's when the house of cards collapses." He said "investors lost almost everything" in their dealings with Pastuch.
Brule alleged Pastuch used investors' money to fund a "lavish lifestyle" and appear as a "bigwig business woman."
He said she used money inappropriately to buy her home, to finance her mortgage, to make vehicle payments and for gambling. He said records show she withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from ATMS to gamble at casinos.
"Ms. Pastuch gambled and lost. She lost big."
Brule said the only inference one could make was that she used investor funds for that loss — putting their dollars at risk.
He suggested Pastuch used investors' funds to shop at high-end clothing stores and take trips to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Banff.
He alleged she made promises about "potential products," like a supposed children's internet security software, that weren't marketable at the time of investment.
Brule said Pastuch made grandiose promises and told investors they would see high rates of returns in short time frames, comparing it to "a Ponzi scheme."
He called Pastuch the "directing mind" behind the multiple companies through which the allegedly fraudulent activity occurred and suggested she be found guilty on all charges.
Brule said the charge of theft is obvious because he alleges Pastuch was not entitled to use the investors' funds for personal use. He said Pastuch knew she was converting the money.
Pastuch has represented herself at the trial.
She is scheduled to present her closing arguments on Friday, assisted by Daniel Leblanc who is appearing as an "amicus curiae" or friend of the court.