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Arnold Breitkreutz Calgary, base finance ponzi scheme mortgages real estate in Alberta

Senior from Calgary gets 10 years in prison for multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Arnold Breitkreutz, who is 74, was found guilty in June.

A man from Calgary who used a huge Ponzi scheme to scam his clients out of millions of dollars was given a 10-year prison sentence and told to pay back $3.1 million.

After a trial in June, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Colin Feasby found 74-year-old Arnold Breitkreutz guilty of fraud over $5,000.

When Breitkreutz was sentenced, Feasby talked about the "deliberate, large-scale" fraud that had "deep" effects on the lives of the victims, some of whom were retired.

Arnold Breitkreutz was found guilty of fraud in June. Between 2014 and 2015, more than 100 investors lost about $21 million.
Arnold Breitkreutz was found guilty of fraud in June. Between 2014 and 2015, more than 100 investors lost about $21 million.

The judge noticed that many of the investors who had been scammed felt anxious, sad, and "deeply betrayed" because they had lost everything to a man they had come to trust.

Even though Breitkreutz's company, Base Financial, started taking money from investors in the late 1980s and did so for more than 30 years, the time period the courts looked at was from May 2014 to September 2015.

Base Finance lost more than $100 million on investments, but most of that money happened before or after the dates of the crime.

Still, the judge said, more than 100 investors lost about $21 million during the time of the crime.

"Texas oil play with risks"

Investors in Base Finance thought their money was safe because it was backed by mortgages on real estate in Alberta. In reality, it was loaned to an oil and gas promoter and used in "a risky oil play in Texas" and backed by oil and gas leases and equipment, wrote Feasby in his decision to convict.

This week, the prosecutor, Shelley Smith, asked the judge to think about a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison. The defense attorney, Cale Ellis-Toddington, suggested a sentence of 5 to 8 years in prison.

In 2019, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) told Breitkreutz and Susan Elizabeth Way, who was his office manager, to pay back almost $4 million.

At the time, the commission said that the scheme was "among the worst frauds to happen in Alberta."

Breitkreutz and Base Finance Ltd. were found guilty of breaking the Securities Act and were told they could never buy or sell securities again.

Way got three years in prison last year for her part in the fraud, which she admitted to.

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