Only on Newswatch
CORNWALL – Former Cornwall financial advisor Gilles Saucier has been found guilty on all but one charge related to shady investment dealings with his clients over several years.
Judge Laurie Lacelle took just over five-and-a-half hours today (Wednesday) to read her decision, which was well over 100 pages. The case detailed the interactions between 10 clients and Saucier, who was president of Gilden Financial Solutions Corporation.
Saucier’s client list was roughly 3,500 when his company was in operation.
Saucier was convicted on 33 of the 34 charges he was facing, which included fraud, theft, misappropriation of funds and forgery. Saucier was found not guilty on a single count of making a forged document because the Crown did not produce enough evidence for a conviction.
Today’s ruling followed a lengthy trial.
In Lacelle’s decision, court heard how Saucier would receive money from clients, destined for life insurance plans with London Life or other investments, but would have them make the amounts payable to his company, rather than directly to London Life. The money would sit in Gilden’s accounts – sometimes months or years at a time – while a paper trail was used to cover his tracks.
When clients figured out what was going on, either through funny paperwork – documents that “didn’t jive” as one client put it – or learning that London Life had suspended Saucier’s licence to sell its product, they demanded their money.
Saucier would pay it back with interest at a rate comparable to the investments they should have had their money in. For some clients, Saucier would also pay fines out of his company’s general account if the life insurance policies went into default in order to cover up any problems. In one case, it was described as “the cost of doing business.”
This went on between 2009 and 2012 before Saucier was arrested in October 2012.
All the clients got their money back – except in one case where there was an outstanding amount of $0.43.
Judge Lacelle found the testimony of all of the complainants was, for the most part, credible. Some had problems or confusion with an independent recollection of events given the amount of time that had passed but Lacelle felt it was justifiable and it didn’t discredit their testimony.
As for Saucier, Lascelle described some of his explanations as “exceptional” or they “made little sense.”
The judge also addressed the defence argument that there was no evidence of a risk of loss.
“Here, there is no evidence as to what, if any, the accused did with his client’s funds,” Judge Lacelle said. But the risk can be looked at as a concept of risk, such as, what would happen to the clients’ money is Saucier suddenly died, since it wasn’t in the intended investments, she explained.
“The creation of the possibility of those scenarios is what matters, not whether or not they came to pass,” she said.
The prosecution and defence likely won’t make their submissions on a sentence for Saucier until sometime in March 2019. The case will be back in court in January to set a date for sentencing.
Defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon has already indicated he will be arguing his client be sentenced on only 10 counts based on the so-called Kienapple principle. The 1975 Supreme Court of Canada case established a rule that a person facing multiple convictions cannot be convicted on two offences where they arise more or less from the same facts.
The case was prosecuted by Crown attorney Michael Purcell.