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Alleged Ponzi schemer is broke, lawyer says

The self-proclaimed "Chinese Warren Buffett," arrested in Toronto Wednesday for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, has no money and will need to seek legal aid very quickly, his lawyer says.

Weizhen Tang, the alleged mastermind behind the multimillion-dollar scheme, made a brief court appearance yesterday, but his bail hearing was put over until this morning.

"I expect that the bond issue, which will be up to the justice of the peace, will be substantial," said Loftus Cuddy, Mr. Tang's lawyer.

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"I think if bail is granted it will be over $100,000."

Mr. Cuddy said he feels his client does not pose a flight risk because Mr. Tang returned to Canada voluntarily from China to clear his name.

Mr. Tang, 51, was taken into custody Wednesday evening when he arrived at Pearson International Airport on a flight from Shanghai.

He had been living in China since last November, where he claims to have been working in order to earn back the money lost by people who invested in his Toronto-based company, the Oversea Chinese Fund LP.

Toronto police issued a Canada-wide warrant for Mr. Tang last week after he was charged with fraud over $5,000.

Mr. Tang is also facing charges filed against him in June by the Ontario Securities Commission for breaching the Securities Act while running the Oversea Chinese Fund LP.

Mr. Tang founded Oversea Chinese Fund LP in 2001 and quickly became a fixture in Toronto's Chinese community, donating money to various causes and sponsoring events.

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It's alleged that between January, 2006, and March, 2009, more than 100 victims were defrauded of about $30-million through an online trading Ponzi scheme.

Toronto police allege there were victims in the United States, China and Canada, including one Toronto-area resident who allegedly lost $2.4-million.

Last April, a federal judge in Dallas granted a request by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for emergency relief for investors, freezing the assets of Mr. Tang and several of his businesses, including the Texas-based WinWin Capital Management LLC. The judge appointed a receiver to take control of Mr. Tang's assets, which also include WinWin Capital Partners LP and Bluejay Investment LLC.

The U.S. complaint alleges Mr. Tang has already told investors of the Ponzi scheme.

In February, the U.S. commission said, he acknowledged in a letter to clients that he tried to conceal trading losses and attract new investors to his hedge fund by posting false profits on account statements and using funds from new investors to pay at least $8 million (U.S.) in fake profits to earlier investors.

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