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Convicted ‘Chinese Warren Buffett’ apologizes to investors

Weizhen Tang, convicted of defrauding investors, talks to reporters while on a lunch break during a sentencing hearing in Toronto, Jan. 9, 2013.


A fund manager who raised $50-million from investors while calling himself a "Chinese Warren Buffett" has apologized to his investors, but also says he still believes he has done nothing wrong.

Weizhen Tang told a Toronto court he has lost all face in the Chinese community where he operated, which has been more devastating than any sentence a judge could impose.

"My loss of respect in the community, my loss of face and name is extraordinarily painful for me and my family," he said in a sentencing statement before Mr. Justice Alfred O'Marra of the Ontario Superior Court.

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Mr. Tang was convicted in October of operating a Ponzi scheme using money from new investors to pay high rates of return to others. His trial last fall heard testimony that he gave investors false account statements that far inflated the value of their investments.

In his sentencing remarks Friday, Mr. Tang expressed sympathy for his victims, which he has not previously done.

"From the bottom of my heart I'm truly sorry that many of my investors have lost money," he said.

But he also insisted he is not a fraudster and was attempting to operate a legitimate investment business.

"I honestly believe I did nothing wrong, from my heart."

The Crown has asked for a jail sentence of eight to 10 years for Mr. Tang and has asked the judge to impose a $2.4-million fine and order Mr. Tang to pay restitution of $5.4-million to investors.

Mr. Tang is representing himself in the case but is being assisted by a court-appointed amicus lawyer, Peter Boushy, who is giving him advice.

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Mr. Boushy asked the judge Friday to order a psychiatric assessment before imposing his sentence. He said Mr. Tang has shown strange behaviour, including statements in court Wednesday accusing the judge and Crown of misdeeds.

Mr. Tang has also sent numerous ranting e-mails to public officials, the Crown, police and members of the media, Mr. Boushy said, which raise questions about whether he is a narcissist who cannot feel empathy for others and doesn't understand the impact of his actions.

Mr. Boushy said it is telling that Mr. Tang years ago legally changed his first named to Weizhen, which is a combination of the Chinese words for "great" and "perfect."

Crown attorney Robert Gattrell opposed delaying the case for months to have a psychiatric assessment, saying the findings would not be relevant in sentencing anyway.

"It's notorious that jails are full of people with antisocial personalities," Mr. Gattrell said.

Judge O'Marra said he would rule Jan. 18 on the application.

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Mr. Tang asked the judge Friday to impose no jail sentence and no fine in his case, but said he would support an order to pay restitution as "a show of good faith" because he wants to earn back all the investor money he lost.

On Wednesday, Mr. Tang testified he is broke, has not worked in four years and is living on welfare, so it is unlikely he will be able to pay the restitution.

The Crown alleged that about $19-million of the money Mr. Tang raised from investors was lost in trading and a further $2.8-million was diverted to accounts owned by Mr. Tang and his family. The rest was paid to investors as returns on their holdings.

Mr. Tang said Friday the $2.8-million that went into his accounts was used to pay office and operating costs of his business and not to make him rich.

"Greed was never my motivation," he told the judge.

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