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Cinar co-founder Ronald Weinberg arrives at a Montreal courthouse in this 2006 file photo.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

A group of victims of the fraudulent activities of Cinar Corp. founder Ronald Weinberg and two investment executives attended the first day of sentencing arguments Monday, saying that only the 10-year maximum penalty can make up for the suffering they have endured.

"This is the day we've been waiting for," said Catherine MacDonald, a 69-year-old former teacher who with her foreman husband invested all of their life savings – about $500,000 – in Mount Real Corp. and Norshield Financial Group Inc. They were wiped out as a result of fraud and other improper conduct at the two companies, which also helped fraudulently funnel about $120-million (U.S.) out of Cinar into offshore accounts.

About 1,600 individuals lost their investments in Mount Real and a class-action lawsuit is pending.

Ms. MacDonald said many of the investors had to put off their retirements and keep working after their losses.

Janet Watson, who has been leading the fight on behalf of many investors, said she lost $68,000. The 10-year maximum would suit the magnitude of the crimes and the damage innocent investors suffered, she said.

Mr. Weinberg – whose company was once a stock-market darling and a widely admired children's animation house – was ushered into the prisoners' box along with co-accused John Xanthoudakis of Norshield and Lino Matteo of Mount Real, all three in shackles and handcuffs. At the request of Mr. Matteo, their handcuffs were removed so they could take notes.

Last Thursday, a jury found them guilty of most of the charges laid against them, including fraud, issuing a false prospectus and making false documents. All three can appeal the jury's verdict.

The verdict ended a two-year jury trial believed to be the longest in Canadian legal history.

Former Cinar executive vice-president and chief financial officer Hasanain Panju, who pleaded guilty and received a four-year prison term, testified as a key Crown witness in the case, outlining to the jury how he committed the fraud.

Mr. Panju's sentence is expected to be the point of reference in the sentencing of the three guilty former executives.

One of Mr. Weinberg's two sons – Eric Charest-Weinberg – testified on behalf of his father Monday, describing him as "authentic and full of love" and with a "drive and passion for helping other people."

Eric said Mr. Weinberg and his wife, Micheline Charest – Cinar's co-founder and Eric's mother – went out of their way to find a top-level grade school to help him deal with severe dyslexia. The school they sent him to – The Greenwood School in Putney, Vt. – got Mr. Weinberg's help in guiding its growth and expansion, Eric told Quebec Superior Court Judge Pierre Labrie.

Ms. Charest died in 2004. She was never charged.

Allegations of misuse of Cinar funds broke in early 2000. At the beginning of the trial in 2014, Crown prosecutor Matthew Ferguson called the misappropriation of money "a massive fraud of a successful public company from the inside and out" and said that Mr. Weinberg, Ms. Charest and Mr. Panju used the company like "a personal piggy bank."

Mr. Ferguson alleged that $120-million of Cinar money was transferred to Bahamas-based companies controlled by Norshield without the knowledge of Cinar's board. Mr. Xanthoudakis and Mr. Matteo were accused of orchestrating "the cleanup strategy" to try to cover the losses with backdated transactions.

Eric Weinberg told the court on Monday that his "family was effectively ostracized, fuelled by all kinds of ridiculous claims in whatever context in print and radio-television that wasn't really founded on anything" after allegations of improper financial transactions at Montreal-based Cinar first surfaced.

"People distanced themselves from us."

Mr. Weinberg has always been passionately committed to such issues as children's education, non-violence and environmental awareness and that was reflected in the kinds of shows Cinar produced, he said.

Among Cinar hits were Caillou and Arthur.

Asked by Mr. Weinberg's lawyer if his father will continue contributing to society in the future, Eric Charest-Weinberg said his dad remains committed to "empowering, leading and providing guidance for the benefit of humanity in the way that he did.

"He is an epically strong and passionate person that is more than ever committed to the type of support to the things he was doing."