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The RCMP have laid fraud charges against five former executives of private lending firm Seaquest Corp., alleging they participated in a $75-million bankruptcy fraud and Ponzi scheme.

The charges come three years after the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, Canada's bankruptcy regulator, asked the RCMP to probe the activities of Seaquest and related Seaquest Capital Corp., which described themselves as specialists in short-term lending to companies that could not access bank financing.

The companies initiated bankruptcy proceedings in 2011 after amassing a debt of $75- million owed to more than 70 investors.

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Company founder David Burns Holden, 52, and his wife, Rosa Holden, 57, of Richmond Hill, Ont., are charged with fraud, money laundering and commission of offence for a criminal organization. Also charged are Anthony Consentino, Andrew Gaudet and Edmond Chin Ho So.

The Holdens are also charged with three offences under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

The RCMP allege the five managers collected $92-million from investors with promises of rates of return up to 36 per cent annually. The money was not invested as promised but was instead used in a Ponzi scheme, with new investor funds used to pay returns to older investors, the RCMP said in a release Friday.

Early investors were convinced to re-invest their "returns" back into Seaquest, the RCMP said.

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