A closeup of the lock of a brick jail cell with iron bars and a key in the locking mechanism with the door open
© Allan Swart / 123RF Stock Photo

A man has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding two B.C. investors of more than half a million dollars — the longest sentence ever imposed as a result of a criminal investigation by the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), the commission said in a release on Wednesday.

James Warring Minnie (also known as Terry James Minnie) was sentenced on May 8 in a B.C. provincial court in Victoria after being convicted of two counts of criminal fraud over $5,000, the release said.

The charges stem from money Minnie solicited between 2014 and 2016. Minnie told the two victims their money would help pay the administrative expenses of a Venezuelan hedge fund that was winding down.

Minnie, who was previously convicted of fraud and theft in 2007 for his role in a scheme that also involved both victims, told them they could recoup their losses and make substantial profits after the hedge fund was liquidated.

The hedge fund didn’t exist.

Instead, Minnie spent almost all the money on personal expenses, including stays at upscale hotels, restaurant meals and liquor, as well as making numerous retail purchases and substantial cash withdrawals, the BCSC said.

Minnie was arrested at a B.C. resort in October 2017 by the RCMP following an investigation by the BCSC’s criminal investigations branch. He has been held in custody since his arrest.

With time served, he has eight months left on his sentence.

In addition to the jail sentence, Minnie was ordered to repay the victims $543,220 in restitution. He is  also prohibited from contacting them.

In 2007, a police investigation led to Minnie being convicted of six counts of fraud and one of theft for his role in an investment in a purported lumber project in Papua New Guinea that resulted in at least $1.8 million in investor losses. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and the BCSC permanently banned him from trading or purchasing securities or engaging in investor relation activities.