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Judge says no psychological assessment for ‘shrewd’ Tang

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

J.P. MOCZULSKI/J.P. MOCZULSKI

A judge has ruled against ordering a psychological assessment before sentencing Weizhen Tang, saying he does not believe the convicted fraudster has a mental disorder and instead believes he is a "shrewd" salesman.

Mr. Justice Alfred O'Marra of the Ontario Superior Court said Mr. Tang clearly feels unfairly convicted and persecuted by the justice system, but said those beliefs have no bearing on the sentence he will receive.

"I have no reason to believe he suffers from a mental disorder that would mitigate sentencing," Judge O'Marra said.

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Judge O'Marra acknowledged Mr. Tang has sent "rambling" letters to public figures such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and has "railed" about the injustices he has faced. But he said he believes Mr. Tang is "shrewd" and was a " very good salesman" who convinced investors to give him over $50-million of their funds.

The former fund manager, who calls himself a Chinese Warren Buffett, was convicted in October of operating a Ponzi scheme that ultimately lost over $20-million of investors' funds. Judge O'Marra said Friday that he convicted Mr. Tang because there was "overwhelming" evidence he committed fraud, made false promises to investors, provided them with false account statements and wrongly paid himself fees from their funds.

When his Oversea Chinese Fund LP was shut down in 2009 by the Ontario Securities Commission, it had just $1,000 in its bank accounts -- a far cry from the $70-million Mr. Tang had reported to investors a month earlier.

Judge O'Marra said Friday it is only appropriate to order a psychological assessment in sentencing if there are issues that would have a direct impact on the sentence, citing a prior case involving a sexual offender who was ordered to be assessed before sentencing to determine if he was a pedophile. He said there is no similar need in Mr. Tang's case.

While expressions of remorse can be a mitigating factor in sentencing, Judge O'Marra's said Mr. Tang's lack of remorse and his comments about his mistreatment by the justice system are not an aggravating factor that would increase his sentence.

Mr. Tang told the court earlier this month that he was truly sorry his investors lost money, which was the first time he had expressed remorse for his crime. But also added he believed he has done nothing wrong.

The Crown has asked for a sentence of eight to ten years in the case, and has asked the judge to impose fines and victim restitution orders totalling more than $8-million. Mr. Tang, who is representing himself with the assistance of a court-appointed lawyer to advise him, has argued he should get no jail sentence and pay no fine, but says he would accept orders to repay victims "as a show of good faith."

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He has told the court he hasn't worked in four years, has no money and is living on welfare with help from his daughter.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume Feb. 1 when Mr. Tang intends to present character reference letters he said he has received from supporters. Under questioning by the judge, Mr. Tang said some of his letters are testimonials written in the past by leaders in Toronto's Chinese community.

"Having been found guilty, I'm not in a position to go around asking for sufficient new reference letters," he told the court through a translator.

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About the Author
Real Estate Reporter

Janet McFarland is the real estate reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, with a focus on residential real estate trends. She joined Report on Business in 1995, and has specialized in reporting on corporate governance, executive compensation, pension policy, business law, securities regulation and enforcement of white-collar crime. More

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