by BETTER FARMING STAFF
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“We don’t have any (PKI contracts and any other correspondence between producers and the company),” says Staff Sgt. Wally Hogg of the Waterloo Regional Police Service’s fraud squad. “There’s several questions we want to know just, how they got involved with (PKI’s owner) Arlan (Galbraith), their expectations, then of course their paperwork like contracts and anything else that might be evidence.”
As many as 1,000 investors in four provinces and more than a dozen states, were caught with what bankruptcy officials say are worthless pigeons, when Galbraith’s pigeon breeding scheme collapsed in mid June. Typically investors handed Galbraith or his company $100,000 each but in a few cases investments reached $1 million or more.
Hogg notes that until they obtain contracts, police can’t determine whether these were made with Galbraith or with PKI. Although the company was incorporated in 2007, its bankruptcy trustee has confirmed that Galbraith had signed personal contracts with pigeon breeders before that time. The bankruptcy trustee is BDO Dunwoody Limited.
Hogg was quoted last week in the Kitchener Waterloo Record saying PKI was simply “an investment gone bad,” and had run “well for five or six years.”
Today, he clarified his statements.
“Certainly everyone was involved in an investment and it didn’t work out for them,” he says. “Now we’ll be determining whether the criminal allegations are sufficient to do an investigation.”
He admits that he has apologized to at least two callers-in about being “premature” about making a decision “without consulting the crown (attorney).”
He emphasizes that it’s the crown attorney who will make the decision on whether to prosecute – not police. “So we’ll have enough evidence there to do the prosecution,” he says.
Hogg stresses that he does not want to “scare people off” if they have complaints. “If people certainly want to make allegations then they’re more than welcome to contact us and we’ll review their information and make a determination.”
Of those who have called in, the theme of the complaint has been common: they want to know if there’s any chance of recovering the money they’ve lost. The amounts involved range from $15,000 to $250,000. Those registering complaints are individuals, families and business partners. “A couple of brothers, each of them had their own contract with Arlan,” Hogg says. “So yeah, there are families involved – groups of brothers and sisters and such.” He says his division has received calls from Iowa, Ohio and across Canada.
Last December the Iowa attorney general suggested PKI was a Ponzi scheme; in other words a business that has no market for its product other than new investors. The Maryland attorney general alleged that the company was guilty of fraud. Both states as well as South Dakota blocked further PKI sales months before the collapse.
Hogg says he hopes to have enough material and a “good cross-section” of complaints to take to the crown attorney in about two weeks. “It’s a sad situation,” he says. “A lot of people lost a lot of money and are probably going to have to restart again.” BF