by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Former pigeon breeder and businessman Arlan Galbraith did not appear at a scheduled court appearance in Kitchener this morning.
Court officials say that Paul Williams, a local lawyer, appeared on Galbraith’s behalf. Williams recently received “500,000 pages” of disclosure documents relating to the charges brought against the owner of bankrupt Pigeon King International. He arranged for another court date in early May.
Williams slipped in and out of the courtroom without being noticed by waiting reporters. He did not respond to repeated telephone calls to his office.
Galbraith, last known to live near Cochrane, was released on bail Dec. 1 after being charged with one count of fraud over $5,000 and four counts under the Bankruptcy Act, including failing to appear at a creditor’s meeting and not delivering all credit cards to his bankruptcy trustee, BDO Canada Limited. Pigeon King International, was declared bankrupt in 2008.
In December the court placed a publication ban on evidence released during the bail hearing. The ban was issued under Section 517 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The reasons for that ban are unclear. The Crown Prosecutor, Lynn Robinson, was not available for comment.
A Waterloo police services release issued at the time of Galbraith’s arrest said the fraud charge relates to allegations that the accused, then 63, defrauded individuals in Canada and the United States of monies exceeding $1 million between 2004 and the date of bankruptcy in 2008.
The Pigeon King breeding scheme offered pigeon breeding pairs for as much as $500 and bought back offspring for up to $50 each. Police estimate about 1,000 people invested a total of $20 million in the scheme, hoping for profitable returns.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service’s fraud squad and the RCMP began a joint investigation shortly after the company’s failure in 2008, acting on allegations the operation was a Ponzi scheme.
Ponzi schemes depend on a continuing flow of money from new participants to pay off earlier investors. Such schemes are illegal under the Criminal Code, according to a January 2009 report from the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy.
Charges have yet to be proven in court. BF