Canada
Man convicted of fraud over $52-million Ponzi scheme seeking psychiatric evaluation

Credits: Alex Urosevic/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

SAM PAZZANO | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- The self-proclaimed “Chinese Warren Buffett” is seeking a psychiatric assessment -- for himself.

Weizhen Tang’s unusual request has delayed his sentence hearing for a massive fraud that bilked hundreds of victims out of millions of dollars. Justice Alfred O’Marra will decide Jan. 18 if he’ll order an assessment.

“There may be a real concern that Weizhen Tang suffers from some type of mental or behavioural disorder,” said Hamilton defence lawyer Peter Boushy, who is acting as a friend of the court for the unrepresented 54-year-old Tang.

Tang’s tirades and bizarre behaviour “were clearly counterproductive and worked against arriving at a just sentence for himself,” Boushy said Friday.

Boushy said the court could either conclude that Tang is a “deliberately cunning and manipulative fraudster” or that he’s a “convicted fraudster whose aggrandized sense of self has rendered him psychologically handicapped to truly appreciate risks versus benefits.”

His lack of empathy for his victims may be a symptom of “underlying mental health or behavioural issues,” Boushy said.

Crown attorney Robert Gattrell strenuously opposed the assessment.

“The jails are full of people with anti-social personality disorders,” Gattrell said. “Identifying these traits won’t assist the court in sentencing.”

A Superior Court jury found Tang guilty in October of fraud over $5,000 after he lured 200 people into a $52-million Ponzi scheme by posing as an ultra-successful investor.

But he’s now broke, living on welfare and says he cannot compensate his victims.

The prosecution is seeking up to $5 million in restitution orders, $2.8 million in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

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