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51 charges laid against head of Norbourg

Quebec's securities regulator has laid 51 criminal charges against Vincent Lacroix, the founder of bankrupt mutual fund company Norbourg Asset Management Inc.

The charges, filed yesterday by the L'Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec, or AMF, relate to allegations that Mr. Lacroix manipulated the price of mutual fund units and misrepresented Norbourg's financial statements. The charges carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and $5-million in fines.

None of the allegations have been proven. In a statement, Mr. Lacroix said: "I plead not guilty to each and every accusation brought by the AMF."

The AMF is also suing Mr. Lacroix and several others in civil court to recover $94-million that has allegedly vanished. In that lawsuit, the AMF is also seeking nearly $22-million from auditors KPMG Inc. and $115-million from Northern Trust Co. Canada, a custodian to Norbourg funds. Those companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Lacroix founded Montreal-based Norbourg in 1998. It once had assets of $155-million and about 9,200 investors.

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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