$17M out-of-court settlement in Earl Jones case
Published Tuesday, March 6, 2012 12:47PM EST
Victims of Earl Jones, the Montreal financial adviser convicted of swindling his clients out of $50 million, are in line for a multi-million dollar settlement.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Royal Bank of Canada said it had reached an out-of-court settlement with the plaintiffs of a class action suit filed last year.
"The proposed settlement amount of $17 million is the result of many months of discussion between RBC and the class-plaintiffs and seeks to address some of the financial difficulties the class-plaintiffs faced as a result of entrusting Mr. Jones with their financial affairs," the bank said.
CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie says approximately 80 victims are expected to share the settlement.
The precise dollar amount will not be final, the bank noted, until the court approval process wraps up.
Victims had been demanding $40 million from the bank, which they claimed knew of irregularities in Earl Jones' accounts at an RBC branch in Montreal's West Island, but failed to do anything about it.
After the fraud victims filed a class-action suit last year, the bank countered that it was a victim of Jones' fraud too. The plaintiffs rejected the bank's $12.5-million compensation package, however, calling the offer a joke.
According to victims' advocate Joey Davis, whose mother elderly mother lost $200,000 to Jones, the $17-million figure is more acceptable to those who've been left virtually penniless.
Some of them in fact have lost their homes or forced to sell their homes, and some are facing near-destitution," Davis told CTV Montreal.
"This is an incredible situation never seen before. So any money returned to them is a victory and we feel a 50 per cent share is fair satisfaction."
In its statement RBC maintained that, after an examination of its dealings with Jones, the bank "is satisfied that it was not negligent."
Jones was arrested in July 2009, and charged with defrauding more than 150 clients of $50 million in a ponzi scheme that stretched over a 25-year period.
The unaccredited financial adviser was convicted in February 2010, and is currently serving an 11-year sentence.
Jones will be eligible to apply for early release to a halfway house in April, 2013.