Man who allegedly kidnapped Ontario 'crypto king' had invested $740K with him
Published Tuesday, July 18, 2023 3:39PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 18, 2023 3:42PM EDT
An investor who allegedly kidnapped self-described crypto king Aiden Pleterski after investing $740,000 with him is asserting his innocence.
Toronto police charged 39-year-old Akil Heywood, along with three others, with kidnapping Pleterski for ransom for three days last December. He has been released on bail for $10,000.
Pleterski allegedly owes at least $35 million to cryptocurrency and foreign exchange investors, which petitioned the 24-year-old from Whitby, Ont., into bankruptcy almost a year ago.
Heywood allegedly proceeded to threaten bankruptcy trustee Rob Stelzer, along with another man involved in the case, to pay him $2 million in cryptocurrency later in December, court documents obtained by CTV News Toronto allege.
The documents also indicate Heywood lost $740,000 he invested with Pleterski.
“I can assure you I am innocent,” Heywood told CTV News Toronto Tuesday, adding he could not provide a full interview at this point in time due to court proceedings.
HEYWOOD’S CIRCUMSTANCES 'VERY UNUSUAL'
For almost a year, Heywood was involved in examining Pleterski’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, court documents show.
Like a board of directors at a company, five people involved in the case were voted to represent the interests of Pleterski’s investors. Heywood was one of them.
The inspectors are provided the “details of all aspects of the trustee’s strategy and activities” in bankruptcy proceedings.
However, Heywood resigned as an inspector on July 7 two days after he was arrested, a spokesperson for Grant Thornton, the organization spearheading bankruptcy proceedings, confirmed to CTV News Toronto.
“My understanding is that he resigned shortly after being charged with respect to the kidnapping of Pleterski,” said Norman Groot, a fraud recovery lawyer representing investors who allegedly lost millions with Pleterski.
He called Heywood’s circumstances – as an alleged kidnapper who is also involved in his bankruptcy proceedings – “very unusual.”
“The interesting legal question is whether a trustee can take steps to remove an inspector to a bankruptcy if there is a concern about whether the inspector presents a risk to the bankruptcy investigation,” Groot said.
On Nov. 24, just weeks before Pleterski was allegedly kidnapped, he told a virtual courtroom that Heywood was threatening him.
“Akil Heywood, and Akil is still, by the way, uttering threats, and very dangerous violent threats, to me over Instagram comment sections on my posts and text messages,” Pleterski said at the time.
His lawyer did not respond to CTV News Toronto’s repeated requests for comment.