Ontario crypto king kidnapped, tortured in an attempt to get millions in ransom, documents say
Published Friday, March 24, 2023 9:15AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 24, 2023 9:15AM EDT
Ontario’s self-described crypto king was abducted, tortured, and beaten for days as his kidnappers looked to solicit millions in ransom, his father told a court in December.
New documents, obtained by CTV News Toronto, include details of the December incident where Aiden Pleterski was allegedly abducted from downtown Toronto and driven around southern Ontario for about three days.
The nearly 750-page report, released on March 14, also contains the latest findings in a months-long pursuit to trace millions of dollars invested into cryptocurrency and foreign exchange with the 23-year-old before he was petitioned into bankruptcy.
The documents allege Pleterski invested less than two per cent of the more than $40 million handed to him. Instead, he allegedly spent nearly 38 per cent, almost $16 million, on luxury cars, private jets, and elaborate vacations.
“Aiden ran a business in which he told people he would invest their money and that's not what happened,” Rob Stelzer, appointed bankruptcy trustee on the case, told CTV News Toronto. “He really didn't do what he said he was going to do.”
CTV News Toronto made multiple attempts to contact Pleterski’s lawyer but received no response.
THE ALLEGED KIDNAPPING
In early December, Stelzer told CTV News Toronto he was informed by Toronto police that Pleterski had been kidnapped.
“I mean, obviously, he owes a lot of people a lot of money,” Stelzer said.
Transcripts from court examinations with Pleterski’s father and landlord, reviewed by CTV News Toronto, reveal more details about how the alleged kidnapping unfolded.
“He was taken. They basically held him for approximately three days, drove him around different, various parts of southern Ontario, beat him, tortured him, allowed him to make specific phone calls to specific people only. I was not one of those people that he was allowed to contact,” Pleterski’s father told a courtroom in December.
However, one of the people Pleterski was said to have been allowed to call was his landlord, who said in court that Pleterski asked him for $3 million as a ransom payment.
“I received multiple calls from Aiden, but it was late at night … and then at around 1:30 a.m., I finally had enough, and I picked up the call,” his landlord said in court on Feb. 9.
Pleterski said he had no one else to call, according to his landlord. “I said, ‘There's absolutely nothing that I can do.’”
The court heard that, days later, Pleterski was released by the kidnappers near his landlord’s residence. His release was on the condition he came up with the money fast, according to court documents.
There were no further updates on Pleterski’s release included in the bankruptcy report.
A spokesperson for Toronto police told CTV News Toronto they could not confirm any information that would identify a victim or witness in relation to the investigation. Officers did not provide information on the suspected kidnapper or on the status of arrests made in connection to the case.
SPORTS CARS AND PRIVATE JETS
According to court documents, Pleterski told investors he would increase the value of their money, but in actuality, more than 98 per cent of the money he collected was never invested.
Instead, he spent nearly $16 million on extravagant cars, private jets, and elaborate vacations that equated to approximately 38 per cent of the money he raised from investors, according to a banking analysis in the new report.
Pleterski drove more than 10 sports cars, court documents allege. Among the collection, he owned a McLaren Senna, a very rare, limited-production supercar originally purchased for $1.6 million in September 2021.
The latest documents also detail two properties Pleterski allegedly sunk investor funds into — one in Ajax, Ont. worth $5.5 million, supported by a $500,000 deposit, and another in Burlington, Ont. where he put down a deposit totalling $500,000.
In Stelzer’s view, as the bankruptcy trustee, both properties should be sold and the funds should be returned to investors. In the report, he listed reasons to justify this stance, which highlighted these properties were “funded by investor funds whose money was used by Pleterski in an unauthorized manner.”
Pleterski’s parents said they believed their son was operating a successful investment business, court documents show.
“I knew when he was in high school, he was playing games upstairs on his computer just like any other teenager,” Pleterski’s father said in his cross-examination in December, detailed in a transcript included in the new report.
“But at some point, you became aware that he was trading in cryptocurrency?” the trustee’s lawyer said.
“At some point, yes,” Pleterski’s father replied.
According to Stelzer’s calculations, Pleterski’s parents allegedly benefited more than $1.1 million from their son’s scheme.
Gary Caplan, the lawyer representing the Pleterski parents, told CTV News Toronto he could not comment on the case because it is currently before the courts. However, Caplan pointed to a settlement agreement that has commenced between the Pleterski parents and the trustee.w
In cooperation with the bankruptcy proceedings, the parents have agreed to return two vehicles – an Audi S5 and Volkswagen Atlas – with a market value in excess of $100,000 to the trustee. That goes alongside paying $812,000 on or before June 30.
Meanwhile, Stelzer said he believes there are still more people out there who lost money in Pleterski’s alleged scheme who have yet to come forward.
“We know $41 million came into the account net. We know only $25 million have filed claims. You can do the math,” he said.
“They should reach out … and get the claim filed. The only way they can participate in a dividend is by doing it.”