WATERLOO -- Pigeon King International founder Arlan Galbraith, 62, of Cochrane, Ont. was arrested Dec. 1, when he turned himself in to Waterloo police after an extensive joint investigation by Waterloo police and the Kitchener RCMP Commercial Crime Section. He was charged with one count of fraud over $5,000 and four counts under the Bankruptcy Act. The criminal charge relates to allegations that Galbraith defrauded individuals in Canada and the U.S. of more than $1 million between 2004 and 2008.
Galbraith, the company's owner and sole shareholder, was released on bail but has a court date set for January 25. It is believed that approximately 1,000 people invested more than $20 million during that period while allegedly being promised guaranteed financial returns in what turned out to be a scam.
The company filed for bankruptcy in the summer of 2008. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller put out a warning to potential investors to take caution when dealing with Pigeon King International but it took longer for Canadian authorities to react.
Galbraith lured investors into a 10-year contract by telling them that pigeons were in high demand in parts of Europe and Asia for pigeon racing. However, that story later changed and Galbraith then began to preach the value of squab (pigeon meat) in foreign markets. He also noted that squab could replace chicken in North America if the avian flu pandemic, at the time, continued.
Investors bought a set amount of pigeon couples and Galbraith then, as a sign of good faith, provided a certain per cent back. After the pigeons laid eggs, Galbraith's company then bought the hatchlings back at $50 apiece. However, it is alleged that the pigeons Galbraith bought back did not go overseas as he originally stated, but rather to holding facilities, which he later sold back to new investors. When no new investors were found the financial return for older investors ran out forcing Pigeon King into bankruptcy.
The subject is something that many who were involved with do not wish to discuss. The AgriNews contacted area farmers who had invested in pigeons and Pigeon King but they declined to comment.
The whole situation has left many investors in large debt that they are unsure if they will ever be able to pay off, with no signs of restitution on the horizon. Once Galbraith appears in court, and an outcome is reached, it may provide slight closure for those victimized by the scheme.