17,000 persons affected by Ponzi scheme

Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, in discussion with Commissioner of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie; Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum; Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Matthew Langevine; Head of the Securities Council, Cheryl Ibbot and Central Bank Governor, Dr Gobind Ganga who joined the meeting virtually
Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, in discussion with Commissioner of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie; Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum; Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Matthew Langevine; Head of the Securities Council, Cheryl Ibbot and Central Bank Governor, Dr Gobind Ganga who joined the meeting virtually

– major probe launched

THE Guyana Securities Council (GSC) has written to President, Dr. Irfaan Ali; Vice- President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo and Police Commissioner (ag), Nigel Hoppie, informing them of a suspected Ponzi scheme operating in Guyana, according to Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall.
Some 17,000 Guyanese have been affected by the scheme.

The AG said a number of Guyanese citizens have enrolled in the Ponzi scheme where Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI) claims that it uses a foreign exchange platform to trade and it seems that all aspects of the scheme operate online via training webinars, WhatsApp and e-mail.

The legal affairs minister noted that the operation is unlicenced, unregulated and in violation of several pieces of legislation.
“I advise that we immediately issue a public statement so informing the public, requesting that they demand their monies back and assuring them that our Government will try to assist in this regard. In the statement, I will highlight the fact that the Guyana Securities Council informed the previous administration of this illegal operation a long time ago without any avail. The statement will also inform the public that our government has formally engaged the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate the operations of the entity,” the AG said in the meeting with law enforcement officials.

The GSC provided the attorney-general with letters that were sent in October, 2019, to Mr. Winston Felix, former Minister of Citizenship, Ministry of the Presidency, and Khemraj Ramjattan, former Minister of Public Security informing them of a suspected illegal investment (pyramid scheme).
The scheme is allegedly operated by Yuri Garcia Dominguez and Ateeka Ishmael.

Mr. Yuri Garcia Dominguez, who is a Cuban had applied to the Minister of Citizenship for naturalisation in Guyana and the publications were seen in the newspapers giving notice.

The notices invited persons who knew of any reason why naturalisation should not be granted to be sent to the then Ministry of the Presidency.

NO PAYMENT
The GSC received no response to pieces of correspondence. A number of persons have indicated that they have received no payments from ACFI and attempts made to contact Mr. Yuri Garcia Dominguez have proven futile.

Further, investigations have revealed that Demerara Bank Limited terminated the accounts of Ms. Ateeka Ishmael and Yuri Garcia Dominguez, and refused their request to open a corporate account as a result of their due diligence and the public notice by GSC in the print media.

The GSC had also issued Public Notices in October 2019 and January 2020, notifying the public that Accelerated Capital Firm (formerly ‘Accelerated Wealth Inc.’) is not licensed by the GSC to conduct securities business in Guyana or to solicit investments from the public.

The Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACF) in its agreement establishes what is popularly referred to as a Pyramid or Ponzi Scheme. The agreement states that the company operates on the foreign exchange market (FOREX, stocks, commodities, equities, ETFS) with funds deposited thereon by the investor who will receive the profits as indicated by ACF.

The attorney-general said that he was informed that 17,000 Guyanese are affected by the scheme.
In describing how the fraud is committed, the AG noted that the investor is told that he/she will initially receive 50 per cent of his/her initial investment at the end of the month from the date of the deposit.

The investor, he said may recruit or invite new persons to belong to the investment plan and will be entitled to commissions and profits mentioned in the payment plan.
“The payment plan as described in the agreement states that for every person you persuade to invest in ACF the investor will get 10 per cent of the amount invested by the person to be paid within five business days of the deposit. Further, the investor can get an additional 10 per cent monthly lifetime payment if he could find three additional persons to invest in the scheme. The more persons that are persuaded by the investor to participate in the scheme, and the larger the investment that is made, the higher the percentage of monthly lifetime payments will be made to the investor by ACF,” the AG noted