Ponzi scheme investigation…
The Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) is reportedly now involved in the investigations of a alleged multi-billion Ponzi scheme that has landed a couple in jail facing dozens of charges and which has left thousands without their money.
SOCU, a special arm of the police which specialized in handling financial crimes, is seeking information on an additional six persons in relation to the alleged Ponzi scheme operators.
According to a document seen by this newspaper, SOCU has launched an investigation into money laundering and other offences, allegedly committed by the officials of Accelerated Capital Firm Inc., Yuri Garcia- Dominguez and his wife Ateeka Ishmael, and several other persons- one of whom was convicted for fraud.
SOCU has written to several financial institutions, requesting information whether or not the persons on the list conducted business with the institution between January 2014 and present. The list comprise of eight names -four men and four women.
They are all from the East Coast Demerara.
One of the men on the list was earlier this year sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after he was found guilty for omitting $145M from the company that he was working for. However, the man’s attorney appealed the sentencing and he was released on High Court bail.
In addition to the couple, the other names being investigated included Peter Ramcharran, Ariel Joann Callender, Aubrey Bolton Hugh Norton, Martina Seepersaud, Deomatee Chinapen and Fazal Ishmael.
Garcia- Dominguez and his wife are currently facing a total of 66 fraud charges. The couple appeared before five different Magistrates within the past 13 days. However, the duo was remanded to prison on six fraud charges by one of the Magistrates, when they made their first court appearance.
On Monday, fourteen fraud charges were read to Garcia-Dominguez and his wife. They made their appearance before Senior Magistrate Fabayo Azore in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Courts, with their attorneys, Glenn Hanoman and Dexter Todd.
The defendants denied the allegations, which stated that between May 2020, and June 2020, they obtained $9M under false pretense.
Magistrate Azore granted the defendants bail in the sum of $800,000, each and the matter was adjourned to November 2, 2020.
On Thursday last, the couple was arraigned before Magistrate Dylon Bess in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, where 11 fraud charges were read to them. They denied the allegations, which stated that they obtained $75M under false pretense.
Magistrate Bess granted the defendants bail in the sum of $200,000, on each charge and the matter was adjourned to October 7, 2020.
On Tuesday last, the couple made an appearance before Senior Magistrate Azore in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court. They denied the allegations, which stated that they obtained cash under false pretense and Magistrate Azore granted the defendants bail in the sum of $300,000, on each charge and the matter was adjourned to September 21, 2020.
On Monday, August 31, 2020, Garcia-Dominguez and his wife made a virtual appearance before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts where they were made to answer to 10 fraud charges.
They denied the charges, which stated that between May and July 2020, with intent to commit a felony, they conspired with persons known and unknown to obtain a total sum of over $60M from 10 persons under false pretense.
After reading the charges, Magistrate Daly granted the defendants bail in the sum of $1M each and adjourned the matter to October 5, 2020.
On Thursday, August 27, 2020, the defendants made their first court appearance at the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Melissa Mittleholzer with their attorneys.
Garcia-Dominguez and Ishmael were slapped with 19 fraud charges appearing before two separate magistrates.
Magistrate Mittleholzer read 13 fraud charges to the defendants, which allege that between May and July 2020, the couple obtained a total sum of $24.7M from 13 victims under false pretense.
Magistrate Mittleholzer granted the defendants bail in the sum of $3.9M each and the matter was adjourned to September 18, 2020.
However, the duo then made a virtual appearance before Magistrate Alisha George of the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court.
Magistrate George read six fraud charges to the duo – those charges allege that they obtained over $1M from the victims under false pretense. Magistrate George remanded the defendants to prison and the matter was adjourned to September 21, 2020.
The Government recently announced a multi-sectoral investigation against Garcia-Dominguez and Ishmael, who are officials of Accelerated Capital Firm Inc.
The investigation was launched after the authorities said they received a number of complaints against the company.
Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, recently disclosed that the company has little or no assets in Guyana.
According to a letter from the AG to one of the defendants’ lawyers, as a result of multiple complaints received and reports to the Guyana Police Force (GPF), a team of state agencies has been assembled to inquire into the operations of Accelerated.
Reports revealed that over 17,000 Guyanese were in limbo, after investing over US$20M.
A number of the persons reportedly sold their properties or gave their life savings to the company.
Authorities said that they found little evidence of money leaving Guyana via the normal channels for overseas.
Accelerated told investors that it was actively involved in the foreign exchange trading and promised as much as 40 percent returns every few weeks.
However, authorities, including the Guyana Securities Council, the Bank of Guyana and the Financial Intelligence Unit had warned about the operations.
In fact, Accelerated had been operating for about two years but only applied for a broker’s licence a few weeks ago.
There are details emerging that pastors and other religious leaders were actively involved in recruiting clients or new “investors” for Accelerated.
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