Jun 11, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Two agents/marketers for alleged Ponzi scheme operator, Yuri Garcia Dominguez, have been slapped with money laundering charges and yesterday made their first appearance in two courts on the East Coast of Demerara, for the offence.
Aubrey Norton and Martina Seepersaud, of Lot 242 Track ‘A’ Coldigen, East Coast Demerara, were slapped with two charges under the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act. They were charged by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
According to information, the duo lived with Garcia-Dominguez and his wife, Ateeka Ishmael, who are accused of bilking thousands of Guyanese of over $4B. Garcia-Dominguez and his wife are officials of Accelerated Capital Firm (ACF) Inc., through which they allegedly solicited millions of dollars from Guyanese.
Norton and Seepersaud not only lived with the couple but also worked for them as agents/marketers. It is alleged that Norton and Seepersaud collected millions of dollars through the Ponzi scheme operation and used the monies they obtained to purchase properties on the East Coast of Demerara.
The two first appeared in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court before Senior Magistrate, Fabayo Azore. They were not required to plea to the indictable charge, which was read to them. That charge alleges that on June 8, 2020, at Coldingen, East Coast Demerara, Norton and Seepersaud entered into an agreement of sale and purchase with vendors to purchase a property situated at Lot 36 First Street, Montrose, East Coast Demerara, for $60M. It is alleged that they transferred the sum of $50M by paying cash as a down payment on the passing of the transport of the property with the balance of $10M.
Senior Magistrate Azore placed both defendants on $300,000 bail each, with the condition attached that they lodge their passports and report every Friday to SOCU. That matter was adjourned to July 8, 2021.
After that matter, Norton and Seepersaud were taken to the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate, Rochelle Liverpool, where they were slapped with the second charge.
That charge alleges that Norton and Seepersaud also transferred the sum of $53M to vendors, as part payment for the purchase of a property called Block XIV Parcel located at Lot 86 Fourth Street, La Bonne Intention, East Coast Demerara. They were not required to plea to that charge also and they were placed on $200,000 bail each. Magistrate Liverpool adjourned the matter to July 22, 2021, for report.
For both charges it is alleged that the duo transferred the monies, knowingly or having reasons to believe that the said sums are the proceeds of crime since they had no legitimate source of income that could have generated the funds acquired to enable them to purchase these properties.
Kaieteur News understands that the properties were later resold to purchasers in the United States of America. Norton and Seepersaud are the first to be charged with money laundering, contrary to Section 3 (1) (a) of the AML/CFT Act, Chapter 10:11.
According to the Head of SOCU, Senior Superintendent, Fazil Karimbaksh, an immense investigation was done by SOCU, which led to the first-ever money laundering charges being instituted by the Unit since its establishment in 2014.
This publication had recently reported that the GPF in a notice had requested that all marketers/agents of the alleged Ponzi scheme to report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown, with their documents receiving and handing over cash to the operators.
This was being done as part of the investigation into several reports that were made at the CID headquarters by agents against Garcia-Dominguez and his wife.
Garcia-Dominguez had alleged that his agents/marketers are withholding the sum of $900M reserves that were set aside to repay investors in case the company’s operations should ever run into issues. The agents/marketers allege that the monies, which they had in their possession, were already returned to Garcia-Dominguez who in return gave them a small commission.
Garcia-Dominguez is a Cuban national who was granted citizenship in June 2020. He and his wife, Ishmael, are currently before the court facing 80 plus fraud charges and two charges under the AML/CFT Act. The charges were brought against the couple by SOCU.
The duo is currently before three different courts facing charges, which allege that they obtained monies under false pretense. They were released on $30M bail after spending over a month in prison on remand.
Garcia-Dominguez and Ishmael reportedly lured thousands of Guyanese to invest their money and promised them a 40 percent profit on their investment. The company also encouraged its investors to enlist others in order to earn a 10 percent commission for each person they enlist.
The “investors” included businessmen and church members, with a number of religious leaders accused of playing roles in recruiting unsuspecting Guyanese.
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