Trading companies cancel contracts, investors’ monies at risk – lawyer
Ponzi scheme in Guyana
…pleads with SOCU, FIU, AG to cooperate
Prime Trust and CoinZoom have cancelled their contracts with Cuban National Yuri Garcia-Dominguez and his wife, Ateeka Ishmael, who have been charged for money laundering, operating a pyramid scheme, and defrauding persons in Guyana of millions of dollars.
This was revealed by the couple’s lawyer, Dexter Todd, who during an interview with Guyana Times on Thursday noted that the cancellation of the contracts makes repayments to investors even more risky, as they stand the chance of losing their money.
Together, Garcia-Dominguez and his wife are facing more than 70 charges for obtaining money by false pretence from some 17,000 people. They are said to have obtained over $200 million. On October 12, 2020, the couple began reimbursing persons who had invested in their company, Accelerated Capital Firm Incorporated (ACFI).
However, the refunds came to an unexpected halt a few days later after ranks from the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) raided their home at Coldingen, East Coast Demerara and seized several pieces of equipment they claimed were vital in processing the refund transactions. Only 27 persons have been refunded to date.
The ranks had a warrant to search and seize monies, devices, and financial documents that would assist in their money-laundering investigations. But no monies were found at the couple’s home. Instead, Police ranks seized several borrowed computers, cellphones and personal documents, including birth, marriage and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) certificates.
During a press conference on October 15, Todd had said, “The effect of the [search] is that the company is now not in a position to continue any forms of repayments to their clients. So those persons who have invested, they will now have to hold on until this matter is cleared up whether it be through the civil court or further interventions with the Police department. And when those items are returned, then they [his clients] will be in a position to continue the payments to the thousands of investors who are requiring their monies. When I say the materials are gone, I mean the phones, the laptops… the codes to withdraw the bitcoins and to transfer the bitcoins into dollars.”
According to Todd, ever since the search, the Police have not made contact with his clients. He explained that due to the magnitude of the allegations levelled against his clients, the international companies holding the bitcoins have begun cancelling his clients’ contracts. “Therefore, there will be a situation in which you have bitcoins and noting to convert them to US dollars,” the lawyer pointed out.
The lawyer said that as a result of this, persons who have invested in ACFI may lose their monies. On this note, the lawyer said he is pleading with Attorney General Anil Nandlall; Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum; SOCU, and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to cooperate with his clients to ensure that all investors are repaid.
“We have to meet as a collaborative team on the way forward. They would have to cooperate in allowing the bitcoins to be converted. No bank in Guyana takes bitcoins and gave you cash.”
According to Todd, the prices of bitcoins fluctuate and the longer they are being held up means that his clients have no control over the market value. Todd indicated that he has since written to the Attorney General requesting a meeting on the way forward.
He added that the Attorney General should be in receipt of the letter by today. The lawyer said that similar letters will be dispatched to SOCU, FIU and the Crime Chief.
On behalf of his clients, Todd has filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court, asking that all charges and investigations against them be discontinued immediately. The couple has asked the High Court to order the Director of public Prosecutions (DPP) to discontinue all charges against them. They are also asking the court to order the police to cease all investigations against them.
Todd contends that the actions taken so far by the Police, DPP and Attorney General are unlawful, unreasonable, in excess of jurisdiction, irrational, unfair, arbitrary, capricious, ultra vires, unconstitutional, without proper legal grounds, and therefore constitutes an abuse of public law power, null void, and of no legal effect.
The case comes up for a case management conference on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 before acting Chief Justice Roxane George. In the meantime, the couple have been released on over $30 million bail with instructions to lodge their passports and report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters.
The couple has ceased operations in Guyana after failing to obtain a license from the Guyana Securities Council.
The couple had stated that ACFI’s mode of business is trading on the international stock exchange. Investing parties, having entered into a legally binding contract with ACFI, are permitted to invest a certain amount of capital. Either the investing party or ACFI can then deposit same with brokers such as IQ Options and FX Choice which would then be traded on the international market.
The investing party subsequently receives 40 per cent to 50 per cent on their investment based on the invested amount and the terms of the contract. They had explained that the company can and does monitor the activities of the international trading transaction undertaken by IQ Options and or FX Choice for and on behalf of the investors.
On instruction from ACFI, they explained that IQ Options and FX Choice are required to remit profits earned by investors from their investments to ACFI Prime Trust Account. According to the husband and his wife, ACFI then wires the profits in the Prime Trust Account to its account at Bank of Baroda in Guyana.
Thereafter, they stated that the investing party subsequently receives 40 per cent to 50 per cent on their investment based on the invested amount and the terms of the contract.
Their lawyer has since assured that his clients have all intention of repaying investors as most of them are in dire need of their cash due to the economic burden brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.