Former Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, who served under the David Granger-led APNU/AFC Administration, has admitted that he indeed granted embattled Cuban national Yuri Dominguez Guyanese citizenship.
Felix on Monday attempted to defend his role in granting the citizenship to Dominguez, who is under investigation for operating a Ponzi scheme, claiming he had no knowledge of the alleged fraud nor any letter from the Guyana Securities Council (GSC).
His denial of receiving a letter from GSC warning him about Dominguez’s involvement in a Ponzi scheme is not supported by available records which were released soon after his denial. On Monday, a record book signed by a Ministry of Citizenship staffer was leaked to the media, showing that the GSC letter was dispatched to and received by Felix’s Ministry. In the letter, the GSC warned Felix that “it has discovered two illegal investment schemes (pyramid-like) apparently run by Yuri Garcia-Dominguez and Ateeka Ishmael… these two parties have apparently used two companies to assist in their scheme, namely; Accelerated Wealth Inc of Lot 10 First Street Industry and Forex Trade, a registered business of the same address.”
But by Felix’s account, he proceeded with having Dominguez naturalised after seeking and receiving clearance from the Guyana Police Force (GPF), which in turn received clearance from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“In accordance therewith, there being no other restraining circumstances to necessitate official action to prevent the Naturalization process, Dominquez’ Naturalization form was signed on 12th June, 2020, just about two months after the DPP ‘treated the matter as closed’,” Felix also wrote in his statement.
Dominguez and his wife ran the company Accelerated Capital Firm Incorporated (ACFI), where they enrolled thousands of Guyanese citizens in a Ponzi scheme where ACFI claims that it uses a foreign exchange platform to trade. Reports indicate that all aspects of the scheme operate online via training webinars, WhatsApp and emails.
The pair was arrested on Thursday last by police, who are currently investigating his company. Social media has been flooded by complaints from persons who invested money with the couple and never got back their capital, much less the profits.
Persons have complained on social media that they invested varying sums ranging from $100,000 to over $1 million, but now they do not know if they will ever recover their hard-earned money. There are reports that businessmen have invested well over $50 million and in one case as much as $150 million.
The methods of payment used to invest and trade are credit cards or by wire transfer. Further, investigations have revealed that local banks have terminated the accounts of both Dominguez and Ishmael, 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.
During a press conference on Saturday, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had said that the relevant subject Ministers, particularly former Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan and former Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, were alerted about the activities of Accelerated Capital by the GSC but never responded.
“Based on the information I received, applications were made to the Bank of Guyana for a license. That was rejected. Applications were made to the Guyana Securities Council for license, that was rejected.”
“And under the previous Government, both the Bank of Guyana and the Guyana Securities Council (GSC) informed the various Ministers of this scheme operating without a license. They received no response,” Nandlall had explained.
The Attorney General, who heads a high-level team that includes the Commissioner of Police, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Head of the Guyana Securities Council, has assured that his Government will work to ensure investors are reimbursed.