Religious leaders implicated in multi-billion $$ Ponzi scheme

Religious leaders implicated in multi-billion $$ Ponzi scheme

Two top officials of Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. are to appear in an East Coast Demerara court today for their roles in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Officials said that Yuri Garcia-Dominguez and his wife, Ateeka Ishmael, will both appear in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court.
There were no immediate details of the charges.
However, officials close to the company said there will likely be a peaceful picket to ask for bail.
This comes even as details emerged of how thousands of persons felt convinced enough to sink their money into what authorities believe to be a Ponzi scheme.

The two persons, said to be executives of Accelerated Capital Firm Inc., had remained in police custody since their arrests over the weekend, even as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) informed that a police file studied earlier this year had no evidence of unlawful activities.
According to persons familiar with the operation of Accelerated, there were several agents recruited who handled business for Cuban national, Yuri Garcia Dominguez, who is now a citizen of Guyana, and his wife.

“These people are respected members of society who are trusted. There are pastors and religious leaders. There are some politicians involved too. When people see Accelerated dealing with people like this, they feel comfortable. Mr Yuri who moved with heavily armed bodyguards do not deal upfront with clients. The pastors helped handled,” persons have related.
In fact, investigators reportedly have their eyes on at least one leader of an East Coast Demerara church who was acting as a recruiter.
He may very well be questioned.
A number of pandits were also actively spreading the news of Forex trading, including on their social media pages.

“People got money initially in this thing. I invested over $1.5M and got back returns of $800,000. After that nothing. They blame the problems of payments on COVID and then on the bank accounts being closed. People buy three or four vehicles,” another person shared.
The matter of Accelerated has gotten the attention of the new government after it got complaints about the scheme.

A multi-sectoral task force has been established to look into the matter. It involves Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall, the police and the Guyana Securities Council.
Earlier this week, Nandlall told a lawyer, Glen Hanoman that the company has little or no assets in Guyana.
The story has been deeply worrying thousands of Guyanese whose money are in limbo. A number of them sold properties or gave their life savings to Accelerated.
Hanoman was retained by Garcia-Dominguez and his wife.
According to a letter from the AG to the lawyer, 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.

“A lot of information has already been made public by the relevant State agencies. I am informed by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) that the investigations have, thus far, revealed that your client has received US$20M in alleged “deposits or investments”, and that your client and its principals, comparatively, have little or no assets in the jurisdiction; in consequence thereof, they both remain grave flight risks,” Nandlall said in the letter.

The AG said that he has publicly committed that the State is prepared to do everything that is lawfully possible to facilitate the return of the funds to Guyana, which Garcia-Dominguez claimed are in a number of foreign jurisdictions.
“Unfortunately, all efforts, thus far, to locate those funds in those jurisdictions have been futile. I have already indicated to you that a reopening of one of your client’s closed bank accounts at any of the commercial bank of his choice can be facilitated.”
More than 17,000 persons are said to have invested in Accelerated with one businessman stating on record that he handed over $380M.

Thousands are still not convinced that the operation is a Pyramid or Ponzi Scheme and are calling for the release of the officials. However, authorities including the Bank of Guyana have been issuing warnings.
Investigators have been asking how the funds left Guyana.
In a purported statement Tuesday, Accelerated said it has the funds ready to be disbursed.
However, the principals want to be released from custody.
It said the money is secured in something it called “physical bitcoin wallets”.
The company said it wants an opportunity to explain how the company is structured and for the allegations to be dropped and for the operations not to be described as a Ponzi Scheme.

It also wants to be allowed for the company to be “restructured as required by the Guyana Securities Council” and for a bank account to be facilitated to transfer the money from its “bitcoin wallets”.
The statement would have followed a joint statement from the Bank of Guyana, the Guyana Securities Council and the Financial Intelligence Unit on Monday on what was described as Pyramid Schemes also referred to as Ponzi Schemes.

“We wish to advise that such schemes and their activities are fraudulent, illegal, unlawful and unregulated. It is our understanding that these schemes are being offered to the public via direct solicitation and by various social media platforms, including but not limited to WhatsApp and Facebook. Potential investors are lured to these schemes by offers of returns or interest rates as high as fifty percent (50%) per month. All fiscal empirical data will establish that this is a prudent commercial impossibility.”

“We advise that these operations are all fraudulent, illegal, unlawful and unregulated, and will eventually result in significant financial losses to investors. The known case of Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. formerly operated under the name and style of Accelerated Wealth Inc., and their principals both in their personal and corporate capacity, have been offering these alleged investment services since 2017.”
It was pointed out that Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI) only submitted its application for registration with the Guyana Securities Council on August 6, 2020.

“It has also been established that no substantial monies were deposited in or transmitted from any commercial bank in Guyana by Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI) or its principals to any of the jurisdictions mentioned above or any other jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile, the DPP yesterday made it clear that the matter of a police complaint on Accelerated had come to its attention earlier this year, but there were no evidence of wrongdoings as contained in the statements.
“…the Office of the DPP wishes to confirm that the police file in the matter of “Complaint by Concerned Citizen – Issuance of Citizenship,” was forwarded to these Chambers for legal advice in November 2019 and in April 2020. The police file was first received at these Chambers in November 2019, and based on the statements contained therein, the file was returned to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for further investigations on the immigration status of Yuri Dominguez and Laicy Pedroso.”

The DPP said that after further investigations were completed, the file was to be returned to the DPP’s Office for further legal advice.
“This was done and the file returned to these Chambers in February 2020; legal advice was given based on the information contained in the statements.”
DPP said too that it wished to state categorically that the statements in the police file did not disclose that Garcia-Dominguez was involved in any unlawful activities.

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