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– scores protested, call for their release
Amid a large protest calling for their release, Yuri Garcia Dominguez and Ateeka Ishmael, the key players of an alleged multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme operations here were on Thursday morning charged at two separate East Coast Demerara magistrates’ courts and while at one court they were granted bail- they were remanded to prison another, which meant that they will remain behind bars.
Their lawyers have however indicated that they will petition the High Court for bail for their clients. The couple first appeared at the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court where they were granted bail by Magistrate Marissa Mittelholzer on 13 charges of conspiracy to commit a felony. Six similar charges were later read at the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court by Magistrate Alisha George who remanded the couple to prison.
Attorneys for the pair Glen Hanoman and Dexter Todd told reporters that they will be applying to the High Court to have their clients released on bail. On Wednesday night the multi-stakeholder group established by the Government of Guyana to investigate the Ponzi scheme operations said that intelligence accumulated from reliable counterparts in Belize, confirm that no company bearing the name “FK Choice” is registered with the local or the international Registry of Companies in that jurisdiction, as alleged by Yuri Garcia Dominguez. The scheme operated by Accelerated Capital Firm Incorporated is under investigation and scores of Guyanese have already come forward to say they were conned by the group.
In a release last Thursday, Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said the administration had received dozens of complaints from members of the public, in relation to the operations of a financial outfit, located on the East Coast of Demerara.
Nandlall said the Guyana Securities Council (GSC) had written to the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the Vice President Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo and the Commissioner of Police, informing them of the operations of this scheme in the country. He said as a result, he met with and received from the GSC a report of the operations of this agency. “In short, the report describes the agency, styled Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI), as a “Pyramid or a Ponzi Scheme” that has received hundreds of millions of dollars from thousands of Guyanese,” Nandlall said.
He said on Thursday Government assembled a high-level team headed by him, the Commissioner of Police, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit and Head of the Guyana Securities Council to immediately, adopting a multi-sector approach, investigate the operations of ACFI, with a view, inter alia, of reimbursing monies to the persons who “invested” in the scheme. Persons with relevant information are invited to assist in the investigations.
Nandlall added that in its Report, GSC noted that the business engaged in by ACFI violates several pieces of legislation across the fiscal regulatory architecture. Currently, Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI) is not licensed by the Guyana Securities Council to solicit investments from the public. Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act, it is required for all investors to provide the source of funds and ensure that the financial activities and money laundering risks associated with a customer are properly recorded. The Guyana Securities Council is not in receipt of that information from the application submitted.
The AG said the Guyana Securities Council pursuant to Securities Industry Act 1998 and Regulations thereto, requested from ACFI detail information and documents pertaining to its principals and the operations of the organization. To date, the information has not been submitted as requested by the GSC and the application will not be processed unless the requisite supporting documents are submitted. The GSC also wrote to Mr. Yuri Garcia Dominguez to cease and desist from advising the clients of Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. that the reason for non-payment to their clients is that the Guyana Securities Council is in the process of granting a license to Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. In fact, the GSC made it pellucid that it would have no choice than to apply the full force of its mandate to Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI) since the application dated the 5th August 2020, has not been approved.
The Attorney General said to date thousands of Guyanese citizens have enrolled in the Ponzi scheme where ACFI claims that it uses a foreign exchange platform to trade and it seems that all aspects of the scheme operate online via training webinars, WhatsApp and emails. 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 Ms. Ateeka Ishmael and Mr. Yuri Garcia Dominguez, 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.