Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SEC digs deep

(That all you got Cox? - AM)

By David Scheer
Dec. 30 (Bloomberg

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, under congressional scrutiny for failing to detect Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, said it halted an unrelated $23 million scam targeting Haitian-Americans.

A federal judge in Miami agreed to freeze assets and appoint a receiver after the SEC sued George Theodule and two companies he helped control, claiming he lured investors by promising to double their money within 90 days, the agency said in a statement today. Theodule lost at least $18 million on securities trades in the past year, while early investors got funds raised from later participants, the SEC said.

Theodule, 48, encouraged people to form investment clubs that funneled funds to the firms, raising more than $23 million since November 2007, the SEC said. Participants were told some profits would fund ventures benefiting the Haitian community in the U.S., Haiti and Sierra Leone, it said.

“This alleged Ponzi scheme preyed upon unsuspecting members of a close-knit community, attempting to take advantage of the trust they had in each other,” Linda Thomsen, the SEC’s enforcement director, said in the agency’s statement.

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