Sunday, February 6, 2011
Ponzi couple pocketed millions ...TODAY ONE YEAR AGO
Ponzi couple pocketed millions
Law catches up with tricksters who fleeced hundreds of investors
Feb 6, 2010 10:51 PM | By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
The number plate of his black Lamborghini read "Unreal" - much like the way Graeme Minne and his wife, Erika, duped almost a thousand investors out of millions of rands.
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The Registrar of Banks has pounced on South Africa's latest Ponzi scheme, which has been running for almost a decade.
Last week, luxury cars, homes and furniture belonging to the Minnes were seized by the sheriff of the court in Mossel Bay.
Graham Dawes, risk advisory director at the auditing firm Deloitte, was appointed by the Registrar of Banks last year to investigate Minne's company, Minne Opleiding/ Training. Dawes and his team were also tasked with recovering money lost by investors.
It was found that Minne had contravened the Banks Act and had siphoned millions from almost 800 people since 2002. The Registrar of Banks then ordered Minne to stop operating his scheme.
Investors include pensioners, the disabled, the wealthy and overseas businessmen.
Most of the local investors are from Durban, Bloemfontein, Mossel Bay and George.
"Minne claimed to be involved in forex trading, and the investors' understanding was that they were earning interest of 65% over a year or 4% a month. The reason that was possible was because of the substantial profit he made in forex trading. What we found is that it was not the case," said Dawes.
"In other words, there weren't any serious profits from forex trading and Minne was reliant on getting new investors to pay the interest of the existing investors."
While Minne's operation was not conducted on same scale as Barry Tannenbaum's R12.5-billion Ponzi scheme, Dawes said the couple raked in a substantial amount. "Individual investments ranged from R10000 to R2.3-million - altogether over R220-million."
Assets totalling R12-million were seized, including R6-million in bank accounts.
The couple owned two homes on the Garden Route, one in Mossel Bay valued at R6-million and a R4-million pad in Hartenbos.
Minne's Lamborghini was repossessed at Christmas after his bank account was frozen and he could not pay the instalments.
Dawes said it was unlikely they would recover all the money lost by investors. Minne is expected to be sequestrated in a week's time.