BREAKING NEWS: SEC Charges Four Individuals, Two Companies In Alleged ‘Green’ Ponzi Scheme; Former President Clinton Acknowledged Firm’s Commitment To Environment At Major New York Event In September

It what may become an embarrassment to President Obama, Former President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a man the SEC now says was operating a $30 million Ponzi scheme appeared alongside President Clinton at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York Sept. 25.

Obama’s name and the names of both Clintons were dropped in a video on the website of Speed of Wealth LLC, a Colorado company accused today of promoting the scheme for Mantria Corp. of Pennsylvania. Other names dropped on the site included former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart, Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. and actor Matt Damon.

All of the individuals were among the prominent attendees of President Clinton’s CGI function.

There are no assertions that any of the politicians, prominent business executives or celebrities who attended the CGI event had any knowledge of the alleged scheme. But Troy Wragg, CEO of Mantria Corp., one of the companies accused in the scheme, appeared next to President Clinton and Secretary of State Clinton on the stage in New York.

The Speed of Wealth video featured snap shots of famous people who attended the CGI event. It concluded with Bill Clinton’s remarks recorded on video, with Wragg, other attendees and the Clintons in a group pose.

Speed of Wealth was a sales outlet for the Mantria scheme, the SEC charged today.

Screen shot: Troy Wragg, whom the SEC said today was a manager at a janitorial company before becoming CEO of Mantria Corp., next to President Clinton at the annual meeting on the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept. 25.

Screen shot: Troy Wragg, whom the SEC said today was a manager at a janitorial company before becoming CEO of Mantria Corp., next to President Clinton at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept. 25.

Mantria Corp.’s 28-year-old chairman and CEO, Troy Wragg, whom the SEC said was “employed as a manager for a small janitorial services company” prior to getting into the Ponzi business, was prominently featured in a video on Speed of Wealth’s Website.

In the video, Wragg is standing next to President Clinton, who had acknowledged Mantria for its environmental commitment at the CGI event Sept. 25.

Mantria even got a mention in a CGI news release after committing “to help mitigate global warming through the use of its Carbon Fields site, where Mantria will perform trials on their product BioChar, a carbon-negative charcoal, to prove how this product can sequester carbon dioxide, improve soil quality when buried, and reduce emissions in developing countries.”

Today in Denver, however, the SEC said BioChar was part of the alleged Ponzi scheme, which may involve $30 million or more.

Despite claims that “Mantria was the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of biochar and had multiple facilities producing it at a rate of 25 tons per day,” the SEC said, “Mantria has never sold any biochar and has just one facility engaged in testing biochar for possible future commercial production.”

One SEC official said there was little “green” about the firm, except perhaps for its love of money.

“These promoters fraudulently exaggerated Mantria’s green initiatives and used high-pressure tactics to convince investors to chase the promise of lucrative returns,” said Don Hoerl, director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office. “In reality, the only green these promoters seemed interested in was investors’ money.”

Charged today were Speed of Wealth and two of its executives: Wayde McKelvy of Sunny Isle Beach, Fla., and Donna McKelvy, of Parker, Colo.

Also charged were Mantria and two of its executives: Wragg, who lives in Philadelphia, and Amanda Knorr, also of Philadelphia.

Wayde and Donna McKelvy previously were married, and “particularly targeted elderly investors or those approaching retirement age to finance such ‘green’ initiatives,” the SEC said.

Mantria was a “supposed ‘carbon negative’ housing community in rural Tennessee,” the SEC said.

But the “green” representations “were laced with bogus claims, and investors were falsely promised enormous returns on their investments ranging from 17 percent to ‘hundreds of percent’ annually,” the SEC said.

The agency charged that “Mantria’s environmental initiatives have not generated any significant cash, and any returns paid to investors have been funded almost exclusively from other investors’ contributions.”

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11 Responses to “BREAKING NEWS: SEC Charges Four Individuals, Two Companies In Alleged ‘Green’ Ponzi Scheme; Former President Clinton Acknowledged Firm’s Commitment To Environment At Major New York Event In September”

  1. Well that is certainly not the first time Clinton has rubbed elbows with criminals and the criminally minded. Their criminal shenanigans wasn’t even defended when he was in office. Instead the media marveled at how Slick Willy was able to get away with it. Remeber Norman Hsu, big time contributer to the Clintons just got 24 years for a 50 million ponzi scheme.

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  2. Saint Michael,

    I never have been a fan of the Clinton’s but, in this instance, the Clinton’s are lending their status to a good cause in their minds. I doubt they vetted each and every participant nor would they reasonably be expected to.

    In the case of Ken Lay of Enron, he was invited into the Whitehouse by Clinton’s successor and asked to comment on energy policy because he was a big contributor.

    Not knowing every detail of the conference and the Clinton’s level of involvement, I will reserve judgment but my knee jerk reaction (or lack thereof) is that this will have no affect on Obama or the Clinton’s. It’s a non-story at the national level, in my opinion.

    An unethical person participated in a conference and is being called to account by authorities.

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  3. His myspace is interesting:
    http://www.myspace.com/troywragg

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  4. I don’t think the story has the makings of a political scandal. But it could get some national play for a couple of reasons.

    First, the Colorado company — Speed of Wealth LLC — used President Clinton’s CGI gathering as a marketing prop to hype Mantria.

    The headline over the video was, “Mantria Honored by President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

    Mantria appears to have created a PDF from materials on the website of Clinton’s CGI. It’s still live, as of this writing:

    http://www.mantria.com/newsevents/Clinton%20Global%20Initiative%20DOC%2020090925.pdf

    Second, the video purports that Mantria got big play on Ivory Coast television. The president of the Ivory Coast was in attendance, and Troy Wragg from Mantria appears also to have been in his presence.

    At this point, it looks as though the alleged Ponzi pushers basically just used an important international function as a marketing prop. This, of course, demonstrates the perils of politicians posing for pictures with people who weren’t vetted — and perhaps having to pay the price in embarrassment later.

    It also looks as though some of the snapshots that appeared in the Speed of Wealth video came from Clinton’s CGI. So, a wealth coach now implicated in an alleged Ponzi scheme has created a potentially embarrassing situation.

    Andy Bowdoin — and plenty of ASD members — traded on President Bush’s name. This is more of the same, only Speed of Wealth and Mantria were trading on Clinton’s name. There was a snapshot of President Obama in the video, as well.

    Patrick

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  5. Same S#@$ different day! The Mckelvy’s are a prime example of what’s wrong with our society. There is so much greed that animals like them prey on anyone, anytime, anywhere. I just hope that the case will go through the courts swiftly so those 2 rats go to jail quickly but I won’t hold my breath!

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  6. admin: Andy Bowdoin — and plenty of ASD members — traded on President Bush’s name.

    Andy wasn’t the only one. I found this shocking video of someone else who should have been vetted before meeting “The Shrub”:

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  7. Quick note:

    PP Blog got a mention in the Philadelphia Business Journal yesterday:

    http://philadelphia.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/blogs/law/2009/11/ponzi_scheme_defendant_mantria_was_honored_by_clinton.html

    Patrick

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  8. We are aware of the SEC action in Denver. We deny all the allegations raised by the SEC against Mantria and its principals and we are preparing our defense. We hope to obtain a favorable resolution of this matter. In the interim, we will continue to market our waste-to-energy systems, bio-char and related bio-products and our residential real estate communities. Please contact our Chairman, Troy Wragg, for any further information.

    We encourage everyone to see the properties and take a tour through our waste conversion system and see how we are able to convert biomass waste into valuable BioProducts.

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  9. Mantria Corporation: We are aware of the SEC action in Denver.We deny all the allegations raised by the SEC against Mantria and its principals and we are preparing our defense.We hope to obtain a favorable resolution of this matter.In the interim, we will continue to market our waste-to-energy systems, bio-char and related bio-products and our residential real estate communities.Please contact our Chairman, Troy Wragg, for any further information.We encourage everyone to see the properties and take a tour through our waste conversion system and see how we are able to convert biomass waste into valuable BioProducts.

    Good for you. I love this quote

    “One SEC official said there was little “green” about the firm, except perhaps for its love of money.”

    Why do all prosecuted ponzi schemers always try to convince us that the authorities are stupid.? Admittedly the SEC did not come up covered in roses with the Madoff affair and were far too intimidated by the big names to dare to complete a thorough investigation, but in this instance it looks as if they got over it.

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