Federal Judge Issues Restraining Order, Asset Freeze In Alleged Mantria Ponzi Scheme; Video Featuring President Obama, Former President Clinton And World Business Leaders Pulled From ‘Speed Of Wealth’ Website
In a day of notable irony, the Obama administration announced the creation of an Interagency Financial Fraud Task Force led by the Department of Justice. Critical support functions will be provided by the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
One of the first cases the new Task Force may find itself discussing is the alleged Mantria Corp. Ponzi scheme — a scheme in which a video featuring an image of President Obama and recorded remarks by former President Clinton was used in marketing materials by the alleged schemers.
Even as the Task Force announcement was being made, the SEC was announcing that a federal judge had granted a Temporary Restraining Order and asset freeze in the alleged “green” Ponzi operated by Mantria Corp. of Pennsylvania and sold by Speed of Wealth LLC of Colorado.
Within minutes, a video featuring a snapshot of President Obama and recorded remarks by President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York Sept. 25 went missing from Speed of Wealth’s website. Meanwhile, the Mantria website defaulted to a message that read, “We Are Rebuilding this Site to Make it the Most Informational Site Possible. Please check back with us in 10 days.”
Only yesterday the Mantria website showcased a PDF that appeared to have been assembled in part from CGI press materials to spotlight President Clinton’s efforts to improve the world.
The Speed of Wealth video, a marketing prop that dropped the names of famous politicians and international celebrities such as former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and actor Matt Damon, still had been accessible this morning.
That changed quickly after the announcement of the TRO and asset freeze. The SEC announced civil charges against Speed of Wealth and Mantria yesterday. Speed of Wealth’s video highlighted Mantria’s purported devotion to the environment, under the headline “Mantria Honored by President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
In the video, Mantria CEO Troy Wragg appeared on the stage next to President Clinton, Secretary of State Clinton and others. CGI had lauded Mantria for helping to “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.â€
Regulators said yesterday that BioChar was part of a $30 million Ponzi fraud.
Despite claims that â€œMantria was the worldâ€™s leading manufacturer and distributor of biochar and had multiple facilities producing it at a rate of 25 tons per day,â€ the SEC said, â€œMantria has never sold any biochar and has just one facility engaged in testing biochar for possible future commercial production.â€
Others featured in the Speed of Wealth video included President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart and Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co.
All of the individuals were among the prominent attendees of President Clintonâ€™s CGI function.
It is not unusual for companies to promote themselves by trying to establish ties to prominent figures. AdSurfDaily, a Florida company accused by the U.S. Secret Service and federal prosecutors of operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme, was featured in promotions that claimed company President Andy Bowdoin had received a special award for business achievement from President George W. Bush.
Prosecutors said the claim was false. What ASD promoters had called an important award from the White House, investigators called a souvenir for donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
What was unusual about the Speed of Wealth video is that it shamelessly dropped so many names of well-known people who attended the CGI event, a dignified function hosted by President Clinton that annually draws global political and business leaders.
Some of the snap shots used in assembling the video appeared to have been pulled from media materials on CGI’s website.
Along with showcasing the video cobbled together from one of President Clinton’s signature events, the Speed of Wealth website announced what it described as “the Partnership of the Century!” between itself and Mantria.
Speed of Wealth said money was to be made while itself and Mantria were saving the environment and “helping Middle America secure its financial future!”
Topics covered included:
- Why investing in foreclosures today will make you rich and the only way you should be doing it is sitting on the beach in Bermuda while your foreclosure empire grows.
- How to build $2,000,000 dollars of wealth with absolutely no money out of your pocket ever.
- How to easily receive up to 25% returns on your money annually in an investment that I believe to be safer than a bank CD.