BULLETIN: SEC Accuses Four Canadian Businessmen, Two Florida Attorneys Of Perpetrating $300 Million Ponzi Scheme

Question: What’s the second-largest Ponzi scheme in the news in South Florida this week?

Answer: The alleged $300 million Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Milowe Allen Brost, Gary Allen Sorenson and Bradley Dean Regier of Calgary; Ward K. Capstick, a Canadian citizen who lives in Snohomish, Wash; Larry Lee Adair of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Martin M. Werner of Boca Raton, Fla.

Adair, 62, is a Florida attorney who served as president of Syndicated Gold Depository Inc. (SGD), one of the companies implicated in the alleged scheme. Adair was SGD’s president between December 2001 and at least December 2003, and “continued to act in furtherance of the scheme through at least March 2007,” the SEC said.

He is accused of using his trust account to manage “the flow of investors’ funds” to Sorenson.

Despite the alleged dollar volume of $300 million in the scheme, it was only the second largest Ponzi case in the news in South Florida this week. Scott Rothstein, also a Fort Lauderdale attorney, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme yesterday.

It has been an embarrassing week for the legal community in Florida.

Werner, 53, also is a Florida attorney. He became SGD’s president in 2007 and is accused of being present at meetings in which “the insiders discussed and implemented the scheme,” the SEC charged.

The SEC announced the spectacular civil allegations against the six men today. Also named defendants in the complaint were four companies: SGD, Merendon Mining Corp. Ltd., Merendon Mining (Nevada) Inc., and the Institute for Financial Learning Group of Companies Inc.

Brost, 56, and Sorenson, 66, are the principal defendants. Capstick, 44, was accused of being a so-called “structurist” who recruited other structurists to pitch the allegedly bogus offerings.

Regier, 40, was a bookkeeper and accountant for a Brost-created marketing entity, the SEC said.

Sorenson’s wife and daughter were named relief defendants, meaning the SEC believes they were on the receiving end of ill-gotten gains from the scheme.

The scheme began in 1999, the SEC said.

“Brost and Sorenson orchestrated a complex, far-reaching fraud disguised by a labyrinth of companies and foreign bank accounts they used to hide their misconduct from investors and law enforcement,” said Donald M. Hoerl, director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office.

“Unbeknownst to investors, they were actually investing in shell companies owned or controlled by Brost or Sorenson,” the SEC said. “Investor funds were often transferred multiple times through numerous bank accounts held as far away as Asia, Europe and South America, and then ultimately used to make ‘interest payments’ to investors, fund the few unprofitable companies that actually had operations, and personally enrich Brost, Sorenson and others involved in the scheme.”

Investor money “whirled through accounts located in the U.S. and Canada as well as the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Ecuador, Honduras, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Portugal, and Venezuela,” the SEC said. “Brost and Sorenson diverted investor funds for their personal benefit, using millions of dollars to purchase and renovate extravagant homes, ranches, and recreational vehicles. Sorenson also purchased and outfitted a luxury fishing resort in South America.”

More than 3,000 investors were fleeced in the scheme, the SEC said.

On two occasions in recent months, FBI Director Robert Mueller has warned Congress about the emergence of shell companies as outlets to perpetrate fraud.

Read the SEC complaint.

Read a brief story from December 2009 that references allegations against Brost and Sorenson in Canada.

NOTE: This story has been republished at a URL that is different than its original URL. Although this post reflects a date of June 13, it is not the original publication date. Click here to read why.

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