URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: TelexFree Says It Has Filed For Bankruptcy In United States; Uganda’s Central Bank Issues Fraud Warning
URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: (6th update 2:36 p.m. EDT U.S.A.) TelexFree LLC and “certain of its subsidiaries and affiliates” have filed for bankruptcy in Nevada, the firm said in a statement this morning.
In its statement, the company did not directly identify the other TelexFree firms involved in the filing. A link in the statement, however, identifies the firms as TelexFree LLC, TelexFree Inc. and TelexFree Financial Inc.
A schedule included in the bankruptcy filing suggests that TelexFree owes its 30 largest unsecured creditors nearly $14 million. As much as $36 million may be owed other unsecured creditors, the filing suggests.
TelexFree is seeking to reject contracts that existed with affiliates both before and after the “program” changed its compensation plan on March 9, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Stakeholders and affiliates are called “constituents” in the statement, which attributes a remark to Stuart MacMillan, “interim Chief Executive Officer of TelexFREE.”
TelexFree is under investigation by the Massachusetts Securities Division. Prosecutors in Brazil have described TelexFree as a pyramid scheme.
Separately, the central bank of Uganda has issued a fraud warning on TelexFree and other programs, according to a report in African media. The warning follows a move by the government of Rwanda last month that banned a TelexFree enterprise.
TelexFree’s announcement of the bankruptcy filing occurred just days after the enterprise, citing unspecified “scheduling conflicts,” sought the postponement of a hearing in Alabama to consider its application for “Resale Interexchange Authority.”
TelexFree says it is in the VOIP business and provides other telecommunications services. How the bankruptcy filing would affect various TelexFree phone-service applications in various states was not immediately clear. In regulatory filings, TelexFree LLC said it posted more than $691 million in “total income” last year.
Affiliates of the TelexFree MLM “program” have been complaining about not getting paid.
The filing also takes place against the backdrop of public appeals by TelexFree for affiliates to recruit more customers. A promo earlier this month included the logos of prominent media firms in the United States, planting the seed that the firm’s MLM “program” had the backing of the companies, many of which are affiliates of major television networks in the United States.
A TelexFree arm in Brazil sought bankruptcy protection last year. Carlos Costa, a TelexFree executive in Brazil, curiously waved the flags of Portugal and Madeira while announcing the Brazil filing. Police in Europe later issued warnings that TelexFree was targeting the Madeiran community.
Alvarez & Marsal North America, LLC is serving as restructuring advisor to the Company and Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Gordon Silver are serving as legal advisors to TelexFREE, according to the statement.
Among other things, the bankruptcy filing says TelexFree has generated more than $1 billion in revenue since 2012. The revenue surge “put tremendous pressure on the Company’s financial, operational and management systems,” TelexFree contends.
The filing seeks to reject contracts with TelexFree promoters under both an existing compensation plan implemented March 9 and an “original compensation plan” that existed prior to that date.
“At the time of the roll-out of the Revised Comp Plan, the Company decided to honor certain discretionary payments to Promoters under the Original Comp Plan,” TelexFree said in bankruptcy filings. “These discretionary payments quickly became a substantial drain on the Company’s liquidity. The Company discontinued the Pre-Petition Comp Plans and ceased making discretionary payments under the Original Comp Plan prior to Petition Date.”
TelexFree affiliates have claimed that $289 sent to the firm returned $1,040 in a year and that $1,375 returned $5,200. Some TelexFree groups solicited sums of $15,125, saying such a sum would return $57,200.
From the TelexFree bankruptcy filing, which requests contracts with affiliates to be rejected (italics/bolding added):
Under the Original Comp Plan, Promoters have and are continuing to assert substantial claims against the Debtors. While the Debtors believe that many of those claims are invalid, the Debtors continue to be burdened by the demands made under the Original Comp Plan. In addition, questions were raised as to whether the Original Comp Plan is compliant with law, which jeopardized the Debtors’ business. Although the financial demands are less under the Revised Comp Plan, the Revised Comp Plan does not generate sufficient revenues for the Debtors to continue operating their business.”
Said MacMillan, in the TelexFree media statement:
“We are taking this major step because we continue to believe in our business, our products and the enthusiasm of our world-class team. We believe that this restructuring plan, which will include significant enhancements to our governance practices and internal controls, will help us to build a stronger and more sustainable financial and operational foundation for the future.”