SEATTLE (CN) – The SEC on Thursday charged six men with running a $300 million Ponzi scheme through a putative gold mining operation. Two Canadians, Milowe Allen Brost and Gary Allen Sorenson, both of Calgary, were “the primary architects and beneficiaries of the scheme” that bilked more than 3,000 investors who put their savings, retirement money and home equity into the scam, the SEC said.
Brost and his cohorts held “investment seminars” in which they presented themselves as “an independent financial education firm,” the SEC said. They promised 18 to 36 percent annual returns and said the investors’ money was “fully collateralized by gold.”
Defendants include the Syndicated Gold Depository, the Merendon Mining Corp., and the nobly named Financial Learning Group of Companies. Also sued are Larry Lee Adair of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Ward K. Capstick, a Canadian citizen who lives in Snohomish, Wash.; Bradley Dean Regier of Calgary; and Martin M. Werner of Boca Raton, Fla.
The SEC says the men sent the money they took to accounts as far away as Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Ecuador, Honduras, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Portugal, and Venezuela.
“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,” the SEC said. It also sued Sorenson’s wife and daughter, who allegedly got money from the operation.