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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

SEC Accuses 3 of $5.6 Million Ponzi

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Three Americans, including a felon, swiped $3.2 million from $5.6 million Ponzi scams, one of which New Zealand regulators just broke up, the SEC claims in court.

"This is an action brought to halt an ongoing Ponzi scheme aimed at U.S. investors," the SEC says in its federal complaint, which was filed under seal last week before being opened. "Just in the last two weeks, regulators in New Zealand, where some of the corporate defendants are located, canceled the registration of one of defendant's securities and prohibited further sales of those securities because the defendant's prospectus would likely mislead investors."

The SEC accuses the defendants of taking more than $5.6 million from more than 50 U.S. investors, for unregistered securities they sold through "materially false representations and omissions."

The agency sued lead defendant Christopher A.T. Pedras, his partner Sylvester Gray II, and their lead saleswoman, Alicia Bryan.

Bryan, of Bossier City, La., pleaded guilty to attempted felony theft in 2008, according to the complaint.

Pedras, of Turlock, Calif., and Auckland, New Zealand, is sole owner and director of defendants Maxum Gold Bnk [sic] Holdings and an affiliate, sole director and shareholder of defendant FMP Medical Service, and sole owner and director of relief defendant Comptroller 2012.

Gray, of Kaysville, Utah, is "described by Pedras as his 'partner,'" the SEC says.

None of them are registered with the SEC in any capacity.

The defendants promised monthly returns of 4 to 8 percent from gold trading and a "renal program," the SEC says. They claimed their renal program involved dialysis machines.

But all their promises "were false," the SEC says. "(T)he programs are a Ponzi scheme. Neither the Maxum Gold Trade Program nor the FMP Renal Program are real."

The SEC claims the defendants made $2.4 million in Ponzi payments, that Pedras "misappropriated nearly $2 million in cash, cars, retail purchases, and transfers to and from his related companies," and that they paid more than $1.2 million in commissions to "a small network of sales agents who have helped promote the scheme."

The SEC seeks a restraining order and injunction, disgorgement and penalties.

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