from RUSSELL ADADEVOH in Accra, Ghana
ACCRA – THE United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun criminal proceedings against a South African, Ghanaian and an alleged accomplice for fraud to the tune of $27 million (R448,5 million).
It is believed the trio masterminded a scheme that allegedly defrauded approximately 1 200 investors, many of them African immigrants.
Dennis Jali (aged 35), is a native of South Africa and among the suspects.
He is listed as the founder, owner, and Chief Executive Officer of Smart Partners and 1st Million, and the founder and owner of Access2Assets.
Jali also purported to be a pastor and preached at several churches when he resided in Chevy Chase, Maryland from 2016 until May 2019.
Ghanaian John Frimpong (40) was Chief Financial Officer of the companies and was allegedly affiliated with a church where Jali sometimes preached.
Arley Johnson (61) whose nativity is not listed, was the Chief Operating Officer and purports to be a minister, according to investigations.
SEC alleges the trio directly and through their companies falsely told investors that their funds would be used by a team of skilled and licensed traders for foreign exchange and cryptocurrency trading, promising risk-free returns of between 6 percent and 42 percent.
The complaint alleges that the defendants often targeted vulnerable African immigrants and exploited their common ancestry and religious affiliations.
The complaint further alleges that Jali, who claimed to be a pastor and falsely held himself out as a self-made millionaire and expert trader, rented office space to conduct in-person meetings and give the appearance of a legitimate company.
According to the complaint, the defendants diverted investor funds for personal use and to make Ponzi payments to prior investors.
“As alleged in our complaint, the defendants exploited religious affiliations and cultural affinities to gain investors’ trust,” said Kelly Gibson, Director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, charges the defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and seeks permanent injunctive relief, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest and civil penalties.
– CAJ News