WHILE many believe that the newly birthed Organo Gold Company provides a great investment opportunity for people wishing to start their own business, others are skeptical of an opportunity that is seemingly too good to be true.
Bernardo Chua, veteran of the network marketing industry, founded Organo Gold in 2008. Chua works alongside co-founder Shane Morand, who supervises the company’s direct-selling platform.
The Organo Gold Company operates with what it calls a Scientific Advisory Board. Organo Gold does not offer its products through retail stores or coffeehouses, but individual distributors purchase products from the Organo Gold Company on a wholesale basis. Through their own efforts, these distributors sell the products and earn a commission on sales.
Chua’s product blends gourmet coffee beans with a mushroom known as ganoderma, made into a traditional Asian herb. The Organo Gold Company claims the herb ganoderma lucidum, also known as reishi, helps control cholesterol, has antiviral qualities, and makes their coffee healthier than typical coffee. Besides coffee, the company produces ganoderma-blended green tea, ganoderma-blended hot chocolate, ganoderma supplements and a ganoderma-infused latte blend.
Described as a MLM (Multi-level marketing) system, Organo Gold was launched in Guyana in June of 2012. However, the business failed to get the public’s anticipated response and consequently folded. It resurfaced last year, and has been holding weekly colloquiums at various venues, not only marketing Organo Gold products to the Guyanese society, but highlighting the benefits of recruitment.
A substantial number of Guyanese have fallen prey to what has been described as an investment opportunity. However, it must be noted that even if the company is not trying to sell a glorified pyramid scheme to our country, it is still acting in breach of the laws of this land.
Speaking with an Organo Gold representative, this newspaper was made to understand that the company is fully aware that the business is not registered, and consequently should not be operational. Organo Gold branches in Jamaica and Trinidad are also not registered as a company. The Organo Gold representative added that she doesn’t see it possible that the company would register the business anytime soon.
However, according to the Business Names (registration) Act, Chapter 90:05, Clause 4: “Where a firm, individual, or corporation, having a place of business in Guyana carries on the business wholly or mainly as nominee or trustee of or for another person, or other persons, or another corporation, or acts as general agent for any foreign firm, the first mentioned firm, individual, or corporation shall be registered in manner provided by this Act, and, in addition to the other particulars required to be furnished and registered, there shall be furnished and registered the particulars mentioned in the Schedule:
Provided that where the business is carried on by an assignee in insolvency, or a receiver or manager appointed by any court, registration under this section shall not be necessary.”
With the company not being registered, it has also been evading taxes. But this won’t be the first time the company would be experiencing this kind of trouble. Internationally, lawsuits have been filed against this company for numerous reasons. One was filed some time ago by one of the originators of the Organo Gold Company named Jay Noland. He or someone taking his side created a website where you can listen to recordings of Jay Noland making accusations against his old partners still at Organo Gold. Mr. Noland makes serious allegations about the company, and says that Organo Gold changed the ingredients of the product without telling anyone.
Jay Noland Call #1
“Integrity has been breached in this company… I regret to say these words to you tonight… Based upon the advice of my attorney… I’ve had to file a lawsuit against the other founders of Organo Gold on the advice of my attorney after he sorted through all the evidence…”
Jay Noland says that Doctor Bartell tested the product and found that it did not contain the same ingredients as were claimed by the company originally in the product.
What about Jay Noland himself? It was found through research that the US Federal Trade Commission website (http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/07/bigsmart4.shtm) says that Mr. Noland was at one time charged with operating a pyramid scheme.
A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent scheme in which people are recruited to make payments to the person who had recruited them, while expecting to receive payments from the persons they had recruited. When the number of new recruits fails to sustain the hierarchical payment structure, the scheme collapses with most of the participants losing the money they had put in. It is designed in such a way, that only those at the peak of the pyramid would gain.
Organo Gold, however, claims not to be a pyramid scheme but a multi-level marketing company. This is debatable, since the company possesses all the characteristics of a pyramid scheme in disguise. On the surface, it’s hard to tell the difference between a legitimate MLM and a pyramid scheme. That’s because they’re both built on the business model of “multiple levels” of distributors and recruits.
A Pyramid scheme includes the following characteristics:
* Pyramid schemes offer money for simply recruiting people. This money can come as a commission from the sale of a starter kit, or as a recruiting “bonus.”
* A pyramid scheme puts much greater emphasis on recruiting salespeople than selling the actual product.
* They charge steep start-up costs for joining, including mandatory training, a starter kit and training fee.
* All pyramid schemes are sold through high-pressure motivational events.
All of the above characteristics fit the Organo Gold Company quite perfectly, and were confirmed by members of the public who were all approached by some representative trying to sell this investment opportunity by way of word of mouth.
In their defence, the previously mentioned representative of the company claimed the company was not operating a pyramid scheme, since the company is collaborating with other internationally recognised companies, such as Visa and Mercedes. Again, these facts are not fully supported with evidence, but are merely “word-of-mouth” persuasions.
It must be emphasised that this newspaper is in no way trying to convey an impression that the company at issue is a fraud, but prospective investors are simply being urged to explore beyond the boundaries of a “perfect opportunity”, and this advice is intended to make the public aware of this investment opportunity.
(By Ravin Singh)