Alleged Ponzi schemers approach High Court
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ACFI Financial Adviser, Yuri Garcia Dominguez
ACFI Financial Adviser, Yuri Garcia Dominguez

THE lawyers representing Accelerated Capital Firm Inc. (ACFI)’s associates, Yuri Garcia Dominguez and his wife, Ateeka Ishmael, have filed an action in the High Court seeking a judicial review of the 81 fraud charges laid against them by the police.
The Cuban man and his Guyanese wife have so far made a total of nine court appearances at the Georgetown, Sparendaam and Vigilance Magistrate’s Courts and on each occasion they were asked to post varying amounts of bail, which to date stands at a whopping total of $29.4M. The last set of charges – seven in total – were read to the couple on Monday at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court by Magistrate Sherdel Issacs-Marcus. They were not required to plead to the joint charges and were granted $2.1M bail each. Those matters were adjourned to October 5.

Attorneys-at-law Dexter Todd and Adrian Smith, who represent the couple yesterday, held a press conference at the Regency Suites Hotel in Georgetown, where the filing of the High Court case was disclosed.

ACFI Financial Adviser, Yuri Garcia Dominguez and his wife, Ateeka Ishmael

The attorneys informed that Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall; Police Commissioner (ag), Nigel Hoppie and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack are listed as the respondents in the proceedings. They did not provide any further details.

The attorneys used the occasion to debunk several claims made by the Attorney General recently, including that the government had opened an account at a commercial bank so that Dominguez could transfer money.
The AG had explained that Dominguez could use a computer to make certain transactions as requested to deposit the monies into the account.

However, Dominguez had complained that the internet connection was poor resulting in his inability to complete the transaction. He was later taken to another location which has a “top-class internet facility”. He was given the computer to do the transactions but money was still not deposited into the account.

The AG had said too that the Cuban does not have any assets in Guyana and is a flight risk.
Inaccurate pronouncements

Responding to the AG claims, Todd said, “It is within our client’s interest to, of course, express how disappointed we are in the pronouncements made. Because those pronouncement made by the Attorney General were definitely not accurate and it did not of course reflect what was happening between the interactions between the police and our client.”

Todd stressed that Dominguez was not provided with any computer while in prison. It was explained that last week he was transported to the computer room at Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters, Eve Leary, over a three-day period but was not given the opportunity to use any of the systems.

Todd clarified that Dominguez has several assets in Guyana but he declined to provide details.

No date has been set for the High Court case.
Many persons have come forward and lodged complaints against the couple with the police. Investigators were told that some 17,000 Guyanese collectively invested approximately US$20 million in the company but never saw any returns as was promised.
The duo was first held by the police in early August following an investigation into widespread rumours that they were running a “Ponzi Scheme”.

A ponzi scheme is a form of fraud in which investors are made to believe in the success of a non-existent enterprise, and encouraged to invest because of the payment of quick returns.
It was claimed that the first investors were only being paid from money invested by successive investors but the couple has vehemently denied this. They had said also that money for refund was ready to be disbursed.
The police here have listed Dominguez, a naturalised Guyanese of Cuban origin, and his wife, who is Guyanese by birth, as grave flight risks given that they have no assets in the country.

The couple is alleged to have been operating their investment company, ACFI, here in Guyana from as far back as 2017 without the required licence from the Guyana Securities Council (GSC).

ACFI has been attributing its failure to remit refunds to clients to the absence of a bank account. Several local commercial banks have closed whatever accounts they had held with them, the company had claimed.
Photos stored as ‘Yuri’ & ‘couple’
1: ACFI Financial Adviser, Yuri Garcia Dominguez
2: Dominguez and his wife, ACFI Director, Ateeka Ishmael

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