A major US regulator has charged a firm and individuals involved in it over accusations that it operated a fraudulent forex trading scheme.
Oasis International stands accused of taking tens of millions of dollars from more than 700 people in the US as part of the scheme.
According to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which charged the firm, from April 2014 onwards, Oasis approached people to offer them the chance to invest in commodity pools called Oasis Global FX, Limited and Oasis Global FX, SA.
The stated purpose of this investment was to trade on the foreign exchange markets. However, a series of alleged lies are believed to have followed.
The defendants allegedly created fake accounting statements which they circulated among investors. They also then allegedly spent some of the invested money on a number of personal expenditures, including everything from passes to sports games to holidays.
The details of the alleged crimes published by the CFTC indicate that there were a large range of statements made in an attempt to encourage individuals to invest.
The defendants allegedly said that there was a guaranteed annual return on investment of 12% on offer, while they also claimed that there was what the CFTC called “no risk of loss”.
They also supposedly said that the investment pools had never experienced a month where they saw a loss. Unrealistic profit figures were circulated too, including a suggestion that returns were as high as 22% in a year.
In a hallmark of a Ponzi scheme, they also allegedly used some of the funds to pay back other investors – a move which, if true, would have created the illusion of a profitable investment vehicle.
Officially, three organisations – Oasis International Group, Limited (OIG), Oasis Management, LLC (OM), and Satellite Holdings Company (Satellite) – were charged as part of the alleged fraud.
A number of individuals were also charged, including Michael J. DaCorta, John J. Haas, Joseph S. Anile, II, Francisco “Frank” L. Duran and Raymond P. Montie, III.
A spokesperson for the CFTC has said that the organisation intends to continue to “root out fraud”.
“This action is among the latest examples of the CFTC’s coordination with other regulators and criminal authorities to aggressively and assertively root out fraud and bad actors involved in our markets”, said James McDonald, who is the CFTC’s Director of Enforcement.
“We will continue to hold accountable not just companies, but also individual wrongdoers”, he added.
In its statement, the CFTC confirmed that it would seek significant damages against the individuals concerned.
“In its continuing litigation against the defendants, the CFTC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, restitution, permanent registration and trading bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, and CFTC Regulations, as charged”, it said.
“The CFTC acknowledges and appreciates the cooperation and assistance of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida; and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority”, it added.