Litigation Release No. 25755 / June 26, 2023
No. 0:23-cv-61179 (S.D. Fla. filed June 20, 2023)
SEC Charges Florida Resident for Operating $112 Million Ponzi Scheme that Targeted Haitian-American Community
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Broward County, Florida resident Sanjay Singh and his trucking and logistics company, Royal Bengal Logistics Inc., with fraudulently raising approximately $112 million from 1,500 investors through an unregistered securities offering that primarily targeted Haitian-Americans.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that, from at least 2019 through 2023, Singh, through Royal Bengal Logistics, Inc., offered and sold investors high-yield investment programs that purportedly generated 12.5% percent to 325 percent in guaranteed returns. As alleged, Singh and Royal Bengal promised investors the company would use their money to expand Royal Bengal’s operations and increase its fleet of semi-trucks and trailers. According to the SEC’s complaint, defendants assured investors that these investment programs were safe, and that Royal Bengal generated $1 million in revenue per month. In reality, the SEC alleges, Royal Bengal has operated at a loss and used approximately $70 million of new investor funds to make Ponzi-like payments to other investors.
As alleged in the complaint, Singh misappropriated at least $14 million of investor funds for himself and others, who did not provide any legitimate services in exchange for those investor funds. Singh also allegedly diverted more than $19 million of investor funds to two brokerage accounts he controlled, engaged in highly speculative equities trading on margin in those accounts, and as a result, lost more than $1 million of investor money.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges Singh and Royal Bengal with violating the registration provisions of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and as to Singh, Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act. The complaint also names Sheetal Singh, the spouse of Sanjay Singh, and Constantina Celicourt, the spouse of Royal Bengal Logistics’s Vice President of Business Development, as relief defendants. The District Court granted the SEC’s request for emergency relief, including preliminary injunctive relief, asset freezes, the appointment of a Receiver, and an order prohibiting the destruction of documents. The SEC is also seeking an officer and director bar against Singh and permanent injunctions, civil money penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest against both of the defendants and the relief defendants.
The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy and the Division of Enforcement’s Retail Strategy Task Force have issued an Investor Alert with tips on how investors should avoid investment decisions based solely on common ties with someone recommending or selling the investment.
The SEC appreciates the assistance Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Southern Region.
The SEC’s investigation was part of the Miami Regional Office’s Fraud Against Minority Groups Initiative and was conducted by Linda S. Schmidt and supervised by Sean M. O’Neill and Glenn Gordon, and with the assistance of Mark Dee, Fernando Torres, and Ivette Goizueta-Mendes. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Russell O’Brien, and supervised by Teresa J. Verges.