SEC Charges Florida Resident for Operating $112 Million Ponzi Scheme that Targeted Haitian-American Community
Court granted SEC’s request for emergency relief and asset freezes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington D.C., June 26, 2023 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Broward County, Florida resident Sanjay Singh and his trucking and logistics company, Royal Bengal Logistics Inc., with fraudulently raising approximately $112 million from as many as 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 to 325 percent in guaranteed returns. As alleged, Singh and Royal Bengal promised investors the company would use their money to expand 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 up to $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.
“As alleged in our complaint, Singh targeted many members of the Haitian-American community to raise money in a Ponzi-like scheme to enrich himself,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. "We are committed to holding accountable individuals like Singh who prey on investors through lies and deceit.”
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 and anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws. 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 of 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, 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.