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SEC Conducts Regional Securities Market Enforcement Program To Address Pyramid Schemes


Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2008 — The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it conducted an Understanding and Combating Unregulated Investment Schemes seminar in Jamaica from October 29 to 31. The three-day program included intensive training on methods for investigating and prosecuting pyramid and Ponzi-type investment schemes.

The regional program featured 65 delegates from 20 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The program was conducted primarily by SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff, and was hosted and co-sponsored by the IMF, Financial Services Commission of Jamaica, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre.

Ethiopis Tafara, Director of SEC's Office of International Affairs, said, "Pyramid schemes have been with us since at least 1920 when Charles Ponzi first swindled nearly 17,000 investors out of millions before his scheme's inevitable collapse. Pyramid schemes spread like viruses in financial markets, and continue to plague our markets today. The SEC is pleased to share its experience and techniques in investigating and prosecuting these pernicious frauds with our partners in the Caribbean and Latin America."

Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement said, "Securities authorities must remain constantly vigilant for pyramid and Ponzi schemes and stamp them out as quickly as possible before they run their course. Since the beginning of 2008, the SEC has worked on over 24 Ponzi-type cases that raised over $1 billion from over 15,000 defrauded investors. The SEC appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with our international colleagues, particularly since these schemes are increasingly becoming global in scale."

George Roper, Acting Executive Director, Financial Services Commission of Jamaica, added, "Given the current state of markets around the world, it is crucial that regulators remain committed to the task of protecting investors from predatory organizers who employ Ponzi-type schemes to deprive the public of their hard-earned money. It was our pleasure to collaborate with our Latin American and Caribbean counterparts, and we thank the SEC, CFTC, and IMF, as well as the other conference speakers, hosts, and sponsors, for conducting this valuable training program."

The SEC's technical assistance training program consists of bilateral and regional training programs, assessments, consultations, and review and comment on statutory and regulatory initiatives. The SEC has provided training for more than 1,900 foreign capital market officials from 117 foreign jurisdictions in fiscal year 2008 alone.

For more information on SEC's technical assistance program contact Dr. Robert M. Fisher or Z. Scott Birdwell at the Office of International Affairs at 202-551-6690, or by email at OIA@SEC.gov.

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Modified: 11/03/2008