The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced charges and an emergency asset freeze against a Miami-based attorney and others related to a “prime bank investment scheme” that promised exorbitant returns from a purported international trading program. Prime bank schemes, the SEC said, lure investors to participate in a sham international investing opportunity with phony promises of exclusivity and enormous profits.
The SEC alleges that attorney Bernard H. Butts, Jr. acted as an escrow agent to enable Fotios Geivelis, Jr.of Tampa and his Worldwide Funding III Ltd. to defraud 45 investors out of more than $3.5 million they invested in a trading program that doesn’t actually exist.
According to the SEC, Geivelis and Butts assured investors that their funds would remain with Butts in an escrow account until Worldwide Funding acquired the bank instruments necessary to generate the high returns promised. Instead, Butts enriched himself, sales agents, and Geivelis, who spent the money on travel and gambling, the SEC said.
The SEC’s suit charges the defendants with violations of the antifraud and securities registration provisions of the federal securities laws.