In the widening investigations of Miami-based Providence Financial’s global investment schemes, investor losses are mounting on the other side of the pond, too, and findings about the company have been described as “a reeking pile of guano.”
A judge for the Royal Court of Guernsey, a financial center in the British Channel Islands, was told that there is no available cash to return to investors who put more than $48.4 million (37 million pounds) into the collapsed investment business, the Guernsey Press and ITV, a broadcasting company in the United Kingdom, have reported.
Like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, authorities in Guernsey believe most of the cash secured from investors never went to the Brazilian factoring business it was supposed to have invested in. Instead, the money appears to have been used to finance the wider Providence Group companies’ activities around the world and to have been lent to various companies in Brazil controlled by Providence Financial Investments’ CEO Antonio Buzaneli, who opened the Guernsey office to much fanfare in 2012, ITV reported.
And like in the U.S.’s case, Buzaneli has not been forthcoming with information about the financial positions of Brazilian subsidiary companies, the Guernsey Press reported. Administrators from Deloitte have found no material assets in group companies in the island or in the U.K.
Simon Gaudion, director of enforcement at the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, called Deloitte’s findings in the case “extremely concerning.”
In the Royal Court on Friday, Judge Russell Finch described the findings as “a reeking pile of guano,” the Guernsey Press reported.
The overseas investigations follow action to shut down the company in June by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which called the investment scheme involving factoring in Brazil an “ongoing fraudulent and unregistered securities offering.” In the U.S. offerings, the securities that offered annual returns of 12 percent to 13 percent had not been registered with the SEC, and brokers selling them were unregistered, the agency said in its complaint seeking a jury trial. According to the SEC, Providence collected about $64 million from more than 400 investors in the U.S. — in some cases, their life savings.
Bankruptcy proceedings are underway in the U.S. Southern District of Florida as well as in Guernsey.
Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg
[Read more: Providence Financial files for bankruptcy protection]