The man at the centre of a ‘vegetables for export’ scheme says that his clients will get back their money but refused to comment further on the issue.
When contacted yesterday, he said that it was difficult for him to make a comment and would only say that investors will get back their money. “They will be repaid”, he stated and refused to answer subsequent questions.
A police source told this newspaper that with no one affected willing to give statements, there is nothing the police can do to press a case against the man, who is reportedly an employee of a state agency. “The people want back their money. They think they will get it back and don’t want to give statements and if they don’t cooperate, there is nothing we can do”, the police source said. Earlier this month, the South Ruimveldt resident had been detained at the Brickdam Police Station but was later released as investigations stalled due to the reluctance of those affected to give statements to the police.
Since then unknown persons torched a car parked at the rented West Demerara home of another man who was said to be the person who introduced people to the scheme and collected money from them. A close relative of the man, who asked not to be named, told this newspaper that she did not know much about the scheme but said that the man had only become involved in it several months ago. She acknowledged that he introduced persons to the scheme and collected money from them, but said that he was merely the employee of the mastermind. A police source said that the West Demerara man is being sought since no statements by him were given in the torching car matter. According to the relative, earlier, the man had been receiving threats.
This newspaper had reported earlier that a police source had said that at least $150M was invested by persons into the scheme. Investors were offered a 35% rate of return monthly if they put their money into the vegetable export ‘business’. Hundreds of persons invested but were not paid their profit since the year began and the matter was reported.
Earlier this month at a meeting at City Hall, at least 300 persons turned up in an attempt to find out about their money and recorded their names and telephone numbers. Persons were told that a businessman wanted to “subsidize” the export scheme. The scheme operated with the South Ruimveldt man mobilizing the money by saying that he has a business exporting vegetables to Antigua. The West Demerara man would then go around informing potential investors about the business and the rate of interest they would get if they invested their money in it. This has been going on for about three to four years now, this newspaper was told. Persons, who invested, were required to sign a contract.
A source had told Stabroek News that the persons were given the option of investing their money and then collecting the interest and the capital at the end of the month or collecting the interest alone. Since the returns were lucrative, many persons opted to collect the interest alone. The news also spread by word of mouth and other persons invested in the scheme.
Reports say that some persons invested large sums. A source had told this newspaper that in December the investors were informed that the rate of return paid would drop to 20% because the business was affected by the global financial crisis.
They were told that although the vegetables were sent out, the market had dipped. Since then, no monies were paid and the investors attempted to get back their money. This, they found, they could not do.