Scammers conned 130 wealthy investors out of £1.5 million pledging 12% a year returns for six years from South American gold mines.
Instead of the promised riches, a few received ‘minor returns’ and their money was paid as commissions to sales staff.
Following an Insolvency Service investigation into the operation, the three companies were wound up in the public interest by the High Court.
The companies – Continental Mining Opportunities SA (CMO SA), a Panama company, and Montana Leon SA, registered in Peru, and UK registered CMO Administration Ltd – were all managed by Gary Potter, who has given an undertaking to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to stop trading and wind up the foreign firms.
Similar undertakings were made by Aldo Atherley-White, a former director of CMO Administration Ltd, Alina Potter and Armand Kailitch, another director of CMO Administration Ltd.
No evidence of mining rights
The court was told that partnerships in the business were sold to investors. They were told the Montana Leon owned 30% of a gold mine in Peru.
However, the companies could not provide any evidence to prove they had mining rights, government permission to mine in Peru or any staff or equipment at the mine.
Each partner was expecting a 12% return on their investment.
The Insolvency Service found 130 investors paid £1.5 million for a share in the opportunity in six months, but none of the money funded mining operations. Investors were told mining would not start until June 2015 – and that date was put back.
The South American companies refused to take part in the inquiry.
The FCA warned that Montana Leon was an unauthorised collective investment scheme and that the other companies were not authorised to give investment advice.
Brokers selling the scheme included Thornblack Limited, trading as Thorn Black International went into voluntary liquidation last year. The FCA warned the company was unauthorised to give investment advice.
Three other companies were involved in selling the mining scheme – Global Commodity Solutions, Alexander George Limited, Alternative Innovations Limited and 360 Capital Management Limited trading as 360 Capital Markets.
Irshard Mohammed, senior investigator with the Insolvency Service, said: “Thanks to the hard work of investigators, this operation has been curtailed but investors need to be diligent when faced with seemingly tempting investment opportunities.
“We will act whenever serious failings are discovered and close the lid on unscrupulous companies to prevent them from inflicting misery on ordinary people.”