Thursday, September 12, 2013

SEC Files Charges in Florida Prime Bank Case

The SEC announced charges and an emergency asset freeze against a Miami-based attorney and others in a prime bank investment scheme that promised exorbitant returns from a purported international trading program.

Prime bank schemes 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. has acted as an escrow agent to enable Fotios Geivelis, Jr. and his purported financial services firm Worldwide Funding III Limited to defraud approximately 45 investors out of more than $3.5 million they invested in a trading program that doesn’t actually exist. 

According to the complaint, Geivelis, who lives in Tampa and uses the alias “Frank Anastasio” with investors, touted returns of 6.6 million Euros (approximately $8.7 million converted to U.S. dollars) for investors within 15 to 45 business days on an initial investment of $60,000 to $90,000 in U.S. dollars.  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 promised returns.  Butts instead has been doling out investor funds almost as soon as they’re received to enrich himself, sales agents, and Geivelis, who has been spending the money on such personal expenses as travel and gambling.

The SEC’s complaint, filed under seal on August 29 in federal court in Miami, also charged three sales agents who Geivelis and Butts paid to sell interests in the scheme: Douglas J. Anisky of Delray Beach, Fla., James Baggs of Lake Forest, Calif., and Sidney Banner of Delray Beach, Fla., and his company Express Commercial Capital.  The court granted the SEC’s request for an asset freeze on August 30, and the case was unsealed late Friday, September 6.

For more information, see SEC.gov | SEC Halts Florida-Based Prime Bank Investment Scheme

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The attorneys at Sallah Astarita & Cox include veteran securities litigators and former SEC Enforcement Attorneys. We have decades of experience in securities litigation matters, including recovering losses for investors in a wide variety of investment schemes. We represent investors, financial professionals and investment firms and brokers nationwide. For more information contact Mark Astarita at 212-509-6544 or at email us

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