BREAKING NEWS: SEC Charges Four Individuals, Two Companies In Alleged ‘Green’ Ponzi Scheme; Former President Clinton Acknowledged Firm’s Commitment To Environment At Major New York Event In September
It what may become an embarrassment to President Obama, Former President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a man the SEC now says was operating a $30 million Ponzi scheme appeared alongside President Clinton at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York Sept. 25.
Obama’s name and the names of both Clintons were dropped in a video on the website of Speed of Wealth LLC, a Colorado company accused today of promoting the scheme for Mantria Corp. of Pennsylvania. Other names dropped on the site included former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart, Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. and actor Matt Damon.
All of the individuals were among the prominent attendees of President Clinton’s CGI function.
There are no assertions that any of the politicians, prominent business executives or celebrities who attended the CGI event had any knowledge of the alleged scheme. But Troy Wragg, CEO of Mantria Corp., one of the companies accused in the scheme, appeared next to President Clinton and Secretary of State Clinton on the stage in New York.
The Speed of Wealth video featured snap shots of famous people who attended the CGI event. It concluded with Bill Clinton’s remarks recorded on video, with Wragg, other attendees and the Clintons in a group pose.
Speed of Wealth was a sales outlet for the Mantria scheme, the SEC charged today.
Mantria Corp.’s 28-year-old chairman and CEO, Troy Wragg, whom the SEC said was “employed as a manager for a small janitorial services company” prior to getting into the Ponzi business, was prominently featured in a video on Speed of Wealth’s Website.
In the video, Wragg is standing next to President Clinton, who had acknowledged Mantria for its environmental commitment at the CGI event Sept. 25.
Mantria even got a mention in a CGI news release after committing “to help mitigate global warming through the use of its Carbon Fields site, where Mantria will perform trials on their product BioChar, a carbon-negative charcoal, to prove how this product can sequester carbon dioxide, improve soil quality when buried, and reduce emissions in developing countries.”
Today in Denver, however, the SEC said BioChar was part of the alleged Ponzi scheme, which may involve $30 million or more.
Despite claims that “Mantria was the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of biochar and had multiple facilities producing it at a rate of 25 tons per day,” the SEC said, “Mantria has never sold any biochar and has just one facility engaged in testing biochar for possible future commercial production.”
One SEC official said there was little “green” about the firm, except perhaps for its love of money.
“These promoters fraudulently exaggerated Mantria’s green initiatives and used high-pressure tactics to convince investors to chase the promise of lucrative returns,” said Don Hoerl, director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office. “In reality, the only green these promoters seemed interested in was investors’ money.”
Charged today were Speed of Wealth and two of its executives: Wayde McKelvy of Sunny Isle Beach, Fla., and Donna McKelvy, of Parker, Colo.
Also charged were Mantria and two of its executives: Wragg, who lives in Philadelphia, and Amanda Knorr, also of Philadelphia.
Wayde and Donna McKelvy previously were married, and “particularly targeted elderly investors or those approaching retirement age to finance such ‘green’ initiatives,” the SEC said.
Mantria was a “supposed ‘carbon negative’ housing community in rural Tennessee,” the SEC said.
But the “green” representations “were laced with bogus claims, and investors were falsely promised enormous returns on their investments ranging from 17 percent to ‘hundreds of percent’ annually,” the SEC said.
The agency charged that “Mantria’s environmental initiatives have not generated any significant cash, and any returns paid to investors have been funded almost exclusively from other investors’ contributions.”