U.S. regulators accused an Australia man of raising at least $53 million from investors with false claims that he ran a group of elite foreign-exchange traders who could generate 78 percent annual returns.
Senen Pousa and his Brisbane, Australia-based firm, Investment Intelligence Corp., promised investors “unlimited” passive income from his strategy of making only a few select trades each month with no more than 3 percent of an investors’ capital at risk in any given trade, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a lawsuit filed today at federal court in Austin, Texas. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a parallel lawsuit today.
Pousa’s fraud came to light in May, when investors discovered their accounts had lost 63 percent of their value after about 200 trades had occurred in a two-day period, the SEC said. Following the losses, Pousa issued a white paper to investors, encouraging them to add more capital to their accounts in order to “recoup the losses faster,” according to the complaint.
In February, Pousa began to market his strategy through Elevation Group Inc., an investment blog based in Austin. After the blog Group conducted and broadcast an interview with Pousa, interest in his investment strategy exploded, the SEC said. When EVG arranged to broadcast a live question-and-answer session with Pousa, more than 12,000 of the blog’s members registered to watch, according to the complaint.
The SEC and CFTC asked for a court order to freeze Pousa’s assets in the U.S., a step Australian regulators took in July, according to the lawsuit.
“Pousa exploited the Internet to communicate his fraudulent investment services to a worldwide audience,” said Kevin Edmundson, assistant director of enforcement in the SEC’s regional office in Fort Worth, Texas. “This is a good example of how regulators around the world work together to enforce securities laws for all investors.”
A phone call to Elevation Group wasn’t immediately returned. A phone number listed to Pousa’s company in Australia was disconnected.
Pousa falsely claimed he employed six of the world’s best forex traders, who turned every $10,000 invested into more than $281,000 from October 2007 to January 2012. He also told investors that they would have access to his “millionaire’s circle,” through which they would be introduced to one of Pousa’s millionaire investors every one to two weeks. Pousa never made any of the promised introductions, the SEC said.
According to the SEC, he told investors “this is the way that the Wall Street elite play the game.”
The cases are Securities and Exchange Commission v. Investment Intelligence Corp. PTY LLC, 12-cv-0863, and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Pousa, 12-cv-0862, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin).