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Mauritius Halts $693 Million Ponzi Scheme At Bank

The Prime Minister of Mauritius announced that regulators had halted a $693 million Ponzi scheme being run at a publicly-traded national bank that touted itself as "one of the fastest growing banks in Mauritius."  Bramer Bank (the "Bank"), which had been licensed by the Bank of Mauritius to conduct banking activities since August 27, 2008, had its banking license suspended and regulators appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as a receiver.  Shares of the company's stock, which last traded at approximately $.11 on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, have been suspended.

According to a cached version of the Bank's website (as the site is current unavailable), the Bank:

is part of the British American Investment Group, a premier conglomerate in Mauritius that has interests in financial services, healthcare, trade & commerce, construction and tourism. Within the financial cluster, the Group operates banking, insurance, asset and wealth management, forex, Islamic finance, insurance brokerage, stock-broking and commodity and currency futures broking. The Group has an established presence of 40 years in Mauritius. It also has operations in South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya, Dubai, France and Malta. 

The Bank started operations in 1989 as the South East Asian Bank (SEAB). The banking entity was acquired by British American Investment in 2008, and became the Bramer Bank.

Following a merger with Mauritius Lending in 2008, the Bank also was involved in leasing and micro-financing services.  Interestingly, while the Bank published audited financials up to December 2013, its financials for 2014 were unaudited.

According to the Mauritian Financial Services Commission, an onsite audit from January 22, 2015 to February 20, 2015 discovered a number of deficiencies.  The Bank had subsequently sought to meet its capital needs through overnight lending facilities from the country's central bank, but had also reportedly been suffering large withdrawals.  While the Mauritian Prime Minister has publicly pegged the size of the alleged Ponzi scheme at approximately $693 million, further details as to the number of victims or potential ensuing losses remain unknown.  

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nice post

April 6, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersunil

This crisis has affected other investment companies of the group with c.30,000 depositholders risk losing their entire life's savings. Only the Prime Minister has declared that a Ponzi scheme was in existence without providing evidence or proof. The FSC, the group's administrator, company auditors moved quickly to deny these allegations (but I guess they would). The FSC was still recommending potential depositholders to invest in the Group as recently as 2 weeks back. The scandal has emerged only 3 months after the election of a new Government and there in mounting public outrage that this action is being taken by Government as personal vendetta against the previous regime and its cronies (one of whom is the chairman of the BAI group of which Bramer Bank was a part), If a Ponzi scheme was in operation

1)The Board of Directors, starting with the chairman, should be under immediate criminal investigation and should be disqualified from being able to be directors in the future.
2)The Financial Services Commission should be under investigation for gross negligence and gross incompetence in allowing this financial irregularity to take place in front of their eyes . The FSC can only be viewed as a failed institution
3)The auditors, KPMG, should be under investigation for gross negligence and gross incompetence for not identifying material misstatement/allowing financial irregularity.
4)Those baying Ministers in the current Government and who previously were Finance Ministers in the previous PM, should also be under criminal investigation for their blindness and negligence in presiding over this scandal-in-progress.
5)The Government officials and the regulatory institutions operating in a democracy are not competent enough to protect the interests of the people they serve, then they have no due right to represent the interests of the people.
6)What will happen to the reputation of Mauritius as safe financial haven for investment.
7)This can only be viewed as a shameful calamity for Mauritius where 160,000 honest policyholders and 4,000 honest employees become the innocent victims of dishonest institutions. The BAI directors and the Government are still able to live their lavish lifestyles while those innocent depositors risk losing their entire livelihood and suffer poverty. The innocent have been robbed by the financial highwaymen

For my part, this fiasco resembles slash and burn, smoke and mirrors, cloak and daggers and smells of the pungent aroma of an acrimonious personal vendetta. We need transparency so that the truth is known because someone has stolen the money from the investors. A shame and a sham.

April 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cabrelli

The crisis was precipitated by the Government itself when it chose to withdraw c Rps 1.7 million cash belonging to their agencies. The Central Bank (Bank of Mauritius) gave the bank until the 30th April to cover this position. The Chairman of the group authorized a Rps 1.4 million transfer from Kenya which was refused by the authorities. The Government put pressure on the Central Bank and Bramer Bank's licence was revoked. and the Bank closed down. The Government stated that account holders could withdraw their cash and the Bank was re-opened within two working days

Within the space of 7 days, the Government was given the licence by the Central Bank to set up a new banking institution called the National Commercial Bank which took over Bramer Bank and also injected 200 million public money. Ironically and astonishingly, the CEO of the newly formed bank is the same CEO of the Bramer Bank, the bank which was allegedly involved in this massive Ponzi scheme - you would have thought that this individual would have been investigated for criminal activity and not been allowed to be the head of another financial institution. Meanwhile, the policyholders have held rallies to put pressure on the Government to return the capital invested in the schemes which were approved as low risk investments by the Financial Services Commission. The Govt Finance Minister issued a statement that he would protect the interests of policyholders who 1)were ex-Government employees and 2)Retirees who are sending their child for further education. A significant number of the policyholders are of retirement age (judging by the attendees at the rallies) and these retirees have worked hard to accumulate these lifetime savings to better their lives & he lives of their families They are dependent on the interest/dividend from their investment for their daily stipend. In a remarkable display of insensitivity, the Prime Minister declared that these investors were greedy for investing in these low risk, capital guaranteed policies (quite an irony for a politician to accuse other of greed). There have been 2 reported deaths of policyholders on hearing the news of the Government action notwithstanding the stress and anxiety such a situation on the rest of the policyholders

April 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cabrelli


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April 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterJordan D. Maglich

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April 25, 2015 | Unregistered Commenternelson

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