From groups of Filipino churchgoers, to scores of Emirates cabin crew flying out of Dubai – hundreds of normal people looking to secure their futures have been caught up in the Exential scam.
For many, the process of retrieving their money may seem like it’s in slow motion as cash remains tied up in accounts they can’t touch – or hidden away in offshore banking systems like the British Virgin Islands.
Lawyers working on their behalf insist the case is rapidly moving forward, and once assets have been locked down and a court judgement issued, those who have appointed specialist firms to recover their cash could soon be repaid.
It seemed like the perfect investment. For a $25,000 deposit, an account could be opened with the money invested in foreign currency, and traded when markets fluctuated using a complicated computer algorithm.
The reality was a Ponzi scheme, with profits paid out using new investor’s money.
Those on the trail of assets hidden around the world by the men behind the scheme claim more arrests are likely, as the sole detainee so far, Exential’s chief executive Sydney Lemos, is a fall guy, taking the hit for bigger players behind the scenes.
“Those involved, including those in the client base, have not always been honest with us,” said Bill Ferguson, legal firm Carlton Huxley’s lead investigator.
“We think Sydney Lemos is taking the wrap for others, and he is not as guilty in this as many people assume.”