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Ponzi case receiver asks to pay $7M to investors who lost $57.4M

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Staff Report
Published Nov. 9, 2015

A Greenville lawyer working to recover some of the $57.4 million lost by hundreds of investors in former Anderson County Councilman Ronnie Gene Wilson’s Ponzi scheme has asked the court to approve an initial distribution of $7 million to the investors.

The court-appointed receiver, attorney Beattie Ashmore, is recovering money from lawsuits and asset sales in the case involving Wilson’s Atlantic Bullion & Coin Co.

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Wilson, also a former state school board member, pleaded guilty in 2012 to mail fraud. In 2014 he pleaded guilty to conspiring to hide assets and is serving a 20-year prison sentence for more than a decade of deceiving a broad cross-section of investors who made deposits in his Atlantic Bullion & Coin Inc. He has been ordered to pay $57.4 million in restitution.

Investors who lost money, in some cases their life savings, are being compensated from the collection effort aimed at “net winners” who Ashmore contends profited from the scheme.

A statement from Ashmore’s office said the court has set a Dec. 4 deadline for any affected claimant to oppose the plan filed Friday, with a hearing set Dec. 17. If the plan is approved, a “schedule of net loss amounts” will be mailed to all known claimants for verification.

“The theory in the receiver’s proposed Plan for Claims Administration and Distribution of Proceeds is called the ‘Rising Tide’ method, which has been used successfully in other federal Ponzi schemes,” a statement on the receiver’s website shows.

“We have determined that a large percentage of the approximately 500 claimants that filed a timely proof of claim form received nothing from Wilson or AB&C,” The website shows. “Therefore, these claimants can expect to receive a greater percentage of the funds to be distributed from the receiver. Conversely, there is a small percentage that received money and/or financial benefits from Wilson or AB&C during the course of the scheme, and these claimants will receive a smaller percentage of the funds to be distributed from the receiver and, in some instances, nothing.”

The statement said “another much smaller distribution will be made in the future after all assets are recovered and liquidated and all litigation has ended.”

Ashmore’s statement said the “receivership began with almost no funding.”

“We have grown the value of the receivership estate through the acquisition and disposition of assets formerly in the possession of Ron Wilson and those connected to him,” the statement said. “We continue to go through the process of reclaiming false profits from those investors who received grossly excessive profits which are simply monies belonging to other victims.”

Ashmore has declined to provide a total of how many among the 800 investors were “unjustly enriched.” He is currently seeking to recover a total $10 million across 26 lawsuits.

“My staff and I will continue to work diligently to further increase the value of the receiver’s estate by locating assets and reclaiming any and all assets that should be disgorged and returned for distribution to other victims,” the statement said.

Wilson at times was assisted by investors who believed they were promoting an honest opportunity. Investors deposited money into accounts that Wilson controlled, based on his false claims about transactions involving silver that he said was in a Delaware depository.

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