CFTC Wins Bid To Freeze Defendants’ Assets in Utah Ponzi Case

Feb 1 2011 | 8:54am ET

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has convinced a Utah Federal Court to freeze the assets of the defendants in a $50.2 million fraud case.

Judge Bruce S. Jenkins of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah has frozen the assets of Robert Andres and his Houston firm, Winsome Investment Trust, and Robert Holloway and his Salt Lake City company US Ventures. Jenkins has scheduled a hearing on the CFTC’s motion for a preliminary injunction on February 14, 2011.

The CFTC has charged Andres and Winsome with $50.2 million commodity pool solicitation fraud, misappropriation and providing false statements. (The last two charges also apply to their companies, which are also considered defendants.)

From at least May 2005 through November 2008, Andres and Winsome allegedly fraudulently solicited and accepted at least $50.2 million from at least 243 individuals to invest in a commodity futures pool operated by Holloway and USV. In their solicitations, Andres and Winsome falsely claimed a successful track record and guaranteed the return of participants’ principal and profits, the complaint charges.

Holloway and Andres are also alleged to have used participant funds for personal expenses, in Holloway’s case, these are said to have included houses, cars, home furnishings, jewelry and lawn and maid services. Andres allegedly spent $4.2 million to purchase an aerospace consulting business and to provide money to his wife.

According to the complaint, despite losing about $10.7 million through trading, Andres and Winsome provided participants with account statements showing daily returns of up to 1.6613%, with “virtually no losses.”

The CFTC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, restitution to defrauded customers, civil monetary penalties and permanent injunctions prohibiting trading and further violations of federal commodities law.

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