In fact, the bonds issued by the former Republic of China before Mao Zedong’s Communist Party came to power in 1949 were practically worthless, prosecutors said. The current Chinese government does not recognize the bonds, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission considers them to be collectibles with no value outside of the memorabilia market, prosecutors said.
However, investors were not told the true nature of the bonds, nor were they told that no previous investor had ever made the promised returns, prosecutors said.
Many of the clients were older and retired, and those who didn’t have cash were asked to cash out other investments so they could join the program, prosecutors said.
A “participation agreement” was made available to victims stating that if the bonds were not sold within a certain number of days, the funds invested would be returned, prosecutors said.
Investors were instructed to transfer funds to various bank accounts maintained or controlled by Mr. Caldwell. A total of around 3.5 million US dollars were “invested” in the bond business in 2013 and 2014, according to the prosecutor.
Mr. Caldwell received around $ 900,000, according to prosecutors, and used some of the money to pay off debts, including personal loans, mortgages and credit cards.
When investors asked why they had not received the promised returns, Mr Caldwell and Mr Smith offered excuses, defended the legitimacy of the deals and promised investors they would receive their returns, prosecutors said.