February 28, 2013
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that Judge J. Michelle Childs of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina issued an Order requiring Defendant Ronnie Gene Wilson to pay a $23 million civil monetary penalty and $11,530,000 of restitution to defrauded investors in connection with a multi-million dollar silver bullion Ponzi scheme. The Consent Order of Permanent Injunction also imposes permanent trading and registration bans against Wilson and his company, Atlantic Bullion & Coin, Inc. (Atlantic Bullion), both of Easley, S.C., and prohibits them from violating the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC Regulations, as charged.
The Order stems from a CFTC Complaint filed on June 6, 2012, charging violations under the CFTC’s new authority contained within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act) prohibiting the use of any manipulative device, scheme, or artifice to defraud in connection with a contract of sale of a commodity in interstate commerce. Wilson and Atlantic Bullion were charged with fraudulently selling contracts of sale of silver to investors in a nationwide scheme that spanned 11 years (see CFTC Press Release 6275-12, June 6, 2012).
In the Consent Order, the court concludes that the Defendants fraudulently obtained at least $11.53 million from at least 237 investors for the purchase of contracts of sale of silver bullion between August 15, 2011, and February 29, 2012 (the relevant period), which corresponds to the time period during which the CFTC possessed jurisdiction over the Defendants’ actions pursuant to new provisions contained within the Dodd-Frank Act. The Order further finds that, during the relevant period, the Defendants failed to purchase any silver whatsoever. Instead, the Order concludes that the Defendants misappropriated the entirety of the investors’ funds and issued false account statements to investors in an attempt to conceal their fraud.
In a related criminal proceeding in November 2012, Wilson was sentenced to serve the maximum 235 months imprisonment under the applicable federal sentencing guidelines and ordered to pay $57,401,009 in restitution to his victims for his involvement in the Ponzi scheme (US v. Wilson, 8:12-00320, D. SC).
The CFTC appreciates the cooperation and assistance in this matter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina (including Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Conits and Assistant United States Attorney William J. Watkins, Jr.), the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Secret Service.
The CFTC Division of Enforcement staff responsible for this case are A. Daniel Ullman II, George H. Malas, Antoinette Chance, John Einstman, Richard Foelber, Paul G. Hayeck, and Joan M. Manley.
Last Updated: February 28, 2013