Release: #4227-99 (Civ 93-C-1022H)

For Release: January 8, 1999

Oklahoma District Court Orders $3.4 Million Restitution Payment and Bars Former Tulsa Resident, Richard Conroy Bell, From the Commodity Futures Industry for Commodity Pool Scheme

WASHINGTON -- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that on December 11, 1998, U.S. District Court Judge Sven Erik Holmes of the Northern District of Oklahoma entered a consent order of permanent injunction against Richard Conroy Bell, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, his defunct company, Barrett Bell Investment Corporation (BBIC), and two partnerships formed by Bell, Manticore Resources and ZIA Investments.

The order permanently enjoins Bell and his entities from further violations of certain provisions of federal commodity law and CFTC regulations, bars them from any activity in the futures industry for themselves or on behalf of others, and requires restitution payments to customers totaling approximately $3.4 million, plus pre- and post-judgement interest. The court's order stems from a six-count civil injunctive action filed by the CFTC in November 1993 (see CFTC News Release #3719-93, November 22, 1993).

The court's order finds that, between 1990 and November 1993, Bell and BBIC defrauded approximately 110 investors of approximately $8 million in a commodity pool formed to trade oil futures. The court's order further finds that Bell and BBIC defrauded these investors by, among other things, sending statements to investors that falsely represented that their funds had been used to trade oil futures and had generated profits, when they had not.

The order also finds that Bell and BBIC used investors' funds to make returns of principal and purported profits to earlier investors, in a manner akin to a "Ponzi" scheme. Further, the order finds that all of the defendants converted investors' funds to their personal use, purchasing such items as a home, a twin-jet airplane, gold coins, and interests in oil wells and gas leases. Finally, the order finds that Bell and his company, BBIC, acted as commodity pool operators without being registered as such with the CFTC.

In October 1994, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma charged Bell with wire fraud in a single count information concerning these same activities. Bell pled guilty and has recently completed a 44-month prison sentence.

The receiver in the CFTC's civil action, Gary C. Clark, Esq., a Tulsa attorney, has already gathered and returned approximately $4.5 million to defrauded investors pursuant to previous court orders.

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