Mexico City — The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Mexican company Aras Investment Group and its CEO Armando Gutiérrez Rosas with running a ponzi scheme against its investors, and who are mostly members of the Mexican-American community in the United States.
The charges, which also indict four other people, are linked to the fraudulent collection of at least $15 million from more than 450 retail investors, between March 2020 and November 2021, the SEC said in a statement.
The charges, filed in US District Court for the Western District of Texas, are for violation of the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws, acting as unregistered brokers.
According to the SEC, Gutiérrez and the other defendants operated a Ponzi scheme, promising investors monthly returns of up to 10% from purported investments in US real estate and mining operations in Mexico.
Gutiérrez used investors’ funds to pay for personal expenses, including a $2.5 million mansion in Texas, the SEC said.
The SEC is seeking permanent injunctive relief, civil penalties and disgorgement of interest in the lawsuit, which was announced on September 21. Others involved are Efren Quiroz, Luis Quiroz, Maria Tolentino and Diayanira Rendon.
“Without admitting or denying the allegations contained in the complaint, Efren and Luis Quiroz, Tolentino and Rendon consented to judgments against them on all claims, including full injunctive relief against future violations, with restitution and penalties to be determined by the court,” the SEC stated.
Wanted in Mexico
In November 2021, the Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores, the Mexican stock market regulator, ordered Aras to suspend its restricted activities and alerted the investing public that the company was not a financial entity or a company authorized to raise funds.
The Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office announced in July 2022 a reward of up to five million pesos ($290,590) for information leading to the capture of Armando Gutiérrez Rosas, alias “CEO Aras”. The state prosecutor’s office alleges that Gutiérrez has committed fraud and is engaged in criminal association due to the non-payment of returns. The investigations tallied a total of 4,600 victims in the state of Chihuahua alone.