Sanctuary Belize Making Local News From Scam Ripples

You are probably going to hear more from me coming up regarding Sanctuary Belize. For me this is a fascinating story because of its links going way back to the first nonprofit credit counseling agency to fold in a giant explosion, Ameridebt run by Andris Pukke with Tim McCallan involvement.

Some local stories out of Belize have caught my attention.

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In FTC Says Sanctuary Belize Development Was Not Viable News 5 is reporting, “Belize suffered another black eye in the international media. The Federal Trade Commission shut down a multimillion-dollar real estate investment scam in southern Belize. It’s cause for great concern because Belize is one of the top tourism destinations and businessmen are looking to the country for possible investments.”

Frank Bluff, an investor in Sanctuary Belize said, “One of the points that I want to make is that there are many hundreds of people who bought properly down there beside me and some of them could not withstand the loss that they have incurred. A lot of people, I have [heard] stories, that have invested their full retirement funds down there and planned on retiring down there and they just have nothing left. As Jim said, going back fifteen years there are people who have literally died waiting for this to get completed.”

The local news station also said “The FTC asked Dr. Richard Prisor, one of the country’s leading authorities on large-scale development to analyze the viability of the Sanctuary Belize project. According to Dr. Prisor building facilities like a promised hospital in a remote area of Belize is not economically sustainable. He also explains that contrary to defendant’s claims, a no debt model where you are simply putting investment back into the development without borrowing money actually significantly increases the risk of the project due to the lack of liquidity and oversight. Because no debt financing severely restricts the cash flow available for any project the defendants claims that they put all the money they got back into the project was particularly important, however like their other claims this claim too was a lie.”

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According to Breaking News Belize, “Prosecutors believe the Sanctuary Belize developers are about half a billion dollars short of the capital they would have needed to complete the development. They regularly pitched a “no debt” financing model to potential buyers, which ultimately meant the project was low on liquidity, especially since Pukke is alleged to have siphoned off money from his investors to pay off a loan connected to his bail and finance a personal home in California.” – Source

Some owners (victims) of this international scam have pursued the development to recover their money. Attorney Esteven Perera said, “We have assisted a client in the past along with another law firm. We have a judgment against Sittee River Wildlife River [a successor to Sanctuary Belize]. This is our second client and we have a number of them we are currently speaking with that are concerned with the activities that are going on there right now and the return of their funds.” – Source

An offshoot of this crackdown is it could disrupt banking relationships between Belize and the United States. News 5 says, “The U.S. indictment named several persons and companies as it relates to a civil complaint lodged against Sanctuary Belize, Andris Pukke and other associates including Atlantic International Bank Limited. It’s a very serious matter for Atlantic Bank which is not only one of the largest banks in Belize, but one of the few that still enjoys corresponding banking with the U.S. With the current indictment, there is the fear that corresponding banking may be pulled, affecting Belize’s banking sector. According to attorney Estevan Perera, the scammers allowed the clients to make payment directly to the local Belize bank accounts, contrary to Central Bank regulations and Laws of Belize.” – Source

Atlantic International Bank says it did nothing wrong. – Source

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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