Thu | Mar 22, 2018

How did Carlos Hill get off scot-free?

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMTHE EDITOR, Sir:

I was on my way home when I heard what sounded like the second faux pas by Nationwide in two days. The announcer said Cash Plus boss Carlos Hill was freed. It actually turned out to be true.

Prosecutor Adley Duncan said people within the organisation (Cash Plus) were needed to testify but "none came forward". Did you expect them to, Prosecutor Duncan? In law, there is a word called 'subpoena'. It comes from a Latin word and it is a writ issued by a court, ordering a person to attend court at a certain time. It is sometimes used in other jurisdictions.

So I lapsed into a period of reflection. Almost a hundred years ago, a charming fellow called Charles Ponzi started promising 50 per cent returns in 45 days and 100 per cent in 90 days. He was jailed for five years, and what we know as Ponzi schemes was born. Of course, the first thing Ponzi did upon release was to start another scheme. He was jailed again, but later died penniless in Brazil.


More recently, Lou Pearlman, a successful music producer (Backstreet Boys), tried his hand at it and pocketed US$300 million before he was sentenced to 25 years.

Tom Petters was a successful businessman. He owned several businesses, including Polaroid. His scheme reached US$3.65 billion before he was sentenced to 50 years.

Gary Gauthier hosted a radio programme called It's God's Money. Tsk tsk. He got into the Ponzi business, too, and was sentenced for securities fraud and racketeering.

Bernie Madoff made off with a whopping US$65 billion. His Ponzi scheme was the largest in US history. He will not be eligible for parole and will have to serve the full 150 years in prison. He'll be about 220 years old then.

Carlos Hill is said to have had 40,000 'clients' and the sum involved is J$10 billion. Even if all these clients decided to forgive him, is it that he didn't even qualify for probation?