SEC claims New Roc man defrauded followers of the Grail movement
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission accused a New Rochelle man of defrauding other members of the Grail Movement, losing most of the $ 698,000 invested by nine members of the religious organization.
The SEC charged Evarist C. Amah with five violations of securities laws in an August 9 lawsuit filed in the US District Court in White Plains.
Amah, 54, was CEO of ECA Capital Management LLC of New Rochelle. The company was founded in 2012, according to a crown corporation file, and dissolved in June 2020.
From 2016 to 2019, according to the SEC, Amah made false and misleading statements to investors. For example, he allegedly told eight clients that he made modest gains of 3% to 5% when he actually lost 97% of their assets.
Then he allegedly fabricated performance reports to cover up his misconduct, showing, for example, total assets of $ 439,751 for several clients when the actual balance was $ 4,907.
Amah created the Mountain Support Initiative – Investment Trading and the MOSI-IT Special Project, ostensibly as investment programs to benefit clients and the Grail Movement, an organization inspired by Oskar Ernst Bernhardt (1875-1941), a German who wrote “In the Light of Truth: the Grail Message, under the pen name Abd-ru-shin.
None of the investment programs were created as a legal entity, the SEC said, and they were managed through the personal brokerage accounts of ECA Capital and Amah.
At the end of each year, Amah told her clients that a portion of the profits would be distributed to investors and a portion would be donated to The Mountain, a settlement in Vomperberg, Austria, where the Grail Movement holds festivals. and other religious activities.
He told a client in 2016 that he expected annual returns of around $ 1 million by the third year, when he had already lost more than half of the funds invested.
Amah created a spreadsheet that predicted annual returns of over 75%, according to the complaint, and $ 1.5 million in donations to the Mountain over a three-year period.
“Amah knew, or was reckless not to know,” the SEC said, that her statements were “materially false and misleading.”
Clients, mainly from Nigeria and Italy, transferred funds to ECA Capital’s bank account in Pelham, according to the complaint. Next, Amah transferred the funds to accounts in New York and Nebraska.
In 2019, Amah first admitted to making bad trades, according to the complaint, but even then he has minimized losses to almost 37% since its inception, rather than close to 100%.
The SEC is asking the court to stop Amah from violating securities laws and making him refund any ill-gotten gains and pay an unspecified civil penalty.