February 2017: A Malaysian citizen is facing up to forty years in prison after pleading guilty last month in Miami, Florida, on two counts of fraud in an alleged scheme to cheat investors and US government agencies out of millions of dollars. A bankrupt iron ore mine in northern Chile lies at the heart of the plot.
Starting in 2010, Navin Xavier told investors that his company Essex Holdings was a global resources company with interests in sugar trading and iron ore mining in the Atacama Desert. But after raising US$29M from 100 investors in Europe and North America, promising rates of returns of 8%-25%, he stopped paying back on promissory notes sometime in 2014. Xavier now admits that he was operating a Ponzi scheme, paying returns to early investors with contributions from latecomers.