The CFTC Accuses South Carolina Pastor of Running Ponzi Scheme
On Monday, in response to a civil complaint filed by the U.S. Commodities
Futures Trading Commission, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court
in Charleston froze the assets of Rev. Ronald Satterfield. Satterfield
is accused of running a multi-million dollar foreign currency
Ponzi scheme out of St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church, where he is the rector.
Authorities claim the scheme has defrauded at least 70 investors of approximately
Court documents allege that Satterfield told investors he could grow their investments by up to 48 percent in just one year, but instead lost almost all of the money invested. What he did not lose he allegedly used to pay returns to customers until early 2009, when his companies began to fail. Investments were made through two of Satterfield's companies: Graham Street Forex Group LLC and Shore-2-Summit Financial LLC. The latter was dissolved on Dec. 31.
Court documents state that though Satterfield had neither a broker's license nor an affiliation with any financial institution he began offering to trade on the behalf of others in 2006. The CFTC has claimed that Satterfield asked members of his church to invest with him. Court documents also claim that he requested investment checks be made out to him personally and that he deposited the funds in accounts that mingled investment funds with his personal assets.
Satterfield also stands accused of misleading investors about the performance of their investments during the financial crisis in 2008. Authorities claim he told a financial adviser that his failing companies had "sailed through these financial storms with nice profit," and told investors that their financial gains were "solid and consistent."
Satterfield has denied the specific allegations against him. "It's not the way they described it," he said. He told the press that while "some people lost money," he had been successful in the past with investments made in the foreign exchange market with his own money.