Ghana Man Accused of 14-Year International Swindle
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A Ghanaian man, promising a 10-to-1 return on investment in just three months, defrauded investors worldwide out of more than $100 million in a scheme that could bring the death penalty in his homeland, authorities say.
District Attorney Ron Castille on Wednesday announced charges against John Ackah Blay-Miezah, of Accra, Ghana. Blay-Miezah has been jailed in Ghana in the case on a charge of economic sabotage, a capital offense.
Investors drawn into the 14-year scam were led to believe they were buying into a $150 million trust left by Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, Castille said. He said the fund never existed.
He said he did not know if Blay-Miezah would be extradited to face state charges of corrupt organizations, theft, conspiracy and 28 violations of the state securities law.
Through agents in South Korea, Ghana, England, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Philadelphia area, Blay-Miezah guaranteed investors in the ″Oman Ghana Trust Fund″ a 10-1 return on their money within three months, the complaint said.
The payback date was constantly postponed and investors never received a penny, according to the complaint, which said the scam continued from 1972 until this year.
In the Philadelphia area alone, 300 people invested more than $15 million. The total number of victims has not been determined, Castille said.
Investors were told that Nkrumah, on his deathbed, gave Blay-Miezah control of the trust in 1972, according to the complaint.
Authorities say, however, that when Nkrumah died in Romania on April 27, 1972, Blay-Miezah was in Graterford State Prison near Philadelphia for failing to pay a hotel bill.
In addition, the complaint said, Eric Otoo, Ghana’s ambassador to the United States, told police the two men were not friends and that Blay-Miezah was jailed in the mid-1960s for harassing Nkrumah.
According to the complaint, Blay-Miezah’s agent in Philadelphia was Robert Ellis, who was charged in January with conspiracy, theft and securities violations, Castille’s office said.