US fugitive to be deported from Tonga

Vakai ki lalo ki he fakamatala faka-Tonga

The man wanted by US authorities for counts of wire fraud and other legal actions faces deportation after he lost his appeal against his removal order at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court last week.

The 62 year-old American man, Antone Thomas Pedras who is also known as Christopher A.T. Pedras, is alleged by US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the owner of unregistered companies that fleeced over fifty US Investors.

Pedras married to a Tongan after he arrived in the kingdom in 2000.

The FBI alerted Tongan authorities in May about Pedras and he was then issued with a removal order.

A statement released by the SEC on June 18, 2014 says: “The Commission’s complaint alleged that, from at least July 2010 until the Commission filed its action on October 28, 2013, Pedras, through five different U.S. and New Zealand – based entities of which he was an owner, officer and/or director, offered and sold securities in unregistered offerings based on materially false representations and omissions without being registered as a broker, in furtherance of a Ponzi scheme by which more than $5.6 million was raised from over fifty United States investors.

“Among other false representations, Pedras told investors that the Maxum Gold Trade Program was a “low risk” investment with returns ranging between 4-8% per month and claimed investor funds would be placed in escrow to facilitate a bank trade program.

“When Pedras was unable to pay the promised returns, he began promoting the FMP Renal Program to Maxum Gold Trade Program investors, falsely claiming, among other things, that the new program would instantaneously increase the value of Maxum Gold investors’ investments by approximately 80%.

“In fact, neither investment program was real; instead, they were a Ponzi scheme. Pursuant to the Ponzi scheme, Pedras paid out more than $2.4 million in investor “returns” directly out of investor funds, misappropriated nearly $2 million in cash, cars, retail purchases and transfers to and from his related companies, and caused $1.2 million to be paid in sales commissions to a network of sales agents".

Pedras was represented in court by counsel Laki Niu.

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