May 29, 2019
Antonio Carlos De Godoy Buzaneli, a principal of Providence Holdings International Inc. based in Biscayne, Florida, was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison as the lead orchestrater of a $150 million Ponzi scheme that targeted hundreds of victims nationwide.
According to court documents, Buzaneli and his associates Jose Manuel Ordonez Jr. and Julio Enrique Rivera, targeted elderly and vulnerable investors in an investment fraud scheme from 2010 to June 2016.
According to Buzaneli’s guilty plea, Providence raised approximately $150 million from investors by representing that the funds would be invested in Brazilian factoring, a financial transaction in which accounts receivable are purchased at a discount. Providence’s marketing materials alleged that Brazil consumers would write ten separate post-dated checks for $100 (one per month) to pay for $1,000 in retail items such as consumer electronics or groceries. The retailer supposedly sold the checks to Providence for approximately $820 and Providence earned $180 over ten months as the checks matured. Thus, Providence claimed to make a 48 percent annual return on money invested in Brazil. As for U.S. investors who were defrauded $64 million, the Executive Memorandum falsely stated that the funds would be used strictly to make loans to a Brazilian subsidiary of Providence “which will use the proceeds of the loan to acquire receivables or financial instruments such a post-dated checks and/or Duplicatas in the Brazilian Factoring Market.”
Buzaneli’s guilty plea stated that Buzaneli and Ordonez used a large portion of the funds to create a Ponzi scheme and make commission payments to Providence’s brokers throughout the U.S. Buzaneli and Ordonez also diverted some of the investor funds to other companies he controlled, including a travel company, a credit rehabilitation company, a realty company, an import/export company, and a catering company and food truck operated by Buzaneli’s wife.
The courts ordered Buzaneli serve 20 years prison time, receive three years of supervision following his prison sentence, and pay over $51 million in restitution to victims. Ordonez received 10 years prison time and Rivera’s sentence has yet to be made public.