Marc Harris

OffshoreAlert's first big exposé came on March 31st, 1998 when we revealed that The Harris Organization, which was a financial services group based in Panama and headed by American CPA Marc Harris, was providing fraud and money laundering services to clients, had stolen millions of dollars from those same clients, and was "hopelessly insolvent". The Harris Organization filed a criminal defamation complaint against OffshoreAlert in Panama and a civil defamation complaint in Florida, the latter of which was tried over six days and concluded with a judgment in favor of OffshoreAlert, which triggered The Harris Organization's collapse. Harris fled to Nicaragua, where he was arrested while his car waited at traffic lights and deported to the US, where there was a sealed indictment against him in Florida. Harris was convicted on multiple counts of fraud and money laundering at trial and sentenced to 17 years in prison. His number two, Larry Gandolfi, and several clients were also criminally convicted in the US, mostly for tax fraud.
Timeline
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31

March

1998

The Harris Organization’s multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme

Offshore Alert can today disclose that Panama's most-hyped financial services group, known as The Harris Organization, is being run as a massive Ponzi scheme in which clients are being defrauded out of millions of dollars. The situation is so serious that The Harris Organization, which employs 150 people in Panama, is hopelessly insolvent, with net liabilities of at least $25 million, according to sources knowledgeable of the group's financial affairs.
31

March

1998

Marc Harris says: ‘We’re cleaner than clean.’

David Marchant, the publisher of Offshore Alert, flew to the Bahamas on Wednesday, March 25 to meet with Marc Harris at the Radisson Grand Hotel in Cable Beach, near Nassau. Also present at the meeting were Larry Gandolfi, who is a salesman; Christopher Davy, head of computers; and Alan McAloon, head of trust services.
31

March

1998

‘The Harris Matrix’ for hiding money from the IRS and your wife

Offshore Alert has obtained confidential documents that are presented to clients of The Harris Organization advising them how to hide their assets from their creditors, be it the IRS or their wives if they are going through a divorce. The documents are so sensitive that the cover sheet states: "Under no circumstances may this document be utilized outside the offices of The Harris Organization. Misuse or disclosure of this document is subject to civil and criminal sanctions under Panamanian law."
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08

April

1998

Marc M. Harris et Cie SA et al v. David Marchant et al: Libel Complaint

Libel Complaint in Marc M. Harris et Cie S.A., The Firm of Marc M. Harris, Inc., and Marc M. Harris Trust Company, Ltd. v. David Marchant and Offshore Business News & Research, Inc. at the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
30

April

1998

Dumb and Dumber: How not to conduct a private investigation

Prior to, and following, the publication of last month's edition of Offshore Alert, private investigators have been making an unsuccessful attempt to dig up dirt on its publisher and founder, David Marchant. So hapless has the investigation been that Marchant was actually able to track down one of the investigators - Darren Brost, of Renton, Washington - and gave him a call to say ‘hello' and to inform him that he faced the possibility of prosecution for suspected fraud. A criminal complaint against the man has been made with police in his home-town of Renton, Washington State, alleging that he obtained telephone records by wire fraud.
14

May

1998

Marc M. Harris et Cie SA et al v. David Marchant et al: Amended Libel Complaint

Amended Libel Complaint in Marc M. Harris et Cie S.A., The Firm of Marc M. Harris, Inc., and Marc M. Harris Trust Company, Ltd. v. David E. Marchant and Offshore Business News & Research, Inc. at the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
31

May

1998

Insider Talking: May 31, 1998

Former Cayman banker John Mathewson's sentencing hearing for helping to launder the proceeds of crime has been delayed yet again. Mathewson was due to be sentenced on April 30 by a court in New Jersey in the US but the matter was adjourned until later in the year; If figures compiled by The Wall Street Journal are to be relied upon for accuracy, the Cayman Islands is not the world's fifth largest financial center, as it claims, but is actually the eighth largest; Six months after US$9 million of its assets were frozen in British Columbia as part of an investigation into fraudulent trading, the Cayman-based broker/dealer Harris McLean Financial Group has filed a lawsuit in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands against one of its principals, Richard Harris, and his mother, Ana Harris; and Those of you who have been following our articles on The Harris Organization of Panama might like to read a three-page article on the subject that appeared in the June 1 edition of Business Week.
31

May

1998

The colourful world of the promoters of The Harris Organization

One wrote a book describing Albania as a "fairy tale land" and promised he could show investors "how to double your capital at no risk", another sells seemingly dodgy insurance brokerage licences to the gullible, promising they are available within 72 hours to people with no qualifications or even a formal education who will be able to access the Lloyd's of London market; and another has written a book on prostitution showing where "balding, fat guys like your author" can find "Thai virgins".
30

June

1998

Insider Talking: June 30, 1998

Offshore regulators apparently uninterested in scams exposed by OffshoreAlert; NimsTec's 3-D cameras offered for sale as "collector's items" over the Internet; Marc Harris has t-shirt with the slogan: "David Marchant is alive because killing him would be a crime"; As General Election looms, Progressive Labour Party tipped to win power in Bermuda for the first time; Dominion of Melchizedek offers a variety of fraudulent products and services; and Little Switzerland contemplates legal action after proposed purchase of Colombian Emeralds International falls through.
31

August

1998

Marc Harris latest: Liquidity crisis deepens, another client goes to prison

More information has come our way this month that sheds further light on the current and past turmoil of The Harris Organization of Panama, including details of liquidity problems, the conviction of another one of its clients on a drug trafficking charge and allegations of 'bounty hunting' against two of the group's officers. The financial services group, which we have previously reported as being insolvent, running a Ponzi scheme, ripping off clients and laundering the proceeds of crime, seems to be in financial trouble.
30

September

1998

Insider Talking: September 30, 1998

Receivers of the Florida Employers Safety Association Self-Insurers Fund sue David Sanz, share price of Stirling Cooke falls to new low on NASDAQ, Elite International Services offers dubious offshore products, Marc Harris on the move, prison inmate Ronald Williams apparently continues to rip people off during his day-release program, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham puts both feet in his mouth during press conference for murder of foreign national.
30

November

1998

Marc Harris latest: Senior officers undergo lie detector tests

Information coming from Panama indicates that November has been yet another bad month for The Harris Organization. All the signs are that the offshore financial services group, which has been accused in this newsletter of running a Ponzi scheme and of massive insolvency, is about to go bust.
29

January

1999

Two more Harris Organization clients indicted in the US

Less than a year after two clients pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges in California, a criminal indictment has been brought in Florida against two more clients of The Harris Organization of Panama. The indictment was filed against Aurelio Anthony Vigna and his son, Joseph R. Vigna, on December 17, 1998 at the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
29

January

1999

Marc Harris-OBNR lawsuit due to be tried in May

The Harris Organization's $30 million libel action against Offshore Business News & Research, Inc. and its principal, David Marchant, is scheduled to go to trial in May of this year at the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Miami).
31

March

1999

Florida regulator investigates ‘insurers’ operated by Harris Organization

The Department of Banking and Finance in Florida is investigating an alleged scam involving two insurance companies run by The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama. It has been alleged that investors were duped into investing funds with Florida-registered Lifeblood Biomedical Inc. on the grounds that their investment was fully insured by Threshold Insurance Services Ltd. and Caribbean General Insurance Corporation, which are both operated by The Harris Organization. However, following the collapse of Lifeblood Biomedical last year after raising $10 million, the insurance companies have refused to pay investors' claims, alleging that agreements on their letterhead and signed by the President of both insurers, Ilka M. Barria, are bogus.
31

March

1999

Insider Talking: March 31, 1999

Further incriminating evidence against Bermuda Stock Exchange-listed Mezzanine Capital, Lines Overseas Management has sophisticated computer software system installed, Marc M. Harris and his Panama bodyguards, 'The Invisible Investor' book provides a plethora of unintentional laughs, Nigerian fraudsters appears in Cayman Islands court, Florida-based scam seeks to take advantage of bona fide firms like Lloyd's Bank and Barclays Bank, Members of Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly shelve plans to award themselves huge pay increases.
30

April

1999

Marc Harris withdrawn as witness as libel trial draws near

The Harris Organization's libel complaint against Offshore Business News & Research, Inc, which publishes this newsletter, and the company's principal, David Marchant, is due to start on May 24 at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (in Miami). We were also notified this month that the group's founder, chairman and sole owner of its common stock, Marc Harris, has been withdrawn from The Harris Organization's witness list.
30

April

1999

Insider Talking: April 30, 1999

The saying 'There's one born every minute' was never more evident than during a recent interview OffshoreAlert conducted with an Arizona-based creditor of Gilbert Ziegler, the chairman of the fraudulently-run First International Bank of Grenada; The depths to which The Oxford Club's parent, Baltimore-based Agora Inc., will stoop to attract new business seemingly knows no bounds; In the book the Sovereign Individual, which is co-authored by Lines Overseas Management shareholders Lord William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson, there is a paragraph on Page 188 that seems to advocate an illegal act when advising readers on asset protection; Although we published a list of shareholders for Bermuda-based financial services firm Lines Overseas Management last month, the identities of many of the beneficial shareholders was hidden through companies; We reported last month on an alleged fraud being committed by Threshold Insurance Services, which is an apparently bogus insurer being operated by The Harris Organization of Panama and being investigated by banking and insurance regulators in Florida. We learned this month that official records in Panama show that the company has now been dissolved; and Accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, which is liquidating First Cayman Bank, is still forecasting a pay out of 45 to 55 cents on the dollar.
31

May

1999

Harris Organization-OBNR trial put back by court

The libel trial involving The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama and Offshore Business News & Research, Inc., which publishes this newsletter, has been put back to an unnamed date by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
30

June

1999

Harris Organization/OBNR trial set to start on July 6, 1999

The civil libel trial between Offshore Business News & Research, Inc., which publishes this newsletter, and The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama will start at the United States District Court for the District of Southern Florida (in Miami) on July 6. After two postponements by the court because of scheduling problems, a definite date has now been set for the trial, which is scheduled to last for about one week.
31

July

1999

Libel trial judge asks: ‘Where is Marc Harris?’

The libel trial involving The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama and Offshore Business News & Research ended on July 30 with Judge Michael Moore asking: "Where is Marc Harris?" Harris was nowhere to be seen during six days of testimony even though he was the main subject matter of the March 31, 1998 Offshore Alert article that was being complained about.
10

August

1999

Marc M. Harris et Cie SA et al v. David Marchant et al: Final Judgment, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

Final Judgment, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in Marc M. Harris et Cie S.A., The Firm of Marc M. Harris, Inc. and Marc M. Harris Trust Company, Ltd. v. David E. Marchant and Offshore Business News & Research, Inc. at the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
13

August

1999

OBNR defeats Harris Organization in libel lawsuit

The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama has lost its libel lawsuit brought against Offshore Business News & Research, which publishes this newsletter, and OBNR's principal, David Marchant. Judge Michael Moore, sitting in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, issued a strong ruling in favour of OBNR and Marchant on August 10, 1999.
31

August

1999

Harris Organization appeals libel decision

The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama has served official notice that it will appeal its loss of a recent libel lawsuit against Offshore Business News & Research Inc., which publishes Offshore Alert. The grounds for the appeal were not known at press time.
30

September

1999

Insider Talking: September 30, 1999

Dominica-registered Overseas Development Bank & Trust has yet to satisfy three judgments totalling US$1.24 million that were entered against it in favor of creditors on January 29, 1999, sham New Utopia jurisdiction claims it is launching "the New Utopia Investment Fund of the Cayman Islands", Ralph Sherman's involvement in the First International Bank of Grenada, comparisons between Van Brink's First International Bank of Grenada and Michael Randy's Canadian Trade Bank, alleged investment fraudster Brent Wagman surfaces in Panama, '60 Minutes' television show goes soft on Alexandre Konanykhine.
30

September

1999

BVI regulator responds to judge’s ruling against The Harris Organization

In the face of an onslaught of pressure from the international community, offshore regulators have been quick to claim over the last few years that they are not havens for criminal activity.However, the proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating.
31

October

1999

La Prensa newspaper charged over Harris Organization stories

La Prensa newspaper in Panama and some of its journalists have had a criminal libel brought against them after several articles on The Harris Organization financial services group.La Prensa has alleged improper links between The Harris Organization, the Attorney-General, José Antonio Sossa; and a Panamanian attorney, Carlos Jones; allegations which have been denied by the subjects of the articles.
30

November

1999

Elderly investor sues Harris Organization representative in Costa Rica

A criminal lawsuit has been filed against the head of the Costa Rica office of The Harris Organization financial services group after an elderly US investor claims she was unable to redeem her investment. Floyce Capmany, 72, who lives in Nevada, claims she is still owed $37,668 of a $70,000 investment she made through The Harris Organization's sales office in Costa Rica in 1998.
31

December

1999

OffshoreAlert Awards For 1999

Annual OffshoreAlert Awards for: Worst Regulator, Worst Regulated Jurisdictions, Lie of the Year, Coward of the Year, Crooks of the Year, Jurisdiction in Most Need of a PR Make-Over, Most Small-Minded Decision, Most Arrogant Jurisdiction, Most Stupid Comments, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Award, and Most Responsible Regulators.
31

December

1999

Year in Review: 1999

January In our first exposé of the year, we give details of a multi million dollar fraud being committed by the First International Bank of Grenada, the World Investors' Stock Exchange, the International Deposit Insurance Company and related parties in
31

January

2000

Insider Talking: January 31, 2000

Liquidators of First Cayman Bank reach settlement with former Cayman government minister McKeeva Bush, First Nevisian's Keith Leslie King testifies at civil trial in the Isle of Man, Jordan Bionda denies he is a fraudster, conman Keem Kalfon promotes his Global Heritage Asset Protection 'fund', attorney Julian Hall is declared bankrupt in Bermuda, Bermuda's international business sector voices concern over Government plans to introduce tougher new work permit rules for foreign workers, offshore crook Marc Harris compares himself to Albert Einstein, Florida judge orders Harris Organization to pay costs after losing a libel action against OffshoreAlert's publisher.
31

January

2000

Harris Organization moves closer to collapse

There are increasing indications that The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama is edging closer to collapse. Several of the group's clients have contacted Offshore Alert recently to complain that their requests to redeem all or part of their investments have been ignored.
31

March

2000

Harris Organization associate deported from Panama

A fugitive American businessman who has been helping The Harris Organization run investment schemes through IBCs set up in the Bahamas and the BVI was deported this month from Panama to the US. Within days of his deportation, Brent A. Wagman was criminally indicted in Texas on charges of masterminding a scheme that defrauded mainly elderly victims of approximately $30 million.
30

June

2000

German police investigate Marc Harris

The Panamanian authorities have received yet another request for assistance from a foreign agency investigating alleged crimes involving The Harris Organization financial services group. La Prensa, which is the main newspaper in Panama, reported in June that Interpol in Wiesbaden, Germany, had submitted a written request for help to their counterparts in Panama on March, 8, 2000. According to La Prensa, the Germans are investigating an alleged fraud committed in Germany and Switzerland and allegedly involving Heinz Richard, 52, someone called 'Hintermeier' and a company named Victus Commerz AG.
31

July

2000

Insider Talking: July 31, 2000

Robin Cotterell released on bail pending trial on money laundering charge, SG Hambros and Coutts settle Bahamas lawsuit, casino web-site's links to the Bahamas, where Internet gaming is prohibited; Canadian regulators issues warning about Cayman International Holdings, First International Bank of Grenada fraudsters open a new bank, investors in Versailles finance group apply to liquidate BVI firm Trading Partners, Harris Organization has Nov. 24 deadline to obtain investment manager's license in Panama, Imperial Consolidated Securities SA offers "High-Yield Investment Facility", Cayman Islands passes Electronic Transactions Bill and Computer Misuse Bill.
31

August

2000

Jeeves Group named in UK Gov’t report on failed timeshare group

The Jeeves Group, which operates out of Liechtenstein and St. Vincent, has been named in a UK government investigation into an alleged scam involving more than GBP7 million. The group represented two St. Vincent-registered companies that were part of an organization involved in the fraudulent sale of shares and timeshare holidays to the public, according to the Department of Trade & Industry.
31

August

2000

Insider Talking: August 31, 2000

Granger Brewster Whitelaw, the founding CEO of one of Bermuda's first e-commerce companies, EOCnet.com, pleads guilty to a criminal misdemeanor in New York, arrest warrant issued for Canadian chartered accountant Steven Brown following fraud investigation in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Panama Attorney General Jose Antonio Sossa orders arrests of four journalists, liquidators of Bermuda-based Telecheck group complete liquidation, Imperial Consolidated (Bahamas) boss Bill Godley receives compensation of $65,000 per month.
31

August

2000

Harris Organization-controlled motel put into receivership

A Florida motel controlled by The Harris Organization has been put into receivership after the Panama-based financial services group defaulted on an $11,820 per month mortgage. A receiver for Neptune's Hideaway Motel Inc., in Key Largo, was appointed by the 16th Judicial Court for Monroe County on June 20, 2000 after an application on June 6 by creditor LRJ Realty Inc.
30

September

2000

Investors claim huge losses with now-defunct Bahamas broker

Investors who claim they were swindled by a Bahamas-based stockbroking firm are preparing legal action in a bid to recover approximately $12 million in lost funds. The investors claim they were sold dubious stocks traded on the NASDAQ over-the-counter market by Equity Management Group Ltd., which operated from the Bahamas Financial Centre in Nassau.
17

October

2000

Panama suspends operations of The Harris Organization

La Prensa newspaper in Panama reported today that La Comisión Nacional de Valores, which is the Panamanian equivalent of the SEC in the United States, has suspended the business operations of The Harris Organization financial services group, which is headquartered in Panama but has its main entities incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and Nevis.
31

October

2000

Insider Talking: October 31, 2000

Midasco Gold Corp's dubious offshore private placement participants, Turks & Caicos Islands regulator issues warning against Orion Bank & Trust, Canadian lawsuit filed against Bermuda-based investment firm GulfStream Financial Ltd., prospectus for Bermuda Money Funds identifies long-deceased Bermudian attorney as its chairman, Better Business Bureau in Costa Rica angered by Harris Organization's false claim to be a member, New Utopia scam keeps going and going, superseding indictment brought against Nevis-based offshore provider Robin Cotterell.
31

October

2000

Marc Harris gets temporary reprieve after being closed down

After months of ignoring blatant illegalities, Panamanian regulators finally acted against The Harris Organization financial services group this month and suspended its business operations. However, an Order by La Comisión Nacional de Valores (National Securities Commission) was itself suspended by the Panamanian Supreme Court following an application by The Harris Organization.
30

November

2000

Two more Harris Organization clients deported to US to face criminal charges

Two more clients of The Harris Organization have been arrested in Panama and deported to their native United States to face trial on criminal charges. Anthony Vigna, 68, and his son, Joseph, 35, were arrested on November 9, 2000 as they left their homes in Panama and immediately flown to Miami, where they are being held in custody.