Over 100 persons gathered outside the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court on Thursday protesting for the release of fraud accused 34-year old Yuri Garcia Dominguez and his wife, 32-year-old Ateeka Ishmael.
The couple is accused of swindling millions of dollars from Guyanese in an alleged major Ponzi scheme; they appeared at two courts on Thursday slapped with 19 charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and were remanded to prison.
The protesters called on the authorities to release the Cuban national and his wife and to grant them a license to operate in Guyana.
Since 2019, Dominguez and his wife have been operating under a company, Accelerated Capital Firm Inc (ACF) and have been collecting monies from persons under the pretext that it is being invested.
However, a week ago Dominguez and his wife were arrested after allegations of fraud and numerous complaints from investors who claimed that they haven’t received returns on their investments.
The protesters chanted “Free Yuri” and held placards which read: ‘ACF operates positive scheme not Ponzi scheme;’ ‘We Need Yuri and his wife to be free’, and ‘License must be granted to ACF’.
The protesters stood chanting in the blazing sun for over three hours and while they were wearing face masks, they did not adhere to the social distancing COVID-19 guidelines.
“ACF have helped a lot of people since the pandemic start and everybody gain from it so far, so we are here to support Yuri and for him to get his license,” Vickram Rampersaud, one of the protesters told the News Room.
Another protester, Dharamraj Sookdeo said, “we have to get this license for Yuri let 17,000 people get bread.”
Ryan Barran who was also protesting said that no one was scammed.
“Nobody here was ever fraud like how the government saying. Please we all in Guyanese and we are standing for Yuri.”
Meanwhile, one of the Attorneys for the couple, Dexter Todd, told reporters that the complainants in the case have all signed private and civil contracts with the company and that such matters should be dealt with in a civil arrangement and not a criminal manner.
“I can say very clearly that the prospects of a success of this matter is very slim because they will have to cross the hurdle of convincing any court of law that these matters arose out of a criminal nature and not of a private nature,” Todd said.
He highlighted that the protest action is testimony that the company is not a fraud or a sham.
So where is the money invested?