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Nov 9, 2018

FTC Says Sanctuary Belize Development Was Not Viable

On Thursday, Belize suffered another black eye in the international media.  The Federal Trade Commission shut down a multimillion-dollar real estate investment scam in southern Belize.  It’s cause for great concern because Belize is one of the top tourism destinations and businessmen are looking to the country for possible investments.  This latest revelation by the F.T.C. may lead authentic investors to think twice before putting their millions in the country. There are so many questions to ask, but local authorities are mum about this scam which conjures the Puerto Azul fiasco.  Now, the F.T.C. reports that for fifteen years, convicted felon Andris Pukke has been operating Sanctuary Belize, the multimillion-dollar scam, from behind bars with the help of dozens of associates and entities named in a civil complaint. Buyers were scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars after falling for a sales pitch which promised them world class amenities on a fourteen-thousand acre development in southern Belize.  Investors like Frank Balluff were promised that they would enjoy what they paid for in two to five years. But it has been fifteen years and the millions which Pukke collected have been spent on his bail and California house with little going to the development as explained by the F.T.C.’s Associate Director of Enforcement, Jim Kohm.

 

Jim Kohm, Associate Director of Enforcement, FTC

 “They also claimed that they took one hundred percent of lot sales and put them back into the development of the property and that would allow them to finish the property quickly in two to five years. These claims were crucial to people’s decision to buy what they thought would be retirement homes in a beautiful remote property in southern Belize. Unfortunately these claims were all false. The FTC asked Dr. Richard Prisor, one of the country’s leading authorities on large scale development to analyze the viability of the Sanctuary Belize project. According to Dr. Prisor building facilities like a promised hospital in a remote area of Belize is not economically sustainable. He also explains that contrary to defendant’s claims, a no debt model where you are simply putting investment back into the development without borrowing money actually significantly increases the risk of the project due to the lack of liquidity and oversight. Because no debt financing severely restrict the cash flow available for any project the defendants claims that they put all the money they got back into the project was particularly important, however like their other claims this claim too was a lie.”

 

Frank Balluff, Investor

“My wife and I purchased a lot in Sanctuary Belize in 201. We went down on one of their tours and saw their marketing materials and videos similar to what you saw. There is a whole lot that you have not seen as yet. We were very impress by the marketing and they did a first class job on all the materials they provided and their sale pitch to purchase properties there. One of the points that I want to make is that there is many hundreds of people who bought properly down there besides me and some of them could not withstand the loss that they have incurred. A lot of people, I have stories, that have invested their full retirement funds down there and planned on retiring down there and they just have nothing left. As Jim said, going back fifteen years there are people who have literally died waiting for this to get completed.”  

 

Jim Kohm

“So what of these so called investments? Well fifteen years after first promising to complete the development in two to five years, few of than ten percent of the lots have completed homes. The promised amenities are still incomplete and in the vast majority of cases not even started. Most importantly these amenities will n ever be completed because even making generous assumptions in the defendant’s favor they are still nearly half a billion dollars short of the funds necessary to complete Sanctuary Belize.”

 

The F.T.C. has filed more than fourteen thousand pages of evidence included testimony from insider telemarketers, the defendants’ accountants, internal email from the scheme, numerous undercover calls by F.T.C. investigative staff posing as prospective buyers, expert testimony and the testimony of people who have lost tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “FTC Says Sanctuary Belize Development Was Not Viable”

  1. Colleen Bigler says:

    I just sent in this comment to an article in the LA times regarding our Belize development.
    “Your are going to have another story to tell , quite opposite of the fake news you were fed by the FTC who doesn’t look for facts before they parrot back a story from 10 years ago from a small group of investors. The FTC news conference was based on a self admitted “opinion” not facts , given a story by a group of investors from 10 + years ago.. I own and am ready to submit plans for my home. The reserve is beautiful, many homes build and lived in. Resales of lots for people who want to sell are being transacted with new buyers. Many home are being built. . The marina , the restaurants, equestrian center, roads, electric going in on many more lots now ready to build. There is an international airport being built in Placentia. No present owner is anything but Happy with the progress made in the past few years since I have owned. The FTS actions and vengence against a previous owner, is now nothing short of slander regarding the existing development. Is Causing consumers harm., present owners. The reserve is the biggest employer in Belize and since money has been frozen 150 people had to be laid off at Christmas. Do you want to see there group picture when being told? Development Production is now slowed due to FTC , which was moving along very fast. Lots have gone up in value, by the way.

    You want proof. We have proof, the owners , people who live

    there and go back each year and see all the progress made. Present Time not a decade ago. the end

    I have never heard nor seen nor is Pukke on Title. I think the FTC and their attorneys have another agenda, not consumer protection, but get Pukke. Leave our development out of it.!!
    I am one of many that are organizing our fight against FTC and our Funds to operate they froze. Owners are covering things that need emergency funding (utilities for one) to keep operating.The receiver promised funds and the FTC is still holding. The Property Owner Association has no part in this.
    Colleen Bigler

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