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Jul 7, 2020

Quarter Billion-Dollar Judgment Handed Down Against John Usher

A U.S. District Court in Maryland has handed down one of the biggest judgements against a local businessman in a case which has been described as one of the biggest scams investigated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  The court on Monday, ordered John Usher to pay one hundred and thirty-eight million U.S. dollars, which is more than a quarter billion Belize dollars, in the Sanctuary Bay scam. The figure is in line with the amount of money that Usher is said to have collected from investors who bought land at the development in southern Belize.  Usher and his partner in the scam, Andris Pukke, were not in court so the default judgment has been circulated to persons associated with them, including their lawyers. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo with a report.

 

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

In a default judgment by the U.S. Maryland District Court, Belizean John Usher has been ordered to pay up more than a quarter of a billion Belize dollars.  The court has ordered a judgment against Usher in the amount of two hundred and seventy-seven million, four hundred thousand dollars as monetary relief to the US Federal Trade Commission and hundreds of American investors who were duped in the Sanctuary Bay scam.

It has been described as the largest real estate scam in FTC’s history with more than a hundred million dollars being swindled from investors.  The scam was perpetuated by American scammers Andris Pukke, Luke Chadwick with assistance from their local connection here in Belize, John Usher.

John Usher

This is Usher.  He appears in a 2012 video shot at Sanctuary Bay Belize in the Stann Creek District. He is very emotional.

 

John Usher, Sanctuary Belize [File: July 16th, 2019]

“I am going to get sentimental here. I am so happy. I look around and see my family. They have been a big support to me. Yesterday, we started early in the morning and I stood there and cried.”

 

And cry once more he will. Usher has thirty days to pay up the multimillion dollars judgment. He is described as a key player in the Sanctuary Belize scam. In 2008, he became the Director of Sittee River Wildlife Reserve which was created as a non-for Profit Company by “several natural and artificial persons” who agreed to combine their resources. Sittee River Wildlife Reserve acquired a large parcel of land now known as Sanctuary Belize. Usher continued as board member up until 2013. He is also a manager for Eco Futures Belize, another company named in the judgment. Eco Futures Belize was given exclusive development contract and in 2012, a confidential cabinet memo proved that Eco Futures Belize was given tax concessions to undertake the now failed real estate project.

Usher is also Sanctuary Belize Property Owners’ Association’s Director and various SBE marketing materials identify Usher as the “Chairman,” “developer,” or “principal” indicating Usher’s control. Usher also participated in lot sale negotiations through deceptive sales processes, meeting with numerous American consumers and repeating many misrepresentations including a pitch that Sanctuary Belize development is risk free and that every dollar consumers pay goes into the development.

As such, the court has also ruled that Usher and the Defaulting Corporate Defendants, individually, collectively, or in any combination, are permanently restrained and enjoined from Telemarketing or assisting others in Telemarketing. Usher must take all steps necessary to transfer any and all rights he may have in the Sanctuary Parcel or any companies or entities that have any rights associated with the Sanctuary Parcel to the Receiver identified in the simultaneously issued Default Order. He must relinquish all assets and rights associated with the Defaulting Corporate Defendants. It has also been ordered that his assets be frozen. A judgment has also been ordered against The Estate of John Pukke to pay eight hundred thirty thousand dollars to the Commission as equitable monetary relief. Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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