The Detroit Free Press is reporting that hundreds of investors in the Detroit area and elsewhere in Michigan lost as much as $11 million to a Ponzi scheme involving a Saudi Arabian crude oil bond scam connected to Michael Winans Jr., according to state regulators.
The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation said that it has determined that Winans Jr. was the ringleader of a multilevel scheme that used the family name and connections in the Detroit religious community to prey on church members.
State regulators said that pastor Michael Winans Sr. also may have been one of the promoters.
OFIR found that Winans Jr., his subordinates Desmond Weems, Latonya Garth and Michael Winans Sr., and a number of related business entities violated the state’s Uniform Securities Act and the agency ordered them to cease and desist from the sale of unregistered securities products.
OFIR determined the individuals were not licensed to sell securities products in Michigan and the products sold were not registered with the state.
“We believe that the Winans family Ponzi scheme ran its course at the end of 2008,” said OFIR Commissioner Ken Ross in a conference call this morning.