U.S. Seeks Extradition Of Alleged Fraudster Living In Tonga

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Pedras reportedly ran $8 million Ponzi scheme

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 18, 2016) – Tongan resident, Christopher Pedras, also known as Antone Thomas Pedras, may face deportation from Tonga after an extradition hearing took place in Nuku’alofa on March 29.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) enforcement division wants Pedras removed from Tonga to face fraud charges, including an alleged $8 million Ponzi scheme.

This is the second time Pedras has faced deportation. In 2014, a removal order was issued against him but was quashed by Tonga’s Court of Appeal and he has since remained in Tonga. Pedras moved to Tonga from New Zealand with his Tongan wife and family in early 2014, applied for his citizenship and was granted a two-year permit before his extradition was requested by US authorities.

While in New Zealand, the Financial Markets Authority cancelled a prospectus issued by Pedras’ firm FMP Medical Services, which claimed it would use investor money to set up dialysis clinics.

A month after the prospectus was cancelled, Pedras, FMP, another New Zealand company and American firms were named by US authorities in a complaint involving an alleged Ponzi scheme.

The SEC alleged Pedras led his initial investors to believe they were investing in a profitable trading platform where his company was an intermediary between global banks.

Having difficulty in paying promised monthly returns of 4-8 percent, they steered investors to a different investment programme to fund kidney dialysis clinics in New Zealand where investors were told they would increase their investments by 80 per cent.

The SEC alledged neither of these investment programmes were real and were instead a Ponzi scheme.

The SEC is aware that extradition may not take place immediately as Pedras may have appeal rights.

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