By Stan Welch
The recent revelations concerning Atlantic Bullion and Coin, (AB&C) a business owned and operated by former Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson, will lead to the introduction of legislation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to close some loopholes.
Rep. Joshua Putnam will introduce legislation in the House that would require the Attorney General’s Office to notify the Better Business Bureau, the Labor, Licensing and Regulation Office of the state, and the appropriate local media outlets whenever an investment company is served with a cease and desist order.
Senator Kevin Bryant will introduce virtually identical legislation at or about the same time, said Putnam, in a telephone interview with The Journal.
The closing of the Powdersville offices of AB&C last week as the result of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, stunned the Upstate and investors who saw their investments vanish overnight.
Wilson has not been charged with any criminal activity at this time, but a complaint filed in the Fifth Circuit Court by SC Attorney General Alan Wilson alleges a long lived scheme to attract investors to buy silver at low prices and allow Wilson’s company to manage those assets.
AG Wilson’s complaint describes the scheme as a Ponzi scheme in which later investors provided the funds to pay earlier investors huge returns on their investment. One shocking aspect of the complaint was the information that Wilson and his company were served with a cease and desist order in 1996.
Wilson agreed under a consent order executed with the Attorney General’s Office at that time to cease and desist from offering the securities in question, largely on the grounds that he was not licensed by the state to do so.
He failed, however, to obey the cease and desist order and continued to sell the securities for another sixteen years. Putnam says that is inexcusable. “For all those years, even people who went to the Better Business Bureau website, or called them, got a clean report on Mr. Wilson and his business. What is the point of issuing a cease and desist if you don’t even tell anyone?”
Putnam’s legislation would require such notification, and would also require any business served with such an order to display official state notice of that order on their door until the order was satisfied or vacated.
The legislation, H 5038, when passed would amend South Carolina’s current laws on cease and desist orders. Under the bill the person or entity in violation shall be required to post a copy of the order to each entrance of the place of business where the Commissioner determines the violation occurred for a period of 90 days. The Securities Commissioner shall notify print and broadcast media outlets and the Better Business Bureau in the area of the violation. And, a person or entity who is the subject of a cease and desist order and who fails to post the order may be punished by a civil fine to be imposed by the Securities Commissioner of one thousand dollars per day for each day the failure to post the cease and desist order occurred.
“If this public notification had been required sixteen years, a lot of people would have avoided this tragedy, and I certainly would not have accepted a campaign contribution from Mr. Wilson,” said Putnam.