A con who defrauded American investors some $7.2 million (Sh788.3 million) for a fake desalination project in Kenya is facing charges from the United States markets regulator after he was discovered.
Identified as Verley Lee “Rocky” Sembritzky, Jr. the man is said to have collected money from unsuspecting investors and instead used the monies to buy luxury cars, jewelry, and watches, a condominium for his then-wife, and pay off personal credit cards with $2 million (Sh219 million).
Through his established organization, Bounty and Ocean Harvest, Rocky is said to have sold to the investors a pitch that promised the salt water cleaning plant could generate revenues of up to $20 million (Sh2.19 billion) annually while providing safe drinking water for Kenyan residents.
In his pitch, Rocky, according to filings by US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), termed the desalination plant as unique and able to utilise everything and waste nothing, eliminate pollution, protect marine life, and yield outstanding returns to investors.
He claimed he had been working on desalination technology since 2006. which the SEC however said it was all a hoax but fooled the investors.
“Sembritzky knew, however, that when the process, as described in the PPM (private placement memorandum), was tested at some point before 2017, it did not work…Sembritzky knew his representations and omissions to investors about the process were, at a minimum, misleading,” SEC said in court filings.
Of the Sh788.3 million raised from investors, the project’s bank account in Kenya actually only received only about $650,000 (Sh71.1 million) of investor funds.
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