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Over half a million silver coins just vanished – now the metals dealer behind the ‘fraudulent’ scheme must pay $146 million

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  • A precious metals dealer has been asked to pay up $146 million in damages after over half a million silver coins went missing.
  • Robert Higgins ran a “fraudulent and deceptive scheme” linked to the purchase and sale of precious metals, the CFTC said.
  • From 2014 to 2022, Higgins led a ‘fraudulent silver leasing program’ that took deposits from almost 200 customers.

It’s a plot that wouldn’t look out of place in the Ocean’s trilogy.

The vault where precious metals dealer Robert Higgins claimed to be storing over half a million of his clients’ silver coins was found by investigators to be empty – except for little boxes of paper IOUs. 

Now, the 68-year old has been ordered by a Delaware court to pay $146 million in damages as punishment for leading an elaborate scam that misappropriated almost $115 million of his customers’ money over a period of eight years, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said in a statement.

From 2014 to 2022, Higgins convinced almost 200 unsuspecting investors to buy and store their American Eagle Silver coins through his two companies, Argent Asset Group LLC and First State Depository Company LLC, according to the CFTC.

The coins are made of 99.9% silver and minted by the US Treasury – making them a popular alternative investment among Americans. But clients who bought coins through Higgins’s firms may not have owned any at all – as it remains unclear whether they ever existed in the first place.

Furthermore, First State Depository distributed false monthly account statements to customers, according to court filings. 

Higgins ran a “fraudulent and deceptive scheme”, and was ordered to pay $113 million to clients and $33 million in penalties, according to the CFTC. His two companies must cease trading and he is banned from the industry for life.

The precious metals industry has seen a series of scams in recent times. In March, the London Metal Exchange was rocked when investigators found bags of stones in a Rotterdam warehouse, instead of the nickel that underpinned some of the bourse’s contracts.

Just a few weeks before that, Trafigura, a trading house based out of Singapore, accused metals tycoon Prateek Gupta of faking $500 million of nickel shipping cargoes.

This post was originally published on this site

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