By Stan Welch
State and federal authorities took actions to close Atlantic Bullion and Coin, a company owned and operated by former Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson, executing a search warrant and seizing files and computers last Thursday.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a complaint in the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court alleging that Wilson’s bullion and coin brokerage business was in fact a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
While it was originally reported by the SCAG’s office that Wilson had closed the business voluntarily on the advice of his attorney, Secret Service agents and Sheriff’s deputies executed search warrants at the offices late Thursday night. According to witnesses, a number of boxes containing files and paperwork, as well as computers, were seized and removed.
In the complaint, Attorney General Wilson alleges that Atlantic Bullion & Coin (AB&C) had represented to investors that the silver purchased on their behalf actually physically existed, even though it did not in fact.
The complaint also claims that Wilson, nor any of his sales representatives, are licensed to sell securities in South Carolina, or any of the other approximately 25 states in which the securities have been sold.
According to the complaint, Wilson was interviewed by state agents in February of this year and testified under oath about several aspects of his business. The complaint states that Wilson repeatedly and knowingly lied about those matters.
For example, he claimed that his yearly business amounted to no more than two million a year and perhaps less than a million dollars. The complaint alleges that Wilson handled more than $33 million since the first of last year.
Wilson also stated under oath that he had silver at the Delaware Depository in the amount of approximately a half million ounces. The complaint alleges that no evidence of such an arrangement was found at the Delaware Depository.
Wilson has operated the business since 1985, and in 1996 was served with a cease and desist order, a consent order which the complaint alleges Wilson agreed to and signed. The complaint further alleges that Wilson continued to offer the securities for sale anyway, and failed to disclose that he was under such a consent order.
The complaint asks the court to order Wilson to permanently cease and desist from selling the securities, and asks that a receiver or conservator be appointed over the assets of AB&C. It also calls for a thorough accounting of the business’s books and seeks to have Wilson repay the profits he has reaped. The complaint also asks that a fine of ten thousand dollars be imposed for each violation of the State Securities Act.
Both established and potential customers arrived at AB&C’s offices in Powdersville during the hours of Wednesday morning. Some were there for scheduled appointments and didn’t know that the business had closed. Several stated that they had lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Wilson served two terms as the County Council representative from District Six. He was also the author of the controversial buyout of former county administrator Joey Preston, who has reportedly been offering these securities for sale in recent months.
Efforts to reach Wilson for comment have been unsuccessful.