Please explain !
By Stan Welch
Well, there is a terrible wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Upstate this week, and across more than twenty other states, as well. Thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands, have lost money as a result of an investment scheme run by former County Councilman Ron Wilson.
Now, let me say right here that Mr. Wilson has been convicted of nothing. In fact, at the time of this writing, he hasn’t been charged with any criminal actions. He is certainly entitled to the presumption of innocence until or unless he is convicted in a court of law.
But just as he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the public is entitled to evaluate the evidence and form its own opinions. And when the state Attorney General files a complaint alleging fraud and perjury and almost three decades of conducting a Ponzi scheme, there is much to evaluate.
For example, Wilson testified under oath last month that he did less than two million dollars in new business last year. Attorney General AG Alan Wilson (no relation, I’m sure) says he did more than thirty three million dollars worth.
Wilson testified that he had more than a half million ounces of silver bullion on deposit with the Delaware Depository. The Delaware Depository says that’s news to them, according to AG Wilson.
The complaint filed with the Fifth Circuit Court by AG Wilson claimed that neither Wilson nor any of his sales agents were licensed to sell securities in South Carolina. It further claims that Wilson entered into a consent order with the state in 1996, and agreed to stop selling the securities.
Now there are lives ruined and nest eggs broken and real and awful pain in Wilson’s wake. Everywhere, one can hear the smug self-righteous dismissal of others’ troubles by the phrase, “Buyer Beware”, or “They just got greedy.”
While true on the face of them, these statements only represent one side of the equation. The other side is that if a huckster or con man is so bereft of honor that he or she will knowingly lie to and steal from their friends and families and other associates, the entire formula for doing business is twisted and tainted.
Sure it’s smart to look three times at any offer that promises extraordinary returns, above and beyond what the general business or investment climate supports as reasonable. But when it’s a friend or a relative who is telling you how much you can make in such a short time, it is much easier to quiet those voices of caution in the back of your mind and take that chance.
Blaming victims is easy and senseless. Blaming the perpetrator is more sensible, but there is even more blame to go around.
If the state of South Carolina knew sixteen years ago that Ron Wilson, d/b/a/Atlantic Bullion & Coin, was an unlicensed broker and issued a cease and desist order to him, I have two questions.
First, why was he allowed to continue to ignore that cease and desist order for sixteen years, without consequence? Secondly, why aren’t such orders published so that potential victims could be made aware of the problem? Surely the Better Business Bureau and the appropriate Chamber of Commerce should have such info available.
In short, where the dickens was the state Attorney General while all this was going on? Where was Charlie Condon? Where was Henry McMaster? It wasn’t until AG Alan Wilson took office in 2010 that anything started to happen.
Seems to me Ron Wilson isn’t the only one that has some explaining to do