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Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Another suspect
charged in $40 mil
Ponzi scheme

By Debra Barayuga

Federal authorities here have charged another man with participating in one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever to be prosecuted in Hawaii.

Curtis Lai was charged via complaint in U.S. District Court yesterday with mail and wire fraud in the "Cayman Islands Investment Program."

He and at least six others indicted in March allegedly devised a scheme to defraud more than $40 million over a 16-month period from 4,000 investors in Hawaii, the mainland, American Samoa and Japan.

A majority of investors were from Hawaii.

Investors allegedly were promised fees or interest of 8 percent a week for 13 weeks on money to be invested with the Cayman Islands government and banks.

Lai's co-defendants are to go to trial in March, nearly a year after they were charged in a 100-count indictment by a federal grand jury.

Named in the indictment was one of two alleged ringleaders, Montez Salamasina Ottley.

Also charged were John Wright, Shyuan Tan, Stephen Marn, Helen A. Schlapak and Rande Scott Worcester.

Paul Lazarro, described as a co-ringleader, pleaded guilty last December to mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

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