Sam S. Brown Jr./ Leslie
W. Chorlton / James B. Gilmore / George F. Garzarek
SBC Chorco Inc. / Brown
Investment Group / International Trading Inc. / Komax International
10/92 - In early 1989 Sam S. Brown Jr., a onetime
oil promoter, met in Luxembourg with Leslie W. Chorlton,
a British businessman. Brown then formed SBC Chorco Inc.
in Atlanta with Allen Brants named as director and allegedly solicited
funds from investors to finance Chorlton's efforts to free up an
$ 800 billion fortune being wrongfully held by the banks that Chorlton
purportedly had amassed by facilitating the trading of commercial
paper among European banks.
In at least one case, Brown promised $10 million per $1,000 invested.
The SEC lawsuit estimated that Brown raised more than $ 1.2 million
from investors though as recently as June of 1992 he was still
trying to raise money fraudulently so he could make a $75 billion
bribe to a nonexistent "Swiss Banking Commission" to
finally free the Chorlton treasure trove.
The money raised was initially diverted into Chorco in 1989, through
the Brown Investment Group, also based in Atlanta
with some of it ending up in Chorlton's account at the Banque Populaire,
in Gramat, France.
It was through Chorco that Chorlton proposed major business projects,
after his arrival in Cressensac, France, which included a factory
to manufacture wood products, a chemical processing plant and a
600-bed hotel and golfing complex on a former training ground for
the French military.
He also claimed to have gained a monopoly in exporting porcelain from
Hong Kong to England and boasted of doing big deals in Israel.
Meanwhile, in 1991, another Atlanta-area promoter, James B. Gilmore,
began trying to convince many of Brown's original investors that Chorlton
and Brown had engineered a secret side deal to cut them out.
Gilmore then raised more than $2 million to fund a European investigation
by selling unregistered securities, dubbed "war chest receipts," to
more than 1,000 new and existing investors. The investors, many
of whom were recruited at fundamentalist churches, were dazzled
by promises of $25 million for each $1,000 invested.
Gilmore-inspired conspiracy fears among the investors intensified when
47-year-old Chorlton and his Dutch-born wife, 30-year-old Bernadette
Kleijane were found strangled near their French home in July, 1991. Police
described it as a "mob-style" murder occurring just days before
French fraud squad officers were due to interview him.
Sam Brown claimed he had suddenly become aware of the fraud after being
besieged by angry creditors. He, in turn, went after Chorlton, hiring
a lawyer in Toulouse, who began legal proceedings. It is now likely that
Chorlton's assets will be frozen while the killings remain unsolved.
Gilmore then told his investors that he had located the Chorlton
estate's fortune -- which he said now totaled $ 1.5 trillion --
and that he had obtained a court order requiring the banks holding
the funds to disburse them to him though the SEC says that the
Scottish lawyer who conducted the investigation for Gilmore found
that the estate was worth no more than $350,000.
As Gilmore's promised payout date keeps getting postponed, it appears
as though some investors are making money on their own by selling sub-interests
in their shares to others, who have been reselling them yet again.
In August, 1992, Gilmore began selling unregistered shares in International
Trading Inc. (ITI), described as a Liberian gold and diamond
trading firm. Shares were priced at $ 100 each and were paired with a
free warrant said to be redeemable by the next April 1 for $200,000,
once the Chorlton proceeds were obtained. In his latest sales pitches,
Gilmore upped the supposed value of the estate to $ 10 trillion.
The SEC froze whatever assets remain under the control of Gilmore and
ITI. Brown was forced into bankruptcy.
04/95 - Several people were indicted after more than 15,000 people
were bilked out of $ 8 million through phony promises of big returns
on small investments related to the incidents above.
George F. Garzarek, 34, of Birmingham, Ala.,
was charged with conspiracy, three counts of securities fraud,
five counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money
laundering and 10 counts of money laundering.
Rita R. Garzarek, 33, of Rachel was charged with
conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to
commit money laundering, five counts of money laundering and one
count of making a false loan application.
James Fletcher Sr., 71, of Mannington was charged
with conspiracy, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy
to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.
Through Komax International Inc., SBC Chorco Inc.
and other Garzarek-related entities in West Virginia and Georgia,
they convinced investors that governments in Eastern Europe had
invested heavily in the European Common Market 20 years ago and
that trillions of dollars worth of investments were about to mature.
They claimed they needed money for legal costs to get to the money
and that for every $100 the people invested, they would get $100,000
back. Instead they simply used the money for their personal benefit.