Hundreds gather outside Pineapple Express on Friday morning. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Securities Commission of The Bahamas yesterday referred its findings on the Pineapple Express Asue Holders difficulties to police, officially classifying the self-proclaimed “asue” business as an alleged Ponzi or pyramid scheme.
A spokesperson for the Securities Commission of The Bahamas (SCB), in an email to The Tribune on Monday, said despite not receiving any formal complaints with respect to Pineapple Express, it could, from information obtained, conclude that the scheme fit “typologies of a pyramid or Ponzi scheme”.
Hundreds of Bahamians were left in limbo after Pineapple Express temporarily closed its doors following a meeting with government officials last week.
Last Friday, police were called as chaos followed at the company’s Zion Boulevard office, with scores of customers storming the facility with hopes of recouping funds invested. The Tribune understands only a small number of people were refunded on Friday and others were told to return on Monday.
However, despite their best efforts, scores of people were not reimbursed up to press time Monday. When The Tribune visited the company’s office, no one was on site.
The commission, in its email to The Tribune yesterday, wrote: “Based on a referral from the Business Licence Department, as well as investigations into the activities of the operation, representatives from the commission met with the principal of Pineapple Express Asue Holders on August 21.”
The SCB added: “Due to concerns raised at this meeting, the commission saw fit to issue a public warning and did so on August 22. The commission also wrote to the principal regarding its concerns and advised that the matter was being referred to the police. The commission subsequently wrote to the police to refer the matter.”
When asked if the commission was able to levy a fine or some other form of punishment on the company or its operators, the SCB indicated that because the operation known as Pineapple Express Asue Holders is not a “licensee of the commission,” it could not exact administrative penalties in this matter.
The commission said it took the appropriate course of action by referring the matter to the police on Monday.
Pineapple Express, according to its Facebook page, is an asue holders company “dedicated to helping persons thrive financially.”
In order to join the scheme, persons were required to pay a one-time fee of $200 and receive $1,050 or pay $100 and receive $540. Participants were also required to pay a $25 membership fee. Persons were also required to pay a $25 processing fee each time they rejoined for a payout. After signing up, persons were told they would receive a payout in “around 14 business days.”
Operators of Pineapple Express have not spoken to the press and have only offered comment on their difficulties through statements posted its social media accounts.
When contacted Monday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said he had not yet received the formal brief on the matter.