Is Millennium Bank Too Good to Be True?

Posted by: Adrienne Carter on February 17

Matt Goldstein’s recent stories about Stanford Financial Group, which detail the investigations into the high-flying firm that boasts CDs with rates doubled the market average and assets of more than $50 billion, has generated quite the buzz—good and bad. One reader questioned Goldstein’s analysis, essentially saying it was unfair to compare the CD rates of an offshore bank to that of U.S bank. Offshore banks, the reader said, often have higher yields than their U.S. counterparts. His example: Millennium Bank, which offers interest rates on CDs between 6% and 7.75%.

If you read the off-shore bank’s Web site, there seems to be a lot to like about Millennium, which is located in Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent & the Grenadines in the Caribbean. The firm says it hasn’t been affected by the global financial crisis caused by subprime mortgage practices of large domestic banks. It says it has a “100% track record of customer satisfaction.” So far, so good. Millennium also says it’s wholly-owned by United Trust of Switzerland S.A. a Swiss-registered trust company founded in 1931. The bank’s regulator, International Financial Services Authority, also lists Millennium as a licensed offshore bank.

But a closer look at Millennium Bank and its purported parent company, United Trust of Switzerland, raises some serious questions. First, there’s the investment strategy. Millennium offers precious few details about how it manages such outsize returns. The firms’ Web site indicates that Millennium—“free from the limitations” of those pesky regulators, the FDIC—can invest in a wide range of assets, including foreign stocks, real estate, and debt. Trouble is, those categories of investments aren’t exactly doing that well these days. Millennium Bank did not return calls for comment.

As for the United Trust of Switzerland, it’s hard to track down much information about the firm. Millennium says its parent company doesn’t have a Web site. Why? “We are confident that our readers will understand the strict obligation that United Trust of Switzerland must exercise on a daily basis to maintain absolute privacy,” Millennium writes on its site. “Until our premier private clients have complete trust in the security of public Web sites, United Trust of Switzerland’s policy not to maintain a public Web site will remain in place.”

The regulators in Switzerland haven’t heard of United Trust. A spokesperson for the Swiss banking authority said: “The United Trust of Switzerland is not a registered/licensed bank in Switzerland and has also no other license of the Swiss Financial Supervisory Authority.”

Reader Comments

Dutton Peabody

February 17, 2009 02:54 PM

Whois lookup on MLNBank.com

Domain Name.......... mlnbank.com
Creation Date........ 2003-08-28
Registration Date.... 2003-08-28
Expiry Date.......... 2013-08-28
Organisation Name.... Sherly Hinds
Organisation Address. Financial Services Centre
Organisation Address. Stoney Ground
Organisation Address. Kingstown
Organisation Address. --
Organisation Address. --
Organisation Address. SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Admin Name........... Sheryl Hinds
Admin Address........ Financial Services Centre
Admin Address........ Stoney Ground
Admin Address........ Kingstown
Admin Address........ --
Admin Address........ --
Admin Address........ SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Admin Email.......... shinds@mlnbank.com
Admin Phone.......... 1-888-776-7720
Admin Fax............ 1-784-451-2100

Tech Name............ Sheryl Hinds
Tech Address......... Financial Services Centre
Tech Address......... Stoney Ground
Tech Address......... Kingstown
Tech Address......... --
Tech Address......... --
Tech Address......... SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Tech Email........... shinds@mlnbank.com
Tech Phone........... 1-888-776-7720
Tech Fax............. 1-784-451-2100
Name Server.......... ns1.secure.net
Name Server.......... ns2.secure.net

wowlfie

February 17, 2009 03:10 PM

why now? Why now? For years the SEC ignored Madoff, Stanford Financial and Millenium. Where does the corruption stop and where is our money safe? The hell with this country it's so damn corrupt I wish the hell we would turn the nukes on ourselves and start over. Armageddon sounds better than this BS in America. Day after day more corruption is unturned. Nothing is safe. Probably Wells Fargo will be next.

Dutton Peabody

February 17, 2009 03:19 PM

MLN has 2 other domains.

There are 3 domains hosted on this IP address.

1. Mlnbank.com
2. Mlntrust.com
3. Tnlegacy.com

The Tnlegacy.com doesn't serve a page. The domain is registered through a Australian anonymizer proxy. Websites appear to trace to a a Colorado IP.

ndmaster

February 17, 2009 03:49 PM

Wowlfie- are you delirious? People must know their financial institutions and what risks they take. There are plenty of safe institutions out there!

For instance, my money is in a money market (earning almost nothing) and precious metals. The money market is absolutely no risk, as it only owns treasuries, hence the lack of yield.

It is the people and institutions that each for yield, assuming that there is not additional risk that screw themselves with Madoff, Stanford and Millennium type situations.

colin

February 17, 2009 05:18 PM

Ndmaster -- you are fine in money markets accounts UNLESS something happens and they break the buck. again.

Dutton Peabody

February 17, 2009 06:17 PM

The Millen[n]ium story is a cheesy fraud. The central characters appear to be some long-time Swiss cons called Dr. Arno (Ernst) Arndt of Zug. He has associates named Werner Stoffel and Max Noser. They have a very long trail all over the web dating back to the 1978. He has been charged by the SEC and Swiss authorities numerous times.

The United Trust of Switzerland shows up in a Forex scam currently in liquidation in California. 146 page report on the liquidation at: robbevans.com/pdf/forexlqreport02.pdf

randomroger.blogspot.com/2006/04/cd-product.html Reprints an Interview discussing the directors and businesses of United Trust of Swizterland and MLNBank:
"Arno Arndt was a director of United Trust of Switzerland. In July, 2002, Arno Arndt was replaced as a director by Eric Schworer. Subsequently, Eric Schworer was replaced as a director by Werner Stoffel."

The Zug business registration shows that Daniel Noser was added to United Trust in Dec 2006. I don't know if that is a son of Max Noser, indicating the scam was entering the next generation. Werner Stoffel was director of Swiss Imperial Trust AG (also in the Forex report). That business name was transfered to Niza de Oliveira. She is described in the Zug Business registrations as Brasilian of Cuiaba. This transfer was made on Feb 13, 2009; indicating that Swiss bank cons are alive and well as we speak.

http://www.swissimperial.com/
Swiss Imperial Trust AG
baarestrass 79 PO Box 4818
6304 Zug Switzerland
Dr. Ernst Arndt

Too Much detail at this forum:
http://highyieldfinanceforums.yuku.com/forum/viewtopic/id/756

29 January 1985
Citing a scheme to sell "unauthorized and probably counterfeit" U.S. securities, a federal judge in New York issued an order temporarily enjoining Arno Arndt and Investment & Trust A.G. of Switzerland from further violation of U.S. securities laws.

27 March 1998
Switzerland's Federal Banking Commission (EBK) said it had dissolved and would liquidate three Swiss-headquartered companies it said were operating illegally.....

"In regard to ECU Consulting SA, the EBK determined that the company had improperly accepted deposits from the public over an extended period and it is highly probable that it financed credit business with them, thus violating the banking law." It said all three companies were controlled directly or indirectly by Max Noser and Arno Arndt.

17 January 1984
The Securities and Exchange Commission said that Falcon Sciences Inc., its former chairman and four others illegally earned $2.4 million by trading bogus Falcon shares through Swiss accounts. The SEC said the two men, along with Falcon's secretary-treasurer, Paul F. Donnelly, of Laurence Harbor, N.J., had 6.2 million unauthorized Falcon shares issued to several people, including a Swiss concern controlled by Arno Arndt. Mr. Arndt, the SEC said, is a fugitive from 1978 U.S. charges that he participated in a scheme to defraud the government of $500,000 by filing fictitious tax returns.

TS

February 17, 2009 07:57 PM


Interesting. I have been wondering about Millenium Bank ever since I saw their ad on Google under queries such as "interest rate" a few weeks ago. Especially after the Stanford story started coming up a week ago. Which raises the question: what is Google's obligation here? I know they cannot check all companies they do business with, but suppose someone told them about this, would they have to investigate?

Elizabeth

February 18, 2009 04:14 AM

Not too impressed with riding Matt G's coat-tails. Could have at least come up with a more original title. If Millenium Bank proves to be another fraud, it won't be of the magnitude of Stanford or Madoff's. But catching a little carp is better than not catching one at all. At least we're purging the lake of the junk fish.

Vincy

February 19, 2009 07:22 PM

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like duck - it is a duck.
Vincy

BCR

February 23, 2009 09:47 AM

This is turning into a witch hunt. Financial institutions gain customers by quoting good rates. Read the fine print when you sign... "no guarantee". What the SEC is doing is running down a list of companies that make high claims, and put the cross hairs on them. Promising high rates, and actually delivering them are two different things.

John

February 27, 2009 01:58 PM

I would caution anyone on this board as follows:

A friend of mine who had thought about putting money in Millennium 6 months or so ago had no trouble reaching Millennium by phone at that time. He never put any money with Millennium due to caution on his part. At that time, however, he NEVER had any trouble reaching the bank to speak with a representative for any reason.

Today, February 27, 2009, he tried to reach Millennium by phone at 1-888-776-7720 (their website www.mlnbank.com lists this number under "Contact Us") at about 1 p.m. E.S.T. but got NOTHING AT ALL. No live rep, no recorded message, nothing. Just a DEAD line. He then checked with the toll-free directory (www.tollfreeda.com) which shockingly reported there was no such number.

I pass this comment on to others here, including Business Week, to alert others who may have put money in Millennium that this bears further investigation.

With Madoff, Stanford, etc., in the news, you can't be too careful these days.

Maybe Adrienne Carter at Business Week can look into this further. For all concerned, I hope and pray it does NOT turn out to be the "scoop of the week" !!! --- John

Vincy

February 27, 2009 04:11 PM

The area code for St. Vincent and the Grenadines is 784. Where does the 888 come from. Does this area code exist anywhere in the world?

Vincy

John

February 27, 2009 07:00 PM

As I said on my previous post:

Millennium Bank's own website (www.mlnbank.com) provides (and I quote) "Phone: 1-888-776-7720 (toll-free from US and Canada)".

When you go to their website homepage, just click on the bar across the top where it says "Contact Us". Then you will see that the "888" number above is listed there.

They could be having some sort of temporary phone trouble. Or maybe they disconnected the toll-free line, and didn't leave word on the website. I cannot explain it.

I did not put even one dollar there, but, if I had, I would be quite concerned, to say the least, until I was able to re-establish at least some phone contact, other than a DEAD line. Most banks I know would make it a top priority to restore phone service --- and FAST!

It's now 7:00 EST on 02-27-09. I just dialed 1-888-776-7720 again at 6:25pm EST. It's was just a DEAD line again for five minutes while typing this post, just as it was DEAD earlier this afternoon. --- John

John

February 27, 2009 08:57 PM

(My 7pm post failed to show up here, so I'm re-sending it now below):)

Vincy: As I said on my previous post:

Millennium Bank's own website (www.mlnbank.com) provides (and I quote) "Phone: 1-888-776-7720 (toll-free from US and Canada)".

When you go to their website homepage, just click on the bar across the top where it says "Contact Us". Then you will see that the "888" number above is listed there.

They could be having some sort of temporary phone trouble. Or maybe they disconnected the toll-free line, and didn't leave word on the website. I cannot explain it.

I did not put even one dollar there, but, if I had, I would be quite concerned, to say the least, until I was able to re-establish at least some phone contact, other than a DEAD line. Most banks I know would make it a top priority to restore phone service --- and FAST!

It's now 6:25 EST on 02-27-09. I just dialed 1-888-776-7720 again. It's just a DEAD line again for the last several minutes as I've been typing this post, just as it was DEAD earlier this afternoon. --- John

dave

March 26, 2009 02:14 PM

Oh Dutton, good to hear your e voice again. I remember in the epic boards of blogs that brought Stanford down with your and others' help, Millennium was mentioned. Now that too hits the fan.
Now you can check it out on FT Alphaville March 26
SEC Halts $68 Million Ponzi Scheme Involving Caribbean-Based Bank and Swiss Affiliate

Washington, D.C., March 26, 2009 - The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order halting a $68 million Ponzi scheme involving the sale of fictitious high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) by Caribbean-based Millennium Bank. etc.

dave

March 26, 2009 02:14 PM

Oh Dutton, good to hear your e voice again. I remember in the epic boards of blogs that brought Stanford down with your and others' help, Millennium was mentioned. Now that too hits the fan.
Now you can check it out on FT Alphaville March 26
SEC Halts $68 Million Ponzi Scheme Involving Caribbean-Based Bank and Swiss Affiliate

Washington, D.C., March 26, 2009 - The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order halting a $68 million Ponzi scheme involving the sale of fictitious high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) by Caribbean-based Millennium Bank. etc.

dave

March 26, 2009 02:14 PM

Oh Dutton, good to hear your e voice again. I remember in the epic boards of blogs that brought Stanford down with your and others' help, Millennium was mentioned. Now that too hits the fan.
Now you can check it out on FT Alphaville March 26
SEC Halts $68 Million Ponzi Scheme Involving Caribbean-Based Bank and Swiss Affiliate

Washington, D.C., March 26, 2009 - The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order halting a $68 million Ponzi scheme involving the sale of fictitious high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) by Caribbean-based Millennium Bank. etc.

Vincy

March 28, 2009 06:36 PM

Re: Millennium

Poor, miserable Wise! Wise is not in it alone but he is paying the price alone. Some of the same people in high places with some of the same greed and dishonest intensions have already abandoned him.

They now saying they wanted to get rid of him ages ago. Big lie! Those paracites are looking for new prey as I write.

Right now, Wise is holed up in his(? ask Victor Hadley, former CEO of National Properties Ltd.) property in SVG with no 'Friends'. He came back to SVG for refuge, and the same people who he helped to get into high office and who helped to get him where he is right now, have abandoned him. No joke, he is the lonliest man in St. Vincent right now.

Meanwhile, 'they' up with the best of the rest. Some even representing the Queen. Do you understand what I am saying? Wise help to get them into office and this is what they have done to him after they have sucked him and his investors dry.

So he has to take the rap alone? That's BS! This must not stop with Wise. All of the rest of the criminals still out there who are a part of this crap scheme to rip off innocent people, must go down as well. They must be held responsible for their actions also.

So the authorities must circumvent the so called Auditors (KPMG) the local authorities have put in charge, as well as the security detail (Guardsman). None of them are likely to work in the interest of honesty and integrity. Their job is to hide evidence that would implicate more of the real culprits.

Enough said!

EndofSTory

March 29, 2009 04:39 AM

By Duggie Joseph
Caribbean Net News St Vincent Correspondent
Email: duggie@caribbeannetnews.com

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent: The St Vincent and the Grenadines government, through its financial arm, which has jurisdiction over the offshore financial sector, the International Financial Services Authority (IFSA), has moved swiftly to place the troubled Millennium Bank in the hands of a KPMG International as Receiver.

The government took the action after the US Securities Exchange Commission accused Millennium Bank of being involved in a US$68 million Ponzi scheme, where the bank was offering investors returns of up to 321 percent higher than those offered by typical banks.


Millennium Bank entrance
Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said his government had sought to prevent Millennium Bank from operating here, after his ULP took office in 2001, but the bank appealed against his government's decision and it was allowed to operate.

Gonsalves said the bank's licence was revoked, “due to contraventions of the Banking Act of 1996.”

He cited reasons why the Bank's licence was revoked, stating it was undercapitalized; was carrying out business in a reckless manner, detrimental to the public interest; was without a Resident Director as stipulated by law and that the Bank was deemed insolvent.

“The funds alleged to be defrauded from investors did not pass through Millennium Bank in St Vincent and the Grenadines nor our National Commercial Bank,” Gonsalves said. “It is believed that domestic banks in the US were used to deposit funds from investors in the name of United Trust Switzerland and then payments made to the defendants.”

Gonsalves also disclosed that United Trust, another registered offshore bank in St Vincent, was also placed into receivership.

He explained this was possible because of ownership issues with the bank, “and the bank has been going through a transitional ownership stage whereby unsatisfactory progress has been made in obtaining a new owner.”

“Coupled with this is the fact that a director of this Bank (United Trust) is also a director of Millennium Bank, who is a named defendant,” Gonsalves said.

In response to queries, IFSA said KPMG was appointed as Receiver to assume control over the affairs of Millennium Bank, “to preserve records and assets.”

The Bank was closed for business on Friday and IFSA said only one investor has so far made inquiries about investment and the inquiry has been channelled to KPMG.

IFSA also disclosed that an auditor was appointed in February “for the purpose of verifying by the most independent and transparent means, the practices of the Bank” but Millennium Bank objected to the appointment auditor and a new auditor was to be appointed but ISFA now says the appointment of a new auditor is longer necessary, since the bank is in receivership.

IFSA says it is cooperating with the US Securities Exchange in its investigation of activities of Millennium Bank.

The present directors of Millennium Bank are Phillippe Angeloni, Brijesh Chopra, William Wise and Marc La Framboise.

Millennium Bank has equity and assets of just over US$4 million in St Vincent and the Grenadines and is the second bank in the English-speaking Caribbean in just over a month to come under scrutiny by the US Exchange Commission.

The US Securities last month accused Texan billionaire, Allen Stanford and his Stanford Bank in Antigua of a similar scheme amounting to US$8 billion.

Reads : 473


alex

March 29, 2009 03:04 PM

...thanks to all of you!!!
I was going to invest 50k w/Mill.
...something just didn't feel right.

Chris

April 1, 2009 03:20 AM

OMG...I put $25,000 in Millenium bank a year ago.. this month is maturity date. I just found out this is scam?? I don't know what to do.. their phone line is really dead.. I can never get my money back?? Would you guys email me about any information that might help me please..? I have no idea who i should talk to...
I am still in shock.. my email address is daumpre@gmail.com Please help me^^

Ryan

April 1, 2009 04:05 AM

I just read this article. OMG..I put my money $25,000 to Millennium bank a year ago. Actually the maturity date is the end of this month. I tried to reach Millennium bank. but I cannot..their phone line is dead...O my goodness.. I am so in shock right now..

I don't know what to do at this moment. I don't know who else I should to talk to...

Would you guys please email me to inhisson@gmail.com if you have any information that might help me?

Vincy for life

April 4, 2009 06:17 AM

How come nobody mentions the fact that the acting CEO for several years have been mr Marcus Ballantyne the ealdest son of the Governor General sir Frederick Ballantyne? The GG is appointed by the Queen of England. The same Ballantyne family (millionaires)are representing several other offshore banks from their "financial complex" in Kingstown. Mr Wise spent at least two full years living in a cottage rented full time all year round from the GG Ballantyne's 5 star resort Young Island. Only after the place got burglarised twice did he move out. Renting the cottage for 500 USD per night is an easy way to say "thank you" without getting any problems. The resort that Wise built up is on land leased from another filthy rich family - the Hadleys. They now have taken control over the resort where mr Wise have spent millions of dollars building a resturant, a swimming pool, several luxury villas etc and had 140 staff employed. The Hadleys now just say "thank you" while the government looks the other way and add property bought with stolen money to their wealth. And how many hundreds of thousands of dollars - or millions - have gone down into the pocket of the Governor General and his family?

Tom

April 4, 2009 01:06 PM

I see people talking about Arndt. What isn't realized is that Arndt is behind all of these Swiss Trust Companies. Working with a company in Southern California, "Worldwide Business Consultants", clients are guaranteed that with ownership of a Swiss Trust Company, their business interests were completely private. I am sure that is what William Wise believed. As the beneficial owner of United Trust of Switzerland, Mr. Wise felt confident that because he held bearer certificates, authorities would be looking for the owners of the Parent Company, United Trust of Switzerland.

Arndt and WBC have assisted many criminal cronies with their alleged schemes. William Wise, Robert Gray, James Fayed.

Let's hope the authorities do more then take down Wise. Let's hope they take down the whole organization.

Vincy

April 5, 2009 08:45 PM

For persons who need to make claims against Millennium Bank, the US receivers are Thompson & Knight.

Visit their website at http://www.tklaw.com/millennium_bank_receivership.cfm for instructions as to how you should proceed in making claims agaist Millennium Bank.

They can be contacted by email at millenniumbankreceivership@tklaw.com.

Vincy

April 8, 2009 05:09 PM

Forget about the Swiss Trust Company, that is intended to be a distraction.

As is suggested by 'Vincy For Life', I too am recommending highly that a serious investigation is conducted into the St. Vincent and the Grenadines operations.

This was a criminal act with a lot of players involved, including persons in very high office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The irony of the 'End of Story' contribution by Douggie Nose Joseph where it states that the Government of SVG appointed KPMG Int. as the local receivers to "preserve the records and secure the assets" is no joking matter.

By the time they are finshed preserving the records and securing the assets, the only records that the US authorities will find are those authorized by the Government, and there will be no assets belonging to any entity associated with Millennium Bank.

The purpose of those receivers here will be to clean the books of anything that would incriminate the local players. And well, according to the records, they will find that Wise and Millennium Bank don't own anything.

If the US receivers are lucky, they might find the brand new fast boat still hung up by the jetty of the "Tommy and Nelson Legacy Place" establishment that he had spent millions to buy and develop. But they are likely to find that the transfer never took place 'officially'.

I doubt they will even find the two high powered generators that were still on the property after Wise left. I know of at least two individuals who had eyes on them.

Wise did not act alone but very likely he will be the lone person to pay for the crime while some of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' remain free. That is of course if the SEC and other US authorities want to allow that to happen.

All of the perpetrators should go to jail. Ah sorry but we have had enough of the criminality from these local bandits that are in control of our Country.

If anyone wants to have an idea as to what has been taking place on the ground here in SVG since the MB freeze, visit the website: www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2007/millennium-bank-perhaps-not-a-scam-but-not-safe-either.html

Pilm

April 8, 2009 05:40 PM

Just another proof, if it sounds too good to be true, you know it ain't.

Ursula

April 13, 2009 01:40 AM

I have put$70000.00 in to Sterling Bank and Trust Swiss based over a period of 6 years.I just found out this is a scam?I dont know wat to do.CanI ever get my money back?? Would you guys email me about my information that might help me pleas? I have no idea who I should talk to.Im still in shock.This monyy is all I have for my retirement,witch is next month.My email adress is ubrown2@q.com.Please help me.April 11,2009 12:00 AM

sucker number 1,100

April 14, 2009 10:46 AM

Practically speaking- i was told that the most we might receive back of our hard earned investment is $.25 to the dollar, and it could take up to a year. Ahhh, feeling sooo naive but almost relieved that the world is hopefully being purged of all BAD things in the furthering of our evolution as a species. My teen will have to take out substantial college loans now, and this single parent will be moonlighting for the almighty dollar to help him now.

Hollie

April 22, 2009 11:53 AM

I received a letter from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission about the loss of my money
with Sterling. The letter states I can
get documents, information and forms to fill out at this web site
but I only see comments from others.
I would appreciate knowing how to get
the necessary forms.
Thank you

sucker#1,100

April 26, 2009 11:10 PM

Hollie,
Go to sec.gov, then look at the press release section and click on the Millennium story on March 26, 2009...it's all there

debi

August 6, 2009 01:10 PM

curious, they were sending me a visa card without checking credit,up to a line of 5000 to 10000, to good to be true, cost $35. How true is this. Try calling someone the answer machine just comes on and you wait for awhile, I still yet to get any one... anyone had the same experience. deb

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.

 

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BusinessWeek's Adrienne Carter, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and David Henry deconstruct the mysteries of high finance, Wall Street, and hedge funds for pros and ordinary investors. E-mail them directly if you've got tips about big deals, a hedge fund, or even securities industry gossip.

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