MASERU — The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) has again warned the public against investing their monies in a pyramid scheme operated by Travel Ventures International (TVI) Express.
TVI Express is under criminal investigations in a number of countries.
The central bank’s warning comes two months after it issued a similar warning urging the public not to invest their monies in the scheme.
In a statement last week, the CBL said TVI Express was “operating in Lesotho in violation of the law”.
“The activities of this scheme resemble those of selling and marketing pyramid schemes as defined in Section 2 of the Financial Institutions Act, 1999, in terms of receiving funds from the public,” the bank said.
“The Central Bank of Lesotho would also like to caution all promoters of TVI Express, including persons who attempt to recruit others, either by word-of-mouth or via spamming email messages to join these schemes, anywhere in Lesotho, to stop such practices immediately.”
The CBL said TVI Express business operations place substantial emphasis on recruitment of participants.
“In this respect, the scheme offers lucrative incentives to the participants, calculated primarily on the basis of the number of participants or members that have been recruited into it,” said the bank.
“It is evident that these recruitment-based incentives serve as a bait to attract potential participants into joining the scheme, with the prospect of making easy money by recruiting others.
“In the whole, selling of purported products or services is a small component of the business model in the scheme and therefore designed to defraud members of the public,” the bank added.
CBL spokesperson, Thato Mohasoa, told the Sunday Express last month that TVI Express was not registered with the central bank as required under law.
Mohasoa however said he did not wish to comment beyond what had been stated in the statement.
He was however adamant that TVI Express was operating a fraudulent scheme and was fleecing people.
“I stick by our official statement that promoters of this business and those who are recruiting others to join it are breaking the law,” Mohasoa said.
Prospective investors are required to pay M2 700 as membership fee.
Investigations by the Sunday Express have revealed that TVI Express did not have offices in Lesotho.
The company also does not appear in the register of companies at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
It also does not appear at the registrar of sole proprietary or partnership businesses.
It also does not appear in the list of cooperative societies and register of friendly associations.