A Florida-based trucking company and its owner have been charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after raising approximately $112 million from investors in an alleged Ponzi scheme.
Broward County, Florida, resident Sanjay Singh and his trucking and logistics company, Royal Bengal Logistics Inc., raised the funds from as many as 1,500 investors through an unregistered securities offering that primarily targeted Haitian-Americans, the SEC said.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that, from at least 2019 through 2023, Singh, through Royal Bengal Logistics Inc., offered and sold investors high-yield investment programs that purportedly generated 12.5 to 325 percent in guaranteed returns. As alleged, Singh and Royal Bengal promised investors the company would use their money to expand operations and increase its fleet of semi-trucks and trailers.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Singh and the company assured investors that these investment programs were safe, and that Royal Bengal generated up to $1 million in revenue each month. The SEC alleges Royal Bengal has in fact operated at a loss and used approximately $70 million of new investor funds to make Ponzi-like payments to other investors.
Singh also allegedly misappropriated at least $14 million of investor funds for himself and others who did not provide any legitimate services in exchange for those investor funds. Singh also "diverted more than $19 million of investor funds to two brokerage accounts he controlled, engaged in highly speculative equities trading on margin in those accounts, and as a result, lost more than $1 million of investor money," the SEC complaint continued.
“As alleged in our complaint," said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, "Singh targeted many members of the Haitian-American community to raise money in a Ponzi-like scheme to enrich himself. We are committed to holding accountable individuals like Singh who prey on investors through lies and deceit.”
Royal Bengal claimed to have 91 drivers and 166 power units, according to its latest filings with the FMCSA.. The fleet's website describes it as "a Florida based leading logistics company having its footprint in many states of USA and its extended arm in India."
The website claims the fleet has more than 250 employees and features a photo gallery that appears to use stock photography from other countries to depict its logistics operation. The company website also offers "trailer manufacturing" services. "We safely delivery your cargo in our internationally designed high safety compliant trailers built to suit the rigours of logistics industry," the website says, using the British-variant spelling of "rigor."
The website courts both investors and drivers, with a tab advertising driving jobs that offer $2,100 weekly starting pay and an "Owner Operator Option" after six months, as well as several other significant benefits. A video featuring Singh posted last year shows him in a ballroom telling a crowd he's awarding his "driver of the year" any truck up to $75,000 in value.
We attempted to contact Royal Bengal, and will update this story with any further comment.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges Singh and Royal Bengal with violating the registration and anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint also names Sheetal Singh, the spouse of Sanjay Singh, and Constantina Celicourt, the spouse of Royal Bengal Logistics’ Vice President of Business Development, as relief defendants.
The District Court granted the SEC’s request for emergency relief, including preliminary injunctive relief, asset freezes, the appointment of a Receiver, and an order prohibiting the destruction of documents. The SEC is also seeking an officer and director bar -- among its most severe sanctions -- that bars an individual from working for a public company. The bar is sought against Singh, and permanent injunctions, civil money penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest against both defendants and relief defendants.