Authorities coordinated a series of raids in Germany and Switzerland this week on suspicion that Berlin money manager Picam has been conducting a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors.
Prosecutors estimate losses for investors may be at least €87 million as they followed the money trail of seven suspects in Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and Switzerland. The Berlin search warrant, made available to Handelsblatt, suggests a conspiracy dating back to 2009 to mount a classic Ponzi scheme of paying out putative returns to investors with new fund inflows while skimming off generous fees for the alleged perpetrators.
As Handelsblatt reported last month, investor concerns were mounting as Picam halted payments, stopped sending statements and provided muddled information about its investment strategies. Search warrants now indicate prosecutors suspect the money was never invested but sent on a circuitous trail to mask the scheme. Altogether, somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 investors paid in €300 million to the firm. Lawyers for many of them have filed criminal complaints seeking an investigation.