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Between Reps and MMM promoters

AT a time most Nigerians are looking for way out of the present economic recession facing the country, some Nigerians, as a way of making quick money, have joined the Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox popularly known as MMM.

The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on communication, Honourable Saheed Akinade-Fijabi who brought to the attention of his colleagues the activities of MMM, said that the scheme involved directing their clients to make money available for an anonymous person with a promise of 30 per cent return on investment in 30 days.

The lawmaker, whose motion was entitled: “Need for Caution on the Robbing Peter to Pay Paul Scheme called MMM Nigeria,” said that MMM was established in 1989 by three Russian nationals namely Sergei Marvrodi, Vyschelsa Marvrodi and Ogla Melnikova in that country.

But report had it that the MMM in Russia ran into scandal, which led to increased regulation of the Russian stock market, but the legacy of the ‘fraud’ led many to become extremely suspicious of any joint stock companies.

Reports also had it that in January 2016, the Chinese government banned MMM on the grounds that it is a pyramid scheme (Ponzi scheme), and it is not registered in the country (and as a fraudulent scheme cannot be registered).

The MMM Nigeria, it was gathered, started in the country in 2016, as it launched a website targeting the Nigerian audience.

However, in other to safeguard Nigerians from losing their money, the House mandated its relevant Committees on Banking and Currency and Financial Crimes to investigate the MMM scheme.

Honourable Fijabi had expressed worries on the operations of the scheme, which he said “prides itself as mutual fund where members contribute money with expected interest of 30 per cent.”

According to him, “aware that the scheme entered the Nigerian circle this year, capitalising on high level of unemployment and poverty to deceive unwary Nigerians into falling prey to their antics,” adding that the scheme cannot guarantee investments in the long run. He said that reports had indicated that a similar scheme launched in Russia and China failed.

Hon Akinade-Fijabi observed that every Nigerian participating in the MMM scheme, which has no legal backing, is vulnerable to losing his/her investment as there is no identifiable platform to o guarantee the security of the invested funds.

He stated   that the Central Bank of Nigeria had described the scheme as fraudulent, lamenting that many Nigerians had been victims in similar schemes in the past, such as the Wealth Solution, Pennywise and Wealth Creation, all in the name of making quick money.

The lawmaker maintained that, “the scheme prides itself as a mutual fund through which recruited members contribute money in form of assistance without any intent to engage in banking business.

“But the scheme’s structure, operations and intendment indicate otherwise as their clients can have multi-level structures under them and receive bonus (in percentage) from each financial transaction of every participant in their structures,” he said.

The lawmaker also pointed out that the antecedents of the founders of the scheme “cannot guarantee security of investment in the scheme in the long run, as reports indicate that similar schemes by the same founders had been launched in Russia where investors lost their monies running into millions of dollars.”

“It is worthy of note that the government of China banned the operations of MMM on the ground that it was a payment pyramid scheme without registration in the country and has the capacity to cause financial havoc in the system.”

Another member of the House, Honourable Bode Ayorinde, said that there was no guarantee over the funds invested under the MMM scheme, adding that sooner than later, the bubble would burst and the funds would be trapped.

Also speaking, Hon. Dennis Amadi and Hon. Aminu Shagari, while lending their voices to the motion, implored Nigerian investors to tread with caution on the MMM scheme.

However, the resolution of the House has continued to generate response from Nigerians who are into the scheme, with a majority of them kicking against the House’s position.

Some of the participants were of the view that the scheme had been keeping them busy and giving them returns on their investments and, as such, they would continue to key into the programme while it lasted.