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U.S. metals firm owner sued for missing funds

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The founder of a South Florida precious metals company systematically defrauded clients totaling at least US$29.5 million, according to a lawsuit from the attorney in charge of recouping the funds.

The case against Jamie Campany, the former owner of Global Bullion Exchange, is part of a flurry of lawsuits filed this month as the search for customers' missing millions intensifies. The business closed its Lake Worth, Fla., headquarters overnight in December, offering many clients no explanation as to what happened to their money.

Customers of Global Bullion Exchange, which had five South Florida offices, thought they were buying gold and silver that would be stored at a secure location until they wanted to sell the metals. Such transactions are not regulated by the federal government, leaving companies like Global Bullion Exchange free to operate with little, if any, regulatory oversight.

Global Bullion Exchange — which has filed the state court equivalent of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case — is now under the control of attorney Daniel Stermer. Stermer alleges in a Miami-Dade Circuit Court lawsuit against Campany that the business sought out elderly customers as it “engaged in deceptive, unconscionable and/or unfair business practices and acts.”

Campany's attorney, Christopher Bruno, said his client has been cooperating with Stermer in an attempt to recover clients' funds. He declined further comment on the lawsuit.

The state Office of Financial Regulation has an open investigation into Global Bullion Exchange based on “numerous complaints,” said Flora Beal, an agency spokeswoman. She said she could not discuss the inquiry.

Tax returns for the company's first two years — 2007 and 2008 — show that most of the money raised by the company went to brokers' commissions. A Sun Sentinel investigation found that of the 20 clients listed as being owed more than US$225,000 by Global Bullion Exchange, 10 are more than 60 years old and three have died since 2007. Those three clients died at the ages of 83, 87 and 92.

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