THE Open Bible Church has added its voice to those calling on people to avoid pyramid and Ponzi schemes masquerading as sou-sous.
In a media release on Tuesday, Bishop Benjamin Agard said Open Bible was joining with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Central Bank to warn people against investing in such risky financial behaviour.
In August, a joint media advisory by the institutions warned that pyramid schemes "may take many forms and are often falsely presented as new investment including different types of securities, foreign currency and even traditional 'sou-sou' arrangements."
Agard did not mention any names in referencing the schemes. But the most popular of the many schemes is Drugs Sou Sou, which the Prime Minister labelled as a cancer requiring both UK and Barbadian police intervention.
To justify his claim, Agard used scripture, referencing Proverbs chapter 13, verses 11 and 13, which read: “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time… People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.”
National Bishop for the Pentecostal Association of the West Indies (PAWI) Don Hamilton agreed with Agard, saying PAWI spoke with its members and advised against it. Hamilton said in the end the scheme will collapse and those on the tail end will feel the brunt of it.
“We have in this society a clash of philosophies. We are very pragmatic, in that we believe once it works, it is right and that the ends justify the means. It is a no-win space.”
Asked about the pushback the church will receive for its stance, as some will accuse it of likewise robbing people through insistence on tithes and offering payments, Hamilton said: “That is a lifelong debate and the best way to answer that is with a cricket analogy. Sometimes the best way to play a bad ball is to leave it alone. So I am leaving that alone.”
He added that global economics have people doing strange things for cash, but such schemes will always have an expiry date. He said PAWI informed members of the dangers of the investment and while he does not want to “take a sledgehammer to mash up a peanut," he is convinced that these schemes will all come to an end and ultimately people will lose their money.
Also commenting on the issue was former Anglican Dean Knolly Clarke, who is president of the Inter-Religious Organisation, but said he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as IRO head, since the issue was never raised at an executive level.
Clarke said these schemes should be thoroughly investigated, since some people may be benefiting, but not everyone will.
“If I get a little kakada, are my neighbours getting as well? I am not making any judgement, but this needs to be investigated. Is it helping everyone, or is it helping a few at the expense of many?”