Category Archives: faq

Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

On Aug 28 2014, just a couple of days after the first internet articles appeared (see here, and here) marking the public beginning of Ken Johnson’s long, slow journey to his very own third world prison cell, a real estate agent in Chile began his blog post with these words:

“As I’m sure many of you know, for the past couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about a project aimed at American ‘libertarians’ on a property close to Santiago, in Curacaví. The name? Galt’s Gulch Chile, after Ayn Rand’s novel.

“When I first heard of this project, my initial reaction was, ‘Curacaví? Where on Earth are they planning to get the water rights for a project of this size? The valley is basically dry.’”

GGC lepe mountains

Dry summer mountains overlooking the Lepe lemon orchard.

And dry it is, although Johnson and Lepe’s former owner, Guillermo Ramirez, continue to dispute this assessment.

Whenever Johnson is asked to quantify the amount of water available for the GGC project, he responds that there are 420 liters per second (l/s) subterranean water rights from 53 wells (sometimes deep wells), and 216 l/s (sometimes 340, sometimes 360 l/s) surface water rights. He shares water quality reports from 2010. He claims that subterranean water rights in the area are selling for $20,000 per l/s (sometimes $25,000 per l/s), making GGC’s more valuable than the entire Lepe/Las Casas property based on the purchase price. He will assure you there is more than enough water for the residential area and 100 hectares of agricultural operations, allowing for the expansion of hectares under cultivation at the farm, with water rights left over to sell. Selling “excess” water rights is how Johnson proposes to raise capital to recover from his astoundingly feckless management of the project.

Note that he never answers the question.

For his part, Ramirez feigns astonishment at all the hubbub. “[It] is Ramirez circlehard to understand, that clever people participating on a winner project, knowing all the facts about it, and even more, having visited the site and saw it, with their own eyes are unable to discuss the best way to arrive at a happy end.”

But do we know all the facts about Lepe/Las Casas? We investors contend that we don’t–in no small part due to Ramirez’s misrepresentations–and that is the crux of this dispute.

Johnson did not perform adequate due diligence on the water resources before the August 13, 2013 closing on the property. That would be bad enough if he hadn’t been equally negligent with the first property he purchased less than a year before and that he abandoned due to lack of water. But of course, it gets worse because he was also well aware of legitimate concerns that Ramirez was making misrepresentations.

  • As early as July, two GGC sales people pointed out that owning water rights is not the same as having water.
  • Also at that time, Berwick’s advisor, Chris Serin, warned that the dead and dying avocado trees in the “orchard” were evidence that at least more due diligence was necessary. He recommended against the Lepe purchase. As an aside, Ramirez claimed that this orchard is water starved due to the 2010 earthquake. However, we have satellite evidence that the orchard was water stressed beginning in 2007. He probably stopped irrigation which could have been due to lack of water or possibly the cost and he then lied about it to Johnson and the investors.
  • By August 6, 2013, Johnson heard that a neighbor and life-long resident in the valley believed the available water was insufficient for the development.

Johnson’s response to these critical warnings was predictable to anyone familiar with his modus operandi. He dumped the sales people, stonewalled and demonized Serin, and demanded that GGC’s lawyer intimidate his neighbor. To this day, without testing to size the aquifer, he claims there is not only sufficient water, but excess water.

Johnson did pay for a hydrology study that apparently was delivered to him after he closed on the sale. Read it here. Here are the salient points:

  • “A maximum sustainable exploitation of 484.41 l/s, equivalent to 15,276,354 m3/year, has been estimated for this aquifer, which does not cause effects beyond the limits established for surface water courses. The committed demand (granted water rights) to June 30, 2010, was 35,512,119 m3/year [1,126 l/s], considerably higher than what was defined as sustainable.” In other words, there are more than twice the water rights than the amount of water that can be sustainably drawn, according to government estimates as of 2010. Note that Chile, like California, has been experiencing a multi-year drought since then.
  • “Ongoing exploitation of the project’s water rights is not sustainable according to the parameters of the DGA [Departamento General de Aqua]. The sustainable flow is most probably of the order of one third of the water rights legally granted.” That would make GGC’s share 140 l/s. However, how would a reduction in exploitation of the water rights be established or enforced?
  • “All the water rights reviewed have an associated collection point on site, which can apparently provide water. It is unknown whether all the collection points are capable of providing the flow granted by law.” That is, it’s not clear how much surface water is available. It could be less than the permitted 216 l/s (or 340, or 360).
  • “The use of the rights associated to the basin of the Puangue Stream, which most probably interfere with surface flows, could generate conflicts with users of surface water downstream. (In dry years the surface water could disappear and surface water users would then blame the underground water users located upstream).” Without careful management of resources, water wars are a possibility.
  • Three of the four wells tested have high coliform counts.
  • “The sale value of each liter/second of underground water in the basin is approximately UF 62 [or US $2,250].” Johnson is off by an order of magnitude on valuing the water rights.

Johnson did not reveal any of these findings to GGC investors. Indeed, despite this report, he continued to flog the avocado orchard in his marketing literature and presented plans for expanding into water-sucking row crops.

When the investors finally heard that there may not be sufficient lepe pondwater beneath Lepe, and shortly thereafter Johnson announced that he intended to sell “excess” water rights, their panic was palpable. Johnson proposed to use the water rights money for paying the final real estate payment plus late penalties, for pursuing subdivision approvals and for paying refunds. He claimed he could raise a cool $6 million. Recall that the purchase price for Lepe/Las Casas was $6.8 million.

Knowing that Johnson did not perform the required due diligence and calculating that water sales would not raise the necessary funds to pay off GGC’s prodigious debts, investor Josh Kirley moved to prevent Johnson from leaving the property dry and the project insolvent. He petitioned the courts to grant an injunction preventing water rights sales.

Johnson claims that the injunction is the reason the project is stalled, but this is hardly the case. To the contrary, it may be the single most important action in ultimately saving GGC, since it ensures that the water rights remain for the community’s use.

At the time of the injunction, Johnson had succeeded in alienating all but two very inexperienced sales people who lived at the hacienda kj duncelike indentured servants. He had little marketing reach having cheated Berwick out of his share of GGC. Sales were non-existent. He had fired his farm manager for refusing to be a yes man. He had lost ownership and control of the real estate holding company, Inmobiliaria Galt’s Gulch SA, and the real estate to his swindler of a partner, Mario Del Real. His investors, becoming more and more frustrated, began to see through his many attempts at covering up his incompetence and fraud. Johnson had run out of other people’s money and everyone’s patience. These are the reasons GGC is stalled, not the injunction.

The obvious question now is, Is there enough water? The investors think so, but can’t be sure. We have been told that when the water rights were granted, the area was wetter than today. Streams on the property that used to flow year round are now seasonal. And the avocado orchard failed for lack of water. Still, these observations don’t quantify the water underground.

If the 140 l/s number suggested from the hydrology report is used as a good estimate of water availability, and it’s agreed that the existing citrus orchards require 50 l/s, 90 l/s remain for the rest of the project. Since residential use requires much less water than agricultural use, it appears that a development of several hundred houses may be possible.

On a related note, Johnson left yet another land mine for the investors having to do with water resources. His lack of due diligence extended to residential wastewater, since little study or planning has been done with respect to its treatment and discharge.

Johnson was willing to fly blind because he was using other people’s money. We investors don’t have that luxury. Quantifying the size of the aquifer is our first priority after obtaining ownership of the project. It should have been Johnson’s first priority before agreeing to blow $6.8 million. For that material omission alone, he should be behind bars.

fgc logo with tag line

By the way, you might have noticed that sometimes Johnson says that GGC is stalled due to the water rights injunction (dated Oct 2014) as mentioned above; sometimes says it’s stalled due to the “orchestrated chain of refund requests” of April 2014 that never happened; and other times says it’s stalled due to the nefarious plot *eye roll* between former employees, us investors and Chilean swindler Mario Del Real. We guess Li’l Kenny Johnson has trouble keeping his lies straight.

Future Convicted Felon Johnson: No Insult, Just Fact.

When the shtf for Johnson and GGC last August 2014, The Recovery Team began an email newsletter to report on our forensic investigations and keep everyone informed.

In that newsletter, we have fallen into the habit of referring to former developer Johnson as “future convicted felon Johnson.” In a recent “Radical Agenda Show” podcast, host Christopher Cantwell referred to this habit as a mere insult. However, we use the term because our legal counsel in Chile, Francis Lackington, showed us early on that Johnson committed many counts of two felony violations while selling GGC lots. Here is what Attorney Lackington explained to us about the Urbanism and Construction Act in Chile:

“The law specifically covers the subdivision of land, including rules and restrictions to the subdivision of land outside urban areas (article 55 of LUC). It covers the rules and requirements for the urbanization of land (article 134). It contemplates the prohibition not to transfer or promise to transfer lots of land while the urbanization is not complete and approved (136). The obligation to constitute a bond for the performance of urbanization works in order to obtain an authorization to sell lots prior to urbanization (129). The obligation of developers to constitute a bond or insurance policy, and issuing contracts before a Chilean Notary, in case of promising to sell properties where the developer receives an advance payment from the buyer, up to amount advanced, valid until the property is actually sold and registered in the name of the buyer (138 bis). And, the penalization as a felony of ANY violation of the developer to articles 134 to 140 of the LUC (138).

“Based on the above, we believe that lots sold as residential lots with an urbanization obligation from the developer (as stated in the Founders Club Agreements) clearly fall under LUC. Lemon orchards are outside of LUC.”


Translation: for former developer Johnson to sell using promesas (a contract to sell real estate at a future time or with a trigger event such as subdivision) where he agreed to community improvements, he had to do two things:

  1. obtain insurance or a bond so that if the subdivision approvals weren’t achieved, he could refund his investors, and
  2. have the contracts notarized before a Chilean notary.

Violations of the Urbanism and Construction Act are felonies. Since former developer Johnson did not comply with either of these requirements, he is therefore a felon, and a felon soon to be convicted, hence the moniker “future convicted felon Johnson.”

Now, you might say, “Poor Li’l Kenny Johnson. He didn’t know about that nasty Urbanism law,” to which we reply, “Yes, poor Li’l Kenny. Orange is not his color, and a jumpsuit will make him look even fatter.”

Johnson screwed up royally by setting up shop without the knowledge or expertise necessary to execute on a real estate handcuffsdevelopment plan in Chile. We investors can’t help that. We have tried for more than a year through private emails, phone calls and face to face meetings as well as through our GGC Investor Update to explain to former developer Johnson that he is incapable of carrying out his business plan, that he’s in a lot of legal trouble, and that his best course of action is to turn over ownership and control of the project to the investors, as he many times has said he wanted to do, and let us handle this mess.

He has refused. Whatever happens next is his choice.

Sadly for everyone involved, we have determined through hard experience that the only way to remove Johnson is to pursue criminal charges against him. Many, if not most of us do not want to do this but we see no other way.

So “future convicted felon Johnson” it is–no insult, just fact.

NOTE: After Johnson’s interview, Cantwell told The Recovery Team that he knows there’s more to the GGC story than what came out in those two hours. He invited us to submit information that he said he would post to his website. We quickly forwarded him a version of the above blog post. He has yet to post it, or even to acknowledge receipt. Hmmm.

For further reference:

(a) Aricle 468 of the Criminal Code of Chile:

Art. 468. Incurrirá en las penas del artículo anterior el que defraudare a otro usando de nombre fingido, atribuyéndose poder, influencia o crédito supuestos, aparentando bienes, crédito, comisión, empresa o negociación imaginarios, o valiéndose de cualquier otro engaño semejante.

(b)Artículo 138° of the Law on Urbanism and Construction:

.- Será sancionado con la pena de presidio menor en su grado máximo a presidio mayor en su grado mínimo el propietario, loteador o urbanizador que realice cualquiera clase de actos o contratos que tengan por finalidad última o inmediata la transferencia del dominio, tales como ventas, promesas de venta, reservas de sitios, adjudicaciones en lote o constitución de comunidades o sociedades tendientes a la formación de nuevas poblaciones, en contravención a lo dispuesto en el presente párrafo.

(c) Law on Urbanism and Construction (for residential lots)

Artículo 138 bis.- Las personas naturales o jurídicas que tengan por giro la actividad inmobiliaria o aquellas que construyan o encarguen construir bienes raíces destinados a viviendas, locales comerciales u oficinas, que no cuenten con recepción definitiva y que celebren contratos de promesa de compraventa en los cuales el promitente comprado entregue todo o parte del precio del bien raíz, deberán otorgarlos mediante instrumentos privados autorizados ante notario y caucionarlos mediante póliza de seguro o boleta bancaria, aceptada por el promitente comprador. Esta garantía, debidamente identificada, se incorporará al contrato a favor del promitente comprador, en un valor igual a la parte del precio del bien raíz entregado por éste y establecido enel contrato de promesa respectivo, para el evento de que éste no se cumpla dentro del plazo o al cumplimiento de la condición establecidos por el promitente vendedor.

Isn’t GGC just a case of libertarian in-fighting?

In a word, no.

Ken Johnson is not and never was a libertarian. Want proof? Let’s go to his own words. When he returned to the GGC farm in April 2015 after his sabbatical, he started making a series of videos. In the first one he admitted that he is apolitical and stated that he never wanted politics as part of the community. He has, of course, since removed that video from his webpage but it’s still on vimeo.

“I’m not a political person. I don’t believe in political labels. Ah… there’s been some of that involved in our project due to the name, Galt’s Gulch, um… I wasn’t actually a big fan of the name, to be honest with you, um… the parties that were involved with… ah… with that in the beginning were… definitely behind the name, and I was a bit ambivalent to it and ah… and anyway the name stuck and here we are.”

So according to this video, libertarianism, Objectivism and the ideals of freedom had nothing to do with Galt’s Gulch Chile. Does he think we’ve forgotten almost two years of his marketing? Is he really trying to convince us that the name meant nothing? Then why choose it? Oh right, other “parties”–not partners–chose it, the name for what he claims is HIS community. And we are supposed to believe this?

Here’s a press release he posted at in Oct 2013. Funny, he doesn’t shy away from invoking Ayn Rand here:

Atlas Shrugged“The celebration is the first public event sponsored by the self-sustaining community inspired by Ayn Rand’s masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged.”

And the next paragraph in that press release is totally apolitical, right?

“Galt’s Gulch Chile was founded to give objectivists, libertarians and other proponents of individual liberty the opportunity to live according to their principles of free markets, voluntary association and minimal to no government interference.”

All four of his press releases at PRWeb use similar language. See here, here and here for the others.

We hope you are not wondering why Mr. Apolitical, Mr. Anti-Political-Labels, who didn’t want politics to be part of GGC, is using this verbage in his press releases.

Johnson is a case of a con man who identified his marks, gained their trust by portraying himself as one of them and then defrauded them. He fell in with the libertarians at The Dollar Vigilante, pretended to be a libertarian, then contracted libertarian employees and celebrities–Josh Tolley, Ben Swann, Bob Murphy, Wendy McElroy, Tatiana Moroz, Jordan Page, Luke Rudkowski–in order to cheat the rest of us.

He even took to using the salutation “To your freedoms” at the end of his emails.

GGC is a classic affinity scam. From Wikipedia:

“Affinity fraud is a form of investment fraud that preys upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, language minorities, the elderly, or professional groups. The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are – or successfully pretend to be – members of the group. They often enlist respected community or religious leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme, by convincing those people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile. Many times, those leaders become unwitting victims of the fraudster’s ruse.

“These scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam. Victims often fail to notify authorities or pursue their legal remedies, and instead try to work things out within the group. This is particularly true where the fraudsters have used respected community or religious leaders to convince others to join the investment.”

In addition to the decidedly non-libertarian Johnson, there are three Chileans who are working against the investors’ interests: the swindler Mario Del Real, Johnson’s thuggish henchman Ian Thornton, and the low-lives-conspiring Guillermo Ramirez. We can assure you, they are not libertarians, either.

There has been no in-fighting of any importance among the investors, who for the most part are libertarian. The only divisions were caused by Johnson’s typical lies and manipulations to stir up dissention. His goal was to have us fight each other instead of him. That was fairly quickly recognized and stopped.

Even Jerry Folta wants the investors to gain control of the assets, recapitalize and continue the project, despite his claims that he wants Johnson to be involved.

So, no, this is not libertarian in-fighting. It’s plain vanilla fraud.

fgc logo with tag line

By the way, you might get a hoot out of this hokey vid. If you’ll notice at the 8:28 mark, Johnson said that his “background is… in the freedom industry.”

The freedom industry?!?

Always lying, always scamming–Johnson reminds us of the old joke about lawyers. How do you know when Johnson is lying? His lips are moving.

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What is the Eddie Willers Email?

The following letter was written by Josh Kirley and sent to as many GGC investors has he could determine. It was the result of months of josh circleinvestigation and thousands of dollars trying to uncover the truth about GGC and expose Johnson for the con man he is. We owe Josh a debt of gratitude because without this effort, we investors might still be in the dark.

Josh used the pseudonym Eddie Willers after a character in the novel Atlas Shrugged, the work that lent Galt’s Gulch Chile its name. We think he should have used Hank Reardon instead.

Johnson has never refuted anything in this letter. His only answer has been to attack Josh for using a pseudonym, as if that’s the crime of the century.

What follows is long but it is for the most part spot on, and therefore worth the read.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are receiving thissantiago email because of your investment in or association with Ken Johnson and Galt’s Gulch Chile (GGC). What follows is a brief timeline of this project – a short summary of a much larger story that is still being written. This will be the first of many emails detailing the scheme of which you are a victim.

In 2012, Ken Johnson and Jeff Berwick (The Dollar Vigilante) explored the idea of creating a community in Chile that would appeal to people worried about the financial and political stability of their home countries. Chile, they believed, would be a welcoming home for those of a libertarian/anarchist and free market bent, much as Argentina is home to Doug Casey’s Cafayete. Turns out that John Cobin (Host of Red Hot Chile) and his associate German Eyzaguirre also had plans to launch a community in Chile. When Berwick and Johnson met Cobin and Eyzaguirre in Chile in late 2012, they decided to join forces. Cobin and Eyzaguirre had tried to purchase land near Curacavi – a plot of land referred to as El Tranque (aka Freedom Orchard) – but could not raise the funds to fulfill the contract. Cobin and Eyzaguirre helped Johnson find a tract of land nearby – Caren, known locally as “El Peñon” for a large rock formation near the crest. In exchange for finding the property and helping to facilitate the deal, Cobin and Eyzaguirre would receive $250,000 and 30% of the shares of the holding company. Berwick and Johnson would evenly split the remaining 70%.

$1.75 million was raised from four Founders, known as the “First Round.” Within a month, the sale had been made for $1.18 million – the majority of the money that the four founders (funders) had put up. None of the founders was Johnson, Berwick, Cobin and Eyzaguirre, or any of his associates. They were just regular people who wanted to move to the proposed community. As quickly as the sale had been made, it was discovered that the land would be unsuitable for the promised development. They told the first rounders it would be subdivided into 3,000 parcels. Turns out it could only be divided into 12 parcels. And even those 12 had building restrictions due to the elevation and being zoned for agricultural use. To top it off, though there were water rights (surface only), there was very little water. Johnson failed to register the few wells that existed, within the required timeframe, making matters worse. The entire deal was a spectacular failure. Johnson would later place fault with Cobin and Eyzaguirre for misrepresenting the possibilities of the land. That should have been the end of Ken Johnson’s tenure as developer or manager of a community of expatriates in Chile. Instead, it was just the beginning.

ggc horses

This photo appears in early marketing lit for GGC, so the investors of course thought it was of El Peñon. It is of a neighboring property.

To rewind a bit, before the sale of Peñon was registered to one of many legal entities tied to GGC, Berwick and Johnson managed to nullify their deal with Cobin and Eyzaguirre, and register title to the albatross Peñon land to a Chilean entity – Inmobiliaria [Galt’s Gulch] SA – that only they had 50/50 control of. Johnson’s swift move to oust Cobin would foreshadow Berwick’s own treatment by Johnson.

In a display of pure brass, Johnson doubled down and found another property adjacent to El Tranque and Peñon: a land known as Lepe. Without a penny to his name or a single investor, he negotiated a cash deal (to be paid in installments), agreeing to pay a staggering $6,850,000.00 USD for land and water rights. Now, why would the seller, Guillermo Ramirez, make a deal with a total stranger, from a foreign country, who had no money and no reputation? In short, he did so, because Johnson was offering him nearly 4 million dollars more than the price he had already agreed to sell the land for (to Cobin and Eyzaguirre). Locals were astounded by the price tag. Some allege there was a kickback scheme between Ramirez and Johnson; this theory is buoyed by the fact that in addition to the inflated purchase price, Ken Johnson was to issue a 5% stake in Galt’s Gulch Chile to Sr. Ramirez, when payments were completed. Still others believe this is just another case of a foolish Gringo being taken by a wise local who grossly overstated the value of the land, the profitability of the farm, and the amount of water. (Johnson would later exaggerate these already inflated figures to potential clients.) The actual amount of water is not known because Johnson, for a second time, going against the advice of his paid legal counsel, performed no due diligence. Not a single water test was performed.

Upon hearing that his employee and partner had unilaterally Lepe from towerentered into another hasty land deal, Berwick panicked. Johnson had no credibility or reputation. This entire venture was on the shoulders of Berwick. The initial debacle could have been enough to destroy his reputation. He had been heavily promoting the idea of this community, shared 50% of the holding company, and had even given Johnson 50% of his organization, The Dollar Vigilante. Ken was also doing other business development for The Dollar Vigilante, most notably a questionable Paraguayan passport program. Berwick apparently felt he was in too deep to turn back. And even though he had doubts, he continued to play the hand he was dealt, and went about promoting the community and stood behind Ken Johnson’s efforts to secure the additional land purchase.

On both El Peñon and Lepe, Ken Johnson paid a premium and did no due diligence. He did not sufficiently verify the zoning status or perform water tests, either time. And he did not commit a cent of his own money to either purchase. The same can be said for Cobin, Ezyzaguirre, and Berwick. Since Johnson had no skin in the game and he was not a public personality like Berwick, Casey, Black, or Cobin, he never had anything to lose. And, he would behave accordingly. At one point, the lawyer for the New Zealand trust – Evgeny Orlov – described Johnson’s behavior as follows: “Ken has accused almost everyone I know of extremely serious things when he appears to be playing with his investors money like a child in a sandpit.” (2/26/14).

In defending his rushed purchase, Johnson misrepresented to Berwick and other investors that there were several competing bids on the land purchases. He made it appear that time was of the essence in both deals; this high pressure sales tactic would later be used on potential investors. With Ken Johnson it was always: “We must act right away, the time is now.”

His malfeasance would not be limited to acquisitions. His behavior would, within a year, alienate almost everyone who was associated with the project: partners, employees, professionals, vendors, the local community, and investors.

Ken Johnson partners with someone, uses their money, time, kj duncereputation, and resources, and when they are no longer of use to him, he discards and vilifies them. And even though Ken Johnson has been the sole director of Galt’s Gulch Chile since inception, he has taken no responsibility for its continued failure and downward spiral. It is always everyone else’s fault

In April of 2014, Johnson showed his true self and his true motives. Even though he was not paying his investors, his employers, his contractors, or the landowner, he negotiated to purchase 51% of a company called Rio Colorado from a local “businessman” who had worked for the Chilean IRS: Mario Del Real. Johnson agreed to pay Del Real the mind numbing sum of $8.1 million USD. This was to be a private, personal purchase for the sole benefit of Ken Johnson, having no benefit for, or relation to, GGC.

Let that sink in. Someone with no backers, a negative net worth, and owing millions of dollars, agreed to make a private purchase of this magnitude. Why did he think he would get away with it? Because he already had. Twice. It began with El Penon, then pulled it off with Lepe; now he figured he could do it again with Rio Colorado. When the money came due, and he was light $8.1 million out of $8.1 million, he decided to trade the equity, held by GGC.

This would be tricky for a couple of reasons. First, he told his investors and clients that all shares were held in escrow. Second, it would need approval. Knowing this would not be possible without support of the board of directors, he simply named a new board of directors: the very family he was trading GGC’s assets to: the Del Real family. What was interesting about this maneuver is that it was done twice. Both times through official notaries. Each times with drastically different signatures, proving that at least one, if not both, documents are forgeries. The new, hand picked Board, had no assets, investments, or interest in GGC and were granted control of the entire project. Mario, after receiving over a quarter million USD, became majority shareholder; his daughter Pamela became managing partner, treasurer, and accountant. And, his children were each given 10% ownership. Since Ken no longer had the ability to receive international wires because he refused to identify the source of funds, Pamela Del Real’s personal bank account became the corporate bank account for GGC. Including bitcoin wallets, this would be one of more than 15 accounts used by Ken Johnson to receive client funds.

At this point, I bet you are wondering, ‘How did this happen?’. How was someone with no experience, no reputation, and no money, able to pull off a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme? Well, first it took big balls. And each time he was allowed to get away with something, he got even more brazen.

Second, he had a lot of accomplices. Some were willing, but most were unwitting.

These pix and video are from Johnson’s environmentalist affinity fraud days. He was “president” of Enviro-Energies selling wind turbines for “clean” energy. He claims he was the victim of that scam. As president. Hmmm. The company was busted up by the feds. Johnson wasn’t prosecuted, but the records show he wasn’t president–just an exaggeration, we guess.

Btw, Leno recently told one of the investors he doesn’t know Johnson. We wish we didn’t, either.

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By aligning himself with established names, these accomplices gave Johnson an air of respectability. People saw that Johnson was aligned with people who they knew and trusted, so they transferred that trust onto him. Initially, it was his association with Jeff Berwick that raised money for the first land purchase. Later, it was his direct association with media personalities like Josh Tolley and Ben Swann that gave him credibility within the Freedom movement. Others were swept into his web when Johnson mentioned that he had worked with Jay Leno, Ed Begley, Jr, and Mario van Peebles. The fact that he was represented by the Carey Group, the largest and most prestigious law firm in South America, got many investors to let their guard down. This was a most curious pairing because Johnson actually paid these attorneys, with investor funds, to represent himself against those same investors. As recently as 8/18/14, Johnson forbade the Carey Group (and all of his former legal advisers) from sharing any information with GGC clients. And, ignoring their own code of legal ethics, they complied.

In fact, to date, Johnson has never shared a budget, a financial ledger, a business plan, a mission statement, or any formal documentation with a single client. He refuses to reveal how much money he has taken in, how much money he has spent, how it was spent, how much money he has, and how much money he owes. He cannot or will not even say who owns the land and who is running the project. These are all very basic, straightforward questions that every client and investor deserves to have answered.

I do not expect you to accept the story from an anonymous email. I implore you to do your own investigation. Do not make the same mistake twice, by taking another stranger at his or her word. Blind trust created this situation. Be accountable to yourselves and to each other. Do some research. Reach out and contact your fellow investors/victims. Email or call former employees, former attorneys, questionarchitects, builders, salespeople. You will find a single bond that joins them all. Every single one of them was lied to by Ken Johnson. Every single one of them was mistreated by Ken Johnson. And, every single one of them is owed money by Ken Johnson.

Ask what he did with the millions of dollars that he has taken in. Ask how many bank accounts he has. How many bitcoin wallets has he used? Why did he pay over a million dollars for land that could not be divided or lived on? Why did he agree to pay $6,850,000.00 (over 8 million, after late fees) for land and water rights , when the owner had already agreed to sell them to someone else for only $3 mill USD? Why did he refuse to identify the source of his funding to his own attorneys and his own bankers? On more than 10 occasions. Why has he physically and verbally abused employees and issued “cease and desist” orders or threatened suit against more than 2 dozen current investors and former workers?

Who owns GGC? Who is the managing director? Who holds the bank account or accounts that new investor money flows into? Who is the sales director? Who is the general contractor? Who is the accountant? Who is the attorney? Where are the financial records? Why has a master development plan or business plan not been created or approved? Why have farm and orchard owners not received dividends? Or any information, for that matter? Press Ken on why he has not fulfilled his repeated promise to turn the project over to the clients, whose money he squandered, in the percentage that they invested

Here are a few unsolicited suggestions, from someone who left a great life and a job, to move to Chile, in the hopes of building this ambitious project. First, you have to accept that you have been conned. Most of you are probably not shocked by this news. Some of you understand the nature of investments, and know that there are not sure things. For others, this may be more difficult. But, you must accept that your money is gone. It was taken by a crook. A con artist without a conscience. He is a tyrant whose only power has come from the money that he has received from trusting investors. Needless to say, it is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that he receives no more. To do so would be abetting a Ponzi scheme.

Second, you need to extricate that crook from the equation. With the amount of damage that Johnson has done to this project, the road to success is much longer and more difficult than it otherwise would have been. But, there is no doubt, in anyone’s mind, that as long as his claws are in GGC, there is absolutely zero chance of this community ever becoming a reality. He and Mario del Real have proven they will sell off every marketable asset GGC owns, while neither of them have ever put in a penny. Meanwhile, you all, the real owners, are left on the outside looking in. Federal authorities, in both Chile and the US, have been alerted to his actions, and are acting on them. But, a lot of damage can be done between now and the time that justice is served.

Once he is removed, there will be a great deal of messes to clean up. Johnson has made enemies around the Curacaví region, in Santiago, the United States, and on four continents. He did this in the name of GGC. Whether it is through active marketing or total rebranding, the damaged parties need to know that there has been a clean break between Ken Johnson and the people he purported to represent. Finally, he needs to be replaced.

His replacement should be everything he is not. This person should have experience. They should have references. They need to be bilingual. They need to be local, or have a knowledge of the local culture. Most importantly, they need to have their own skin in the game. Johnson behaved so recklessly because he had nothing to lose. He spent so frivolously because it was not his money. You need to align with an equity partner, whose success is tied to your own.

Finally, there needs to be transparency and a system of checks and balances. Johnson kept this sham alive for so long because he was able to compartmentalize and separate so many parties; there was no transparency. He refused to introduce investors to each other. If he found out that clients were communicating, he denounced it as meddling. If employees talked to one another (ostensibly, about the fact that they had not been paid in months), he reprimanded them for “gossiping.” There was no oversight, no legitimate Board of Directors, no accountability. Secrecy begat tyranny.

Finally, you all need to become involved. This should not be a passive investment. Get your asses down to Chile. Live on the land. Oversee the construction. And, take it upon yourselves to build this community into your own vision. All is not lost. But, it will be, if you do nothing.

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