DMG reportedly made millions of dollars annually by offering about 200,000 investors high interest rates, as high as a 300 per cent returns over six months.

Such pyramid schemes can offer dramatically high returns by using later investors' money to pay off those who invest first.

However they collapse when the flow of incoming money is not enough to pay the growing pool of investors.

Drugs 'link'

Thousands have lost their savings on such reported scams that promised high interest rates, real estate deals and debit cards to buy consumer goods.

Authorities are also said to be examining possible links between the finance agencies and Colombia's multibillion-dollar cocaine trade.

Last week furious clients stormed and looted local DMG branches in rioting that left 13 towns under police curfew and two men dead.

Officials seized 92.4 billion pesos ($42 million) from 68 of the company's offices and arrested 52 employees, police told AP.

Later on thousands of DMG depositors took to the streets this week to protest a decision by Uribe to shut the stores.

Lawyers for DMG told Reuters the company's managers were innocent and were ready to co-operate with the government's investigation.

Another company, Proyecciones DRFE, collapsed last week amid news its owner had left the country, leaving about $270 million of investments in limbo.