Former Executive Director Of The Ramapo Local Development Corporation Pleads Guilty To Securities Fraud And Conspiracy Charges

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that N. AARON TROODLER, the former Executive Director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation (“RLDC”), pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel to conspiring with Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence to commit securities fraud as a result of a scheme to defraud investors in municipal bonds issued by the RLDC and the Town of Ramapo (the “Town”). This case is believed to be the first conviction for federal securities fraud in connection with municipal bond issuances.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As we said at the time of his arrest, N. Aaron Troodler defrauded both the citizens of Ramapo and thousands of investors around the country, helping to sell over $150 million of municipal bonds on fabricated financials. Today, Troodler has admitted to committing securities fraud. This guilty plea, in what we believe to be the first municipal bond-related criminal securities fraud prosecution, is a big step in policing and bringing accountability to the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Information to which TROODLER pled guilty today and the related Indictment of TROODLER’s co-conspirator, Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence:

As of August 2015, the Town had more than $128 million in outstanding bonds that had been issued for various municipal purposes, while the RLDC, a corporation created and owned by the Town under state law, had issued $25 million in bonds to pay for the construction of Provident Bank Park (now Palisades Credit Union Park), a minor league baseball stadium in Ramapo.

The Indictment and Superseding Information charge that St. Lawrence and TROODLER lied to investors in the Town’s and RLDC’s bonds in order to conceal the deteriorating state of the Town’s finances and the inability of the RLDC to make scheduled payments of principal and interest to holders of its bonds from its own money.

While the fraud predated the construction of the stadium, the Town’s financial problems were caused largely by the $58 million total cost of the stadium. The Town paid more than half of that cost, despite the rejection of the Town’s guarantee of bonds to pay for construction of the stadium in a Town-wide referendum in 2010 and St. Lawrence’s public statements that no public money would be used to pay for the stadium.

The defendants lied to investors primarily by making up false assets in the Town’s General Fund. The General Fund is the Town’s primary operating fund. The accumulated difference over time between how much money the Town receives in taxes and fees and how much it spends in a year is the fund’s balance. The fund balance is a cushion that can be spent during difficult financial times. The size of the fund balance relative to the amount of the fund’s revenue and trends in a town’s General Fund balance over time are the primary indicators of the town’s financial health.

The Indictment alleges that St. Lawrence lied to the RLDC’s bond rating service in January 2013 when he told them in a telephone call that the 2012 fund balance would remain unchanged from the 2011 balance. Immediately after that call ended, St. Lawrence told Town employees “to do [an upcoming] refinancing of the short term debt as fast as possible because . . . we’re going to have to all be magicians to get to some of those numbers.”

The Indictment and the Superseding Information also allege that St. Lawrence and TROODLER told investors in the Town’s and RLDC’s bonds that the RLDC was making the payments on its bonds from its operating revenue, meaning money it was making from its ordinary business of running the baseball stadium and selling condominiums at a development it had built. That was important to investors because it led them to believe that the Town would not have to pay off the RLDC’s $25 million bonds. It also made the RLDC’s bonds look less risky. The RLDC actually made those payments from money TROODLER borrowed from the bank or money TROODLER obtained from the Town at St. Lawrence’s direction.

When the RLDC issued $25 million in bonds to build the stadium building itself in 2011, St. Lawrence inflated the size of the Town’s General Fund by including a false $3.6 million receivable in the General Fund. The Town’s financial condition was important to investors in the RLDC’s bonds because the Town guaranteed the payments of principal and interest on the bonds. Without that fake asset, the General Fund’s balance would have been negative in that year.

In addition, St. Lawrence inflated the General Fund with another fake receivable for $3.08 million from 2010 through 2015. It first went on the Town’s books when the RLDC agreed to buy property known as The Hamlets from the Town for $3.08 million. That sale never closed because the land turned out to be a habitat for rattlesnakes. Rather than take the receivable off the Town’s books – and reduce the size of the General Fund balance by $3.08 million, thereby creating a negative balance – St. Lawrence claimed the receivable had to do with the RLDC’s purchase of another property from the Town that had already taken place. To keep it on the books, St. Lawrence then caused the Town Attorney to tell the Town’s auditors over a period of years that the receivable would be paid back within a year, which was required if the receivable was going to stay in the General Fund. Without this fake receivable alone, the Town’s General Fund balance would have been negative for years.

In May 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) searched Town Hall in connection with this investigation. Less than 10 days later, St. Lawrence inflated another receivable in the General Fund – this one for money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) to reimburse the Town for expenses from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. St. Lawrence claimed that the Town was going to receive $3.145 million from FEMA when the Town hadn’t even submitted those claims to FEMA yet. Without St. Lawrence’s inflation of this receivable alone, the projected General Fund balance for 2012 would have been negative when the Town sold bonds in May 2013.

Finally, the Indictment alleges that St. Lawrence also inflated the General Fund balance by making more than $12 million in transfers from the Town’s Ambulance Fund to the General Fund from 2009 to 2014. The group of properties in Ramapo that pays into the Ambulance Fund is different from the group of properties that pays into the General Fund. Under state law, transfers between funds with different tax bases can only be loans. St. Lawrence told the auditors that the two funds had the same tax base to justify the transfers.

* * *

TROODLER, 42, of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, pled guilty to one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

TROODLER is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Seibel on September 18, 2017, at 3:30 p.m.

The charges against Christopher St. Lawrence contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James McMahon, Daniel Loss, and Stephen J. Ritchin are in charge of the prosecution.

Fourth Individual in NYPA Big-Rigging Scandal Comes Forward, Faces up to Three Years and $250,000

Washington, D.C.-  The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has recently come under multilateral investigation over allegations of bid rigging, tax fraud, and market fixture.  The DOJ, IRS, and New York Inspector General are all working jointly in this case and have subsequently made their fourth indivdual charge.  John Simonlacaj (White Plains, NY) has confessed to aiding the NYPA in filing false tax returns and now faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The original article is reproduced below with its link following.

 

Fourth Individual Charged in Ongoing New York Power Authority Procurement Fraud Investigation

The Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State Inspector General, which are all conducting a joint federal and state investigation into bid-rigging, fraud and tax-related offenses in the award of contracts at the New York Power Authority (NYPA), announced today that a Westchester County, New York, resident pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return.

According to the one-count felony charge filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in White Plains, New York, John Simonlacaj caused another individual to file a Form 1040 for the tax year 2010 that substantially understated that individual’s taxable income.  Simonlacaj pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Our investigation into bid rigging and fraud by companies supplying the New York Power Authority has uncovered a variety of criminal activity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Filing a false tax return is a serious offense and we are pleased to have worked with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute the criminal violation.”

“We say many times the FBI won’t stop until we find everyone responsible for their roles in a criminal investigation,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.  “These charges prove our tenacity in digging until we hit the bottom of the pile and uncover anyone who had a part in criminal wrongdoing.”

“Today’s plea marks yet another defendant admitting guilt following a bid rigging investigation that began at the state level. My office and those of my federal law enforcement partners, will continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead,” said New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

“Mr. Simonlacaj is now held accountable for his role in filing a false tax return,” said Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen of the IRS Criminal Investigation New York Field Office.  “Towards pursuing its goal of ensuring that that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, IRS Criminal Investigation remains committed to this ongoing investigation.”

The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office with the assistance of the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the New York State Office of the Inspector General.  NYPA is cooperating with the investigation.  Anyone with information on bid rigging or other anticompetitive conducted related to the award or performance of municipal and state contracts should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit http://www.just

Original Link

 

Liberty Reserve Exec Gets 20 Years For Laundering

 

Arthur Budovsky, 42, was sentenced today in the Southern District of New York to 20 years imprisonment for running a massive money laundering enterprise through his company Liberty Reserve S.A. (“Liberty Reserve”), a virtual currency once used by cybercriminals around the world to launder the proceeds of their illegal activity.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York made the announcement.

In January, Budovsky pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering.  In imposing sentence, the court noted that Budovsky ran an “extraordinarily successful” and “large-scale international money laundering operation.”  U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote also ordered Budovsky to pay a $500,000 fine.

“The significant sentence handed down today shows that money laundering through the use of virtual currencies is still money laundering, and that online crime is still crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Together with our American and international law enforcement partners, we will protect the public even when criminals use modern technology to break the law.”

“Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky ran a digital currency empire built expressly to facilitate money laundering on a massive scale for criminals around the globe,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “Despite all his efforts to evade prosecution, including taking his operations offshore and renouncing his citizenship, Budovsky has now been held to account for his brazen violations of U.S. criminal laws.”

According to the indictment, Liberty Reserve billed itself as the Internet’s “largest payment processor and money transfer system” and allowed people all over the world to send and receive payments using virtual currency.  At all relevant times, Budovsky directed and supervised Liberty Reserve’s operations, finances, and business strategy and was aware that digital currencies were used by other online criminals, such as credit card traffickers and identity thieves.

Liberty Reserve grew into a financial hub for cybercriminals around the world, trafficking the criminal proceeds of Ponzi schemes, credit card trafficking, stolen identity information and computer hacking.  By May 2013, when the government shut it down, Liberty Reserve had more than 5.5 million user accounts worldwide and had processed more than 78 million financial transactions with a combined value of more than $8 billion.  United States users accounted for the largest segment of Liberty Reserve’s total transactional volume – between $1 billion and $1.8 billion – and the largest number of user accounts – over 600,000.

Four co-defendants, Vladimir Kats, Azzeddine El Amine, Mark Marmilev and Maxim Chukharev, have already pleaded guilty.  Marmilev and Chukharev were sentenced to five years and three years in prison, respectively.  Judge Cote is expected to sentence Kats and El Amine May 13. Charges remain pending against Liberty Reserve and two individual defendants who are fugitives.

The U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated this case as part of the Global Illicit Financial Team.  The U.S. Secret Service’s New York Electronic Crimes Task Force assisted with the investigation.  The Judicial Investigation Organization in Costa Rica, Interpol, the National High Tech Crime Unit in the Netherlands, the Spanish National Police’s Financial and Economic Crime Unit, the Cyber Crime Unit at the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office also provided assistance.

Trial Attorney Kevin Mosley of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Everdell, Christine Magdo and Andrew Goldstein of the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section provided substantial assistance.

Kentucky Businessman Sentenced in New York Federal Court for $53 Million Tax Scheme and Massive Fraud that Involved Bribery of Bank Officials

Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York announced that a Kentucky businessman was sentenced today to serve 12 years in prison.

Wilbur Anthony Huff, 53, of Caneyville and Louisville, Kentucky, was also ordered to pay more than $108 million in restitution for committing various tax crimes that caused more than $50 million in losses to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and a massive fraud that involved the bribery of bank officials, the fraudulent purchase of an insurance company, and the defrauding of insurance regulators and an investment bank.  In December 2014, Huff pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noemi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York, who imposed today’s sentence.

“The department is committed to vigorously pursuing and prosecuting those individuals who violate the employment tax laws of the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo.  “Today’s significant prison sentence sends a loud and clear message to those engaged in such criminal conduct, including owners and operators of professional employer organizations like Mr. Huff, who steal employment taxes collected from their business clients to line their own pockets, instead of paying over those funds to the IRS.”

“Anthony Huff and his co-conspirators stole millions of dollars from taxpayers and engaged in extensive frauds, all in the pursuit of additional property, luxury cars and the like,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “His crimes have earned him 12 years in prison.  I would like to thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance on this case.”

According to the information, plea agreement, sentencing submissions and statements made during court proceedings:

Huff was a businessman who controlled numerous entities located throughout the United States (Huff-Controlled Entities).  Huff controlled the companies and their finances, using them to orchestrate a $53 million fraud on the IRS and other schemes that spanned four states, involving tax violations, bank bribery, fraud on bank regulators and the fraudulent purchase of an insurance company.  As part of his crimes, Huff concealed his control of the Huff-Controlled Entities by installing other individuals to oversee the companies’ day-to-day functions and to serve as the companies’ titular owners, directors, or officers.  Huff also maintained a corrupt relationship with Park Avenue Bank and Charles J. Antonucci Sr., the bank’s president and chief executive officer, and Matthew L. Morris, the bank’s senior vice president.

Tax Crimes

From 2008 to 2010, HUFF controlled O2HR, a professional employer organization (PEO) located in Tampa, Florida.  Like other PEOs, O2HR was paid to manage the payroll, tax and workers’ compensation insurance obligations of its client companies.  However, instead of paying $53 million in taxes that O2HR’s clients owed the IRS and $5 million to Providence Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Providence P&C) – an insurance company based in Oklahoma – for workers’ compensation coverage expenses for O2HR clients, Huff stole the money that his client companies had paid O2HR for those purposes.  Among other things, Huff diverted millions of dollars from O2HR to fund his investments in unrelated business ventures and pay his family members’ personal expenses.  The expenses included mortgages on Huff’s homes, rent payments for his children’s apartments, staff and equipment for Huff’s farm, designer clothing, jewelry and luxury cars.

Conspiracy to Commit Bank Bribery, Defraud Bank Regulators and Fraudulently Purchase an Oklahoma Insurance Company

From 2007 through 2010, Huff engaged in a massive multi-faceted conspiracy in which he schemed to bribe executives of Park Avenue Bank, defraud bank regulators and the board and shareholders of a publicly-traded company, and fraudulently purchase an Oklahoma insurance company.  As described in more detail below, Huff paid bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and other items to Morris and Antonucci in exchange for their favorable treatment at Park Avenue Bank.

As part of the corrupt relationship between Huff and the bank executives, Huff, Morris, Antonucci and others conspired to defraud various entities and regulators during the relevant time period.  Specifically, Huff conspired with Morris and Antonucci to falsely bolster Park Avenue Bank’s capital by orchestrating a series of fraudulent transactions to make it appear that Park Avenue Bank had received an outside infusion of $6.5 million, and engaged in a series of further fraudulent actions to conceal from bank regulators the true source of the funds.

Huff further conspired with Morris, Antonucci and others to defraud Oklahoma insurance regulators and others by making material misrepresentations and omissions regarding the source of $37.5 million used to purchase Providence Property and Casualty Insurance Company, an insurance company based in Oklahoma that provided workers’ compensation insurance for O2HR’s clients and to whom O2HR owed a significant debt.

Bribery of Park Avenue Bank Executives

From 2007 to 2009, Huff paid Morris and Antonucci at least $400,000 in exchange for which they: provided Huff with fraudulent letters of credit obligating Park Avenue Bank to pay $1.75 million to an investor in one of Huff’s businesses if Huff failed to pay the investor back himself; allowed the Huff-Controlled Entities to accrue $9 million in overdrafts; facilitated intra-bank transfers in furtherance of Huff’s fraud; and fraudulently caused Park Avenue Bank to issue at least $4.5 million in loans to the Huff-Controlled Entities.

Fraud on Bank Regulators and a Publicly-Traded Company

From 2008 to 2009, Huff, Morris and Antonucci engaged in a scheme to prevent Park Avenue Bank from being designated as “undercapitalized” by regulators – a designation that would prohibit the bank from engaging in certain types of banking transactions and that would subject the bank to a range of potential enforcement actions by regulators.  Specifically, they engaged in a series of deceptive, “round-trip” financial transactions to make it appear that Antonucci had infused the bank with $6.5 million in new capital when, in actuality, the $6.5 million was part of the bank’s pre-existing capital.  Huff, Morris and Antonucci funneled the $6.5 million from the bank through accounts controlled by Huff to Antonucci.  This was done to make it appear as though Antonucci was helping to stabilize the bank’s capitalization problem, so that the bank could continue engaging in certain banking transactions that it would otherwise have been prohibited from doing, and to put the bank in a better posture to receive $11 million from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.  To conceal their unlawful financial maneuvering, Huff created, or directed the creation of, documents falsely suggesting that Antonucci had earned the $6.5 million through a bogus transaction involving another company Antonucci owned.  Huff, Morris and Antonucci further concealed their scheme by stealing $2.3 million from General Employment Enterprises Inc., a publicly-traded temporary staffing company, in order to pay Park Avenue Bank back for monies used in connection with the $6.5 million transaction.

Fraud on Insurance Regulators and the Investment Firm

From July 2008 to November 2009, Huff, Morris, Antonucci and Allen Reichman, an executive at an investment bank and financial services company headquartered in New York City (the Investment Firm), conspired to defraud Oklahoma insurance regulators into allowing Antonucci to purchase the assets of Providence P&C and defraud the Investment Firm into providing a $30 million loan to finance the purchase.  Specifically, Huff and Antonucci devised a scheme in which Antonucci would purchase Providence P&C’s assets by obtaining a $30 million loan from the Investment Firm, which used Providence P&C’s own assets as collateral for the loan.  However, because Oklahoma insurance regulators had to approve any sale of Providence P&C, and because Oklahoma law forbade the use of Providence P&C’s assets as collateral for such a loan, Huff, Morris, Antonucci and Reichman made and conspired to make a number of material misstatements and material omissions to the Investment Firm and Oklahoma insurance regulators concerning the true nature of the financing for Antonucci’s purchase of Providence P&C.  Among other things, Reichman directed Antonucci to sign a letter that provided false information regarding the collateral that would be used for the loan, and Huff, Morris and Antonucci conspired to falsely represent to Oklahoma insurance regulators that Park Avenue Bank – not the Investment Firm – was funding the purchase of Providence P&C.

After deceiving Oklahoma regulators into approving the sale of Providence P&C, Huff took $4 million of the company’s assets, which he used to continue the scheme to defraud O2HR’s clients.  Ultimately, in November 2009, the insurance company became insolvent and was placed in receivership after Huff, Morris and Antonucci had pilfered its remaining assets.

*                *                *

In addition to his prison sentence, Huff was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $10.8 million to the United States and pay a total of more than $108 million in restitution to victims of his crimes, including, among others, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the IRS.

In imposing today’s sentence, Judge Buchwald said Huff’s crimes were “truly staggering” and “eye popping.”  Judge Buchwald described Huff’s conduct, which was preceded by a federal conviction and failure to pay millions in civil judgments, as “a living example” of “chutzpah,” which she defined as “shameless audacity and unmitigated gall.”

Morris and Reichman pleaded guilty for their roles in the above-described offenses on Oct. 17, 2013, and Feb. 20, 2015, respectively.  Reichman is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Buchwald on July 15, and Morris is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Buchwald on Aug. 19.

Antonucci pleaded guilty to his role in the crimes described above on Oct. 8, 2010, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 20, also before Judge Buchwald.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Bharara thanked the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the New York State Department of Financial Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Office of Inspector General of the FDIC, for their work in the investigation, and the Tax Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida, for their assistance in the prosecution.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Janis Echenberg and Daniel Tehrani and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Tino Lisella of the Tax Division are in charge of the criminal case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

French Citizen Sentenced for Obstructing a Criminal Investigation into Alleged Bribes Paid to Win Mining Rights in Guinea

Frederic Cilins, a 51-year old French citizen, was sentenced today in the Southern District of New York to 24 months in prison for obstructing a federal criminal investigation into alleged bribes to obtain mining concessions in the Republic of Guinea.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office made the announcement.    The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III.
“Cilins offered to bribe a witness in an FCPA investigation to stop the witness from talking to the FBI,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Today’s sentence holds Cilins accountable for his effort to undermine the integrity of our justice system, and sends a message that those who interfere with federal investigations will be prosecuted and sent to prison.”
“Frederic Cilins went to great lengths to thwart a Manhattan federal grand jury’s investigation into an alleged bribery scheme in the Republic of Guinea,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “In an effort to prevent the federal authorities from learning the truth, Cilins paid a witness for her silence and to destroy key documents.  Today, Cilins learned that no one can manipulate justice.”
“Cilins obstructed the efforts of the FBI during the course of this investigation,” said Director in Charge Venizelos.  “His guilty plea and sentence demonstrate our shared commitment with the department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold accountable those who seek to interfere with the administration of justice. This case should be a reminder to all those who try to circumvent the efforts of a law enforcement investigation: the original crime and the cover-up both lend themselves to prosecution.”
According to court documents, Cilins obstructed an ongoing federal investigation concerning potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other crimes.    Federal law enforcement was investigating whether a particular mining company with which Cilins was affiliated paid bribes to officials of a former governmental regime in the Republic of Guinea to obtain and retain valuable mining concessions in the Republic of Guinea’s Simandou region.    During monitored and recorded phone calls and face-to-face meetings, Cilins agreed to pay substantial sums of money to induce a witness to the alleged bribery scheme to leave the United States to avoid questioning by the FBI, as well as to give documents to Cilins for destruction that had been requested by the FBI as part of the investigation.    Cilins also sought to induce the witness to sign an affidavit containing false statements regarding matters under investigation by the grand jury.    That witness was the former wife of a now-deceased Guinean government official who held an office in Guinea that allowed him to influence the award of mining concessions.
Cilins pleaded guilty on March 10, 2014 to a one-count superseding information charging him with obstruction of a federal investigation.    In addition to his sentence, he was ordered to pay a fine of $75,000 and forfeit $20,000.
The case was investigated by the FBI.    The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Tarek Helou of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorney Elisha J. Kobre of the Southern District of New York.    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations provided valuable assistance in the investigation.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa .

 

CEO of Wall Street Broker-Dealer Charged with Massive FCPA Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 14, 2014
The chief executive officer and a managing partner of a New York-based U.S. broker-dealer were arrested today on felony charges arising from a conspiracy to pay bribes to a senior official in Venezuela’s state economic development bank.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the New York Office of the FBI made the announcement.
According to the indictment unsealed today, Benito Chinea and Joseph DeMeneses, who were the Chief Executive Officer and a managing partner, respectively, of a New York-based broker-dealer (Broker-Dealer), are accused of conspiring with others to pay and launder bribes to Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez de Hernandez, a senior official in Venezuela’s state-owned economic development bank, Banco de Desarollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES), in exchange for her directing BANDES’s financial trading business to the Broker-Dealer. DeMeneses was also charged with conspiring to obstruct an examination of the Broker-Dealer by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to conceal the true facts of the Broker-Dealer’s relationship with BANDES.
Chinea, 47, was arrested today in Manalapan, N.J., where he resides, and DeMeneses, 44, was arrested today in Fairfield, Conn., where he resides.   In a separate action, the SEC announced civil charges against Chinea, DeMeneses and others involved in the bribery scheme.
“ These senior Wall Street executives are accused of paying six-figure bribes to an official in Venezuela to secure foreign business for their firm,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “Today’s charges show once again that we will aggressively pursue individual executives, all the way up the corporate ladder, when they try to bribe their way ahead of the competition. ”
“These two defendants, senior executives at a U.S. brokerage firm, are the fifth and sixth people to be charged in an alleged conspiracy to corrupt the trading business of a state-run economic development bank of Venezuela,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.    “They are alleged to have bribed a willing officer at the bank to steer its overseas trading business to the defendants’ brokerage firm, reaping millions for these defendants and their partners in crime.  This Office will not tolerate the kind of outright bribery and concealment that characterized this scheme.”
“As alleged in the indictment, Chinea and Demeneses bribed Gonzalez to secure bank Bandes’s financial trading business,” said FBI ADIC Venizelos.    “Demeneses compounded the Broker-Dealer’s illegal activities by conspiring to obstruct an investigation by regulators.   The arrests today of Chinea and Demeneses should be a reminder to all those in the business community that engaging in bribery schemes to secure business and make a profit is illegal. Together with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to investigate bribery and fraud at all levels.”
According to the allegations in the indictment unsealed today, as well as other documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court, Chinea and DeMeneses worked at the headquarters of the Broker-Dealer in New York City.    In 2008, the Broker-Dealer established a group called the Global Markets Group (GMG), which offered fixed income trading services for institutional clients in the purchase and sale of foreign sovereign debt.    One of the Broker-Dealer’s GMG clients was BANDES, which operated under the direction of the Venezuelan Ministry of Finance.    Gonzalez was an official at BANDES and oversaw the development bank’s overseas trading activity.    At her direction, BANDES conducted substantial trading through the Broker-Dealer.    Most of the trades executed by the Broker-Dealer on behalf of BANDES involved fixed income investments for which the Broker-Dealer charged the bank a commission.
As alleged in court documents, from late 2008 through 2012, Chinea and DeMeneses, together with three Miami-based Broker-Dealer employees, Ernesto Lujan, Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt and Jose Alejandro Hurtado, participated in a bribery scheme in which Gonzalez directed trading business she controlled at BANDES to the Broker-Dealer, and in return, agents and employees of the Broker-Dealer split the revenue the Broker-Dealer generated from this trading business with Gonzalez.    During this time period, the Broker-Dealer generated over $60 million in commissions from trades with BANDES.    In order to conceal their conduct, Chinea, DeMeneses and their co-conspirators routed the payments to Gonzalez, frequently in six-figure amounts, through third-parties posing as “foreign finders” and into offshore bank accounts.    In several instances, Chinea personally signed checks worth millions of dollars that were made payable to one of these purported “foreign finders” and later deposited in a Swiss bank account.
As further alleged in court documents, as a result of the bribery scheme, BANDES quickly became the Broker-Dealer’s most profitable customer.    As the relationship continued, however, Gonzalez became increasingly unhappy about the untimeliness of the payments due her from the Broker-Dealer, and she threatened to suspend BANDES’s business.    In response, DeMeneses and Clarke agreed to pay Gonzalez approximately $1.5 million from their personal funds.    Chinea and DeMeneses agreed to use Broker-Dealer funds to reimburse DeMeneses and Clarke for these bribe payments.    To conceal their true nature, Chinea and DeMeneses agreed to hide these reimbursements in the Broker-Dealer’s books as sham loans from the Broker-Dealer to corporate entities associated with DeMeneses and Clarke.
Court documents also allege that beginning in or around November 2010, the SEC commenced a periodic examination of the Broker-Dealer, and from November 2010 through March 2011, the SEC’s exam staff made several visits to the Broker-Dealer’s offices in Manhattan.    In or about early 2011, DeMeneses and others involved in the scheme discussed that the SEC was examining the Broker-Dealer’s relationship with BANDES.    DeMeneses and others agreed they would take steps to conceal the true facts of the Broker-Dealer’s relationship with BANDES, including by deleting emails, in order to hide the actual relationship from the SEC.
Chinea and DeMeneses were each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Travel Act, five counts of violating the FCPA, and five counts of violating of the Travel Act.    Chinea and DeMeneses were also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering. DeMeneses was further charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Previously, on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, 2013, Lujan, Hurtado and Clarke each pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to violate the FCPA, to violate the Travel Act and to commit money laundering, as well as substantive counts of these offenses, relating, among other things, to the scheme involving bribe payments to Gonzalez.    On Nov. 18, 2013, Gonzalez pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to violate the Travel Act and to commit money laundering, as well as substantive counts of these offenses, for her role in the corrupt scheme.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI, with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.    The department appreciates the substantial assistance provided by the SEC.
Senior Deputy Chief James Koukios and Trial Attorney Maria Gonzalez Calvet of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry A. Chernoff and Jason H. Cowley of the Southern District of New York’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force are in charge of the prosecution.   Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolina Fornos is responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.

French Citizen Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Criminal Investigation into Alleged Bribes Paid to Win Mining Rights in the Republic of Guinea

Frederic Cilins, 51, a French citizen, pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to obstructing a federal criminal investigation into whether a mining company paid bribes to win lucrative mining rights in the Republic of Guinea.
Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, made the announcement.
Cilins pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding information filed today, which alleges that Cilins agreed to pay money to induce a witness to destroy, or provide to him for destruction, documents sought by the FBI.   According to the superseding information, those documents related to allegations concerning the payment of bribes to obtain mining concessions in the Simandou region of the Republic of Guinea.
According to publicly filed documents, Cilins allegedly attempted to obstruct an ongoing federal grand jury investigation concerning potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and laws proscribing money laundering.   Court documents state the federal grand jury was investigating whether a particular mining company and its affiliates – on whose behalf Cilins had been working – transferred into the United States funds in furtherance of a scheme to obtain and retain valuable mining concessions in the Republic of Guinea’s Simandou region.   During monitored and recorded phone calls and face-to-face meetings, Cilins allegedly agreed to pay substantial sums of money to induce a witness to the bribery scheme to turn over documents to Cilins for destruction, which Cilins knew had been requested by the FBI and needed to be produced before a federal grand jury.   Court documents also allege that Cilins sought to induce the witness to sign an affidavit containing numerous false statements regarding matters under investigation by the grand jury.
Court documents allege that the documents Cilins sought to destroy included original copies of contracts between the mining company and its affiliates and the former wife of a now-deceased Guinean government official, who at the relevant time held an office in Guinea that allowed him to influence the award of mining concessions. The contracts allegedly related to a scheme by which the mining company and its affiliates offered the wife of the Guinean official millions of dollars, which were to be distributed to the official’s wife as well as ministers or senior officials of Guinea’s government whose authority might be needed to secure the mining rights.
According to court documents, the official’s wife incorporated a company in 2008 that agreed to take all necessary steps to secure the valuable mining rights for the mining company’s subsidiary.   That same contract stipulated that $2 million was to be transferred to the official’s wife’s company and an additional sum was to be “distributed among persons of good will who may have contributed to facilitating the granting of” the valuable mining rights.   According to the complaint, in 2008, the mining company and its affiliates also agreed to give 5 percent of its ownership of particular mining areas in Guinea to the official’s wife.
The case is being investigated by the FBI.   The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Tarek Helou of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorney Elisha J. Kobre of the Southern District of New York.   The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations also assisted in the investigation.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa .

High-Ranking Bank Official at Venezuelan State Development Bank Pleads Guilty to Participating in Bribery Scheme

A senior official in Venezuela’s state economic development bank has pleaded guilty in New York federal court to accepting bribes from agents and employees of a New York-based broker-dealer (Broker-Dealer) in exchange for directing her bank’s security-trading business to the Broker-Dealer.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, and Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the New York Office of the FBI made the announcement.

Maria De Los Angeles Gonzalez De Hernandez, 55, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in the Southern District of New York to conspiring to violate the Travel Act and to commit money laundering, as well as substantive counts of these offenses.  Sentencing for Gonzalez is scheduled for Aug. 15, 2014, before Judge Engelmayer.

At all times relevant to the charges, Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES) was a state-run economic development bank in Venezuela.  The Venezuelan government had a majority ownership interest in BANDES and provided it with substantial funding.

According to court records, Gonzalez was an official at BANDES and oversaw the development bank’s overseas trading activity.  At her direction, BANDES conducted substantial trading through the Broker-Dealer.  Most of the trades executed by the Broker-Dealer on behalf of BANDES involved fixed income investments for which the Broker-Dealer charged the bank a mark-up on purchases and a mark-down on sales.

From early 2009 through 2012, Gonzalez participated in a bribery scheme in which she directed trading business she controlled at BANDES to the Broker-Dealer and, in return, agents and employees of the Broker-Dealer shared the revenue the Broker-Dealer generated from this trading business with Gonzalez.  During this time period, the Broker-Dealer generated over $60 million in mark-ups and mark-downs from trades with BANDES.  Agents and employees of the Broker-Dealer devised a split with Gonzalez of the commissions paid by BANDES to the Broker-Dealer.  Emails, account records, and other documents collected from the Broker-Dealer and other sources reveal that Gonzalez received a substantial share of the revenue generated by the Broker-Dealer for BANDES-related trades.  Specifically, Gonzalez received millions in bribe payments from Broker-Dealer agents and employees.

Additionally, Gonzalez paid a portion of the bribe payments she received to another BANDES employee who was also involved in the scheme.

To further conceal the scheme, the kickbacks to Gonzalez were often paid using intermediary corporations and offshore accounts that Gonzalez and others held in Switzerland, among other places.

Previously, three former employees of the Broker-Dealer – Ernesto Lujan, Jose Alejandro Hurtado, and Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt – each pleaded guilty in New York federal court to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), to violate the Travel Act and to commit money laundering, as well as substantive counts of these offenses, relating, among other things, to the scheme involving bribe payments to Gonzalez.  Sentencing for Lujan and Clarke is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.  Hurtado is scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. on March 6, 2014.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI, with assistance from the SEC and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. Assistant Chief James Koukios and Trial Attorneys Maria Gonzalez Calvet and Aisling O’Shea of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorneys Harry A. Chernoff and Jason H. Cowley of the Southern District of New York’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force are in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Carolina Fornos is also responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.

 

Justice Department Announces Charges Filed Against Two Derivatives Traders in Connection with Multi-Billion Dollar Trading Loss at JPMorgan Chase & Company Defendants Hid More Than Half-a-Billion Dollars in Losses Resulting from Derivatives Trading in JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office A Third Trader, Bruno Iksil, Entered a Non-Prosecution Cooperation Agreement

Justice Department Announces Charges Filed Against Two Derivatives Traders in Connection with Multi-Billion Dollar Trading Loss at JPMorgan Chase & Company
Defendants Hid More Than Half-a-Billion Dollars in Losses Resulting from Derivatives Trading in JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office A Third Trader, Bruno Iksil, Entered a Non-Prosecution Cooperation Agreement

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office George Venizelos announced the unsealing of criminal complaints against Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to hide the true extent of losses in a credit derivatives trading portfolio maintained by the Chief Investment Office (CIO) of JPMorgan Chase & Company (JPMorgan).  Martin-Artajo served as a Managing Director and Head of Credit and Equity Trading for the CIO, and Grout was a Vice President and derivatives trader in the CIO.

“Our financial system has been hurt in recent years not just by risky bets gone bad, but also, in some cases, by criminal wrongdoing,” said Attorney General Holder.  “We will not stop pursuing those who violate the public trust and compromise the integrity of our markets. I applaud U.S. Attorney Bharara, his colleagues in the Southern District of New York, and all of our partners on the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force for their longstanding commitment to combating all forms of financial fraud. And I pledge that we will continue to move both fairly and aggressively to bring the perpetrators of financial crimes to justice.”

“As alleged, the defendants, Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout, deliberately and repeatedly lied about the fair value of billions of dollars in assets on JPMorgan’s books in order to cover up massive losses that mounted month after month at the beginning of 2012, which ultimately led JPMorgan to restate its losses by $660 million,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.   “The defendants’ alleged lies misled investors, regulators, and the public, and they constituted federal crimes.  As has already been conceded, this was not a tempest in a teapot, but rather a perfect storm of individual misconduct and inadequate internal controls.  The difficulty inherent in precisely valuing certain kinds of financial positions does not give people a license to lie or mislead to cover up losses; it does not confer a license to create false books and records or to make false public filings.  And that goes double for handsomely-paid executives at a public company whose actions can roil markets and upend the economy.”

“The complaints tell a story of a group of traders who got in over their heads, and to get out, doubled down on a series of risky positions,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos.  “In the first quarter of 2012, boom turned to bust, as the defendants, concerned about losing control to other traders at the bank, fudged the numbers on their daily book, and in some cases completely made them up.  It brought a whole new meaning to cooking the books.”
In a separate action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced civil charges against Martin-Artajo and Grout.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaints unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

JPMorgan’s CIO, is a component of the bank’s Corporate/Private Equity line of business, which, according to the bank, exists to manage the bank’s excess deposits – approximately $350 billion in 2012.  Since approximately 2007, the CIO’s investments have included a so-called Synthetic Credit Portfolio (SCP), which consists of indices and tranches of indices of credit default swaps (CDS).  A credit default swap is essentially an insurance contract on an underlying credit risk, such as corporate bonds.  CDS indices are collections of CDSs that are traded as one unit, while CDS tranches are portions of those indices, usually sliced up by riskiness.

Under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and according to JPMorgan policy, CDS traders were required to value the securities in their portfolios on a daily basis.  Those values, or “marks,” became part of the bank’s daily books and records.  Because CDS indices and tranches are not traded over an exchange, traders are required to look to various data points in order to value their securities, such as actual transaction prices, price quotations from market makers, and values provided by independent services (such as Totem and MarkIT).   JPMorgan’s accounting policy, which used the same methodology employed by the independent services, provided that the “starting point for the valuation of a derivatives portfolio is mid-market,” meaning the mid-point between the price at which market-makers were willing to buy or sell a security.  Through about January 2012, CIO traders generally marked the securities in the SCP approximately to this mid-point, which they sometimes referred to as the “crude mid.”

The SCP was extremely profitable for JPMorgan – it produced approximately $2 billion in gross revenues since its inception – but in the first quarter of 2012, the SCP began to sustain consistent and considerable losses.  From at least March 2012, Martin-Artajo and Grout conspired to artificially manipulate the SCP marks to disguise those losses.  They did so, among other reasons, to avoid losing control of the SCP to other traders at JPMorgan.

Although Martin-Artajo pressured his traders, including Grout, to “defend the positions” in early 2012 by executing trades at favorable prices, the SCP lost approximately $130 million in January 2012 and approximately $88 million in February 2012.  In March 2012, when the market moved even more aggressively against the CIO’s positions, Martin-Artajo specifically instructed Grout and the head SCP trader, Bruno Iksil (who has entered a non-prosecution agreement), not to report losses in the SCP unless they were tied to some identifiable market event, such as a bankruptcy filing by a company whose bonds were in the CDS index.  Martin-Artajo explained that “New York” – meaning, among others, JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Officer – did not want to see losses attributable to market volatility.

By mid-March 2012, Grout was explicitly and admittedly “not marking at mids.”  He maintained a spreadsheet that kept track of the difference between the price that Grout recorded in JPMorgan’s books and records, on the one hand, and the “crude mids,” on the other.  By March 15, 2012, according to Grout’s spreadsheet, the difference had grown to approximately $292 million.  In a recorded on-line chat the same day, Grout explained that he was trying to keep the marks for most of the SCP’s positions “relatively realistic,” with the marks for one particular security “put aside.”  That is, Grout mispriced that one particular security, of which the SCP held billions of dollars’ worth, by the full $292 million.  The following day, Iksil told Martin-Artajo that the difference had grown to $300 million, and “I reckon we get to 400 [million] difference very soon.”  In a separate conversation, Iksil remarked to Grout that “I don’t know where he [Martin-Artajo] wants to stop, but it’s getting idiotic.”

In the days that followed, Grout at times ignored Iksil’s instructions on how to mark the positions, and instead, followed Martin-Artajo’s mandate to continue to hide the losses.  By March 20, 2012, Iksil insisted that Grout show a significant loss: $40 million for the day.  In a recorded call, Martin-Aartajo excoriated Iksil, finally emphasizing, “I didn’t want to show the P&L [the profit and loss].”  Throughout the remainder of March 2012, while Iksil continued to try to insist that Martin-Artajo acknowledge the reality of the losses, Grout, at Martin-Artajo’s instructions, continued to hide them.  As of March 30, 2012 – the last day of the first quarter of 2012 – Grout continued to fraudulently understate the SCP’s losses.  These incorrect figures in the SCP were not only integrated into JPMorgan’s books and records, but also – as Martin-Artajo and Grout were well aware – into the bank’s quarterly financial filing for the first quarter of 2012 with the SEC.

During the course of the mis-marking scheme carried out by Martin-Artajo and Grout, the CIO’s Valuation Control Group (VCG) was supposed to serve as an independent check on the valuations assigned by traders to the securities that the traders were marking at month-end.  The VCG, however, was effectively only staffed by one person and did not perform any independent review of the valuations.  Instead, the VCG tolerated valuations outside of the bid-offer spread as presented by Martin-Artajo and other CIO traders.

In Aug. 2012, after Martin-Artajo and Grout were stripped of their responsibilities over the SCP and their scheme was discovered, JPMorgan restated its first quarter 2012 earnings, and recognized an additional loss of $660 million in net revenue attributable to the mis-marking of the SCP.  JPMorgan announced that it was restating its earnings because it had lost confidence in the “integrity” of the marks submitted by Grout, at Martin-Artajo’s direction.

Martin-Artajo, 49, a Spanish citizen, and Grout, 35, a French citizen, are charged in one count of conspiracy; one count of falsifying the books and records of JPMorgan; one count of wire fraud; and one count of causing false statements to be made in JPMorgan’s filings with the SEC.  They each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy count, and 20 years in prison on each of the three remaining counts in the complaints, and a fine of the greater of $5,000,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss as to certain of the offenses.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which Mr. Bharara serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.

The case was investigated by the FBI.  The SEC and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs were also involved.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugene Ingoglia and Matthew L. Schwartz are in charge of the prosecutions.

The charges contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.