Articles Posted in Crime

Former Refco CEO and company co-owner Phillip Bennett has pled guilty to 20 criminal charges related to the $2.4 billion fraud-related downfall of his company. Former CFO Robert Trosten has also pled guilty to five counts stemming from similar criminal activities.

Under Bennett’s supervision, Refco lost millions of dollars while trading in securities and derivatives in the 1990’s. Bennett tried to hide the losses by making them appear as if they were debts owed to Refco by Refco Group Holdings Inc., which is a company that Bennett controlled. Trosten helped direct these fraudulent transfers to the holding company.

The scam came to light after the company was purchased in 2004 and went public. Thomas H. Lee Partners LP had bought a majority interest in Refco. In 2005, Refco announced the discovery that an entity owned by Bennett owed Refco $430 million.

Only a tiny fraction of whistleblower claims against companies have been successful since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law five years ago, raising questions about the ability of employees to raise the alarm about corporate malfeasance, a study claims.

While corporate America whines almost daily about “burdens” placed by it by the so-called “Sorbox” legislation, the truth is that companies continue to defraud investors almost with impunity, while abusing any employee who might dare point a finger at them.

Sarbanes-Oxley contained new pro-whistleblower provisions when it was passed in 2002 in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals. Touted by some as a “revolution in corporate freedom of speech”, it was intended to strengthen the protections available to employees who bring to light cases of fraud by including strong “anti-retaliation” provisions.

Three hedge fund companies pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy charges in a Florida Federal Court in a scheme that cost victims nearly $195 million. The defendants included KL Group LLC, Shoreland Trading LLC, and KL Triangulum Management LLC, U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said in a written statement.

These companies each admitted their role in running a hedge fund “scam” based out of West Palm Beach and Irvine, California, Acosta’s statement said. “The corporations admitted their complicity, through the attorney for their court-appointed receiver, in overseeing approximately $195 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds.” The companies will be sentenced in November.

Claims were also filed against three principles of the funds describing a scheme in which approximately 250 clients invested between 2000 and 2005. Although much of the money was apparently lost, a large amount of the funds allegedly went to the individuals’ personal use. Case documents say the defendants established opulent ocean-view offices in West Palm Beach with high-end furnishings and equipment. Prospective investors were given tours to view day trading purportedly using a proprietary system.

Authorities in Knoxville have arrested an Ameriprise Financial Services broker who is accused of defrauding Tennessee residents. The charges include theft and forgery. At least five alleged victims have come forward claiming losses of almost $1 million. A client in another state claims damages of more than a million dollars and detectives are seeking to learn of more victims.

Delbert Forster Blount III worked out of an Ameriprise office in Knoxville and another in Morristown, Tennessee. It is reported that Blount received checks from clients made out to his firm but deposited these into his personal account rather than his clients’ investment accounts.

According to the latest disclosures made by Ameriprise, fifteen complaints have been lodged against Blount by his clients alleging damages totaling more than $2.5 million. Many of those complaining are reported to have provided Ameriprise with copies of cancelled checks made out to the investment firm which were instead deposited into an account opened by Blount.

The U.S. Treasury Secretary announced the second stage of its “capital markets competitiveness plan” devoted to efforts to “modernize the structure” of the regulatory system for all U.S. financial services providers. The announcement was made before the New York Stock Exchange’s conference on deals and deal-making, hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

As the securities industry is rapidly being globalized, Wall Street insists it can not compete with loose regulations elsewhere in the world unless U.S. standards for reporting, fraud and other wrongdoing are relaxed. Frenzied cries to federal and state officials hype this theme as if the “sky is falling.” Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats, including candidates for both state and federal office, are taking the bait. Or, perhaps, these candidates know that many of the largest campaign donors around are found on Wall Street.

The fear mongering about losing the battle for listing shares has even invaded the courts as observers, including the SEC, lobby even the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that our nation is on the brink of disaster since it can not compete with foreign markets with almost no oversight.

A employee of the Global Energy Group of Credit Suisse was arrested and charged for his role in an alleged scheme using material nonpublic information on nine merger transactions involving Credit Suisse clients to obtain over $7.5 million in profits. The Securities and Exchange Commission also brought charges against the country head of investment banking at the Pakistan-based Faysal Bank.

Prosecutors said the Faysal Bank agent traded on tips about forthcoming announcements on acquisitions of publicly traded companies Northwestern Corp., Energy Partners Ltd., Veritas DGC Inc., Jacuzzi Brands Inc., Trammell Crow Co., Hydril Co., Caremark Rx Inc., John H. Harland Co., and TXU Corp. Credit Suisse advised either the target company or the acquiring entity in transactions involving each of those companies, they said.

Based on tips from the Credit Suisse employee, the Pakistani banker allegedly purchased securities in advance of a public disclosure, then quickly sold the securities once the public disclosure of an acquisition was made. Through dozens of transactions, including trades in an offshore account, the alleged scheme netted more than $7.5 million in profits, prosecutors charge.

A federal jury in Denver found four participants guilty of securities fraud and other charges in connection with a “high-yield investment scheme” in which hundreds of investors lost $56 million.

Norman Schmidt, of Denver was found guilty of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud in addition to money laundering. Charles Lewis, of Littleton, Colo., was found guilty of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. George Alan Weed, of Benton, Ill., was convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud, and Michael Duane Smith, of Colbert, Wash., was convicted securities fraud. Schmidt is seeking appeal.

Two others have pleaded guilty in the scheme: Janice McClain Schmidt, of Denver, sentenced to nine years in prison, and George Beros of Shaker Heights, Ohio, who awaits sentencing. One other alleged participant in the fraud, Peter A. W. Moss, was indicted but is apparently in the United Kingdom. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is attempting to extradite him.

David A. Stockman was chief architect of President Ronald Reagan’s economic plan (a plan dubbed “voodoo economics” by George H.W. Bush). Stockman then became a high-profile Wall Street money man, but was indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and obstruction of justice.

Stockman, 60, who faces the prospect of three decades in prison, is accused of defrauding investors and banks during his tenure as head of Collins & Aikman, a large auto-parts maker that descended into bankruptcy in 2005.

First elected to the House of Representatives at age 30, after serving only two terms in the House, Stockman was then named Reagan’s first director of the Office of Management and Budget. He was the highly visible spokesman for the “trickle-down” economic theory of the Reagan administration. However, private conversations over budget with a journalist caused Reagan to, as Stockman states, take him to the “woodshed”. He soon matriculated to the New York world of investment banking.

The Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time proved a company used insurance to hide its losses.

The agency accused an executive of cellphone distributor Brightpoint Inc. of overstating the company’s earnings through improper use of an insurance policy. A New York jury found the company’s director liable for assisting in Brightpoint’s fraud and other violations of securities law said the SEC

In November, the American International Group(AIG) paid $126 million to settle claims by the Department of Justice and SEC that it assisted companies, including Brightpoint and the PNC Financial Services Group, inflate earnings through AIG’s insurance products.

For decades, telemarkers in “boiler rooms” have bilked the elderly by convincing touting them to buy investments which supposedly pay high rates of return or have fabulous growth potential.

Now thieves operating in small offices in Canada and warehouses in India work day and night targeting elderly Americans. Working from lists of names and phone numbers, they call War veterans, retired schoolteachers and thousands of other elderly Americans and posed as government and insurance workers updating their files.

Then, the criminals empty their victims’ bank accounts!

Contact Information