Two of three men who allegedly defrauded an individual in a funds leasing scheme have been arrested on an indictment charging them with conspiracy and wire fraud. Thomas Bannon, the president of Overseas Investors LLC (“Overseas”); Robert Bardey, Esq., an attorney; and Theodore Sweeten, the president of Symtech International Inc. (“Symtech”), are charged in an 11-count indictment in federal court in Brooklyn. Bardey was arrested and arraigned on July 30, 2012. Sweeten was arrested on Friday, August 10, 2012, and his initial appearance is scheduled this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe at the Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse at 901 19th Street in Denver, Colorado. Bannon is a fugitive. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York.
The indictment was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
As alleged in the indictment, Bannon, Bardey, and Sweeten lied to potential investors about their expertise in special investment programs and access to hedge funds that were supposedly willing to lease millions of dollars in exchange for a fee. Specifically, the defendants defrauded an investor by inducing him to invest $5 million to lease or obtain a credit line of $100 million, which in turn would enable him to generate millions of dollars in profit through these special investment programs. The defendants convinced the investor to make the investment through false assurances that the investor’s funds would be held in an attorney escrow account pending confirmation of the posting of $100 million in the leased-funds account. Contrary to their representations, however, the defendants simply distributed the investor’s $5 million among themselves and their co-conspirators shortly after it was deposited into Bardey’s purported escrow account. Bannon eventually provided the purported confirmation that a $100 million account had been created at HSBC by sending the investor fabricated bank documents, including a fake proof of funds letter on HSBC letterhead.
Bardey is also charged with one count of perjury for allegedly giving false testimony to a federal grand jury regarding his release of the supposedly escrowed funds.
“As set forth in the indictment, the defendants claimed expertise in sophisticated financial instruments used in business to support investment. Their only expertise, however, was in lying, and their only special skill was in creating false documents. As alleged, the defendants victimized an individual who was looking for a legitimate investment opportunity through their false representations and phony bank documents. Bardey then compounded his offense by allegedly perjuring himself in his testimony before the grand jury,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Those who seek to defraud investors are on notice that we will use all available resources to bring them to justice.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk stated, “The three defendants allegedly swindled a potential investor out of $5 million for their own monetary gain without making any actual investments. The scheme was taken even further by the defendants making bogus bank documents to hide their lack of investment trail. These arrests made by FBI agents demonstrate our continued effort to bring to justice individuals who seek to profit from fraud.”
If convicted, the maximum term of imprisonment for each count of wire fraud is 20 years, and the maximum term of imprisonment for perjury is five years.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Winston M. Paes.
The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 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 is 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. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
Thomas Bannon, 80, New York, New York
Robert Bardey, 79, New York, New York
Theodore Sweeten, 59, Ashland, Oregon