A US citizen of Afghan origin was arrested in Los Angeles, US, in connection with his participation in various investment schemes that defrauded victims of over $15 million, according to a statement by the US Department of Justice.
According to the statement, Naim Ismail, 60, most recently of Los Angeles, California, is charged with one count each of bank fraud, wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Special Inspector General John F. Sopko, of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (“SIGAR”), and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), made the announcement on July 23 that Naim Ismail, 60, a native of Afghanistan and a United States citizen, was arrested Wednesday evening in Los Angeles in connection with his participation in various investment schemes that defrauded victims of over $15 million.
“As alleged, Naim Ismail defrauded investors of more than $15 million through false promises about how investors’ money would be invested and what kind of return they could expect on their investment. Now Ismail is in US custody and facing serious federal charges,” Acting Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said.
Special Inspector General John F. Sopko said: “Afghanistan is a country struggling to create strong financial institutions and a viable economy after decades of war. The last thing it needs is to have one of its banks victimized in a Ponzi scheme. This scheme also targeted many U.S. victims. I’m proud that SIGAR special agents and our partners at HSI, the FBI and the Southern District of New York are working hard to bring justice in this case.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, and other publicly filed documents:
"From February 2007 through July 2016, Ismail fraudulently induced individual and corporate victims – including the New York-based subsidiary of an Afghanistan-based bank – to loan large sums of money to entities operated by Ismail and others. Ismail did so by claiming that these funds would be used in a particular investment strategy as well as several real estate development projects. Ismail promised investors a generous fixed annual rate of return and promised to return the investors’ principal on a specified timeline. In fact, Ismail and his companies did not invest these funds as promised, nor did Ismail repay many of his victims. Instead, Ismail used investor funds to pay the so-called interest payments due to earlier investors in the scheme, as well as for his own personal expenses and investments."
During the course of the fraudulent scheme, Ismail deprived the scheme’s victims of over $15 million, according to the statement.