Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Whitefish man gets jail time for investment fraud conspiracy

| September 16, 2020 8:35 AM

A Whitefish man was sentenced to 87 months in prison Tuesday for his role in a multimillion-dollar international investment-fraud conspiracy.

Sean Finn, 51, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson of the District of Nevada, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Montana. Judge Dawson also ordered Finn to pay $6,075,000 in restitution and to forfeit $830,000.

On Feb. 4, 2020, after a one-week trial, Finn was convicted by a jury of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud, and four counts of securities fraud. He was acquitted of one count of wire fraud.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Finn conspired with others in the United States and Switzerland to promote investments and loan instruments that he knew to be fictitious. Finn and his co-conspirators told victims that, for an up-front payment ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, a Swiss company known as Malom Group AG (Malom), whose name stood for “Make A Lot Of Money,” would provide access to lucrative investment opportunities and substantial cash loans, the press release stated.

The evidence showed that to effectuate this scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirators provided victims with fabricated bank documents purporting to show that Malom held hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts, as well as documents falsely stating that Malom had previously closed similar deals. The evidence showed that when victims wired their money into an escrow account controlled by the co-conspirators, the money was released and disbursed to, among others, Finn for his own personal use.

The evidence further showed that shortly before he was indicted in 2013, Finn fled to Canada, where he was arrested in 2014 and ultimately extradited back to the United States in 2018. According to the evidence presented at trial, losses to the victims from the scheme totaled more than $3.8 million.

Finn was charged together with five other defendants. Two of these defendants, Anthony Brandel and James Warras, were found guilty of conspiracy and multiple counts of wire fraud and securities fraud following a jury trial in 2015. Brandel and Warras were each sentenced on Aug. 3, 2016 to 87 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. A third defendant, Joseph Micelli, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud in 2015 and was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2016, to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

The other two defendants, Martin Schlaepfer and Hans-Jurg Lips, remain at large outside the United States. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office investigated the case. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, which conducted a parallel civil-enforcement investigation, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also provided valuable assistance.