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Afghan-American Naim Ismail Charged with Ponzi Scheme Targeting Afghan Bank in USA

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Afghan-American Naim Ismail Charged with Ponzi Scheme Targeting Afghan Bank in USA

Naim Ismail, 60, a native of Afghanistan and a United States citizen, was arrested last week in Los Angeles in connection with his participation in various investment schemes that defrauded victims of over $15 million.

The announcement of his arrest was made by 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”).

Ismail has allegedly “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,” according to a statement from the Acting Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss.

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.”

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.

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.

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Afghanistan Ponzi Scheme

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