Naim Ismail, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, was arrested and charged in connection to various investment schemes that defrauded victims of over $15 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the “latest U.S. stance on ending the culture of impunity for those corrupt individuals who defraud victims and flee Afghanistan.”
Ismail, 60, was arrested in Los Angeles, California, and is expected to be presented before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg of the Central District of California
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “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 U.S. custody and facing serious federal charges.”
Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations Peter C. Fitzhugh explained that Ismail defrauded individual and corporate victims, some in the U.S., out of approximately $15 million dollars.
Investors were allegedly duped into investing large amounts of money for investment and real estate projects that did not exist from February 2007 through July 2016. Ismail promised investors a generous fixed annual rate of return.
However, instead of investing the money, he used the funds to pay the so-called interest payments due to earlier investors in the scheme and funded his lavish lifestyle.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko said, a New York-based subsidiary of an Afghan bank was also victimised.
“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,” Sopko said.
Ismail 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.