Prosecutors charged a South Florida movie producer, his business partner and a former Wells Fargo banker with wire fraud and money laundering over a multimillion-dollar investment scheme. The three men allegedly defrauded investors by promising attractive returns from planned movies, theater shows and other productions. As reported by the Miami Herald, U.S. officials claim they never intended to follow through on their promises, and instead spent the investors' funds on luxuries.
Between the years 2013 and 2019, the defendants purportedly used fake loan agreements to obtain money intended as collateral for a line of credit to fund entertainment productions. Prosecutors claim they were able to entice investors into making cash deposits into a bank account by promising they would match each loan or contribution amount "dollar-by-dollar."
Prosecutors claim fraudulent agreements and money laundering charges
The defendants allegedly used fraudulent agreements to back up the dollar-matching contributions, and the investors were subsequently informed that a credit line was secured. Prosecutors, however, allege that the defendants never obtained a credit line and instead transferred the deposited money into other accounts to use for themselves. The indictment’s money laundering charges could add 10 years to a prison sentence for each conviction.
Prosecutors must show how the alleged fraud and money laundering worked together
Money laundering is generally a multilevel process used to disguise the actual source of the funds received. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must first prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused acquired the original funds through some form of illegal activity. The burden of proof lies in showing that the defendant deposited funds acquired illegally into a financial institution and also had the intent to conceal where they came from.
Investigations may be complex and involve many individuals
In a money laundering scheme, funds travel through a series of transactions, such as wire transfers, to disguise them as legitimate activity. During the final stage, the funds may move through a business to appear as though they represent income earned through a legitimate method. Suspected fraud and money laundering operations may expand into a complex investigation involving several different individuals and organizations.