Deirdre M. Daly, United States Lawyer for the District of Connecticut, today revealed that on February 20, 2015, a federal grand jury in New Sanctuary returned a 23-count indictment charging BRETT C. LILLEMOE, 45, of Minneapolis, Minn., PABLO CALDERON, 59, Darien, Conn., and SARAH ZIRBES, 39, Minneapolis, Minn., with conspiracy, scams and cash laundering offenses related to a multi-million-dollar plan to defraud banks getting involved in a USDA-backed export funding program. The indictment alleges that the 3 defendants taken part in a conspiracy theory to defraud United States financial organizations that protected loans to Russian Banks based upon altered files. The loans were backed by a credit warranty program run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and when the loans went into default and were consequently not repaid, the USDA lost countless dollars. LILLEMOE was arraigned on March 13 in Bridgeport federal court. He entered a plea of innocent to all the charges versus him and was launched on a $250,000 bond. ZIRBES was arraigned on March 6, pleaded not guilty and is released on a $100,000 bond. CALDERON is arranged to be arraigned this afternoon at in Bridgeport.
As alleged in the indictment, the USDA provides credit warranties through the Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102), which is designed to encourage financing of commercial exports of US farming items. The GSM-102 program assurances credit extended by US financial institutions in the US to approved foreign banks, including banks in Russia. As part of the program, the Product Credit Corporation (CCC), which is a firm and instrumentality of the USDA, gets in into payment guarantees (credit assurances).
The credit warranties are designed to encourage exports to purchasers in international countriesmainly establishing nations. The program operates in cases where credit is required to increase or preserve United States exports to an international market and where US monetary organizations might be otherwise reluctant to offer financing without the warranty. In providing the credit warranty facility, the CCC looks for to broaden market opportunities for United States agricultural exporters and help long-term market advancement for United States agricultural commodities.
In connection with the GSM-102 program, an international importer that has actually contracted to buy United States farming items can apply for a letter of credit (LOC) from an international bank that has been authorized by the USDAs Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The foreign bank then provides a letter of credit in favor of the United States exporter. The United States exporter then, consistent with the requirements of the GSM-102 program, provides appropriate shipping files to an accepted US monetary organization, including a copy of an initial costs of lading, certification of origin, and evidence of export. The United States monetary organization then supplies funds to the US exporter which, in exchange, assigns the rights to the proceeds payable under the letter of credit from the international bank to the US financial organization in the very same dollar-denominated quantity, less any costs. If the international bank defaults on its payments to the United States monetary organization, the United States financial organization may send a claim to the USDA FAS under the warranty for as much as 98 percent of the payment quantity owed at the time of the default.
The indictment alleges that in between September 2007 and January 2012, LILLEMOE, CALDERON, ZERBES and others developed and executed a plan to defraud different United States financial organizations, consisting of Deutsche Bank AG and Colorado-based CoBank ACB, by providing incorrect and altered shipping documents, including altered bills of lading, in connection with protecting funding on loans guaranteed by the GSM-102.
The indictment alleges that LILLEMOE, CALDERON, ZERBES developed several entities with different names for the purpose of obtaining a greater share of the allotment of warranties from the GSM-102 program, and utilized numerous bank accounts in the names of the different entities in order to additional create the appearance that the entities were running as different and unrelated entities. The offenders then, in numerous methods, spent for or otherwise obtained costs of lading and other shipping documents for deliveries of farming products that they did not physically ship and for which they did not get involved in the physical motion of the items in any ability.
It is additionally alleged that LILLEMOE got in into contracts with foreign banks, including International Industrial Bank (IIB) in Russia, to provide them capital that would be made availableoffered to them from a United States financial institution through using the GSM-102 program. LILLEMOE subsequently acquired letters of credit from the international banks. LILLEMOE, CALDERON, and ZIRBES and others then altered copies of certain shipping documents, consisting of expenses of lading significant Copy non flexible, by whiting out portions of the files, stamping the word initial on the files, and adding shading on particular sections of the costs of lading. The defendants also prepared and executed files termed industrial invoices professing to represent sales of agricultural products between entities that they controlled, along with between entities that they regulated and other entities.
The offenders then used these fraudulent files to acquire large quantities of capital from United States banks in connection with the GSM-102 program, and then supplied the funds to the international banks in exchange for a portion fee for themselves and their different entities. Although the international banks were requireded to pay back the funds to the US financial organizations by virtue of the letters of credit provided to the US monetary institutions, in a variety of instances, the foreign banks failed to do so. Nonetheless, LILLEMOE, CALDERON, ZIRBES and their different entities retained countless dollars of costs they had collected in connection with the GSM-102 deals.
Through this alleged plan, the foreign banks defaulted on over $10 million of loans for which the USDAs GSM-102 program wased forced to pay out the warranties. The indictment further alleges that, on November 17, 2011, CALDERON mentioned to federal agents examining this matter that LILLEMOE was his provider and that he, CALDERON, acquired commodities from Lillemoe. In truth, LILLEMOE was not CALDERONs supplier and CALDERON did not purchase products from LILLEMOE. Rather, LILLEMOE was a partner and co-conspirator with whom CALDERON managed paper-only transactions.
The indictment charges LILLEMOE, CALDERON and ZIRBES with one count of conspiracy to dedicate wire scams and bank fraud, and multiple counts of wire scams, offenses that lug an optimal regard to jail time of Twenty Years on each count. The indictment likewise charges each offender with one count of bank fraud, which brings an optimal term of imprisonment of 30 years, and one count of money laundering, which carries an optimal term of jail time of One Decade. In addition, CALDERON is accuseded of one count of making a false statement to federal police, which brings an optimal term of imprisonment of five years.
United States Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is just a charge and is not proof of guilt. Charges are just accusations, and the offenders are presumed innocent unless and up until tested guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Examination, Internal Revenue ServiceCriminal Investigation Division and US Department of Farming, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael S. McGarry and John H. Durham.