Indian pleads guilty to defrauding investers of over USD 2.3 million

New York:  An Indian-origin investment adviser from California has pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of more than USD 2.3 million, and now faces the prospect of 20 years in jail along with a hefty fine.

Janamjot Singh Sodhi, 35 pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 29, when he faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a 250,000 dollar fine, US Attorney Benjamin Wagner said.

According to court documents, during 2005 through 2011, Mr Sodhi solicited investments from individuals using false pretences, promising various investment opportunities with high rates of return in a relatively short period of time.

Mr Sodhi, who owned a financial services firm, never disclosed to his investors that the New York Stock Exchange had permanently debarred him and that he was never certified by the California Department of Corporations to operate as an investment adviser in California.

In January 2009, the California Department of Corporations ordered Sodhi to cease and desist from engaging in the business of an investment adviser in California.

Despite his debarment and lack of certification, he continued to hold himself out to clients as a financial adviser who could buy and sell securities on behalf of clients.

The total losses attributable to his scheme were approximately USD 2.3 million.

He did not use the investors' funds for investment purposes but used them instead to pay returns to other investors and personal expenses for himself.

Mr Sodhi admitted that to lull investors into believing that their funds were secure and were being used for their intended purpose, he periodically sent them false financial statements purportedly showing the investments made on their behalf.

In some cases, he repaid certain investors with funds from newly acquired investors. He also provided investors with repayment checks that were insufficient, counterfeit, or drafted on a closed account.

Story First Published: January 26, 2013 13:36 IST

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