FILE PHOTO – An Afghan flag (L) flutters next to a U.S. flag as a U.S Chinook helicopter flies during a security handover ceremony in Panjshir province July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood/File Photo – RTS1AL8B

An Afghan-born citizen of the United States was arrested in connection with multi-million fraud case in the United States, the Justice Department of the United States announced.

NAIM ISMAIL, 60, a native of Afghanistan and a United States citizen, was arrested Wednesday evening in Los Angeles in connection with his participation in various investment schemes that defrauded victims of over $15 million, according to a statement released by Justice Department said.

Accordig to U.S. Justice Department, 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”), made an announcement in this regard on Thursday.

The Justice Department in a statement said the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres. ISMAIL is expected to be presented today before United States Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg of the Central District of California.

The the statemnent further added that 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 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.”

Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said “As alleged in the indictment which was unsealed today, Ismail defrauded individual and corporate victims 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. Instead of investing the money and delivering returns, Ismail allegedly engaged in a Ponzi s scheme to fund his own lavish lifestyle. The law enforcement partnerships under HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force are integral in combatting complex financial frauds and it is with these continued partnerships that we are able to bring individuals like Ismail to justice, to hold him accountable for his criminal acts and seek restitution for the victims.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court,[1]and other publicly filed documents:

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, the Justice Department said.

It also added that 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.

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