WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three members of a Florida family have been indicted for an alleged multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme to defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States and Miami lenders, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.
The alleged fraud resulted in nearly $2 million in losses to the U.S. government through the Ex-Im Bank, which finances and insures foreign purchases of U.S. goods, and about $8 million of losses to private lenders, the Justice Department said.
Guillermo M. Sanchez, 60, his daughter Isabel C. Sanchez, 36, and son-in-law Gustavo Giral, 38, all of Cutler Bay, Florida, have been indicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges.
Three other co-conspirators have separately been charged and pleaded guilty as part of plea agreements to roles in the scam, the Justice Department said.
The Ex-Im bank, whose government charter recently expired but is still servicing existing business, provides support to U.S. exporters and the buyers of U.S. goods, for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk.
According to the indictment, between 2007 and 2012, the three defendants created invoices for fake merchandise sales, without specifying what. They then sold, in a practice known as "factoring," the rights to collect on those accounts receivable to two Miami lenders for 90 percent of the alleged worth of the merchandise.
When the Miami lenders refused to provide further credit, the defendants obtained a loan guaranteed by the Ex-Im Bank. They did so by submitting fake invoice and shipping documents to Ex-Im Bank through a lender and falsely claiming they would sell and ship U.S-made products to a buyer in Colombia, prosecutors said.
Instead, they used some of that money to pay off other lenders and split the rest among themselves and their co-conspirators before ultimately defaulting on the alleged fraudulent loans they had taken out.
Reuters was not immediately able to contact those named in the indictment.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Bill Rigby)