FBI OFFICIAL: CASES OF CORPORATE, HIGH-YIELD SECURITIES FRAUD ON THE RISE

An FBI official told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday the bureau has uncovered “massive frauds” in its ongoing effort to fight financial crime.

Assistant Director Kevin Perkins, who heads the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, told the panel “the FBI has continued to uncover massive frauds, including newly identified Ponzi schemes.” New corporate fraud cases are up by 111 percent, he said, while high-yield securities frauds have grown by more than 200 percent.

In June, he said, Lee Farkas, former chairman of Taylor, Bean, and Whitaker, a large mortgage origination company, was charged with a $1.9 billion fraud that contributed to the failure of Colonial Bank, one of the largest banks in the United States and the sixth-largest bank failure in the country.

On Sept. 15, “Nevin Shapiro, owner and former chief executive officer of Capitol Investments, (pleaded) guilty to an $880 million Ponzi scheme involving his firm in New Jersey,” Perkins said. “In July, Paul Greenwood, a managing partner at both WG Trading and Westridge Capital Management, (pleaded) guilty to his role in a $700 million scheme that defrauded charitable and university foundations as well as pension and retirement plans.”

Perkins said during the past six months, the prosecutions of the Galleon insider trading case in New York and the Tom Petters $3.9 billion Ponzi scheme in Minnesota included guilty pleas and significant sentences of top-level corporate executives.

“In the last three years alone, the FBI has seen the number of mortgage fraud cases steadily climb from 1,200 in 2007 to over 3,000 in 2010,” Perkins said. “Nearly 70 percent of these pending cases represent losses to financial institutions and other victims exceeding $1 million. In many of these cases the loss far exceeds $1 million.”

Operation Stolen Dreams, a take-down of mortgage fraud schemes throughout the country, “demonstrates just how rampant mortgage fraud is in this country,” Perkins said. The sweep was organized by President Obama’s interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.