California Mutual Fund Manager Gets Four Years in Prison in $106 Million Fraud

(Bloomberg) — A California mutual fund manager was sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding investors whose $106 million he said would be put in US Treasury bills and other safe assets but was instead lost in much riskier investments.

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Ofer Abarbanel was sentenced Wednesday in Manhattan federal court. He pleaded guilty in September to investment adviser fraud, admitting that he lied to an investor group that was not named by prosecutors. A court document filed by the group identified it as Mosaic Financial Ltd. The group lost $20 million.

“My terrible failure does not represent who I am,” Abarbanel told US District Judge Louis Kaplan, becoming visibly emotional at times. “I never intended to make them lose money, only to make money.”

Prosecutors had asked that Abarbanel be given a sentence of five years behind bars. Abarbanel asked for probation and community service.

Abarbanel, an Israeli citizen living in Woodland Hills, California, co-founded a Cayman Islands-registered fund called Income Collecting 1-3 Months T-Bills Mutual Fund, with multiple share classes listed on the Nasdaq stock market, according to prosecutors.

“As a result of Abarbanel’s deceptions, investments in the fund were significantly riskier than Abarbanel had represented and thus riskier than investors understood,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

When the fund was liquidated, investors recovered about about $85 million of their money, the government said. In addition to the prison time, Abarbanel was ordered to forfeit and pay restitution of $106 million.

In a letter to the judge, Mosaic said Arbarbanel “repeatedly fails to accept responsibility” for his crime.

The case is US v. Abarbanel, 21-cr-00532, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(Updates with defendant’s remarks in third paragraph.)

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