A FORMER Fiji national residing in the United States of America is now the subject of a federal investment fraud and bankruptcy fraud charges involving some US$20 million (approximately F$35.5million).
Vincent Thakur Singh, 43, formerly of Elk Grove, Sacramento, was arrested late Monday in Caldwell, Idaho (Tuesday, Fiji time).
This was confirmed in a statement from the US Attorney's Office which was put up on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) website.
US attorney Benjamin Wagner said Mr Singh was now charged in a 24-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Sacramento on October 4 and unsealed on Tuesday, with wire fraud, false statements in bankruptcy and bankruptcy bribery.
The indictment alleges that Mr Singh carried out an investment fraud through an entity known as the Perfect Financial Group.
According to the indictment, it alleged that Mr Singh targeted 190 members of the ethnic Indian Fijian community for an investment fraud that grossed approximately US$20million.
It alleged that Mr Singh had told investors that he was using their money for hard money lending "but actually, he put it to other purposes".
The indictment further alleges that he lost $US12million (approximately F$21.3million) through gambling; diverted more than $US2million (approximately $F3.5million) to personal bank accounts and withdrew much of that; spent $US800,000 (approximately $F1.4million) on a film project; and spent more than $US1million (more than $F1.8million) on other business ventures.
"(Mr) Singh also used the money to pay other victims, falsely representing that the payments were profits from the short-term hard money lending business," the statement also revealed.
The statement said that according to court documents, on August 19 in 2010, Mr Singh declared bankruptcy and committed fraud crimes in the bankruptcy.
In the bankruptcy, it stated Mr Singh allegedly failed to disclose bank accounts and tried to induce his victims not to participate in the bankruptcy proceedings.
"This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI with assistance from the office of the US Trustee," the statement from the US Attorney's Office said, adding that assistant US attorney Matthew Segal is prosecuting the case.
It also said that if convicted, Mr Singh faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and five years in prison for each count of the bankruptcy crimes.
"The actual sentence, if convicted, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables," it stated.