Whitefish broker found guilty in fraud scheme

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A federal jury found a Whitefish man guilty Tuesday for his role as a broker for a Swiss company involved in a multimillion-dollar international fraud scheme.

Following a five-day trial, Sean Finn, 51, of Whitefish, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud, four counts of wire fraud and four counts of securities fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was acquitted of one count of wire fraud. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 12 before U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson of the District of Nevada, who presided over the trial.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada, and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Finn conspired with others in the U.S. and Switzerland to promote investments and loan instruments that he knew to be fictitious. Finn and his co-conspirators told victims that, for an up-front payment ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, a Swiss company known as Malom Group AG, whose name stood for “Make A Lot Of Money,” would provide access to lucrative investment opportunities and substantial cash loans.

The evidence showed that to effectuate this scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirators provided victims with fabricated bank documents purporting to show that Malom held hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts, as well as documents falsely stating that Malom had previously closed similar deals. The evidence showed when victims wired their money into an escrow account controlled by the co-conspirators, the money was released and disbursed to, among others, Finn for his own personal use. The evidence further showed that shortly before he was indicted in 2013, Finn fled to Canada, where he was arrested in 2014 and ultimately extradited back to the U.S. in 2018. According to the evidence presented at trial, losses to the victims from the scheme totaled approximately $4 million.

Finn was charged together with five other defendants. Two of these defendants, Anthony Brandel and James Warras, were found guilty of conspiracy and multiple counts of wire fraud and securities fraud following a jury trial in 2015. Brandel and Warras were each sentenced to 87 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, on Aug. 3, 2016. A third defendant, Joseph Micelli, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud in 2015 and was sentenced to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, on Feb. 23, 2016. The other two defendants, Martin Schlaepfer and Hans-Jurg Lips, remain at large outside the U.S. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office investigated the case. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, which conducted a parallel civil-enforcement investigation, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also provided valuable assistance.

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