Axius Ceo Roland Kaufmann Sentenced For Conspiracy To Pay Bribes In Stock Sales
BROOKLYN, NY – Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Roland Kaufmann, a Swiss citizen and CEO of Axius Inc., was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for conspiring to bribe stock brokers. As required by his plea agreement, Kaufmann forfeited $290,000, with a portion to be remitted to identified victims of related criminal conduct. The court also imposed a fine of $450,000 and a $100 special assessment. Previously, on January 11, 2013, Kaufmann pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act. The sentencing proceeding was held before the Hon. John Gleeson, United States District Judge.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
According to court documents, Kaufmann controlled Axius, Inc., a purported holding company and business incubator located in Dubai. As part of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirator, Jean Pierre Neuhaus, enlisted the assistance of an individual who they believed had access to a group of corrupt stock brokers, but who was, in fact, an undercover law enforcement agent. Court documents reveal that they instructed the undercover agent to direct brokers to purchase Axius shares in return for a secret kickback of approximately 26 to 28 percent of the share price. Kaufman and Neuhaus also instructed the undercover agent as to the price the brokers should pay for the stock and that the brokers were to refrain from selling the Axius shares they purchased on behalf of their clients for a one-year period. By preventing sales of Axius stock, Kaufmann and Neuhaus intended to maintain the fraudulently inflated share price for Axius stock.
Kaufmann and Neuhaus were arrested on March 8, 2012. On October 10, 2012, Neuhaus pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and violate the Travel Act. Neuhaus was in custody from his arrest through February 15, 2013, when he was sentenced to time served and a $10,000 fine.
“Roland Kaufman sought to game the system from overseas by inflating the price of his company’s stock on U.S. capital markets,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch. “Instead of riches, he reaped prison time, as well as the forfeiture of his ill-gotten gains.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI New York Field Office and the IRS New York Field Office, the agencies responsible for leading the government’s investigation, and Ms. Lynch and Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance in this matter.
This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.StopFraud.gov.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw and Trial Attorney Justin Goodyear of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, with assistance from Fraud Section Trial Attorney Nathan Dimock.