Hedge Fund Portfolio Manager Sentenced to 78 Months for Operating a Multi-million Dollar Ponzi Scheme
A hedge fund manager was sentenced today in Brooklyn federal court to 78 months’ imprisonment for running a Ponzi scheme. Ward Onsa, the manager of New Century Hedge Fund Partners, LP, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry. Onsa pleaded guilty in December 2011 to operating the scheme, which resulted in losses to investors of over $3 million dollars. The court also ordered restitution to be paid to the defendant’s victims.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
According to court documents, the defendant operated Ward Onsa & Company, an investment manager, until 2005 when a series of trading losses and default judgments bankrupted the entity. Onsa then organized the New Century Hedge Fund (“New Century”) and, between 2005 and 2010, solicited and received over $5 million in investor funds, primarily from Individual Retirement Accounts. Onsa told the New Century investors that their money would be used to purchase securities, futures contracts and options designed to profit when the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 10,748. Onsa’s trading theory was that the market would not go above this level. As the market surged past the 10,748 level, however, the investments that the defendant made with the New Century investors’ retirement money plummeted in value.
The defendant also funneled money from New Century to himself and his earlier Ward Onsa & Company investors. Instead of disclosing the trading losses or the payments to Ward Onsa & Company investors, Onsa issued fake account statements to his investors falsely claiming consistent and steady earnings in the market. The defendant continued to solicit additional money from New Century investors through 2010 and used that new money to pay back the losses of the earlier Ward Onsa & Company investors.
Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency in government’s criminal investigation.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Sean Sinclair.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway 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 is 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 www.stopfraud.gov.
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