SEATTLE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MAIL FRAUD AND TAX EVASION
Admits Using False Statements Concerning Oil Production to Fleece Investors
ROBERT MIRACLE, 49, of Bellevue, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Mail Fraud and Tax Evasion. MIRACLE and two Malaysian nationals, Mukhtar Kechik, and Fahimi Fisal, were charged in February 2009, in a twenty-three count indictment charging Conspiracy, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering and Tax Evasion and alleging that the men operated a $65-million Ponzi scheme. MIRACLE faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced in front of U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on December 14, 2009.
MIRACLE operated a variety of companies supposedly involved in oil development in Malaysia and Indonesia, including Laramie Petroleum, Inc. ("Laramie"); MCube Petroleum, Inc. ("MCube"); Diski Limited Liability Company ("Diski LLC"); Basilam Limited Liability Company ("Basilam LLC"); and Halmahera-Rembang Limited Liability Company ("Hal-Rem LLC"). MIRACLE and his co-defendants represented to investors that these companies were making money from the sale of oil field services, and by developing oil and gas fields in Indonesia. In fact, the companies did not receive any money from these sources. Instead, money from later investors was used to pay off earlier investors. Between September 2004 and October 2007, MIRACLE took in more than $65 million from investors in, and lenders to, these companies. Of this amount, MIRACLE paid out approximately $37 million to investors and lenders. The remainder of the monies – some $28 million – was used in part for efforts to develop oil and gas on fields in Indonesia, but also to pay for a lavish lifestyle for MIRACLE.
In his plea agreement, MIRACLE also admits that, in 2005, he transferred approximately $560,000 from company accounts to his personal bank accounts for his own use. MIRACLE claimed these transfers were “loans,” and filed a tax return on which he reported that his salary for the year was only $32,000. Thus, MIRACLE under-reported his income by approximately $528,000, avoiding taxes of approximately $149,000, for 2005 alone. MIRACLE further admits that he under-reported his taxes for the period 2003-2005 by a total of $326,650.
In his plea agreement, MIRACLE agrees to pay restitution to the investors, and to pay the United States for back taxes. MIRACLE also agrees to forfeit a 2.03-carat diamond ring MIRACLE purchased for more than $38,000, and a painting MIRACLE purchased in Italy for 35,000 euros.
MIRACLE initially was released pending trial, but was taken into custody in late May 2009, when he failed to comply with the conditions of his release. MIRACLE remains in custody at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, Washington. Mukhtar Kechik, and Fahimi Fisal remain fugitives who have yet to appear for arraignment on the indictment.
The case is being investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carl Blackstone and Andrew Friedman and Special Assistant United States Attorney Tyler Letey.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.