United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
SEATTLE BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS IN PRISON FOR MAIL FRAUD AND TAX EVASION
Used False Financial Statements on Oil Exploration and Development to Fleece Investors
ROBERT MIRACLE, 50, of Bellevue, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 13 years in prison and three years of supervised release for Mail Fraud and Tax Evasion. The amount of restitution MIRACLE owes will be determined at a hearing July 25, 2011. 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 on a $65 million “ponzi” Scheme. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said the investments “were triggered by outright misrepresentations.... and ruined people’s lives.”
MIRACLE operated a variety of companies allegedly involved in oil development in Indonesia. MIRACLE sold shares in the companies with these names: 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 various companies were making money from oil field development and services on oil and gas fields in Indonesia. In fact, the proceeds of later investors were used to pay off the investments of earlier investors in the form of a “ponzi” scheme. Between September 2004 and October 2007, MIRACLE took in more than $65.3 million and paid out $36.7 million as dividends to investors. The bulk of the remaining funds were used to develop oil and gas fields in Indonesia, as well as to pay for a lavish lifestyle for MIRACLE. In pleading guilty MIRACLE admits that he used the mail to send investors fraudulent statements, certificates and to send and receive funds involved in the scheme.
In his plea agreement, MIRACLE admitted he owes the U.S. Treasury $326,650 in back taxes from 2003-2005. MIRACLE admitted that in 2005, he transferred more than $500,000 from the company accounts to his personal bank accounts for his own use. MIRACLE claimed these transfers were “loans,” and claimed his actual income for the year was only $32,000. MIRACLE under reported his income by some $530,000, avoiding taxes of nearly $150,000.
In his plea agreement, MIRACLE agreed to pay restitution to the investors as well as to the United States for back taxes. MIRACLE agreed to forfeit a 2 carat diamond ring MIRACLE purchased for more than $38,000 and a painting purchased in Italy for $27,000.
MIRACLE was initially 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 was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Friedman and Carl Blackstone.