Former CEO of Financial Services Firm Pleads Guilty to $150M Investment Fraud Conspiracy
For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
A Florida man pleaded guilty today to defrauding clients of his financial services firm.
According to court documents, in 2005, Roberto Gustavo Cortes Ripalda, 56, of Key Biscayne, founded financial services company Biscayne Capital. Between approximately 2013 and 2018, Cortes and others orchestrated a scheme to defraud Biscayne Capital clients through a series of lies regarding how the firm would use client funds. For example, Cortes and his co-conspirators told clients that their investments would finance the development of real estate projects, when in fact, Cortes and his co-conspirators used the money to pay other Biscayne Capital clients, cover Biscayne Capital expenses, and pay themselves millions of dollars. Cortes and his co-conspirators also invested clients’ money without their knowledge, and then attempted to cover their tracks by providing investors with fraudulent account statements. According to the indictment, by September 2018, the scheme collapsed, and Biscayne Capital went into liquidation, causing more than $155 million in losses to Biscayne Capital clients.
Cortes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of his plea, Cortes agreed to a forfeiture judgment in the amount of $3.4 million. Cortes is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 12, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington made the announcement.
The IRS-CI Global Illicit Financial Team and HSI are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Randall Warden of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Trial Attorney Chad Davis of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Drew Rolle and Benjamin Weintraub for the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case. Trial Attorneys John (Fritz) Scanlon and Brandon Burkart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section assisted with the investigation of the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the case.
Updated September 13, 2023
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud