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Press Release

Former CEO of International Investment Advisory Firm Pleads Guilty to Investment Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Defendant and Co-Conspirators Fraudulently Obtained Millions of Dollars in Client Funds to Pay Promised Investment Returns to Earlier Investors

BROOKLYN, NY – Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Roberto Gustavo Cortes Ripalda (Cortes) pleaded guilty to participating in a years’ long conspiracy to defraud clients of Biscayne Capital, an international investment advisory firm that operated in the United States, South America, and the Caribbean.  Today’s plea took place before United States District Judge Carol Bagley Amon.  When sentenced, Cortes faces up to 20 years in prison and as part of his plea agreement will pay forfeiture in the amount of $3.4 million. 

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Nicole M. Argentieri, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Kareem A. Carter, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. (IRS-CI); and Derek W. Gordon, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Washington, D.C. Field Office (HSI), announced the guilty plea.

 According to court filings and facts presented during the plea hearing, between approximately 2013 and 2018, Cortes, together with others at Biscayne Capital, orchestrated a scheme to defraud Biscayne Capital clients through a series of material misrepresentations and omissions about how Biscayne Capital client funds would be used, including falsely claiming that their funds would be used to develop luxury real estate in Florida.  As part of the scheme, Cortes and his co-conspirators used client money to pay promised investment returns to other Biscayne Capital clients.  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.   

Co-conspirators Ernesto Heraclito Weisson Pazmino pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in April 2022; Gustavo Trujillo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in April 2019; Juan Carlos Cortes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in July 2022; Fernando Martinez Gomez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2022. They are awaiting sentencing.  Co-conspirator Fernando Haberer Bergson was arrested in Argentina in September 2021 and is facing extradition to the Eastern District of New York. 

The IRS-CI Global Illicit Financial Team and HSI are investigating the case.

The government’s case is being handled by the Business and Securities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS).  Assistant United States Attorneys Drew G. Rolle and Benjamin Weintraub, Fraud Section Trial Attorney Randall Warden and MLARS Trial Attorney Chad Davis are in charge of the prosecution. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance in the case.

The Defendant:

ROBERTO GUSTAVO CORTES RIPALDA
Age:  56
Key Biscayne
, Florida

Co-Conspirators Who Previously Pleaded Guilty:

ERNESTO HERACLITO WEISSON PAZMINO
Age:  55
Miami, Florida

FERNANDO HABERER BERGSON
Age:  50
Argentina

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-458 (CBA)

GUSTAVO TRUJILLO
Age:  43
Miami, Florida

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-134 (CBA)

JUAN CARLOS CORTES
Age:  45
Boca Raton, Florida

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-288 (CBA)

FERNANDO MARTINEZ GOMEZ
Age:  45
Ecuador

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-65 (CBA)

Contact

John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated September 13, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud