The Defendant Hid Money in Panamanian Banks While Discharging $6.2 Million in Debt
Baltimore, Maryland – Keith K. Asante, age 51, formerly of Baltimore County, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to bankruptcy fraud.
The guilty plea was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (“SBA OIG”), Eastern Region; and Postal Inspector in Charge Damon E. Wood of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.
According to his guilty plea, Asante obtained two loans totaling approximately $4 million, one in April 2015 and the second in December 2016, for the construction and operation of two restaurant franchises in the Baltimore area. Asante personally guaranteed both loans, as did a consulting group that he owned, Asante Consulting Group (“ACG”). The Small Business Administration also guaranteed 75 percent of the loan balances to the financial institutions that made the loans.
In the spring and early summer of 2017, Asante’s restaurants experienced financial difficulties, and Asante decided to close both restaurants in the fall of 2017. However, closing the restaurants did not relieve Asante or ACG of their loan guarantees. As detailed in the plea agreement, from approximately March 2017 through April 2018, Asante executed a scheme to defraud his creditors by misappropriating loan funds and using them for non-business purposes; hiding money in undisclosed bank accounts; transferring money to Panamanian bank accounts; filing for bankruptcy; and fleeing to Panama.
Specifically, Asante used $30,000 of the loan funds to make payments to a builder for the construction of a 5,000 square foot home in Perry Hall, Maryland. In addition, on July 5, 2017, Asante formed Temak Technologies, LLC in New Mexico. The publicly available corporate documents did not identify Asante as having any affiliation with Temak. Instead, Asante used the identity of his then-wife, without her knowledge, to form Temak. In fact, Asante was the sole owner of Temak. Asante opened bank accounts on behalf of Temak and began operating the ACG business as Temak, depositing payments from ACG’s clients into the Temak bank account. From September 2017 to December 2017, Asante transferred approximately $260,000 from a Temak bank account and another bank account to banks in Panama.
On January 10, 2018, Asante filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maryland. In his filing, Asante did not disclose his ownership of Temak or his ownership of several bank accounts, including any of his Panamanian bank accounts. In his plea agreement, Asante further admitted that he continued to transfer funds to the Panamanian bank accounts while in bankruptcy, transferring $62,550 to Panamanian banks between January and March of 2018.
At the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceeding, the Trustee was only able to distribute $36,775.31 to Asante’s creditors and on April 22, 2018, the Court granted Asante a bankruptcy discharge which eliminated Asante’s personal responsibility for $6,227,214.39 in debt. Asante began residing in Panama in or around January 2018.
Asante faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for bankruptcy fraud. U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled sentencing for January 23, 2024, at 11am.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the SBA-OIG and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron also thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew P. Phelps and Jefferson M. Gray, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
# # #