Chicago Restaurateur Charged with Fraud for Allegedly Swindling Investors in His West Loop Eatery
CHICAGO — A Chicago restaurateur was charged today with misappropriating funds and swindling investors in his West Loop eatery.
ATTILA GYULAI, who together with a relative owned a majority stake in Embeya restaurant, used company funds to pay personal expenses and illegally pocketed cash from investors, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago. From approximately 2011 to 2016, Gyulai misappropriated at least $300,000, to the detriment of co-owners and investors, the complaint states.
Embeya, which was located in the 500 block of West Randolph Street in Chicago, closed in 2016.
The complaint charges Gyulai, 45, most recently of Chicago, with wire fraud. In addition to the complaint, the Court today also authorized a warrant for Gyulai’s arrest.
The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In order to open the restaurant and obtain a bank loan, Gyulai represented to shareholders that he and his relative had invested $140,000 of their own funds, the complaint states. Gyulai had in fact borrowed those funds from family and friends, and in 2013, he used company funds to pay them back, while concealing the payments from other shareholders, the complaint states. The following year, Gyulai made payments to himself and his relative totaling approximately $140,000 as a purported return of their initial capital, even though they had not invested their own money in the restaurant, the complaint states. Gyulai had thus paid himself and his relative double the purported initial investment amount, to the detriment of other shareholders, according to the complaint. He also used company funds for personal stock trading during the operation of the restaurant, the complaint states.
Not long before Embeya closed, Gyulai wired $103,750 from the restaurant’s corporate account to an account held overseas, the complaint states. The money represented a substantial amount of funds remaining in Embeya’s account at the time, the complaint states. Gyulai left the United States soon after transferring the funds.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani.