Former CEO of Essex Holdings Inc. Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison in Connection with $33 Million Ponzi Scheme
The former Chief Executive Officer of Essex Holdings, Inc., was sentenced to 15 years in prison by United States District Judge Darrin P. Gayles in Miami, in connection with two separate fraud schemes totaling more than $33 million in fraudulently obtained funds. The first scheme involved nearly 100 investors who purchased $30 million of promissory notes purported secured by interests in iron ore mining in Chile. The second scheme involved unlawfully obtaining $1.2 million in economic development funds as well as valuable industrial property from the State of South Carolina.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Navin Shankar Subramaniam Xavier, a/k/a "Navin Xavier," a/k/a "Dr. Navin Xavier" (Xavier), 44, of Miramar, was convicted by guilty plea on January 13, 2017 of two counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. One wire fraud count pertained to the investment fraud scheme and the other count pertained to the South Carolina economic development scheme. A restitution hearing is scheduled for July 14, 2017 before Judge Gayles.
According to documents filed in court, from September 2010 through May 2014, Xavier operated Essex Holdings, Inc. (“Essex Holdings”) from an office in Miami Gardens, and raised more than $30 million from nearly 100 investors for supposed investments in sugar transportation and shipping, as well as iron ore mining in Chile. Xavier used a false financial statement, forged documents, and false promises of fixed rates of return, to induce investors to invest with Essex Holdings. Most of the money was used for purposes other than what was promised, including to support lavish spending by Xavier and his wife for expensive jewelry, luxury vehicles, wedding expenses, and cosmetic surgery. Eventually, Xavier used new investor money to pay old investors in a Ponzi-like fashion before the scheme collapsed. Evidence filed in court showed that actual investor losses from the scheme exceeded $29 million.
The second scheme involved Xavier using Essex Holdings to obtain $1.2 million in payments and approximately $1.5 million worth of commercial real estate from the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development (“SCCCED”), a division of the South Carolina state government, that was supposed to be used to develop a dilapidated industrial property into a diaper plant and rice packaging facility. According to documents filed in court, Xavier provided false financial documentation to SCCCED in order to obtain the contract, and later provided fake contractor invoices and fake bank statements in order to get paid under the contract. As with the investment fraud scheme, Xavier spent a significant portion of the development money for his personal living expenses, and wired some of it to the same overseas accounts used in the investment fraud.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Miami Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the South Carolina Office of Inspector General, for assisting with this matter. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerrob Duffy and Alison Lehr.