Kaysville Man Charged With Operating Financial Fraud Scheme Called “The Project”
SALT LAKE CITY – A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges Robert Glen Mouritsen, age 71, of Kaysville, with using a position of prominence to induce friends and fellow church members to give him money to further a financial fraud scheme he called “The Project.” The fraud scheme started in 2006 and continued through Aug. 29, 2018, the indictment alleges.
According to the indictment, Mouritsen represented to victims that The Project involved a series of complicated international transactions that would replace fiat money (legal tender by government decree) with an asset-backed currency system – for example, the U.S. dollar tied to the value of a commodity like gold. Mouritsen represented to victims that The Project involved governments in Asia and Europe and required the help of attorneys and bankers. He also told them it was expensive to keep The Project moving forward. The indictment also alleges Mourtisen told investors The Project was subject to extremely strict confidentiality agreements and he could not disclose many details.
The indictment charges Mouritsen with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. The indictment outlines representations made to three victims of the alleged fraud scheme.
The indictment alleges he told an individual identified as Victim #1 that the investment would be short term and would yield significant investment returns. When Mouritsen failed to return the initial investment in a short amount of time, he attempted to lull Victim #1 into a false sense of security about the investment by representing that The Project was almost done, but he needed additional money to continue. Over the years, Victim #1 provided a total of $326,399.51 to Mourtisen for The Project with the most recent investment occurring in and around 2016.
The indictment alleges that in or around 2017, Mouritsen asked Victim #2 to provide money for The Project. He told the victim that The Project was nearing completion. He told the victim that compensation was being held up by the Patriot Act because the money was overseas. He represented that the money would arrive “any day now,” according to the indictment. Mouritsen also asked Victim #2 for more money to keep the attorneys working on getting his money into the United States. Over the years, Victim #2 provided a total of $165,000 to Mourtisen for the project.
According to the indictment, Mouritsen asked Victim #3 to invest in The Project in late July 2008. He provided the victim with a promissory note with a 12 percent annual return due in one year. When Mourtisen failed to repay Victim #3 within one year, he told the victim he needed more money to pay attorneys to complete The Project. He told the victim that attorneys were working to bring money into the United States, but they were having difficulty due to issues with Homeland Security. For years, according to the indictment, Mouritsen represented that money would be coming soon. Over the years, Victim #3 provided $33,000 to Mourtisen for The Project, with the most recent investment occurring on or about Sept. 19, 2013.
The indictment alleges Mourtisen failed to tell investors, among other things, that The Project had failed to produce any returns in over a decade and that he used a significant portion of investor money for his own personal use and benefit.
The indictment seeks a forfeiture judgement of approximately $1.5 million representing the proceeds traceable to the scheme to defraud.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Mouritsen based on the charges in the indictment. He had an initial appearance Thursday. He entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. A one-week jury trial was set for Nov. 4, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell. Mouritsen was released from custody on conditions of pretrial release. The potential maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in federal prison. Money laundering has a potential penalty of 10 years per count.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Special agents of the FBI and the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division are investigating the case. Attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the case.