Ex CEO of Financial Services Company has Pleaded Guilty to $150M Investment Scam.

Guilty Plea in Florida Financial Fraud Case

A Florida man has entered a guilty plea in a case involving the defrauding of clients through his financial services firm. Roberto Gustavo Cortes Ripalda, aged 56 and a resident of Key Biscayne, established the financial services company Biscayne Capital in 2005. Court documents reveal that between approximately 2013 and 2018, Cortes and others devised a scheme to defraud clients of Biscayne Capital through a series of deceptive practices related to the use of client funds.

Deceptive Practices and Misuse of Funds

Cortes and his co-conspirators misled clients by falsely representing that their investments would be used to finance real estate projects. In reality, the funds were diverted to pay other Biscayne Capital clients, cover the company’s expenses, and provide substantial compensation to themselves. Additionally, they invested clients’ money without their knowledge and attempted to conceal their actions by furnishing fraudulent account statements. By September 2018, the fraudulent scheme had unraveled, leading to the liquidation of Biscayne Capital and causing more than $155 million in losses to its clients.

Guilty Plea and Forfeiture Judgment

Cortes has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of his plea agreement, he has consented to a forfeiture judgment of $3.4 million. His sentencing is scheduled for January 12, 2024, and he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The sentencing decision will be made by a federal district court judge, taking into account sentencing guidelines and statutory factors.

Announcement of Plea and Investigation

The announcement of Cortes’s guilty plea was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington. The case is being investigated by the IRS-CI Global Illicit Financial Team and HSI.

Prosecution Team and International Cooperation

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Randall Warden of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Trial Attorney Chad Davis of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Drew Rolle and Benjamin Weintraub for the Eastern District of New York. Trial Attorneys John (Fritz) Scanlon and Brandon Burkart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section assisted in the investigation. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the case, underscoring the importance of international cooperation in addressing financial crimes.