NEW YORK: An Indian-American CEO of a Florida financial firm has been charged with selling USD 179 million in sham loans to an investment company.
Nikesh Patel, 32, chairman and CEO of Orlando-based First Farmers Financial has pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in federal court to charges that he forged signatures and produced false documents to create the appearance that approximately 26 government-backed loans had been issued to borrowers in Florida and Georgia, according to an indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
The sham loans purported to contain principal amounts ranging from USD 2.5 million to USD 10 million and Mr Patel sold the fraudulent loans to a Milwaukee investment firm for USD 179 million, according to the indictment.
The indictment charges Florida-resident Mr Patel with five counts of wire fraud, with each count carrying a 20 year prison term and fine of USD 250,000.
Prosecutors said through its Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, the US Department of Agriculture guarantees a percentage of loans issued to borrowers who improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities.
First Farmers obtained certification to participate in the programme after Mr Patel submitted false statements to the USDA about his company’s assets and officers, according to the indictment.