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September 24, 09

NEWS / Five Individuals Charged in Scheme to Defraud U.S. Government Agency Related to $9.4 Million Loan


Donald Daniels, Martin William Washburn, Irina Rebegeneau and Tapani Koivunen have been charged in conjunction with a scheme to defraud the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a government lending agency, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello for the Northern District of California.

The defendants, who have made initial appearances in federal court in San Francisco, were charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Aug. 27, 2009, and unsealed Sept. 17, 2009, with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and substantive money laundering counts. Separately, Sergei Shkurkin was arrested Sept. 16, 2009, based on a criminal complaint and made his initial appearance in federal court last week. Shkurkin was charged in a related extortion conspiracy.

According to the indictment, Daniels, 44, Washburn, 77, Koivunen, 52, and Rebegeneau, 41, allegedly conspired to defraud OPIC, a government agency that provides loans for U.S. sponsored companies to invest in overseas projects. The indictment alleges that the defendants defrauded OPIC in conjunction with a loan to Golden Sierra Partners LLC (GSP) to establish a milling and bakery operation in Estonia. Specifically, the defendants allegedly misrepresented to OPIC that GSPís members contributed equity to the project and misrepresented equipment costs, to obtain a $9.4 million loan from OPIC and related disbursements. As a result of these alleged misrepresentations and others, OPIC disbursed approximately $8 million.

In addition, according to the complaint against Shkurkin, members of GSP allegedly borrowed funds from Daniels to fake their equity contributions and then Shkurkin and others agreed to threaten certain GSP members to cause them to pay Daniels interest on the loan.

Daniels, Washburn and Rebegeneau were arrested and made their initial appearances in federal court in San Francisco last week. The court ordered them released on bond. Washburn and Rebegeneau will appear before U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel at 9:00 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2009. Daniels is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. LaPorte on Sept. 29, 2009, for further bail review. Koivunen was arrested in Chicago and made his initial appearance in federal court there yesterday. He will next appear in federal court in San Francisco. After being arrested and making his initial appearance last week, Shkurkin is scheduled to appear before Judge LaPorte for arraignment on Oct. 6, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. He is currently released on bond.

Daniels and Washburn are each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering. Koivunen is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering. Rebegeneau is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Shkurkin is charged with conspiracy to collect an extension of credit by extortionate means.

The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering each carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the transfer. The extortion conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine Wong and Peter B. Axelrod of the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney Krista Tongring of the Criminal Divisionís Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2009/September/09-crm-1016.html

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