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South Florida Area Representatives Commended for Role in Ex-Im Bank and Justice Department Fraud Investigation

May 17, 2010

NR 10-13

Contact: Karen V. Gregory, Secretary (202-523-5725)

The Federal Maritime Commission today commended its South Florida Area Representatives for providing valuable assistance in an investigation by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) and the Department of Justice that resulted in a guilty plea for a conspiracy to defraud the Ex-Im Bank of approximately $854,000.

The Commission's South Florida Area Representatives Andrew Margolis and Eric Mintz provided valuable assistance to the Ex-Im Bank's Office of Inspector General in its investigation of Miami resident Guillermo Sanchez. To help the investigators determine whether shipments and associated documents were fraudulent, the FMC's Area Representatives reviewed shipping documentation, participated in interviews, and shared their expertise on ocean shipping documentation, transaction procedures, and the role of Ocean Transportation Intermediaries.

According to court documents and testimony, Mr. Sanchez acted as a purported exporter of construction equipment to South America in 10 different loan transactions. The loans were obtained from a Florida bank and insured by the Ex-Im Bank. Mr. Sanchez admitted that he and a co-conspirator prepared and submitted loan documents, including commercial invoices, packing lists, and bills of lading, that falsely reflected that Mr. Sanchez purchased and shipped approximately $854,000 worth of generators manufactured in the United States to South American customers. According to court documents and testimony, Mr. Sanchez's company, ACE Products, received approximately $853,642 in loan proceeds based on the false representations and Mr. Sanchez retained a portion of the money for his own personal benefit and use.

Following the investigation, Mr. Sanchez recently pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Ex-Im Bank and one count of mail fraud in connection with ten loans guaranteed by the Ex-Im Bank. Sentencing for Mr. Sanchez is scheduled for November 1, 2010. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and the mail fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

This case demonstrates the important role of the Commission's Area Representatives in providing assistance and information to other agencies on international ocean shipping matters. Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Richard A. Lidinsky, Jr. commented: "The FMC's Area Representatives are on the front lines every day assisting and protecting importers, exporters, and consumers engaged in international shipping. This case is an example of how their knowledge and experience also assists law enforcement and national security officials."

Mr. Lawrence Valett, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations for the Office of Inspector General at the Ex-Im Bank of the United States remarked, "The collaborative relationship between the Ex-Im OIG and FMC has been particularly instrumental in protecting taxpayer funds at risk and ensuring the integrity of shipping documents relied upon in the world of international exports. FMC has been a valuable and strategic partner in the fight against trade finance and export credit insurance fraud."

The scheme was investigated by special agents of the Ex-Im Bank Office of Inspector General after bank staff referred information concerning loan defaults. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick M. Donley of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section at the Department of Justice.

The Ex-Im Bank, an independent agency of the United States, is the official export credit agency of the United States and issues loan insurance to U.S. banks on behalf of creditworthy foreign companies for the purpose of purchasing U.S. goods.

The Federal Maritime Commission is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the nation's international ocean transportation for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and the American consumer. The FMC has Area Representatives in South Florida, New York, New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles, and Seattle. They play key roles in assisting all sectors of the shipping industry and other US Government agencies.