US-based Guyanese businessman Ed Ahmad yesterday morning pleaded guilty to attempting and conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud before Judge Dora Irizarry in a New York Court. The case has been closely watched here because of the ties between Ahmad and former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Ahmad several years ago set up a hardware business on the location at Industrial Site, Ruimveldt that the New Guyana Company formerly printed the PPP-aligned Mirror newspaper.
Judge Irizarry will shortly schedule a date for Ahmad’s sentencing.
Ahmad, who was released on the same bond, US$2.5 million, he was placed on last year, was initially charged with two counts when he was indicted last year but after plea negotiations with prosecutors he only pleaded guilty to the first count of the indictment. The second count of the indictment, from which he has escaped, was bank fraud.
The businessman was indicted in a US$50 million mortgage fraud scheme last year.
According to the particulars of the attempting and conspiracy to commit fraud count, on or about and between January 1, 2007 and July 31, 2007, Ahmad together with others, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to execute a scheme and artifice to defraud a financial institution, to wit: Countrywide Home Loans, and to obtain moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by and under the custody and control of the institution, by means of materially false and fraudulent pretences, representations and promises contrary to Title 18, of the United States Code, Section 1344.
Special Agent of the FBI Bryan Trebelhorn in his sworn affidavit had stated that since about the year of 2000 a group of co-conspirators has defrauded various lending institutions by obtaining mortgages on properties located in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere through fraudulent means, including by falsifying mortgage loan applications, appraisals, title reports and other documents. He had indicated that false information made the borrowers appear to be more creditworthy, and falsely enhanced the purported value of the properties. As a result, the lenders were fraudulently induced to issue mortgage loans secured by the properties.
In some instances, the FBI officer had stated, the co-conspirators executed the scheme by using individuals called straw-buyers to conceal the true ownership of the properties. In particular, he had stated, the co-conspirators recruited straw buyers to pose as purchasers of some of the properties. The straw buyers were generally individuals with good credit scores, but with income and assets that were insufficient to secure mortgage loans. But on the direction of the co-conspirators, the straw buyers agreed to apply for mortgages on the properties but in reality they were not the true owners of the properties and in exchange for the use of their names and good credit they received a fee.
He explained that once the straw buyer was recruited the co-conspirators prepared and caused to be prepared mortgage applications for the properties. The applications contained numerous misrepresentations and material falsehoods designed to make the straw buyers appear more creditworthy. As a result of the misrepresentations, the lenders issued mortgage loans to the straw buyers and the loans were initially transmitted to the closing attorney’s bank accounts by wire transfer. The co-conspirators controlled the proceeds of the loans issued to the straw buyers and in most instances they did not make mortgage payments to the lenders for the properties and the mortgage loans defaulted on.
Ahmad had made a US$40,000 payment to Rep Gregory Meeks (D-NY) in 2007 that the Congressman failed to disclose on his Financial Disclosure Reports for 2007, 2008, and 2009. Meeks subsequently claimed that the US$40,000 payment was a loan, but there were no note or payments until several years after the payment was made. Last year the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate the matter. The OCE reported that Meeks “refused to cooperate with the OCE’s investigation,” NLPC noted.
Ahmad was detained last July on charges that he operated a US$50 million mortgage-fraud scheme in Queens, New York. He then faced a maximum of 30 years in jail.
Container of goods
Ahmad had shipped a container of goods to Jagdeo at State House while he was President and many questions were asked about this.
Three alleged co-conspirators — Ahmad’s cricket friends and employees — were also indicted in an associated case last year, court records show.
The report said that Queens-based brokers Qayaam Farrouq, Mohamed Gurmohamed and Guyanese cricketer Steve Massiah were charged with defrauding banks and mortgage companies by falsifying mortgage-loan applications to make borrowers appear more creditworthy to financial institutions, court records show.
The matter against Massiah has since been dismissed without prejudice.