POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 8, 2010
A 34-year-old immigrant from Madagascar admitted yesterday to bilking "investors" of more than $10 million in a Ponzi scheme.
Nearly $8 million came from 64 investors in Hawaii.
Patrick Rakotonanahary pleaded guilty to three courts of wire fraud in U.S. District Court yesterday in a plea deal with the government.
"I made false statements and falsified documents," he said.
Rakotonanahary was facing 21 wire fraud charges. Still, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count and mandatory restitution when a federal judge sentences him in January. U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright told Rakotonanahary he faces almost certain deportation.
Rakotonanahary, through his company Cyber Market Group, LLC, operated out of his home in Punta Gorda, Fla., promised clients weekly 6-10 percent interest payments for 52 weeks on money they "loaned" him, after which he would return their principal.
He told them he was able to pay such high returns because he used their money to invest in foreign currency trading.
Rakotonanahary admitted yesterday that of the $10,255,300 he collected from December 2007 to May 2009, he invested just $1.8 million and lost $800,000. He said he used the rest of the money for his own use, company expenses, including his salary, and to pay older clients money he collected from new clients.
The government says Rakotonanahary solicited investors at presentations he made here and on the mainland, through agents and by word of mouth.