On January 6, Junzo Suzuki and Paul Suzuki, his son, pleaded guilty for their roles in a $1.5 billion Ponzi scheme that claimed 10,000 victims across the globe which prosecutors compared as one of the biggest to some of the biggest financial fraud schemes in U.S. history.
According to The Associated Press, their scheme revolved around telling thousands of Japanese investors that they were purchasing claims from a medical collection business. These men pleaded guilty in Las Vegas to their involvement with MRI International Inc., a Las Vegas-based company operating from 2009 to 2013. However, in April 2013, when the Japanese government revoked MRI’s license to market securities, prosecutors say the company owed over $1.5 billion to investors.
On the other hand, a man named Edwin Fujinaga ran the Las Vegas operation. The authorities said he was found guilty of using new investors’ money to pay off previous investors and spending the rest on himself, including a Las Vegas golf course mansion, a private jet, luxury cars, and real estate in California wine country, Beverly Hills and Hawaii.
The father and son pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud, and they now face five years each in prison followed by three years of supervised release, then a deal they made rather than beginning a trial next month for 15 federal fraud charges.
Richard Wright, defense Attorney of the two representing the defendants did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment on behalf of their clients.
The father and son remain free under federal supervision pending sentencing on May 11. Junzo Suzuki was 70 when he was arrested. Paul Suzuki was 40. Junzo Suzuki was MRI International’s executive vice president, prosecutors said, and Paul Suzuki managed Tokyo operations.