Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of BRIAN KIM, 36, for running a Ponzi scheme that resulted in the theft of approximately $6 million from at least 45 victims, and for stealing $435,000 from the Christadora House, a condominium complex where he resided. In early 2011, on the eve of trial for the Christadora House grand larceny case, the defendant fled to Hong Kong using a fraudulently obtained United States passport. As a result, he was additionally charged with Bail Jumping by a Manhattan Grand Jury, as well as passport fraud in a federal indictment filed in the Southern District of New York. With the assistance of officers from the U.S. Department of State and Marshals Service, as well as officials of the People’s Republic of China, KIM was returned to New York on October 12, 2011.
Today’s guilty plea by KIM in New York State Supreme Court covers all three indictments. The corporate defendant, LIQUID CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC, also pleaded guilty today to Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, Violation of the General Business Law (Martin Act), and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. KIM will be sentenced in New York State Supreme Court on April 20, 2012.
“The defendant brazenly stole from his neighbors and members of his condominium while also callously cheating investors out of millions of dollars,” said District Attorney Vance. “He stole from retirement and college savings accounts, and gave his investors the impression that he was making them millionaires. He then obstructed justice by fleeing the country. Today’s guilty pleas encompass criminal activity dating back nearly a decade, and demonstrate our commitment to bringing to justice those who prey upon unsuspecting individuals and attempt to evade the consequences.”
According to court documents and the defendant’s plea allocution, KIM first began operating this scheme from Manhattan in approximately January 2003. Portraying himself as an accomplished trader and money manager, KIM induced members of the technology industry and other professionals to invest in what the defendant promised were safe, stable, and consistently profitable securities. Instead, KIM diverted vast amounts of money to himself while also generating enormous financial losses in trades of highly speculative futures contracts. To avoid detection, KIM created fake monthly performance statements for individual investors showing fictitious account balances with substantial gains that concealed actual trading losses.
KIM was also indicted by a Manhattan Grand Jury in late 2009 in a separate case on charges of Grand Larceny and Forgery. In the 2009 case, KIM is accused of stealing $435,000 in June 2008 from the Christadora House, a condominium complex where he resided and served as a board member. KIM failed to appear in New York State Supreme Court for trial on January 4, 2011, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. The defendant was subsequently indicted on Bail Jumping in the Second Degree. The defendant has been convicted in United States District Court on the charge of Passport Fraud and is expected to be sentenced on April 3, 2012.
Assistant District Attorneys Harold J. Wilson and Edward M. Burns of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau prosecuted the Ponzi scheme case under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Christopher Conroy, Bureau Chief Richard Weber, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Adam S. Kaufmann, Chief of the Investigation Division. Assistant District Attorney Lucrece Francois of the Special Prosecutions prosecuted the bail jumping case and the 2009 grand larceny case, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Thomas Wornom. Investigative Analysts James MacFadyen and Peter Shakro and Trial Preparation Assistant Jennifer Sirignano also assisted in this investigation. District Attorney Vance noted the exceptional work of Supervising Rackets Investigator Santiago Batista in accomplishing the return of KIM to New York.
District Attorney Vance thanked the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security New York Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Goodrich, the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong Regional Security Office, and the U.S Marshals Service for their assistance. He also thanked the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Office the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
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