March 12, 2015 / 4:51 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. lender Hencorp Becstone settles charges of false Ex-Im Bank claims

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Reuters) - Miami-based lender Hencorp Becstone Capital L.C. has agreed to pay $3.8 million to settle allegations that it made false statements and claims to obtain loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.

The DOJ said the government alleged a Peruvian-based former Hencorp business agent created false documents to obtain Ex-Im Bank guarantees for fake export transactions, then diverted the funds to himself, friends and associates.

Hencorp had acted recklessly by outsourcing credit review functions without proper supervision or oversight, the department said in a statement.

The DOJ said the claims resolved by the settlement, made in a whistleblower lawsuit, were only allegations and there had been no determination of liability with respect to Hencorp. Hencorp did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Lenders that use Ex-Im programs have an obligation to prevent and detect fraud," Ex-Im Acting Inspector General Michael T. McCarthy said.

Republican critics of Ex-Im, which provides support to U.S. exporters and overseas buyers of U.S. goods, are calling for the bank to be shut down when its current funding expires in June.

The DOJ said the purported U.S.-based exporter on three of the fake transactions pled guilty to making false records for his participation in the scheme in 2012 and was sentenced to prison.

Hencorp was named Ex-Im small business regional lender of the year in 2008 after offering more than $100 million in financing products to support small business sales to Latin America over the previous five years.

The lawsuit is United States ex rel. Benites Caballero, et al. v. Hencorp Becstone Capital, L.C., et al., cv-13-168 (D.D.C.). (Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Chris Reese)

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