NEW YORK (Reuters) - A dual Nigerian and British national has been charged with defrauding financial institutions out of more than $300 million (232.90 million pounds) by falsely representing his company as a thriving international oil and gas venture to obtain loans.
Raheem Brennerman, chief executive officer of Blacksands Pacific Group Inc, was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy in an indictment unsealed Thursday in a federal court in New York. Federal prosecutors said he used ill-gotten loans to pay for a condominium in Las Vegas, travel, jewelry, clothes and spa treatments.
Brennerman was arrested in April on criminal contempt charges for failing to comply with a $5 million judgment and other orders in a civil lawsuit brought by one of his lenders, ICBC (London) Plc, a subsidiary of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, court records show.
He was subsequently released on bail, but the bail was revoked on Thursday with the unsealing of the indictment.
“It’s our position that the charges against Mr. Brennerman are baseless,” Brennerman’s lawyer, Maranda Fritz, said in an email.
Since at least 2011, Brennerman and others lied to multiple financial institutions to secure more than $300 million in loans for purported business ventures, but used the money for personal expenses, prosecutors said in the indictment.
One such loan, for $20 million, came from a bank in November 2013, purportedly to help purchase a California oilfield, prosecutors said. The indictment does not name the bank, but its description of the loan matches the one from ICBC described in ICBC’s civil lawsuit.
Prosecutors said Brennerman told the bank that Blacksands was a significant global oil and gas company with more than $1 billion in long-term assets, $80 million in revenue, and about 100 employees in offices throughout the United States.
In fact, prosecutors said, Blacksands had no more than a handful of employees, no offices, at best minimal revenue and no agreement to buy an oilfield.
Brennerman went as far as inventing fictitious senior executives at Blacksands Pacific and signing agreements on their behalf, prosecutors said.
The bank extended a $20 million loan to a Blacksands subsidiary and committed to lending an additional $70 million, according to the indictment.
The case is United States v. Brennerman, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-337.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Paul Simao