Gaston E. Cantens, 73, of Miami, was charged in a criminal Information with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
According to the Information filed in court, Royal West Properties, Inc. (“Royal West“) was a Miami-Dade corporation that promised to pay investors a fixed rate of return on investments made with the company. Gaston E. Cantens was the president of Royal West Properties, Inc. In this capacity, Cantens allegedly recruited individuals to invest in Royal West by promising investors that their investments would be guaranteed by properties or mortgages that acted as collateral.
According to the Information, Cantens misappropriated money from investors by making materially false representations and concealing and omitting to state material facts concerning, among other things, the financial condition of Royal West, the manner in which mortgages and properties were assigned as collateral to investors, the assignment of non-performing mortgages, the assignment of mortgages that were paid in full, the proper recording of mortgages, and the recording of investors’ interests in properties and mortgages.
Specifically, the Information alleges that Cantens told investors that their moneys were collateralized by individual properties but failed to inform them that the collateralized properties had previously been assigned to other investors. Cantens received moneys from investors based on these misrepresentations, and used the moneys for his personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme.
The Information alleges specific instances of fraud. For example, according to the Information, in February 2008, Cantens allegedly assigned a property to Our Lady of Belen Jesuit as collateral for an investment. In May 2008, Cantens assigned the same property again as collateral to investor “R.R.” for an investment. In addition, according to the factual proffer in the plea agreement, Royal West sold the property to “V.R.” and assigned the mortgage on the property to yet another investor, “S.M.” Cantens never informed the investors, including Our Lady of Belen Jesuit, of the existence of other investors or their interests in the property.
An Information is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced the charges.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also commended the efforts of SEC Regional Director Eric Bustillo and his staff for their contributions to this investigation and its successful prosecution. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney H. Ron Davidson.