Hencorp Becstone Capital L.C., Miami, Florida, has agreed to pay $3.8 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that it made false statements and claims to the Export-Import Bank of the United States in order to obtain loan guarantees.
Hencorp is a lender and financial services company that provides financing and other financial services to Latin American businesses.
The Ex-Im Bank guarantees loans made by approved lenders to foreign businesses for the purchase of American-made products. The lender is responsible for performing a credit review of the transaction to ensure that it meets applicable criteria. The government alleged that Ricardo Maza, a Peruvian-based former Hencorp business agent, created false documentation to obtain Ex-Im Bank guarantees on fictitious transactions on which no products were sold or exported, and that Hencorp acted recklessly by outsourcing key credit review functions to Maza without adequate supervision or oversight.
The government alleged that Maza then diverted the proceeds of the loans to himself and to his friends and business associates in Peru, and that the transactions resulted in losses to the Ex-Im Bank when the loans were not repaid. In 2012, Mario Mimbella, 64, Miami, Florida, the purported U.S.-based exporter on three of the fraudulent transactions, pled guilty to making false records for his participation in the scheme and was later sentenced to prison.
This settlement resolves allegations made in a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act by Genaro Benites Caballero, the former owner of one of the purported purchasers who stated that he had no part in the scheme and that his signature was forged on key documents without his knowledge, and Patricia Doris Lee Dominguez, a former attorney for the purported purchaser. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens can sue on behalf of the government and share in any recovery. The whistleblowers will receive $608,000 of the settlement.
The Justice Department announced the settlement.
This case was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Office of Inspector General for the Ex-Im Bank.
“The Ex-Im Bank provides vital support for U.S. manufacturing by enabling foreign businesses to obtain financing to purchase U.S.-made goods and equipment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously pursue those who attempt to take advantage of this important program.”
“Lenders that use Ex-Im programs have an obligation to prevent and detect fraud,” said Acting Inspector General Michael T. McCarthy for the Ex-Im Bank. “The Office of Inspector General will pursue accountability for all participants involved in schemes that defraud the Ex-Im Bank.”