A Miami businessman has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for defrauding the U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank of more than $24 million through bogus loans, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week.
Guillermo Mondino, owner of Miami-based foreign export company Texon Inc., pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of money laundering, and was sentenced this week. In addition to his sentence, Mondino will repay $16 million.
Here’s how his scheme worked, according to federal court documents:
Between 2003 and 2009, Texon helped foreign buyers obtain as many as 24 private loans to purchase U.S. goods, using falsified documents and invoices to claim government guarantees from the Export-Import Bank.
The Export-Import Bank is an independent federal agency that provides financing mechanisms to help foreign buyers purchase goods and services from U.S. companies.
In the case of Texon, which specializes in exporting heavy equipment and machinery, the Export-Import Bank provided $24 million in loan guarantees to private banks that lent money to buyers in Latin American and Caribbean countries. When those buyers defaulted on the loans, the Export-Import Bank had to pick up the tab.
In one case, Mondino helped a buyer based in the Dominican Republic create false loan documents and invoices in order to receive more than $100,000 in loans that eventually went into default, court records show.
The U.S. government has already lost $12.5 million from the scheme, and there is another $9 million in federally guaranteed loans that are likely to default when payments come due in the future, court records show.
Rather than use the loan proceeds to purchase equipment, the foreign buyers often received cash payments from Mondino and his co-conspirators, contrary to loan requirements. In some cases, the goods that foreign buyers listed on their loan applications were never shipped. In other cases, less expensive goods were shipped.
Mondino, a 48-year-old born in Argentina, sent about $6.4 million in loan proceeds to co-conspirators in Latin America and elsewhere. About $2.5 million went to Texon, a company founded in 1980. Mondino kept about $170,000 for himself, court documents show.
The scheme involved a long list of co-conspirators including foreign borrowers, suppliers, shippers, accountants and Texon’s office manager. According to court documents, Mondino’s sister and father also participated in the scheme.
As part of Mondino’s plea agreement, he must forfeit $2.7 million and pay an additional $13.3 million in restitution after his release from prison. Mondino had faced up to 14 years in prison.
“He was facing up to 168 months. The government proposed 87 months,” said Mondino’s lawyer Forrest Sygman. “He was sentenced to 46 months.”
Mondino will surrender to the authorities in January and will be admitted to a low-security facility or halfway house, Sygman said. His sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release.