How did a Mexican citizen in Israel on a tourist visa manage to carry out a NIS 3 million Ponzi scam? The Jerusalem District State Attorney's Office filed an indictment in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court against Ramon Kadri, a Mexican citizen residing in Israel, for 15 counts of aggravated receipt by fraudulent means; use of fraud, deceit, and subterfuge; forgery; theft by a licensed professional; and other offenses, after allegedly using fraud to raise money from investors by falsely stating that he was involved in business in Mexico, the US, and Israel.
According to the indictment, in order to back up his deceit, the accused distributed money from new investors to existing investors as "profits" on their investments. He supported his deceit by recruiting Jerusalem community leaders to recommend him and be his guarantors, after they saw him distributing "profits" to investors, without the leaders being aware of that fraud was involved. The accused even opened a bakery in Jerusalem with one of the leaders in order to make himself appear as a legitimate businessman.
The indictment, presented by Adv. Genia Kleiman from Jerusalem State Attorney's Office, states that from his arrival in Israel in 2013 until his recent arrest, Kadri made false representations and unfounded assertions to many people for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining money from them. Among other things, it is alleged that Kadri portrayed himself as a partner or party at interest in import deals in Mexico, the US, and Israel, and proposed to the victims that they invest money in this business for set periods of time in exchange for high returns, while falsely promising that their money would be invested in business.
It is alleged that in order to strengthen the general false presentation, the accused paid the victims the returns due them using money from the principal of other victims, utilizing the known method referred to as a Ponzi scheme.
According to the indictment, Kadri worked together with an employee at a Judaica business in Jerusalem where he worked. He recruited the employee's acquaintances to his fraudulent schemes.
It is alleged that on the basis of false representations, the complainants invested over NIS 3 million in Kadri's business.
The indictment states that as a result of the payments made by Kadri to some of his "investors," which came from other investors, not from real investments, Kadri won the trust of two public figures in their community in Jerusalem: A.A. and B.B. It is alleged that Kadri proposed to A.A. and B.B. that they invest especially large sums in business in return for especially high returns, thereby motivating them to ask their acquaintances to take part in business or serve as Kadri's guarantors in business, based on Kadri's general false representations. As a result, due to their acquaintance with A.A. and B.B., the victims agreed to give Kadri especially large sums.
According to the indictment, during the period of the fraud, the accused and A.A. opened a bakery called Lis on Leah Goldberg Street in Jerusalem. It was agreed by the accused and A.A. that Kadri would operate and manage the bakery, while A.A. would invest money in the business through a special bank account opened by A.A. It is alleged that later, A.A. and the accused became partners in the bakery, which was moved to the Atarot industrial zone in Jerusalem, and opened a joint bank account for the business. The checkbooks from the account nevertheless remained at the bakery.
It is further alleged that in order to reinforce the general false representation to some of the victims, the accused gave them checks on the account as an investment guarantee and forged A.A.'s signature without his knowledge or authorization to do so.
The indictment also states that Kadri transferred debts belonging to the bakery to his account without being authorized to do so.
Simultaneously with the indictment, an arrest warrant against Kadri until the end of the criminal proceedings against him was requested. This request alleges that Kadri, who is not an Israeli citizen, tried to leave Israel after being confronted with the complainants in the case about his debts to them. Kadri's attempt failed when one of the complainants obtained a stay of exit (from Israel) order against him. At the same time, the request states that Kadri succeeded in getting his wife and children out of Israel, and then hospitalized himself in a closed treatment community, believing that this would prevent the police from investigating him.
Presumption of innocence: Kadri has been convicted of no crime. Even after the presentation of an indictment, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 6, 2019
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