With it being Lent and all, we ask, are this year’s Ferrymen of the River Styx using these 40 days to turn from wickedness and find their way to repentence? Who knows, but we do know that as alternative energy rises, so do associated grifters, frauds and thieves. And political malpractice is a new category.
Break like the wind
Perps: Joey Douglas Davis and Philip Vincent Ridings of Arkansas
Crimes: fraud, wire fraud, aiding and abetting wire fraud, money laundering, aiding and abetting money-laundering
How they did it: Told investors that the money would be used to build a prototype wind turbine and develop wind farms in Iowa and other states. Told investors the Department of Defense expressed strong interest in acquiring the perps’ wind turbines for use in combat zones and there was a $10 million grant from the DOE. It was all a lie. They used most of the $700,000 from investors for personal use and the turbines and farms were never constructed.
Sentences: 180 months and $1.138 million in restitution for Davis; 97 months and $1.138 million for Ridings.
A recidivist flies too close to the Sun
Perp: Michael James Sweaney
Charge: One count of mail fraud
How he did it: A Californian, previously convicted of securities fraud in Nevada using a different name, Sweeney scammed $9.5 million in a fraudulent solar power scheme. He would cold-call investors to convince them to invest in Nanotech Engineering Inc., claiming he had created a compact “nano panel” (which does not exist) using “technology” that could generate triple the amount of electricity as traditional solar panels. He used the purloined funds for the traditional lavish lifestyle, including a 46 foot yacht, two Maseratis, gold, a Cartier watch, and cosmetic surgery.
The scam was elaborate. Sweeney and his nephew created a fake prototype to show investors and hired an actor to demonstrate the nanopanel “outperforming” other panels.
Sentence: Six and a half years in prison and seizure of $1.5 million
No thank you for your “service”
Perp: Derek Robert Hamm
Crimes: 33 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, violations of the federal Stolen Valor Act, a felon in possession of guns and ammunition. Pled guilty.
How he did it: In order to lure invetors in a oil field service company, used a fake military discharge certificate, claimed to be a former member of the Army Special Forces serving multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries; falsely claimed to have a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze Star; and claimed to be wealthy. He spent $500,000 of investors’ money on personal gifts including jewelry and vehicles.
Sentence: 180 months and forfeiture of $625,000.
Penalty = 12x the bribes
Perp: Swiss commodities company Glencore PLC
Crimes: Seven counts of bribing African officials to gain access to oil.
How did they do it: The company authorized (not merely prevented) spreading $29 million worth of bribes across our oil operations in several African nations in order to secure preferential access to bigger cargoes, more valuable grades of oil, and preferred delivery dates. The payments were concealed as an unspecified service fee, signing bonus, or success fee. Lots of cash was flown by private jets to Cameroon and South Sudan from 2011 through 2016. The firm says it has taken significant action to build a new ethics and compliance program.
Punishment: Ordered by a UK court to pay $314 million as a penalty and the profits from the bribes, the biggest penalty ever handed out for corporate criminal conviction in UK history
Inflation of another sort
Perp: Christopher Russell Bentley
Crime: One count of fraud.
How he did it: From 2019 through 2021 in managing different oil and gas mineral rights investment funds he allegedly inflated the value of the rights to be sold to investment funds and used their money to obtain a loan of $6.5 million for personal benefit and to fraudulently obtain $3,972,000 from investors.
You can’t say venal without Venezuela
Perps: Yury Orekhov and seven other Russians
Charges: Conspiracy to defraud United Sates, money laundering, oil smuggling, bank fraud, violations of ECRA.
How they did it: See the 59-page indictment for elaborate lesssons on how not to smuggle Venezualen crude oil in violation of sanctions and how not to steal confidential U S military technology.
There oughta be a law …
While the world needs energy, your Administration commits govenmental malpractice. For examples see your daily newspaper not on one coast or the other.