Certified public accountant (CPA) and alleged outside auditor for Provident Capital Indemnity (PCI), Jorge Luis Castillo, plead guilty last week for his role in a $670 million fraud scheme effecting victims across the country and abroad.
Castillo plead guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
According to a statement of facts filed with Castillo’s plea agreement, PCI was an insurance and reinsurance company registered in the Commonwealth of Dominica and doing business in Costa Rica. PCI sold financial guarantee bonds to companies selling life settlements, or securities backed by life settlements, to investors. These bonds were marketed to PCI’s clients as a way to alleviate the risk of insured beneficiaries living beyond their life expectancy. The clients, in turn, typically explained to their investors that the financial guarantee bonds ensured that the investors would receive their expected return on investment irrespective of whether the insured on the underlying life settlement lived beyond his or her life expectancy.
Castillo admitted that he conspired with Minor Vargas Calvo, the president and majority owner of PCI, to prepare audited financial statements, that falsely claimed that PCI had entered into reinsurance contracts with major reinsurance companies. These claims, which were supported by a letter from Castillo stating that he conducted an audit of PCI’s financial records, were used to assure PCI’s clients that the reinsurance companies were backstopping the majority of the risk that PCI had insured through its financial guarantee bonds.
Castillo admitted that he never performed an audit of PCI’s financial statements and that, in fact, he personally created the statements he claimed to be independently auditing. He also admitted that he and others at PCI knew that the company never actually entered into reinsurance contracts with any major companies. Castillo also admitted that he and other conspirators provided the false financial statements and fraudulent independent auditors’ report to Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), which D&B relied on in compiling its commercial reports on PCI and issuing its 5A rating of PCI’s financial strength.
From 2004 through 2010, PCI sold approximately $670 million of bonds to life settlement investment companies located in various countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada. PCI’s clients, in turn, sold investment offerings backed by PCI’s bonds to thousands of investors around the world. Purchasers of PCI’s bonds were allegedly required to make up-front payments of six to 11 percent of the underlying settlement as “premium” payments to PCI before the company would issue the bonds.
Court records state that Castillo received approximately $84,000 from his work as the purported outside auditor of PCI from 2004 through 2010.
Vargas, a citizen and resident of Costa Rica, and PCI were charged in a superseding indictment in October, with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Vargas was also charged with three counts of money laundering.
“Mr. Castillo played an integral role in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme that harmed investors throughout the United States and abroad,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Trading on his qualification as a CPA, he created false documents that concealed the true nature of PCI’s operations. We are determined to continue holding accountable those who commit financial fraud, and prey upon unsuspecting investors”.
If you have been scammed and would like to file a scam report, please click here.