Former Chief Financial Officer of Irvine Technical Firm Arrested Upon Entering the U.S. for Embezzling $16 Million from Employer

A former chief finanancial officer for an Irvine-based company was ordered to be returned to California after being arrested for embezzling approximately $16 million from his employer, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and André Birotte, Jr, the United States Attorney in Los Angeles. During a detention hearing on Tuesday in the Eastern District of New York, a federal magistrate ordered Joseph Ibrahim, 33, formerly of Rancho Santa Margarita, to be transferred to Orange County for prosecution. Ibrahim was arrested by FBI agents on Friday, March 30 when he entered the United States through New York’s John F Kennedy Airport. Ibrahim was charged in a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Santa Ana with wire fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. According to the complaint, the investigation was initiated on March 8, 2012 when legal representatives for an Irvine-based company, Trustin Inc ., contacted the United States Attorney’s Office to report suspicions that their CFO had embezzled funds prior to resigning from the company. The FBI initiated an investigation and learned that company executives questioned Ibrahim about cash flow problems in early 2012 and were told by Ibrahim that the shortage was due to delinquent payments by multiple clients.

When Ibrahim resigned in late February 2012, the company conducted an analysis of their accounting records and discovered that Ibrahim had diverted company funds on multiple occasions to his personal account, as well as an account he controlled to trade in the commodities markets, the complaint alleges. The complaint alleges that further analysis of the company’s accounts revealed that Ibrahim made hundreds of wire transfers to his personal accounts and, on occasion, made wire transfers back to the company. After factoring in funds diverted to and from his personal accounts, Ibrahim embezzled approximately $16 million from the company, according to the complaint. The complaint further alleges that Ibrahim telephonically contacted company executives after the fraud was discovered. At that time, Ibrahim acknowledged that he made the unauthorized transfers and that the money was spent on gambling and personal expenses. Ibrahim advised that he was prepared to return a portion of the money if company executives did not report him to law enforcement and did not sue him for the money.

After a series of telephone calls and a purported “settlement arrangement” with Trustin executives, Ibrahim agreed to make payments to the company in exchange for what he believed was an agreement by Trustin executives to withhold the fraud allegations from law enforcement, according to the complaint. Further investigation revealed that Ibrahim left the country with his family in late February 2012 and that Ibrahim intended to flee the United States to avoid prosecution. During one conversation, the complaint alleges, Trustin executives asked Ibrahim if he had money with which to pay the company back. In reply, Ibrahim suggested that if he did have money, he would already be in a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States. According to the complaint, an e-mail to Ibrahim that was found on the company’s server indicates that Ibrahim purchased a villa in a suburb of Tehran, Iran. Further investigation of Ibrahim’s travel in early February indicated that he was stopped by United States Customs officials upon returning to the United States from a trip with stops in Switzerland, Turkey, and Lebanon. Customs officials inspected Ibrahim’s luggage at that time and found approximately 40 gold bars worth more than $1 million. Ibrahim will be transported from New York to Orange County by United States Marshals and will be scheduled for arraignment in United States District Court in Santa Ana upon his return. This continuing investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, with assistance from the FBI’s New York Field Office. Ibrahim will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Published on: 2012-04-04

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