Bellevue man charged in $65M scheme
February 8, 2009 · Updated 10:55 AM
Robert Miracle of Bellevue has been indicted on 23 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion according to papers filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The indictment alleges that Miracle, 48, along with Mukhtar Kechik, 52, and Fahimi Fisal, 32, operated a $65-million “Ponzi” scheme. Miracle was arrested at his home in Bellevue Thursday morning and was arraigned on the indictment at 2:30 that afternoon.
Kechik and Fisal, both are Malaysian nationals. Warrants have been issued for their arrest.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.
According to the indictment, Miracle operated a number of companies allegedly involved in oil development in Malaysia and Indonesia, including: Laramie Petroleum, Inc.; MCube Petroleum, Inc.; Diski Limited Liability Company; Basilam Limited Liability Company; and Halmahera-Rembang Limited Liability Company.
Miracle and his co-defendants represented to investors that these companies were making money from oil-field development and from the sale of oil-field services. In fact, the funds of later investors were used to pay off the investments of earlier investors.
Between September 2004 and October 2007, Miracle took in more than $65 million from investors and paid out more than $36 million in returns to investors, using funds from later investors. The remainder of the investor monies - more than $28 million - was used in a failed effort to develop oil and gas on fields in Indonesia, as well as to pay for a lavish lifestyle for Miracle and his cohorts, federal officials say.
According to the indictment, as part of the conspiracy, Miracle allegedly mislead investors both about his business background, and about the success of the companies he promoted. He falsely claimed to have been employed by NASA and Disney. Miracle also allegedly falsely claimed that his companies actually were producing and selling oil and gas.
Between 2004 and 2007, Miracle issued a number of press releases and “investor updates” touting his companies’ successes. According to e-mails referenced in the indictment, the conspirators plotted to make false financial statements, which they referred to as “simulation files,” that falsely showed that the companies were producing oil and gas, and receiving revenues from the sale of that oil and gas. Miracle also allegedly created false bank documents to support their fraud.
As part of the indictment the government is seeking to forfeit a two-carat diamond ring Miracle purchased for more than $38,000 and a painting that he purchased in Italy for $27,000. The indictment also alleges that Miracle used investor funds to take 10 of his family members on a week-long cruise at a cost of more than $77,000, and that he evaded taxes on more than $527,000 of income in 2005 by falsely classifying the money that he received from his companies that year as loans to him from the companies, rather than as salary.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carl Blackstone and Andrew C. Friedman, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Tyler Letey.