Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MARC WIESELTHIER, a certified public accountant and former partner at a New York accounting firm (the “Firm”), was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for participating in a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in loans by making false statements and providing false and fraudulent documents to two commercial banks based in New York (the “Banks”) concerning the financial condition of a Florida-based cosmetics company (the “Company”) that was a client of WIESELTHIER. WIESELTHIER pled guilty on November 18, 2015, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman. Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Outside auditors are responsible for ensuring their clients’ financial statements are accurate. Marc Wieselthier, a partner at a New York accounting firm, admitted to falsely certifying a company’s financial statements, knowing that it would deceive two New York banks into making multimillion-dollar loans.”
According to the allegations contained in the information to which WIESELTHIER pled guilty, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made in court proceedings:
WIESELTHIER was a licensed certified public accountant at the Firm. From 2009 through at least November 2015, WIESELTHIER was a partner at the Firm. The Company and its chief executive officer (“CEO”) were clients of WIESELTHIER, who performed, among other things, year-end audits of financial statements for the Company.
From 2007 through 2014, the Company, through its officers and WIESLTHIER, fraudulently induced the Banks into lending the Company millions of dollars by repeatedly making, and causing to be made, materially false and misleading statements about the Company’s financial condition. Specifically, the Company falsely inflated its sales and accounts receivable on “borrowing base certificates” and in financial statements audited by WIESELTHIER, which were provided to the Banks pursuant to loan agreements between the Banks and the Company. The Company used those falsely inflated sales and accounts receivable to mislead the Banks about the Company’s true financial performance in order to secure and draw down millions of dollars in revolving loans from the Banks that the Company would not otherwise have been entitled to receive.
As part of the scheme, on an annual basis, WIESELTHIER knowingly issued unqualified audit reports known as “clean opinions” falsely certifying that the Company’s financial statements fairly, and in all material respects, reflected the true financial condition of the Company and were in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). In truth and in fact, at the time that WIESELTHIER issued those “clean opinions,” WIESELTHIER knew that the Company’s financial statements overstated the Company’s accounts receivable and understood that the Banks would rely upon those false financial statements in loaning money to the Company. WIESELTHIER hid his accounting work for the Company from his own partners and associates at the Firm in an apparent effort to conceal the fraud.
In March 2014, the Company defaulted on the loans at issue. At that time, the Company’s outstanding balance on the loans was more than $4.8 million.
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In addition to his prison term, WIESELTHIER, 57, of Plainview, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay forfeiture of $166,000 and restitution of $4,888,460.35.
Three other defendants in this matter, Thomas Thompson, the sales manager of the Company, Jay Sosonko, the CFO of the Company, and Emanuel Cohen, the CEO of the Company, previously pled guilty for their roles in the fraudulent scheme, and are scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2016, April 14, 2016, and June 1, 2016, respectively.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. Imperatore is in charge of the prosecution.
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