“Greed Overpowering Judgment” Says US Attorney Over Commodities Fraud

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ALEX V. EKDESHMAN, the Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Management, LLC, pleaded guilty today to commodities fraud. EKDESHMAN ran a fraudulent scheme in which he solicited over $1.5 million dollars from over 100 investors for the purpose of investing in foreign exchange currency transactions and then misappropriated the majority of investors’ funds to pay for personal and business expenses. EKDESHMAN was originally charged in May 2014, and he pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court before the Honorable Vernon S. Broderick, United States District Judge.

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U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Alex Ekdeshman stole over $1.5 million from over 100 investors. His actions are another example of greed overpowering judgment.”

According to the Information, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made during court proceedings:

From at least in or about May 2011 through May 2013, EKDESHMAN ran a fraudulent commodities trading scheme. EKDESHMAN, who was chief executive officer of Paramount Management, LLC (“Paramount Management”), located in New York, New York, represented to investors that Paramount Management was in the business of investing in foreign exchange currency transactions, or “forex.” Through various employees of Paramount Management, EKDESHMAN solicited investor funds on the understanding that the funds would be solely invested in forex. As a result of these solicitations, EKDESHMAN and his employees collected at least $1.58 million from approximately 115 investors.

Contrary to EKDESHMAN’s promise to invest the investors’ funds in forex, EKDESHMAN misappropriated the large majority of investor funds. More than $1 million in investor funds were never traded in forex. Instead, EKDESHMAN used those funds to make payments to himself and his family members, to buy personal items, to pay for business expenses related to Paramount Management, and to pay employees of Paramount Management.

EKDESHMAN, 38, of Holmdel, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to one count of commodities fraud. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and thanked the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission for its assistance. He added that the investigation is continuing.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Masella is in charge of the prosecution.

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