Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the filing of a criminal complaint charging FABIO BRETAS DE FREITAS with commodities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and identity theft in connection with BRETAS’s operation of two related investment companies, Phynance Capital Management LLC (“Phy Capital”) and Absolute Experience LLC (“Absolute”).
BRETAS is alleged to have misrepresented to investors the trading activity and use of funds invested in Phy Capital and Absolute, and, after acquiring investor funds, misappropriated a large portion of those funds for his personal benefit. Additionally, after the initiation of an audit of BRETAS’s companies by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) and the National Futures Association (“NFA”), BRETAS allegedly attempted to deceive those regulators by impersonating a victim-investor using a fraudulent email account appearing to belong to that victim, but in fact controlled by BRETAS. BRETAS was arrested this morning in Miami and will be presented before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Florida later today.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Fabio Bretas de Freitas used sham investment companies to steal both the money and the identities of his would-be investors. Thanks to the dedication of the FBI, and with the support and assistance of the CFTC and NFA, Bretas’s alleged scheme has collapsed around him and he will now be held to account.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “The defendant obtained more than $5.5 million from people who invested their money in good faith. But as alleged, instead of investing those funds as he had promised, the defendant used it to cover his own personal expenses, even going so far as to impersonate one of his own victims to deceive investigators. Bretas’s arrest should serve as a stark reminder that those who seek to manipulate our financial systems for their personal gain will be identified and disrupted.”
According to the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court:
BRETAS started Phy Capital and Absolute in 2016, and ultimately obtained more than $5.5 million from various investors (the “Victims”). While BRETAS conducted a minimal level of trading, his predominant use of his companies was the theft of investor money, using it to cover his personal expenses, and transferring investor funds abroad. When his regulators, the CFTC and NFA, initiated an audit of BRETAS in 2017, BRETAS lied about his affiliation with Absolute, falsely claimed that his victims’ funds reflected mere loans to his company, lied about the use of those funds and the solicitation of investments, and ultimately created a fraudulent email account for the purpose of impersonating one victim in communications with the NFA.
BRETAS, 53, of Miami, Florida, was arrested this morning in Miami. BRETAS is charged with wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; commodities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison; and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
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This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew C. Adams and Benet Kearney are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.