Judge Goes After Funds Transferred Overseas From St. Paul Croatian FCU
CLEVELAND – A federal judge has ordered the repatriation of $2.3 million traced to last year’s collapse of St. Paul Croatian FCU from a Macedonian bank while authorities try to determine whether the funds were among those siphoned from the one-time $240 million credit union.
The funds were transferred to the Capital Bank AD by Koljo Nikolovski, a purported Macedonian crime figure who is being tried on charges of participating in a $170 million fraud that sunk the credit union, one of the biggest credit union frauds ever.
Federal prosecutors said Nikolovski’s nephew, who was among nine individuals indicted in the fraud scheme, tried to personally access the funds in Skopje, Macedonia, but was turned away because he did not have a valid power of attorney.
Koljo Nikolovski is being held in prison while he awaits trial on charges of siphoning as much as $5 million from the credit union through a bribery and phony loan scheme that allegedly earned the credit union’s CEO, Anthony Raquez, more than $500,000 in exchange for approving the loans. Raquez allegedly approved the loans even though Nikolovski and the other borrowers had no intention of repaying them.
The failure of St. Paul Croatian, based in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, has spread beyond the shores of Lake Erie to several credit unions and a nearby church that had uninsured deposits in the credit union. NCUA also claims the credit union helped finance an $8 million Ponzi scheme that bilked dozens of parishioners at St. Paul Croatian Church, the credit union’s chief sponsor.