A Florida businessman has been ordered to pay roughly $1 million and spend over a year in prison for defrauding the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Emilio Michel, 55, was the owner of Sea Star Boat Corp., a boat manufacturing company "that ostensibly sold and exported small boats to buyers in foreign countries," according to a Thursday press release from the Office of Inspector General for the Export-Import Bank.
But Sea Star wasn't in the business of selling boats, according to the agency's investigator Dan Stitt.
Instead, Michel and others allegedly conspired to defraud the Export-Import Bank in a scheme that began in January 2009. Michel took out an insurance policy from the bank that covered his business in case foreign buyers failed to pay for the boats.
Michel then assigned the proceeds of the policy to a private lending institution in Miami, which was unnamed in court documents, in order to get financing for the purchase and export of his boats. Under the terms of the agreement with the Miami lender, the Export-Import Bank was responsible if Michel or Sea Star defaulted on loan payments.
This agreement left the Export-Import Bank on the hook for $355,652 when Michel and others allegedly submitted false information in order to obtain credit from the Miami lender, then defaulted on the loan. The falsified documents showed that Sea Star had sold and shipped $680,449 worth of goods to foreign buyers.
"In fact, according to court records, Michel had not sold or shipped any of the goods," the Office of Inspector General said in the release.
Michel was sentenced for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud by a U.S. District judge in the Southern District of Florida. He pleaded guilty to the charges in November.