Exclusive: Charges in massive investment fraud case
The Department of Justice has filed felony charges against an East Bay man and his son, in what could turn out to be the largest securities fraud case in California history. At stake is more than $700 million from about 2,800 investors, many of them in the Bay Area.
The ABC7 News I-Team's Dan Noyes first broke the story more than two years ago; he also reported then that the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission were investigating Walter and Kelly Ng, and finally, the criminal case is moving forward. So many people have lost their life savings.
Walter Ng had no answer in September 2011 when Dan asked him, "Mr. Ng, what do you say to investors who've lost all that money?"
Over the past 35 years, Walter Ng and his son, Kelly, ran a series of limited partnerships -- among them, RE Loans, Bar-K, Inc., and B-4 partners -- that made loans to real estate developers.
The charging document, "the United States of America versus Walter Ng and Kelly Ng," says they, in effect, looted the funds by making repeated cash withdrawals. The Ng's are charged with "structuring transactions for the purpose of evading a reporting requirement;" 11 counts for Walter, 20 for Kelly. Each count carries a possible 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Investor Dr. Bernard Wittenberg tells the I-Team, "It's been a hell of a long delay."
The 81-year-old is typical of the Ng investors -- he met them through friends and eventually lost more than $400,000. He's had to delay his retirement. He's relieved the Ngs have finally been charged.
"I felt happy at last," Wittenberg said. "I'll be happier when they're sitting in jail and happier yet if they're able to extract anything, but I think we may have lost every penny."
The Ngs also face a civil case from the SEC, accusing them of lying to investors about the health of their funds and "secretly using the assets of a new real estate fund to rescue an older, rapidly collapsing fund."
And attorney Richard Brown is leading a class action lawsuit; he thinks the Ngs and others involved in the funds may face additional charges.
"I think there will be more criminal charges to come," Brown said. "I think during this period when the Ngs were skimming the money, the people who were supposed to be watching over them, their lawyers, accountants and bankers were not doing their jobs."
The Ngs are set for arraignment in one month; Dan Noyes will be there to cover it. Walter Ng's attorney declined to comment Thursday, and Kelly Ng's lawyer did not call back. Now that they are charged, an IRS rule from the Bernie Madoff case comes into play -- investors may be able to deduct up to 95 percent of their losses.
SEC, FBI, oakland, lawsuit, fraud, i-team, dan noyes
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