Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The former chief marketing officer of a now-defunct Los Angeles bank was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging he was responsible for the  issuance of $150 million in fraudulent loans that caused Mirae Bank to suffer $33 million in losses and were a factor in the institution’s failure in 2009.

Ataollah “Johnny” Aminpour, 57, of Beverly Hills, was arrested without incident pursuant to an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 7, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Aminpour was expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.

Attempts to reach Aminpour’s attorney were unsuccessful.

According to the indictment, Aminpour held himself out as a successful businessman who could help people obtain financing for gas station and car wash businesses with little or no down payment.

In some cases, Aminpour personally identified businesses to be purchased and negotiated a sale price, but allegedly overstated the actual purchase price to buyers.

For those buyers and others whom Aminpour introduced to Mirae Bank, Aminpour oversaw the loan process and provided loan officers with information and documentation that contained false facts and figures, including the actual purchase price of the business and the source of the down payment, the indictment alleges.

As a result, Mirae Bank funded inflated loans, with excess funds secretly going to Aminpour, borrowers and/or “hard money lenders” who had surreptitiously provided funds used to make down payments, prosecutors allege.

The indictment alleges that, as part of the scheme, Aminpour arranged for fake down payments — money that came from hard money lenders who made short-term, high-interest loans or, in some cases, from Aminpour himself.

Aminpour also allegedly arranged for bogus lender information to be submitted to Mirae Bank in documents that falsely represented borrower assets, their experience in the business being purchased or the income expected from the business.

In one instance detailed in the indictment, Aminpour allegedly caused a document to be submitted to Mirae Bank showing that a borrower had more than $1.4 million on deposit at another bank, when Aminpour himself had provided the borrower with $1.3 million — money that was in the borrower’s account for only one day.

“Mr. Aminpour allegedly orchestrated a scheme in which Mirae Bank funded loans based on applications that were rife with misstatements and false information,” said Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

“Over the course of nearly four years, Mr. Aminpour was able to skim money from many of these loans, which allowed him to profit at the expense of the bank and taxpayers who had to bail out the failed financial institution,” she alleged.

If convicted as charged, Aminpour would face up to 30 years in federal prison for each of the eight counts.

The California Department of Financial Institutions closed Mirae Bank and its five branches in July 2009 and appointed the FDIC as receiver. Wilshire State Bank then purchased the assets and assumed the entire deposits and secured borrowings of Mirae from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

—Staff and wire reports

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