The former chief marketing officer at now-defunct Mirae Bank was sentenced Monday to 70 months in federal prison for his role in a scheme that caused the Koreatown-based lender to issue more than $15 million in fraudulent loans, and ultimately caused the bank to suffer severe losses.
Ataollah “Johnny” Aminpour, 60, of Beverly Hills was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer to pay about $7.5 million in restitution. Fischer then remanded Aminpour, who had been free on bond, into federal custody to begin serving his sentence immediately, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Aminpour pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one felony count of making a false statement to a financial institution.
According to court documents, 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 instances, Aminpour would identify a business for the borrower to purchase, and would negotiate the sales price.
On the commercial loan applications that Aminpour would submit to the bank on behalf of the borrower, however, he would overstate the actual purchase price of the business, thereby causing the bank to issue inflated loan amounts that were not fully secured, according to federal prosecutors.
From 2005 to 2007, Aminpour, along with other participants, submitted bogus commercial loan applications to Mirae Bank, a federally insured financial institution. In his role as a senior bank executive, Aminpour submitted and knowingly caused others to submit false information not only about the true purchase price of the business but also about the assets of the borrowers and the finances of the businesses being purchased, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Aminpour also allowed borrowers to circumvent the bank’s down payment requirements by arranging for money to be transferred into escrow accounts so it would falsely appear to Mirae Bank that the borrowers were making large down payments. As a result, borrowers were able to acquire businesses with little to no money down, with Aminpour earning commissions as a result and, in some instances, with Aminpour misappropriating the excess loan proceeds for himself, court papers show.
For example, Aminpour made false statements to Mirae Bank in an application for a $4.2 million loan in connection with the purchase a car wash in Maywood. When he pleaded guilty, Aminpour admitted that, on the application, he falsely stated that the purchase price of the car wash was $6.65 million when the real purchase price was $3.25 million.
Aminpour further admitted that his scheme involved false statements in six loan applications submitted between November 2005 and February 2007 for loans totaling $16.7 million, and that losses on those loans exceeded $7.5 million.
In addition to the loans charged as part of the fraud in the case, Aminpour referred about $150 million in loans to Mirae Bank, and the losses on those loans played a significant role in the bank’s 2009 collapse, according to court documents.
After the bank’s failure, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over Mirae Bank as its receiver. The FDIC and Wilshire Bank, which acquired Mirae Bank’s assets from FDIC, together suffered more than $33 million in losses on the Aminpour-referred loans. Wilshire Bank was subsequently acquired by, and now does business as, Bank of Hope.
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