The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) provided millions of dollars in financing to a Miami small business perpetrating a Ponzi scheme, according to a recent report by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The business had already defrauded private lenders out of $8 million in loans and used $2 million in Ex-Im financing to pay off these lenders and continue their scam.
The business, run by three family members defrauded private lenders out of millions of dollars by creating fictitious invoices for the sale of merchandise that never occurred. As the report notes, when private lenders started to get suspicious and refused to provide new loans, the small business went to Ex-Im:
“After the Miami lenders refused to extend further credit, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly created false invoices and shipping documents to obtain a loan guaranteed by the Ex-Im Bank.”
The conspirators used Ex-Im financing to continue their Ponzi scheme by paying back private creditors and pocketing whatever was left:
“Rather than acquiring, selling and shipping American-manufactured goods as required for Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed loans, the defendants allegedly used the loan proceeds to extend the fraudulent scheme by paying off other lenders, and split the remaining funds among themselves and other co-conspirators.”
The Ex-Im Bank Inspector General’s office is currently prosecuting the family, with assistance from the FBI and the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a first for the Ex-Im Bank. Since 2009, the bank has been tied to fraud and corruption in alarmingly frequent fashion culminating in 85 criminal indictments, 48 criminal judgments, and a quarter billion in fines, restitution, and forfeiture from investigations into Ex-Im.
Outrageous stories of waste and fraud have become all too common with the Ex-Im Bank and as a result, Congress decided to let its charter expire last month. But now, supporters of the bank have tied reauthorization to must-pass highway funding. Despite the objection of many members, the US Senate is this week expected to reauthorize the bank.
Key “reforms” in the reauthorization amendment include lifting the floor on required small business loans from 20 percent of the bank’s operations to 25 percent. But given the lax oversight that allowed the Miami business to use Ex-Im to continue its Ponzi scheme, it is unlikely that these changes to Ex-Im will do anything but put taxpayer dollars further at risk.