1,200 investors were defrauded for a total sum of more than $20 million in an investment scam, and one of the involved pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme. Sounds like justice? It might seem like that until you hear that he’s not likely to spend a minute of time in jail.
The Guilty Plea
Varun Aurora, a former concrete equities executive pleaded guilty to fraud regarding his role in tricking around 1200 investors out of $20 million. The Securities Commission asked the court to distribute $1.8 million of Aurora’s frozen funds to his victims.
Aurora, 33, pleaded guilty to a single fraud charge of $5,000 in a courtroom packed with many of his victims. Some of the victims could even be heard crying amidst all these. A few of the victims shared that they felt suicidal while some shared that they felt traumatized. Many of Aurora’s victims are retirees or nearly retired who are now facing having to work for a few more years to recuperate from the losses brought on by the fraud. The other charges against him were dropped.
Prosecutor Stephen Johnson read aloud some of the statements from Aurora’s 98 victims who shared victim impact statements with the court. One Gordon Shaw shared that he lost his home as a result of investing in the fraudulent company. His victim impact statement shows that he called those who were involved in the scam as ‘greedy men’. Shaw also wrote that he is upset, disappointed, and unable to relax about the matter as he is having feelings of betrayal.
The scam involved promising investors a return of more than 5x (500%) if they buy a stake in an undeveloped beach property which was supposedly in Mexico. No such development exists according to Johnston.
Donna Anderson and Denise Hamilton both lost money when they invested with Concrete Equities. The ladies expressed that they want to see Aurora get some jail time for what he did.
Both women shared that the money they lost through the fraudulent company has had a huge impact on their lives. They thought they’ll be doing well in retirement only to find out that it was all a lie. Anderson described the financial impact as ‘horrendous’.
Aurora was a former executive at Concrete Equities who was also an officer of the real estate project which deceived investors. The project, called El Golfo, presented investors with exaggerated and untrue statements. Even Aurora’s education was misrepresented.
El Golfo raised $25 million in 2009 and the project collapsed afterward.
Johnston said that Aurora’s involvement in the fraud is minimal but he also knew what was going on and simply turned a blind eye. Because of this, prosecutors Brian Kiers and Stephen Johnston together with defense lawyer Brian Beresh recommended a 2-year conditional sentence for Aurora.
As part of his sentence, Aurora has paid $1 million in restitution. 9 of his family members were also in court. He came back voluntarily to face his charges after he was arrested in India.