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2 Convicted in Sale of Counterfeit Bonds : Courts: Florida federal jury finds Irvine investment firm owner and a former Justice Department official guilty of charges involving $400 million in fraudulent Japanese securities.

From Reuters

An investment company owner from Irvine and a former U.S. Justice Department official have been convicted of charges stemming from the sale of $400 million worth of counterfeit Japanese government bonds, prosecutors said.

In a verdict returned late Thursday, a Tampa federal court jury found B. J. Bravender Ah Loo guilty on 10 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, wire fraud and passing counterfeit Japanese bonds.

Norbert A. Schlei was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy to possess and deliver counterfeit foreign bank notes.

Schlei, a 65-year-old attorney from Beverly Hills, was an assistant attorney general during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and was an adviser to then-Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and Attys. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy and Nicolas Katzenbach, according to U.S. Atty. Charles Wilson.

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Ah Loo, 66, of Irvine, is the managing director of Transfield Investments Ltd.

Two other defendants, Bruce Hansberry and Roger Hill, changed their pleas to guilty during the trial.

Hansberry is Ah Loo’s son and lives in Tampa, Wilson said. Hill, 58, of Mesa, Ariz., is an independent securities broker, the prosecutor said.

A fifth defendant, Alan Reedy, was found innocent at trial and a sixth, Toshio Takahashi, remains a fugitive.

Ah Loo, Hansberry and Hill were arrested two years ago during negotiations to sell a counterfeit 50-billion yen Japanese bond to undercover federal agents posing as purchasers. At the time, 50 billion yen was worth about $400 million, Wilson said.

Federal agents seized more than $2 billion worth of counterfeit Japanese bonds and Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank cashier’s checks from the defendants.

Federal authorities began investigating the defendants in 1991 after receiving a tip that Ah Loo’s company was offering to market up to $16 billion worth of counterfeit Japanese securities, Wilson said.

According to trial testimony, the conspiracy began in 1986 when Schlei and others obtained counterfeit Japanese government bonds and cashier’s checks.

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“Prosecutions of fraud cases such as this preserve the integrity of the financial markets in this country and globally,” Wilson said.

Ah Loo, Hansberry and Hill face sentences of up to 200 years in prison and fines of more than $200 million. Schlei faces up to six years in prison and $350,000 in fines.


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