News just broke that the US Attorney has indicted mega church pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell for Securities Fraud. Pastor Caldwell is the spiritual adviser to the young President Bush who even presided over the wedding of the president's daughter.
Caldwell is alleged to have sold "Chinese bonds" that were essentially worthless to members of his congregation - for more than $3 Million.
Here's what the indictment says:
He repeatedly told investors that the bonds were "risk free," "guaranteed," and "safe" and that there were buyers lined up to purchase the bonds. Smith also told investors that the bonds would either be sold to a third party or redeemed by the Chinese government. Caldwell also made similar oral misrepresentations to several investors about the safety of the investment, both before and after they invested. In fact, he even told one investor who invested approximately $800,000 that the bonds were backed by gold orsilver. Both Smith and Caldwell told investors that the bonds were valuable and worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars. Neither disclosed that the bonds were in default and no liquid market for the bonds existed. Caldwell and Smith also never told investors they would use investor funds to pay for personal expenses.
Although many investors did not understand the investment, they ultimately trusted Smith and took comfort in the fact that a high-profile pastor was offering the investment. Among other things, Smith falsely represented to investors that he too had invested in the bonds and that investors were guaranteed a return on investment which would be paid in less than one year. In one case he promised a return on investment in as little as 30 days. However, Smith failed to tell these investors that these bonds had already matured and had been in default for decades, or that they were not redeemable at all. Smith also failed to disclose that he was receiving compensation for recommending the investment to prospective investors.
19. Caldwell also held frequent investor calls to explain the reasons for the delays. Smith and purported foreign intermediaries participated in these calls to provide further insight on the status of the sale of the bonds to third parties. Many investors received lulling emails and text messages from Caldwell or Smith. Some investors spoke directly with Caldwell about the failed deals. He repeatedly told them to remain faithful and that they would receive their money. Caldwell also used religious references in his lulling emails to give investors hope that they would soon be repaid. Finally, Caldwell sometimes used the alias "Turner Hines" when communicating with investors. 20. Caldwell and Smith received approximately $760,000 and $1,000,000, respectively, of investor funds. LDT, controlled by Caldwell, also received approximately $1,000,000 of investor funds, approximately $175,000 of which was transferred to Caldwell. Offshore third parties, at least one in Mexico, received most of the remainder of the investor funds. Investor funds were comingled with other funds in Caldwell's and Smith's bank accounts. Caldwell and Smith used these accounts in part to pay for personal expenses, including mortgage payments in the case of Caldwell and luxury automobiles in the case of Smith. No investor to date has ever received any return on his or her investment. The great majority of investors have never even received their principal back.