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Financial Crimes

Texas man sentenced to 24 months for scheme to defraud U.S. Ex-Im Bank

WASHINGTON — An El Paso, Texas, resident was sentenced Oct. 20 to 24 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) of more than $3.6 million. This sentencing followed an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, and the Ex-Im Bank Office of Inspector General.

Gilberto Baez-Garcia, 35, was also sentenced, by Judge Kathleen Cardone of the U.S. District Court in El Paso, to five years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $3,614,594 in restitution and $3,614,977 in forfeiture. Baez pleaded guilty May 11 to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and bank fraud. He admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud the Ex-Im Bank of more than $3.6 million. Baez most recently resided in El Paso. HSI special agents arrested him June 4, 2010.

According to court documents, Baez was the co-owner of Valcomar Inc., an export company in El Paso that purported to be in the business of exporting U.S.-manufactured goods to Mexico. During his plea hearing, Baez admitted that he and another El Paso exporter created false documents so Baez could obtain a fraudulent Ex-Im Bank loan, which resulted in a $1,016,126 loss to the government. Baez also admitted that he and his co-conspirators assisted others to obtain fraudulent Ex-Im loans, which resulted in more than $2 million in losses to the government.

According to court records, all of the Ex-Im loans involving Baez were fraudulent and Baez and others stole the loan proceeds by transferring funds to Mexico and elsewhere. As a result, the loans went into default and caused the Ex-Im Bank to pay claims losses to the lending banks in the amount of $3,614,594.

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing. Ex-Im Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Service also participated in the investigation.