RICHMOND, Va. – A Glen Allen man pleaded guilty today to committing wire fraud and making false statements to a federally insured bank during a two-year scheme to defraud both a Pennsylvania-based bank and the Export-Import Bank of the United States in connection with a $1.6 million loan.
According to court documents, Tae Il Lee, 41, was the Managing Director of New World Group, a Richmond-based company engaged in the business of exporting American snacks and other food stuffs to international buyers (typically South Korean companies). In April 2016, Lee sought what eventually became a $1.6 million loan from First National Bank of Pennsylvania, relying on the “Working Capital Program” offered by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank). Under the program, EXIM guaranteed to provide financial backing for the loan in the event that New World Group defaulted.
Over the next two years, Lee regularly provided First National Bank, and the bank’s auditing firm, with financial documents that purported to show New World Group’s accounts receivable, banking statements, and financial statements. These documents reflected that New World Group was a growing, thriving export company, grossing more than $6 million in export sales in 2017 and another $6.3 million in just the first few months of 2018. Lee admitted in court today that those documents were false.
According to court documents, Lee had created fictitious accounts receivable and financial statements, and doctored New World Group’s actual bank statements to show non-existent, high-dollar transactions that never took place. During the course of his fraud scheme, Lee also created a fictitious intermediary—a purported employee of New World Group—in order to account for delays in Lee’s communications with First National Bank.
In the spring of 2018, First National Bank issued a demand letter for the $1.6 million loan to New World Group. New World Group never completed any payments to First National Bank, which requested that EXIM cover the defaulted loan. EXIM did so, absorbing the $1.6 million loss.
Lee is scheduled to be sentenced on May 12, 2021. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for wire fraud and 30 years in prison for making false statements to a federally insured bank. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jennifer Fain, Acting Inspector General for the Export-Import Bank of the United States, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge David J. Novak accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas A. Garnett and Kaitlin G. Cooke are prosecuting the case.
This matter was investigated by the EXIM Office of Inspector General (OIG). EXIM is the official export credit agency of the United States and assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. Complaints and reports of waste, fraud, and abuse related to EXIM programs and operations can be reported to the OIG hotline at 888-OIG-EXIM (888-644-3946) or via email at IGhotline@exim.gov.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:21-cr-2.