BULLETIN: U.S. Trustee Says ‘Compelling Evidence Of Fraud’ And ‘Reasonable Grounds’ To Believe ‘Criminal Conduct’ Occurred On Road To TelexFree Bankruptcy Filing

breakingnews72BULLETIN:  (11th Update 2:35 p.m. EDT U.S.A.) The United States’ trustee who serves the region (Nevada) in which TelexFree’s bankruptcy case was filed on April 13 has alleged there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that “criminal conduct” occurred at TelexFree.

Trustee Tracy Hope Davis, who works for a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, says in Bankruptcy Court filings that the court should appoint a Chapter 11 trustee because “[t]here is compelling evidence of fraud, dishonesty and gross mismanagement of the affairs of the TelexFree debtor entities, TelexFree, LLC, TelexFree, Inc. and TelexFree Financial, Inc.

Davis was appointed trustee of the region by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in November 2013.

The motion by Davis cites separate fraud actions against TelexFree filed April 15 by the Massachusetts Securities Division (MSD) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). MSD is the state-level securities regulator in Massachusetts. The SEC is the top securities regulator in the United States.

“In response to subpoenas issued by the MSD in January and February, 2014, TelexFree changed its compensation plan so that promoters would now be required to sell its VoIP product in order to qualify for the payments that TelexFree had previously promised to pay them,” Davis alleged. “The rule change has generated a storm of protests from promoters who cannot recover their money. The change has also caused a precipitous decline in investor revenue which has pushed TelexFree into bankruptcy.”

Meanwhile, the Davis motion cites an SEC complaint and emergency motion in Massachusetts federal court on April 15 that successfully sought an asset freeze against alleged TelexFree co-owners James Merrill and Carlos Wanzeler and TelexFree CFO Joseph Craft (and others), along with a Temporary Restraining Order.

“Millions of additional investor funds received by TelexFree are presently unaccounted for,” Davis alleged. “Fortunately, the TRO was granted by the District Court for the District of Massachusetts and all of the Debtors’ accounts have been frozen pending a preliminary injunction.”

As a result of TelexFree, Davis alleged, “[t]wo companies controlled by Craft received more than $2,010,000.00 between November 19, 2013 and March 14, 2014.” Millions more allegedly went to Merrill and Wanzeler.

Among the assertions by Davis:

  • The Debtors did not disclose that several banks and at least one payment processor stopped doing business with them, apparently due to concerns about the legality of its multi-level marketing program.
  • It appears that part of the reason for the Debtors’ cash flow problems was the diversion of funds to insiders.
  • Craft was caught “holding the bag” when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was executing a search warrant at TelexFree headquarters in Massachusetts on April 15.

“When Craft was caught ‘holding the bag’ during the execution of the HSI search warrant on April 15, 2014, nine of the ten cashier’s checks that were confiscated were dated April 11, 2014 and were remitted to Merrill,” Davis asserted. “Of these checks, five were made out to TelexFree, LLC totaling $25,548,809.00, and one was made out to Katia B. Wanzeler (Wanzeler’s wife) in the amount of $2,000,635.00. The tenth check, dated April 3, 2014, was remitted to Wanzeler and was made out to TelexFree Dominicana SRL in the amount of $10,398,000.00.”

Davis also expressed concern about a TelexFree board meeting that occurred in the hours leading up to the bankruptcy filing. (See April 21 PP Blog story that references the same meeting.)

From the Davis motion to appoint a trustee (italics added):

The minutes of the special meeting of the Board of Managers of TelexFree, LLC held on April 13, 2014, indicate that Merrill and Wanzeler comprise the entire Board of Managers (the “Board”). . . At this meeting, Merrill and Wanzeler selected Craft and [Stuart] MacMillian as the Debtors’ “Authorized Persons,” empowered to execute and file pleadings on behalf of the Debtors, to employ counsel and other professionals (including Craft’s accounting firm), and to exercise signature authority over the Debtors’ accounts. Although the minutes include language revoking any prior signature authority of other individuals, there is no language stating that Merrill and Wanzeler are stepping down from the Board or that anyone else is stepping up to serve as their replacements. On information and belief, the new interim CFO and CEO still report to and take direction from the Board which is still comprised of 2 individuals – Merrill and Wanzeler.

And, Davis alleged, “Merrill, Wanzeler, Craft, and possibly others have engaged in securities fraud, withheld material information from investors, and improperly diverted millions of dollars of estate property to themselves or their entities, as set forth in the SEC Complaint and Memorandum.”

In the trustee’s view, according to the allegations, “[t]he modus operandi of Merrill and Wanzeler and their cohorts suggests that it is more likely than not that anyone handpicked by them to manage their wholly owned companies will be another cohort.”

Davis asserted “on information and belief” that there have been “no allegations to date regarding the involvement of MacMillan (the new CEO) or [William] Runge (the new CRA) in the Debtors’ Ponzi scheme, neither is there any indication that these interim officers are truly independent of the fraud of ‘former’ management.”

And, Davis continued, “[t]he only way to ensure honest and independent management of these Debtors going forward is for the Court to direct the United States Trustee to appoint a Chapter 11 trustee.”

About the Author

2 Responses to “BULLETIN: U.S. Trustee Says ‘Compelling Evidence Of Fraud’ And ‘Reasonable Grounds’ To Believe ‘Criminal Conduct’ Occurred On Road To TelexFree Bankruptcy Filing”

  1. Whomever wrote this, I do applaud their use of layman’s language; I could actually understand it. One of my favorite quotes:

    “36. While (on information and belief) there have been no allegations to date regarding the involvement of MacMillan (the new CEO) or Runge (the new CRA) in the Debtors’ Ponzi scheme, neither is there any indication that thes
    e interim officers are truly independent of the fraud of “former” management. The modus operandi of Merrill and Wanzeler and their cohorts suggests that it is more likely than not that anyone handpicked by them to manage their wholly
    owned companies will be another cohort.”

    Talk about callin’ it like it is…

    Jerry

      (Quote)

Leave a Reply