Two business entrepreneurs who rose to success before the financial crisis of 2008 were found guilty of controlling shares in a digital video software startup at the focal point of a mind-boggling fraud that crossed from China to Dubai.
Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, a former Goldman Sachs investigator who accomplished brief acclaim as an internet entrepreneur before becoming Kit Digital’s CEO, was found liable by a government jury in Manhattan of plotting to submit securities fraud, prosecutors said. Omar Amanat, an investor in media, finance, and tech organizations including at one time the studio behind the “Twilight” motion picture, was indicted on charges that included wire fraud and securities fraud.
After the decision, U.S. Local Judge Paul Gardephe requested that Amanat be imprisoned until sentencing, stating that he’s a hazard to escape. Gardephe permitted Tuzman, who sobbed openly amid part of the procedure, to stay free on bond. They’re expected to be sentenced in April. The decision, following a six-week trial, tops a noteworthy difference in fortunes for the pair. The onetime globetrotters avoided eye contact during the trial, and pointed the finger at each other for the wrongdoing that sunk Kit Digital. Neither one of the men stood in his own defense.
Three government witnesses who confessed, including two previous KIT administrators and a hedge fund founder, told members of the jury of related frauds being coordinated by Tuzman and Amanat with an end goal to hide their investment misfortunes. Twelve jurors were shown several pages of government evidence, including messages and corporate reports that served as proof of the trick and two related frauds from each point.
The facts of the fraud were mind boggling, even by the benchmarks of Wall Street litigation. Government prosecutors affirmed Tuzman used sham programming licenses to expand KIT’s income by persuading genuine clients to consent to counterfeit arrangements that they never needed to pay for. Indeed, KIT purportedly paid for the licenses, basically “round-tripping” a large number of dollars around the world to obscure the purpose of the transaction. Amanat was blamed for concealing information at Enable Invest Ltd., a store run by his brother, amid the monetary emergency. He did it by looking for ventures from Tuzman, who piped a huge amount of money from KIT’s coffers to Enable.
Stephen Maiden, who founded the hedge fund, pled guilty and testified as the government’s star witness said, “The point was for me to prop up the stock,” Maiden said in his testimony. “There was aggressive selling of KIT Digital day after day and I was just sitting there sucking it up and trying to fool people into believing there was demand.”