Charges • Up $18 million went for personal uses or disappeared.
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A federal grand jury has returned a 32-count indictment against a St. George businessman who allegedly told "investors" he had a wealthy partner in Asia known as "The General" and that they had joined with the FBI and the Department of Justice to bring back U.S. currency from China as part of a "unofficial stimulus package."
Edmund Edward Wilson, 69, faces charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering for his operation of the Fountain Group of Companies of Utah. Wilson took in $13 million to $18 million and shipped at least some of it illegally overseas, according to court papers in his 2012 bankruptcy.
Wilson offered to finance real estate projects for up-front fees of $80,000 or $150,000 through an investment deal he called his "Substitution of Collateral Program." He claimed the program was so profitable that the project financing would be entirely forgiven in 18 months in return for a stake in the project.
However, Wilson never provided any financing and used much of the fees for personal expenses, according to the indictment handed up Wednesday.
Late in the scheme, which ran from 2005 to 2012, he allegedly told his "investors" or potential ones that he could arrange financing of their development through a wealthy partner in Asia known as "the General," who had access to millions of dollars in U.S. currency set aside for investment projects in the United States.
Investors were told the money was to be moved to the U.S. as part of an unofficial economic stimulus program in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice, according to the indictment.
Wilson and his wife, Mary, filed for bankruptcy in 2012, listing debts of $13.8 million, and assets of $21,560.
But a trustee appointed to oversee the bankruptcy said in court papers that Wilson had companies and bank accounts scattered in the United States and made large cash transactions in violation of federal laws.
"Ed Wilson continues to conceal where he spent or transferred the $13 million dollars he says he received, or the $18 million his agents said he received," the receiver said in a August filing.
Wilson could not be reached for comment. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the fraud and conspiracy charges and 10 years for money laundering.
He is scheduled to appear in federal court on Oct. 16.