72-year-old Las Vegas resident convicted of $1.5 billion Ponzi scheme
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
Former President and CEO of MRI International Inc., 72-year-old Edwin Fujinaga of Las Vegas, was convicted Tuesday, Nov. 27, for his role in a $1.5 billion Ponzi scheme.
MRI is a purported investment company and medical collections business located in Las Vegas and Tokyo, Japan, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
After a five-week trial , the jury returned the guilty verdict in under three hours.
Fujinaga was found guilty of eight counts of mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.
Evidence showed that during the 13-year span of 2000 to 2013, Fujinaga falsely solicited over $1 billion in MRI from more than 10,000 Japanese residents.
These residents wired funds from Japan to accounts in Las Vegas belonging to Fujinaga, who also approved and distributed marketing materials promising investors their money would only be used to purchase medical claims.
Fujinaga actually spent less than two percent of investors’ money toward that end, and instead used most of the money to pay off old investors.
The rest he used for impermissible business and personal expenses like a private jet, a mansion on a local golf course, real estate in Hawaii and Beverly Hills, California wine country, as well as luxury cars including a Bentley, McLaren and Bugatti.
Once the Japanese government revoked MRI’s license to market securities in April of 2013, the company owed its investors over $1.5 billion.
The FBI investigated the case.
Sentencing is set for March 8, 2019.