|.Asean's Saxena claims Mazur teamed up with GCB's Possino |
Asean Holdings Inc - Street Wire
Asean's Saxena claims Mazur teamed up with GCB's Possino
Asean Holdings Inc AHI
Shares issued 15,750,552 Jan 1 1900 close $.000
Friday Mar 1 2002 Street Wire
by Brent Mudry
According to General Commerce Bank's purported local swindle victim, Rakesh Saxena, who has been called a swindler himself, many times, the second key player behind Raoul Berthaumieu of Belgium, the front man in the $1-billion collapse of General Commerce Bank SA in Austria last year, was Sherman Mazur. Mr Mazur is a convicted big-league California real estate fraudster who graduated to the penny stock world after his release from jail. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.)
Mr. Mazur outranked General Commerce Bank key player Regis Possino, a disbarred California lawyer who has been quite active in controversial penny stock promotions in recent years, according to fugitive Thai financier Rakesh Saxena. "Sherman is the main player; he is the front guy," Mr. Saxena told Stockwatch. "Berthaumieu reported to Sherman, not to Regis."
According to a suit recently filed in Vancouver, Mr. Saxena, with a $10-million claim, was one of the most notable victims in the Austrian banking fiasco. Mr. Saxena, along with close associate Adnan Khashoggi, the Paris-based Iran-Contra arms merchant and former Vancouver Stock Exchange player, is an alleged key figure in the fraudulent 1996 $2-billion collapse of Bangkok Bank of Commerce.
Mr. Saxena is particularly chagrined he was unable to see through the General Commerce Bank fraud earlier. "It was a genuine fraud; it was tough trying to figure all that out," the former Thai financier, now fighting extradition from Vancouver under self-financed $375,000-a-year house arrest, told Stockwatch.
Mr. Mazur is one of those bigger-than-life characters who go from rags to riches to rags, or at least jail, to riches again, on a grand scale beyond the dreams of most financial fraudsters. His emergence in a key role at a European bank marks quite a remarkable comeback.
Mr. Mazur, then 43, capped a lengthy criminal investigation in July, 1993, when he pled guilty to seven counts of bankruptcy and tax fraud in federal district court in the United States District Court in the Central District of California in Los Angeles. The guilty plea came less than a week before he was to face the start of a trial on 74 fraud-related criminal charges.
The highflying financier, who boasted a fleet of eight or nine luxury cars including a Ferrari and two Rolls-Royces, was prosecuted for milking and bilking many of the 200 real estate limited partnerships he headed. Mr. Mazur's veneer of respectable success peeled away after he was indicted in 1991.
On Dec. 1, 1993, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew sentenced Mr. Mazur to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (This was on top of the $500,000 restitution the fraudster agreed to in his plea negotiations.) Prosecutors called the Mazur saga one of the largest cases of tax fraud at the time. Mr. Mazur "should be punished for the greed he has shown," Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Tighe, the lead prosecutor, told Judge Lew.
While lesser men might be crushed by such a term and the odd one or two might find redemption and rehabilitation behind bars, not Mr. Mazur. For this incorrigible entrepreneur, prison was evidently just another business opportunity and a great place to network. "Sherman (Mazur) met Raoul (Berthaumieu) in jail," says Mr. Saxena, who knows quite a bit about the General Commerce Bank players.
Mr. Berthaumieu, who used the alias Lee Sanders then and now, had the misfortune of being convicted in 1991, when he pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud for writing $1.6-million in rubber cheques. The Belgian-born Canadian national, then 46 and living in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, was arrested on a sealed grand jury indictment in June, 1990, in Melbourne, Australia, a credential few other bank chairmen can boast of.
The jailhouse legend is even richer. According to Mr. Saxena, while Mr. Mazur and Mr. Berthaumieu spent several years together in California, they also met a chap in jail who later became General Commerce Bank's representative in London. "It is stranger than fiction," says Mr. Saxena, whose courtroom opponents might suggest he is indeed an expert on the subject of fiction.
Mr. Mazur, Mr. Berthaumieu and their London associate were not the only General Commerce Bank key players to learn a thing or two in jail. Mr. Possino was convicted in 1978 in an entertaining drug sting, sentenced to one year in jail, and disbarred in 1984. The budding young lawyer had offered to sell half a ton of pot and $5-million worth of stolen bonds to undercover agents.
(c) Copyright 2002 Canjex Publishing Ltd. canada-stockwatch.com