Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

News Release

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Contact

Lyn Peters, Director of Communications
PH (360) 902-8731 lpeters@dfi.wa.gov

Michael E. Stevenson, Director of Securities
PH (360) 902-8797 mstevenson@dfi.wa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


Seattle Man Arrested, Charged In $65 Million Ponzi Scheme

Oil and gas scam solicited 300 investors. Three men face 23-count indictment

OLYMPIA – Bellevue resident Robert Miracle was arrested at his home Feb. 5, 2009 and charged in connection with a $65 million oil and gas investment “Ponzi” scheme. Miracle and two men from Malaysia and Indonesia, Mukhtar Kechik and Fahimi Fisal, face a 23-count indictment alleging conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is investigating the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division.

DFI’s Division of Securities began investigating Miracle and his related oil and gas companies in 2006 for violations of state securities laws. In December of 2006, the Department filed charges against Miracle to stop fraudulent sales of unregistered securities in the state. The Department alleged that investors were told that they would receive a $5,000,000 return on a $100,000 investment within 18 years on an Indonesian oil and gas drilling venture. In April 2007, the Department issued a Final Order (PDF)* to Cease and Desist against Miracle to halt the illegal sale of investments. The Department referred the matter to the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

Miracle is accused of operating at least five companies involving oil development in Malaysia and Indonesia. The indictment alleges that $28 million of investor funds were instead used to support lavish lifestyles of Miracle, Kechik, Fisal and their families — including a week-long cruise for more 10 of Miracle’s family members at a cost of $77,000. Additional details regarding this case may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Web site.

“While we are pleased to see these men brought to justice and facing charges for deceiving and defrauding investors, this case only exemplifies the need for consumers to be even more vigilant,” DFI Division of Securities Director Michael Stevenson said. “It is more important than ever for consumers to investigate brokers and investments before parting with their money.”

Protect yourself from investment fraud by asking questions:

Don’t invest any money until you’ve verified the answers to these questions. DFI partners with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to get investors the information they need to make sound investing decisions. Before you invest, visit www.saveandinvest.org or http://www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/findcompany.htm and make sure the broker you’re working with and the investment they are recommending is registered. You can also call 888.295.7422.


About DFI
www.dfi.wa.gov ▪ 360.902-8700 ▪ 877.746-4334
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regulates a variety of financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, consumer loan companies, payday lenders and securities brokers and dealers. The department has won numerous awards for its financial literacy and outreach programs developed to protect consumers from financial fraud. In addition to posting information about licensees and administrative actions, the DFI’s Web site features consumer tips on a variety of financial fraud-related topics.

About Division of Securities
www.dfi.wa.gov/sd ▪ 360.902.8760 ▪ 877.RINGDFI (746.4334)
The Division of Securities regulates securities investments, franchises, business opportunities, and off-exchange commodities sold in Washington and the firms and individuals that sell these products or provide investment advice. The Division handles complaints, conducts investigations, and takes appropriate enforcement actions to protect investors and combat fraud.

* This document is a PDF file, and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it. If you don't already have Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, you may download it for free from Adobe.

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