By Dana Treen Thu, Sep 20, 2012 @ 11:28 am | updated Wed, Sep 26, 2012 @ 10:19 am
A Jacksonville man with a super-hyped resume and three partners promising riches in the rebirth of Iraq’s economy were indicted Thursday on charges of running a $24 million scam.
Rudolph M. Coenen, 47, and three Toledo, Ohio, men are being linked to a scheme involving the sale of Iraqi dinar, the country’s currency. The 83-count indictment from the U.S. District Court in Ohio also says they sold two non-existent hedge funds in a fraud that potentially touched tens of thousands of customers in the United States and foreign countries.
To promote their currency trading expertise, Coenen was presented as a wounded Iraqi veteran who had deep knowledge of dinar trading and was a former vice president at JP Morgan Chase.
According to the indictment, Coenen never served in the first Gulf War and only worked at JP Morgan Chase for one day as a loan officer. Claims he had been awarded the Purple Heart were also false, the indictment said.
The men pitched dinar sales, saying the investments were protected by the U.S. government and had the potential to rocket in value under a revaluation of the currency. Dinar sales were a hot commodity following the second U.S. invasion, but interest cooled after the country was handed back to the Iraqis. Trading was still a topic, and Coenen stirred interest following a call he made to the Sean Hannity show in 2010 to discuss it.
Through a website and in conference calls, the men are accused of promoting the dinar and the hedge funds to investors who lost millions. Each faces charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“These defendants made false statements time and again to convince people to part with their savings and hard-earned cash,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said in news release. “The fact that one defendant falsely claimed he was wounded while fighting in Iraq is particularly egregious.”
Three Toledo-area men — Bradford L. Huebner, 65, Charles N. Emmenecker, 65, and Michael L. Teadt, 66 — were also named in the indictment. Huebner and Coenen also are charged with multiple counts of money laundering, and Huebner is charged with multiple counts of structuring and willful failure to file currency and transaction reports.
In August 2010 the men began using companies they created — Bayshore Capital Investments in Jacksonville and BH Group in Toledo — in a conspiracy to defraud investors, according to the indictment.
Huebner, who formed BH Group to sell dinar to investors, joined with Teadt and Emmenecker in the Toledo business. By then Huebner had allied himself with Coenen to sell the hedge funds in connection with the dinar sales. Bayshore was formed to sell the hedge funds that would control dinar investments after the revaluation. To get a “seat” with Bayshore, investors had to pay a $750 membership fee.
According to the indictment, Coenen developed “materially false and misleading statements regarding the Iraqi dinar and in falsifying information regarding the two non-existent hedge funds.”
In sales pitch conference calls available on the website, the men said that because of an injury in Iraq, Coenen had to have a liver transplant. In another call, one of the men said Coenen was a sergeant wounded when a bullet ripped through his shoulder. The bullet went on to kill a radio operator standing behind him and another man.
Currently, the Iraqi currency is traded at 1,700 dinar to $1 U.S. And while Iraq plans to reprint its currency, the change will not affect the value.
[Editor's note: Due to a reporter's error, the value of the dinar vs. the U.S. dollar was incorrect in the paragraph above. According to the indictment, the value of the dinar currency was 1,170 dinar to $1 U.S.]
Attorney Richard Kerger, who represents Huebner, said the charges are baseless.
He said he didn’t believe any laws were intentionally broken.
“These people are getting fair value for their money,” he said of the investors. “This is a complicated setting but there are reasonable answers.”
Kerger said he was not as familiar with Coenen’s case. He said Coenen has been representing himself in court.
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