US Man Pleads Guilty To Bogus Fundraising Scheme For Airport in Belize
In May of 2018, we told you about 48 year old US Investment Fund Manager Brent Borland after he was charged in the US with multiple counts of securities fraud. The US Department of Justice accused him of tricking investors to front 21.9 million dollars in bridge financing for an International Airport project in Placencia.
Well, yesterday, Borland pleaded guilty to running the multi million dollar fraud where "he falsely told dozens of investors their money was being used to build an international airport in Belize." the U.S. Department of Justice said. According to the Reuters news service, he pleaded to one count each of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy before a U.S. District Judge in Manhattan. The fraud counts each carry a maximum 20-year prison term.
Borland promised double-digit rates of return to investors in this mythical Placencia airport, and we looked deeper into the documenters last year. Here's a repeat of our report from May of 2018.
Jules Vasquez reporting
The only time we saw the Placencia Airport in use was in December of 2014 when a SICA Summit was held in Belize.
But, this man - Brent Borland - seen here at what looks to be the very same airport - was using it as an investment package.
He told investors that his Placencia Group had invested 24 million dollars into the project and was getting a loan for 45 million dollars more to finish the project. The pitch was that this airport will have two 12,000 foot runaways to bring in flights from as far as Asia along with an export free zone.
But they hadn't gotten the money yet and needed from investors what he called bridge financing until they did. High yield short term bridge financing secured with supposedly real, high value properties in Placencia.
Borland was a principal at Borland Capital Group, and this court compliant from the securities and exchange commission says that he raised 21.9 million US dollars with that pitch.
But the Securities and Exchange Commission says he spent at least 6 million dollars of it on a lavish lifestyle in Florida - buying a 140 thousand dollars SUV, paying off his wife's 2.7 million dollar credit card debt, among many other luxuries.
Borland raised the money through the Florida based company called the Belize Infrastructure fund.
The pledged properties in Placencia are owned by the Mayan Estate group. You can see on this pledge document where the well-known peninsula developer Marco Caruso co-signed one of the pledges.
As the complaint notes though the same property, Placencia north block 36 parcel 2169, lots 84 and l32 were pledged for security for at least 10 investors and every time he gave it a different value - as low as 200 thousand US dollars or as high as two million dollars.
Now, how much - of any of the money did go into this airport? Investigators say he diverted at least 30% of the funds for personal use. Whether any long term financing was ever on the horizon is still unknown as the investment languishes.
Borland's scheme ran from 2014 to March 2018, and all of his known investors lost money. Borland's sentencing is scheduled for June 21.
It is notable that his local partner was neither sanction nor charged.