Feds Seek Prison Time for ICO Fraudster Linked to Floyd Mayweather
Federal prosecutors are seeking a “substantial” prison sentence for Robert Farkas, the Centra Tech co-founder who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud earlier this summer. A sentencing submission filed by the government with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York also asks for three years’ probation.
Farkas established Centra Tech with Sohrab Sharma and Raymond Trapani in 2017, which raised more than $25 million through what the FBI has said was a fraudulent ICO. The company was promising to develop a kind of debit card called a “Centra Card,” which would work wherever Visa and Mastercard were accepted. In fact, prosecutors allege, Centra Tech never made any partnership with Visa or Mastercard, and the card never materialized.
Sharma has pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and Trapani has pleaded guilty to related charges. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather were among Centra Tech’s early backers and paid a steep price for it. The SEC alleged that Centra paid Mayweather $100,000 to promote its ICO and paid Khaled $50,000; both celebrities settled charges for failing to disclose the payments.
Prosecutors have spent the past two years working to expose the Centra Tech scheme, claiming that Centra invented a non-existent CEO named “Michael Edwards”—a supposed Harvard graduate with extensive banking experience—along with other fake team members, to dupe investors. According to the government’s case, the company also falsely claimed to have money transmitter licenses, and other sorts of licenses, in 38 states.
A sentencing date for the three co-founders isn’t yet known.
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