The owner of a Maryland office building “Empire Towers” recently pleaded guilty to operating a $7 million bond scheme involving more than 50 investors.
Last week, former owner of Empire Towers Wilfred T. Azar III pled guilty for his role in orchestrating a massive, multi-million dollar bond scheme as well as falsifying tax returns.
From January 2006 to April 2010, Azar ran a bond scheme involving more than 50 investors and $7 million. Azar was the president and majority owner of Empire Corporation, a company that owned Empire Towers, an office building in Maryland.
Although bond certificates that Azar provided to investors indicated they were “registered”, the bonds were not actually registered with the SEC or any state securities regulator. Azar also misled investors by overstating the financial health of Empire Corporation and claiming that the bonds would generate a 10 percent return per year.
Investors were promised that their investment dollars would be used to renovate the Empire Towers building, but instead Azar used most of the money for personal expenses, such as buying an Aston Martin, paying his mortgage, and holding Baltimore Ravens season tickets. To conceal the money he embezzled from Empire Corporation, Azar lied on his tax returns.
Azar is scheduled for criminal sentencing on August 12. The SEC has also filed a complaint against Azar as well as another individual who they believe is connected with the bond scheme.
This case highlights the importance of doing extensive research before you invest. Make sure your broker or financial advisor is registered. A great way to check the registration status of a broker is by using FINRA’s Broker Check tool. Before placing your money in a particular investment, you should also ask your broker if the investment is registered with the SEC.
If you lost money through investment fraud or misconduct, we invite you to contact our securities fraud lawyers today for a free review of your case!