This Reuters article recounts the stunning arrest and subsequent guilty pleas of the former president of InnoVida Holdings, Claudio Osorio. According to his lawyer, Osorio pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with millions of dollars in missing investor funds and federal loans.
A Venezuelan-born businessmen who operated out of Miami, Florida, Osorio had been honored by accounting firm Ernst & Young as “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1997 while he was head of CHS Electronics. The company rose to prominence as an international computer and software distributor. However, accounting irregularities surfaced and the company filed for bankruptcy protection in April, 2000. The multi-million-dollar settlement of a class-action lawsuit in that case “compensated investors who contended in the suit that CHS and certain executives violated federal securities laws regarding financial reporting and disclosure.”
Despite the fact that Osorio was still facing investigations and lawsuits in regard to CHS, he founded InnoVida in 2007 to manufacture building materials. After the horrific earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Osorio proposed his company’s materials would be used to rebuild affordable housing there. Numerous politicians and celebrities subsequently invested in the company, which also received $3.5 million in loans from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency.
InnoVida went into bankruptcy in March, 2011, after untold millions of dollars had been moved offshore. Investigators are still trying to locate at least some of the money. Osorio has refused to divulge its location, claiming his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination. After a federal trustee accused Osorio of forging a letter from the Royal Bank of Canada regarding the funds, his bankruptcy attorney withdrew from the case.
Meanwhile, Osorio’s wife Amarilis, formerly president of operations at InnoVida’s manufacturing plant in Miami, was held in contempt of court for her refusal to cooperate, claiming ignorance of her husband’s business dealings. In March of 2007, she had been named Humanitarian of the Year by the Florida March of Dimes.
Luxury investment properties belonging to the company and the Osorios have been seized for the fraud victims’ compensation fund, and numerous private lawsuits for misappropriation of funds are pending.
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