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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Alleged Con Man Faces |52-Count Indictment

(CN) - An investment consultant who allegedly weedled his way into the corridors of high finance by claiming to know two of the early minds behind Facebook and other monied heavyweights has been indicted of 52 counts including those of grand larceny, fraud, and identity theft.

Arun Ganguly, of San Francisco, has been charged in a bizarre plot in which he allegedly impersonated early Facebook principals Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra, then pretended to be close friend of both men in order to defraud investment funds, start-up companies, and high net-worth individuals.

"From forged emails and financial documents to a fictitious family trust, the lengths to which the defendant is alleged to have gone to represent himself as a well-connected power player are truly astounding," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. as he announced the indictment in New York State Supreme Court.

"The masquerade has come to an end," he said.

According to prosecutors, Ganguly was hired in May 2011 by an SEC-registered investment firm after he claimed to be a veteran consultant with ties to the founders of Carlyle Group and Chesapeake Energy. Reuters has identified that firm as Vision Capital Advisors.

They say that beginning in January 2012, just as his $5,000-a-month initial contract was expiring, Ganguly repeatedly lied to Vision Capital then-managing director, Carl Kleidman to convince him to extend the contract.

These lies included a claim by Ganguly that the Winklevosses would pay a finder's fee if he found an oversees buyer for their Facebook shares before the social network's initial public offering, prosecutors said.

He also alleged claimed the Winklevosses would invest up to $20 million Kleidman's private equity fund, Fortitude Partners.

The only problem, prosecutors said, is that Ganguly never worked for the Winklevosses and in fact, never met them.

The government says Ganguly also made similar claims about Purnendu Chatterjee, founder of principal investment firm The Chatterjee Group, and that he even asserted that his family had a multi-million dollar trust he could use to invest in the fund, though the trust was, in fact, nonexistent.

To further his scheme, prosecutors allege Ganguly sent more than 500 emails purporting to be Narenda, Chatterjee, and Howard and Tyler Winklevoss; and forged numerous documents pledging to invest money and make payments to the managing director's private equity fund.

In August 2013, in a separate but similar alleged scam, Ganguly is accused of lying about his experience and family wealth to convince a different investment management firm to hire him as a consultant.

In this case, Ganguly alleged promised to raise $1 million for a portfolio company controlled by the firm, and was paid a flat fee of $12,000.

In October 2013, when the defendant had not yet raised any money for the portfolio company, Ganguly allegedly claimed that his mother would invest $300,000 from their nonexistent family trust, and that he and his affiliated investors would contribute up to $2 million to the company.

In order to further this scheme, Ganguly is accused of sending emails from multiple accounts he created purporting to be from fictitious employees assisting with his business ventures. Based upon these false representations, Ganguly's consultancy agreement was renewed, and he was paid an additional $15,000 fee, prosecutors said.

Ganguly pleaded not guilty to charges. An attorney representing him, Vinoo Varghese, has previously said Ganguly "looks forward to clearing his name."

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