prosecutors have charged the recently ousted owner of a Hollywood movie distributor with defrauding a federal coronavirus emergency relief program and a BlackRock investment fund, including to pay for a Beverly Hills mansion and other luxuries.
Prosecutors say he filed a phony loan application with JPMorgan Chase Co and the Small Business Administration saying the emergency funds were needed for his former company Aviron Group, which had terminated him in December and where he has no current role.
Aviron’s films have included Halle Berry’s Kidnap, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway’s Serenity, and A Private War starring Rosamund Pike.
S. Attorney Nick Hanna in Los Angeles said in a statement.
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Prosecutors said he then created a sham company to divert at least $25 million of the money, and assumed the fake identity ‘Amanda Stevens’ to communicate by email with the BlackRock fund about its investment.
In a related civil case, the U.S.
In February, the BlackRock executive who approved the $75 million investment in Aviron was fired for conflict of interest after it emerged that the studio had cast his aspiring actress daughter in a movie.
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Randy Robertson was let go by BlackRock in light of the claims, leaving the fund scrambling to take ‘vigorous steps to recover value for shareholders’ and ‘enhance the level of oversight and due diligence related to these type of transactions’.
At the time of the loan, BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust had $750 million in assets, so it appeared ‘an unusually aggressive bet’ to funnel 10 percent of that sum into Aviron, a ‘small, privately held movie company’.
‘I can’t tell you that he made the decision purely because his daughter was in the movie, but I can tell you BlackRock approved that financing after turning down the opportunity to finance several earlier movies,’ Sadleir said.
Anyone with information about fraud related to COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.