A 73-year-old Fresno man pleaded guilty Monday to six counts of laundering money in a fraud investment scheme, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.
Court documents showed that in 2002, Kwan Yong Choi asked investors to invest in his company, Sun Min Trading Inc., which sold souvenirs to the White House, Wagner said. Choi said the business would make 30% profit, and 10% would go to a charity called "International Christian Mission Center," which was supposedly affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency. Furthermore, Choi promised investors 20% profit every quarter.
But Choi spent the money on personal business expenses, including payments on homes, cars and credit cards. Choi admitted investors lost about $2 million in the scheme, Wagner said.
Choi, formerly of Daejeon, South Korea, targeted Koreans and marketed clients in California on false claims, including that he was an ordained minister, had a history of investment success and that the investments were secure.
Choi is scheduled to be sentenced April 21. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
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