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Anthony Sancho

Anthony Sancho, named along with NGC Chairman Conrad Enill as one of the defendants in a $1.8 m civil lawsuit brought by businesswoman Jennifer Dan-Sharma in a deal gone sour, was convicted in the United States in 1996 of trying to defraud a company of millions.

Sancho, along with Enill and TAC Investment Group Limited, was named in the local lawsuit filed by Sharma in August 2020 and exclusively reported by the Sunday Guardian last week. Sharma is seeking $1,800,525.44 as the total sum due and outstanding by the defendants under agreements and reimbursements for services not rendered by the defendants, as well as loss and damages for breach of the agreement and interest.

And while that matter is yet to be determined before the court, Sancho, US court documents obtained by the Sunday Guardian revealed, was convicted of a crime in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York.

He was charged for using interstate telephone communication in furtherance of a scheme to deprive Tishman Construction Company (TCC) of the intangible right of honest services of a person Sancho believed to be TCC’s consultant.

SANCHO CONFIRMS CONVICTION, DENIES JAIL TIME

Sancho, when contacted by Sunday Guardian via telephone on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that he had been convicted of the crime in the US. “I was advised by my attorney not to say much about that matter, but it was a business matter and we are still appealing it,” he explained.

“It was a grievous error and we have the legal right to appeal,” said Sancho, when Sunday Guardian referenced the case which indicated that he had been convicted of fraud on November 7, 1996 and ordered to serve time.

He appealed the case through the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit in 1998 and lost.

Checks by the Sunday Guardian through US legal sources in New York revealed that Sancho, born on May 12, 1947, now 74, had served time for the crime in the US.

Asked if he had served time in jail as the court documents had affirmed the sentence of 37 months imprisonment in 1998, Sancho insisted, “I did not.” He also denied ever being deported back to Trinidad and Tobago and claimed that he could fly freely anywhere in the world. “I came back home voluntarily.”

While Sancho contended he was not deported, in most cases according to US law once a foreign national is convicted and serves time they are deported back to their respective countries.

In this case, senior legal sources indicated that as specified by the US law this particular matter would be defined as a crime of moral turpitude and is broadly defined as a crime “fraudulent, deceitful or harmful to others.” This kind of crime, added to violent crimes, drug and firearms offences, when committed by foreign nationals in the US they are liable to deportation.

THE SCHEME

According to court documents, in 1995 TCC had contacted Sancho, who professed to be the developer of a real estate project, expressing an interest in becoming the construction manager of a project planned for Asbury Park in New Jersey.

Sancho later met with the President of TCC, Daniel Tisham, and offered TCC the job. During the contract negotiations, Sancho requested from Tishman a standby letter of credit for an amount between $300 million and $420 million to secure a construction loan for the project.

During the conversation, Sancho claimed the instrument would be “risk-free” and would yield TCC a rate of return between ten and 41 per cent.

Sancho decided to send Tishman a proposed contract that called on TCC to obtain a $400 million standby letter of credit in September 1995 but identified another firm as manager of the project. The proposal was rejected by Tishman who requested another meeting with Sancho. They met twice in October 1995.

FBI INVESTIGATES

FBI agents later informed Tishman that they were investigating Sancho in respect to an unrelated matter. With the consent of Tishman, the agents secretly tape recorded the meetings between him and Sancho. At those meetings, Tishman asked Sancho about the letter of credit and the proposed financing programme according to the court documents. Tishman said he would not sign a commitment letter until Sancho revealed his primary funding source.

Following the two meetings, Tishman then introduced Sancho to Michael Keeley, an undercover agent posing as “Michael Shannon”, a financial consultant hired by TCC to perform due diligence on Sancho’s proposal and report back to Tishman.

During November and December 1995, the agent recorded several conversations with Sancho.

At the first meeting in early November 1995, Sancho proposed that TCC provide a $500 million “risk-free” letter of credit that he would place in an investment programme operated by a firm called Equidev. The agent told Sancho before TCC could agree he needed to investigate and determine if Equidev’s financing programme was sound.

Sancho agreed to this. However, at a later meeting, the agent told Sancho that the investigation revealed Equidev was a fraud. The agent then told Sancho he would conceal this from TCC and advise it to proceed with Sancho’s plan if Sancho paid him $1.25 million. Sancho agreed.

Sancho and the agent then coordinated details of their scheme in several other conversations. In a telephone conversation on November 19, 1995, Sancho told the agent to tell Tishman that Equidev would provide $752 m in project financing.

BUSTED AND CHARGED

In a telephone conversation two days later (November 21) the agent told Sancho that he had advised Tishman to proceed with Sancho’s proposal and had not disclosed the conflict of interest arising from the payment he would receive from Sancho.

According to court documents, Sancho stated he would disguise the $1.25 m payment to protect the agent. In a telephone conversation in late November the agent asked Sancho for false documentation that would appear to substantiate the agent’s due diligence work and recommendation. At their final meeting on December 3, 1995, the agent reported to Sancho that TCC had agreed to the proposal.

Sancho then produced a “consulting agreement” documenting $1.25 m in phoney commissions that the agent was yet to receive for supposedly assisting Sancho on three venture capital projects unrelated to the Asbury Park project.

Sancho said that the agent could display the document as proof that the payment was unrelated to the agent’s consulting work for TCC. Immediately after the December 3 meeting, Sancho was arrested.

The indictment charged that Sancho used interstate wire communications (telephone calls) on November 19 and 21, 1995, in furtherance of a scheme to deprive TCC of the intangible right of honest services of someone he believed to be TCC’s consultant.

Sancho according to the court has moved before trial to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the government would not be able to prove either Sancho or the agent owed a fiduciary duty to TCC, which he claimed was an essential element of the offences charged. The district court denied the motion.

At the close of the government’s case and again after the verdict, Sancho moved for a judgment of acquittal, renewing his argument that an actual fiduciary relationship was a required element. The court denied the motions.

Sancho was found guilty in 1996 by a jury after a four-day trial and he was sentenced primarily to 37 months imprisonment and a fine of $6,000.

The court struck down many of Sancho’s arguments and indicated, “The evidence produced at trial showed that Sancho devised a scheme to deprive TCC of its right to honest services when he agreed to bribe someone, he believed was TCC’s consultant to conceal the fraudulent nature of Sancho’s financial project from TCC to advise TCC to put the letter of credit Sancho demanded. That the person was merely pretending to be a consultant is irrelevant. So long as the defendant engages in an interstate wire communication for the purpose of executing a scheme to deprive another of the right of honest services, it makes no difference whether the intended victim of the scheme in fact possessed the right that the defendant believed it held.”

The judgment of conviction was affirmed on September 30, 1998.