Fugitive Charged with Leading Multimillion Dollar Fraud Scheme, Falsifying Evidence, and Tax Crimes
October 15, 2020
An American citizen was charged in two indictments unsealed this week for his alleged participation in an investment fraud scheme in which he allegedly misappropriated $6.1 million in investor-funds, manufactured evidence to mislead an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and concealed the proceeds of his fraudulent scheme from the IRS.
Mykalai Kontilai, aka Michael Contile, 51, formerly of Las Vegas, Nevada and New York, New York, was charged by sealed grand jury indictment on June 3, 2020, in the District of Nevada with one count of securities fraud, six counts of wire fraud, six counts of laundering of money instruments, one count of money transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity, and four counts of willful failure to file tax returns. Kontilai was also charged by sealed grand jury indictment on March 10, 2020, in the District of Colorado with one count of conspiracy to obstruct proceedings, two counts of obstruction of proceedings, one count of tampering with documents, and two counts of false statements. Arrest warrants have been issued, however, Kontilai is believed to have traveled to Russia to avoid prosecution. The FBI has also released a “Wanted” poster to facilitate his arrest.
The District of Nevada indictment alleges that from 2012 through 2018, Kontilai lured investors into giving him money to start an e-commerce auction business. The indictment further alleges Kontilai falsely told investors that he invested millions of dollars of his own money in the business and was not taking “a dime of salary.” According to the filing, Kontilai led bank officials to believe that money he withdrew was for business purposes when in fact it was for himself. On one occasion alone he allegedly withdrew $770,000 in cash from a company bank account, not to purchase inventory for the company, but for his personal use. He also allegedly used investor funds to purchase a Cadillac with the vanity tag, “MYKALAI,” and to pay for private school tuition and rent on luxury homes throughout the country. Kontilai is also charged with failing to file tax returns for tax years 2015 through 2018 when he was engaged in this scheme.
The District of Colorado indictment alleges that Kontilai covered up his theft by providing false testimony, and altering and manufacturing documents in an SEC investigation. Among other things, Kontilai is alleged to have tampered with a bank statement to substantiate his testimony that he loaned the company five million dollars and was justified in taking investor money to pay himself back. The altered bank statement showed the company’s account with a balance of $4,999,065, when the actual balance at the time was $935.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Las Vegas Field Offices of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Washington and New York Field Offices of the FBI. Trial Attorney Emily Scruggs of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Lopez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.
The Fraud Section plays a pivotal role in the Department of Justice’s fight against white collar crime around the country.
Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should contact the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office.