Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Justin Green, Special Agent in Charge, Miami Field Office, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), announced the convictions of five defendants for various offenses relating to a global fraud scheme that relied upon false claims about the United States military and the Government of Afghanistan.
Six individuals were charged for their involvement in the global fraud scheme (Case No. 18-20668-CR-DMM). Byramji Javat, a citizen of Pakistan and Chairman of the Dubai-based Uniworld Group, pleaded guilty on August 19, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section1349. Javat faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, plus potential restitution and a fine of up to $250,000. Sunil Chopra and William Armando, both residents of California, each pleaded guilty on August 19, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to obtain pre-retail medical products worth $5,000 or more by fraud or deception, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 670(a)(6). They face a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison. Emanuel Daskos, pleaded guilty on July 16, 2019, to also violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 670(a)(6). Luis Soto, a customs broker residing in Miami, Florida, was convicted by a trial jury on August 23, 2019, of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to obtain pre-retail medical products worth $5,000 or more by fraud or deception, two counts of wire fraud contrary to Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and two counts of obtaining pre-retail medical products by fraud or deception, contrary to Title 18, United States Code, Section 670(a)(1). The defendants have not yet been sentenced. One defendant, James Sipprell, a resident of Georgia, is awaiting trial and is presumed innocent.
According to the superseding indictment, between 2014 and 2017, Javat orchestrated a fraud scheme to purchase FDA-regulated products including medical devices from manufacturers in the United States at deeply discounted prices by lying to them about the destination and purpose of the goods. Javat represented that he was a large supplier of medical and food products to United States troops in Afghanistan, and sought deep discounts from the manufacturers by claiming that he could provide their goods to American troops in Afghanistan or to the Afghan people. In truth, Javat wanted to obtain these products at prices not generally offered in the United States in order to sell those products himself in this country – not abroad, and not to the military – at a significant profit.
To execute this scheme, the conspirators insisted that products be packaged for the United States market, falsely claiming to the manufacturers that this was required by the U.S. military, the Afghan government, or the “Buy American Act.” When the products nonetheless had stickers or other packaging on them stating that the items were for export only, the conspirators secretly removed those labels. After acquiring the products, Javat and the co-conspirators arranged for the diversion of the products to various locations in the United States. To conceal this activity, the conspirators typically shipped the products abroad and then had them immediately shipped back to the United States, or provided the victims with fraudulent shipping documentation showing that the products were exported when actually they had never left this country.
Javat admitted the allegations of the superseding indictment during his guilty plea. During Soto’s trial, the government proved these allegations to the jury and presented additional evidence about the defendants’ scheme. For example, the conspirators often represented that they were purchasing items on behalf of the Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Services (“ARDS”), which at one time was an agency of the Afghan Government funded in part by the United States. That agency ceased to exist after 2014, yet the conspirators provided victims with fake documents supposedly from ARDS imposing extravagant demands that in reality only suited the conspirators’ needs. In 2016, Uniworld prepared an internal Powerpoint presentation expressly informing its staff that they had to be “good at lying.” Finally, because these goods were moving outside normal channels, they often were mishandled; for example, according to the conspirators’ own emails at the time, the defendants disregarded temperature requirements when transshipping over-the-counter pain medicines, one of the defendants kept a shipment of diabetic test strips that required refrigeration in his car trunk overnight and another shipment of medical products became covered in bird droppings. The products involved in Javat’s scheme included surgical instruments, professional dental care devices, bandages, and aspirin.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that Soto knew about Javat’s fraud scheme yet knowingly helped him by supplying paperwork to federal agencies including the FDA to facilitate the re-entry of the diverted products into the United States through the Port of Miami or Miami International Airport. Chopra, Armando and Daskos also knowingly furthered the scheme by helping to transport the products and remove export labels.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FDA-OCI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Turken and John Shipley.
USAO - Florida, Southern