Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miramar man conned his way to $30 million — and a stretch in federal prison

Navin Xavier with Tamara Xavier, who got married at The Breakers in Palm Beach with some of the $1.2 million he got from the state of South Carolina
Navin Xavier with Tamara Xavier, who got married at The Breakers in Palm Beach with some of the $1.2 million he got from the state of South Carolina

A Miramar businessman garnered $30 million by two staples of South Florida white-collar crime.

Navin Shankar Subramaniam Xavier used a Ponzi scheme to rip off investors to the tune of $29 million. He also stole $1.5 million from the state of South Carolina by taunting a financially hard-up region with jobs that never came.

Xavier pleaded guilty to 15 counts of wire fraud on Friday in U.S. District Court in Miami. Each count carries a 20-year maximum sentence and $250,000 fine. He will also be ordered to make restitution.

6 names (at least) used by Navin Shaker Subramaniam Xavier

2 evictions in Tempe, Arizona for which Xavier listed as a debtor

Xavier used several aliases. The Department of Justice announcement of his plea lists “Shankar Subramaniam Xavier” and “Navin Xavier.” He has also used Navin Subramaniam, Subramaniam Xavier S. Navin, Navin Subramaniam-Xavier, Xavier Navin Subramaniam. Eviction notices from Tempe, Arizona, in February 2010 show him as “Navin Xavier” and from June 2010 in Tempe as “Navin Subrarmaniam.”

Sometime during that period he became the registered agent for a Wellington company called Essex Holdings, which he moved to Miami Gardens. In September 2010, Xavier started the Ponzi scheme.

According to Xavier’s plea agreement, he created a world of false documents through Essex Holdings to dupe investors in sugar shipping and Chilean iron ore mining. From the factual proffer statement:

“For example, in or around December 2010, Investor A was provided with a letter on the purported letterhead of JP Morgan Chase Bank, N .A., indicating that Essex Holdings had purchased 125,000 metric tons of white sugar. This letter contained a forged signature and was not created by JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., and was used by defendant to give investors the false impression that Essex Holdings was a legitimate business operation.”

Essex even put together a website with updates on their company doings.

Xavier claimed to have a doctorate in information technology from Nova Southeastern as well as an MBA from Tiffin University in Ohio and a bachelor’s in computer science and business management from the University of Minnesota. He didn’t earn the degrees, according to court documents.

The investment ruse went on from September 2010 through May 2014. New investor money paid a few dividends to old investors while he used most of the rest for personal expenses. Some of the $13 million Xavier transferred to foreign bank accounts was “related to potential iron ore or sugar mining activities,” the plea agreement said. But that wasn’t profitable, contrary to what Xavier told investors.

As in any Ponzi scheme, eventually, Xavier started missing investor payments and investors started asking questions. Two months before the end of the scheme, a complaint about Xavier showed up on RipoffReport.com.

1 filing of Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in Florida by Xavier, in 2009

$30,500,000 in money swindled from investors and the state of South Carolina by Xavier

Meanwhile, using similar fake reports and forgeries, Xavier conned the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development (SCCCED) and Marion County, South Carolina, into an agreement to turn an abandoned textile factory into a diaper factory and rice-packaging business.

The ballyhooed deal promised 215 jobs. Marion County has 10 percent unemployment with 30 percent living below the poverty line, according to a 2015 WMBF report on the factory that never was.

“It certainly was something the community was looking forward to,” Marion County Economic Development Council executive director Julie Norman told the station.

But after receiving $1.2 million over five payments in 2013, Xavier pulled the same scheme to keep SCCCED at bay: fake bank statements, fraudulent invoices to contractors and subcontractors. While Marion County struggled, Xavier got married, the plea agreement said:

“Once payment was received by Essex Holdings from SCCCED, defendant ... deposited the funds into accounts they controlled, and thereafter spent the money for their personal living expenses, including for a Range Rover and wedding expenses at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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