DC Solar is accused of operating a large Ponzi-type scheme concerning a number of tax equity investment funds from 2015-2018. The company, whose products include solar generators as well as light towers that can be used at sports events, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2019 in Reno, Nevada. This Ponzi scheme, as with most Ponzi schemes, is about a failure of investigation as much as the underlying fraud.
In a February 8, 2019 affidavit related to those bankruptcy proceedings, an FBI agent said the manner in which the Benecia, California-based company appeared to have operated reflected “evidence of a Ponzi-type investment fraud scheme.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused DC Solar’s owners by name of engaging in a Ponzi scheme, according to a separate court filing.
As late as December 20, 2018, DC Solar had been seen in the business media as an “Energy Powerhouse.” The company was well known and sponsored a NASCAR team. Those fortunes reversed quickly.
Sufficient investigation by advisors would have revealed insufficient lease revenue and that the funds coming in to compensate the lack of lease revenue was simply investor money. As such, payments of profits was simply earlier investors receiving the investment funds of newer investors. Detecting such arrangements is the charge of brokers, advisors and their firms as part of their due diligence obligations.
Civil action has been commenced against the property of DC Solar, which is considered the defendant in the case. Because it is a civil action, no criminal charges need be placed against the property’s owner, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
However, 87 defendant items are traceable to an investment fraud and money laundering scheme run by companies described in other court documents as those associated with DC Solar.
The defendant properties listed are $62,546,110.43 in multiple domestic and foreign bank accounts; $1,944,091.07 in cash seized at the Carpoffs’ Martinez home and Benicia offices; an estimated $500,000 worth of jewelry and other personal items; and a $782,949 money transfer for that luxury box at the Raiders NFL football team’s future stadium in Las Vegas, Nev.
Most of the bank accounts had been opened with China Bank and Trust, which is based in Taiwan with multiple international subsidiaries, according to its website. Other accounts were opened with E-trade, J.P. Morgan, BBVA Compass and Bank of America, the attorneys wrote.
Once of the largest victims is Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Wednesday said a $377 million charge it incurred recently was tied to a solar generation company that U.S. authorities have linked to fraud.