NEW YORK — Eddy Alexandre, pleaded guilty to one count of commodities fraud Friday and agreed to forfeit to the U.S. government close to $249 million he may have amassed from operating EminiFX, the cryptocurrency trading platform that attracted thousands of investors until his arrest in May 2022.
Alexander, 50, now faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in July. He is also subject to a fine of $40,000 to $ 1 million, whatever the judge determines he can pay.
“I’m guilty, you honor,” Alexandre told presiding Judge John P. Cronan as Alexandre stood in the courtroom filled with spectators, most of them Haitian.
In a letter read in open court, Alexandre said he is guilty of failing to tell existing and potential members of EminiFX that certain “aspects” of his platform were not fully functional between September 2021 and May 2022. At the prosecutor’s insistence, Alexandre admitted that he knew the artificial intelligence software he told them he relied on as part of his “marketing strategy campaign” did not work.
Officials did not say exactly how Alexandre and EminiFX may have amassed the $248,829,276.73 that he agreed to forfeit as part of the plea agreement he signed.
“I’m very sorry, your honor, and I’m sorry to the members,” Alexandre said, standing upright in a blue suit. “I, alone, was responsible.”
Spectators stunned, optimistic funds will be returned
The guilty plea comes just weeks before Alexandre trial by jury was set to begin, according to court documents. In admitting his guilt, Alexandre acknowledged that he understands he had no viable defense if he went to trial, which had been scheduled for late March.
The admission of guilt also stunned many of the spectators, who filled the judge’s courtroom and two overflow rooms at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan. Their mood, which bordered on jovial in the moments before the hour-long hearing, became more and more somber as Alexandre, a married father of three, admitted his guilt and agreed to the forfeiture of funds.
“Bagay yo pa bon, yo pa bon men m,” one man said in Kreyol as a crowd of nearly 60 left one overflow room when the hearing ended, meaning in English, “things aren’t well at all.”
One older woman dressed in a white hat with the Haitian flag seal and “L’union Fait La Force”– the Haitian national motto meaning “Unity Makes Strength” – printed on it, whispered to a younger man that she thought “if he said guilty, doesn’t that mean everything is over.”
Another explained in the elevator that the guilty plea was the result of a “technical thing.”
Frantz Victorin, 52, a Boston man who drove down for the hearing, said Alexandre did what he needed to do to stop the trial and move forward for them to recover the funds seized.
“We’re extremely satisfied with today’s result,” Victorin said. “Now, it’s a matter of waiting to know when we’ll get the money and the sentencing process.”
Funds not invested, returns faked
While the guilty plea was clear, what is still left to untangle is how the amount may have quintupled from $59 million to $249 million.
The FBI initially arrested Alexandre on criminal charges of commodities fraud and wire fraud in May 2022. At the time, he also faced six civil charges under the Commodities Exchange Act, according to court records, in a joint investigation conducted by the FBI and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
“[It] appears that the only way that EminiFX can fund investor withdrawals is by using the funds of existing investors, or the funds of new investors, in a Ponzi-like fashion,” prosecutors said in the criminal complaint describing the fraud at the time.
Investigators said Alexandre had promised to double his investors’ money within five months of investing by earning a 5% weekly return through his “Robo-Advisor Assisted account,” according to court documents and a news release. He falsely told investors they had earned at least 5% each week that they could withdraw or re-invest.
However, prosecutors said, the company did not invest most of the money. And what little was invested, they said, he incurred losses of more than $6 million — developments that he did not disclose to investors.
Alexandre also funneled $14.7 million to his personal bank account, they said.