Brittain Ashbach bought a house in Florida in August 2016 and used $22,000 in cash to pay for it, according to a federal affidavit filed in Federal District Court in Central Florida.
But by early September, prosecutors say, Ashbach had moved $225,000 into a bank account in Belize and invested that money, along with another $325,000, in the Isle of Man’s Mortgage Collateral Agreement Trust.
Using those accounts, prosecutors allege, Ashbach used those funds, and other money that he and other people around the world obtained through multiple bank accounts in several foreign countries, to set up 30 shell companies in different countries to help defraud real estate buyers in Florida.
The money was later transferred back into the bank accounts in Belize.
Ashbach is a Canadian businessman and self-proclaimed “salt of the earth” who created the Allied Ventures Group, a security system company, in Florida in the mid-1990s.
According to the indictment, Ashbach was sentenced in 2004 to 18 months of probation for multiple bank fraud and wire fraud convictions in Florida, including three counts of bank fraud related to the Allied Ventures Group.
Since the U.S. investigation into the U.S. Secret Service’s role in the Torvalds’ and Anderson’s arrests is ongoing, prosecutors filed the indictment and affidavit under seal to protect the names of the victims and identified the businesses they used. But federal prosecutors filed the indictment on Monday, the day after former NSA executive Thomas Drake was released from prison after serving nearly seven years of a 21-year sentence for leaking classified information to The Baltimore Sun.
Trevor Green, a Florida-based attorney who was named in the indictment as a co-conspirator with Ashbach, said Ashbach is innocent and “staunchly fighting the charges.”
“He doesn’t deserve to be convicted in the eyes of many for the alleged crimes he claims to have committed,” Green said.
Ashbach is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud by using other people’s identities and identities of people outside the United States to defraud buyers of homes in South Florida by arranging for bank loans for their properties that did not exist.
If Ashbach is convicted, prosecutors in Central Florida estimate he could spend up to 20 years in prison and then be extradited to the United States.
Federal investigators allege that after the five properties and their sales went through, Ashbach and the other defendants created more shell companies and other accounts for the purpose of continuing the fraud.
Ashbach’s attorney said those charges were “already set in stone.”
Gerald Lefcourt, one of Ashbach’s lawyers, said Ashbach “has no intention of going back to jail, the U.S. government knows that and Mr. Ashbach knows that.”
Lefcourt said he expects Ashbach to be tried in Central Florida first, but he could not say for sure when that would be because of the secrecy surrounding the U.S. indictment and affidavit.