A Bridgeport man was arrested on charges of defrauding the federal Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) of more than $1 million and laundering most of the funds through bank accounts in the U.S. and Liberia.
William Garrison Jackson was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Beginning in 2010, Jackson teamed with two other people who were only identified in the criminal complaint as “Individual 1” and “Individual 2” to create a New Jersey-based company called NuStrata Logistics LLC (NSL-US) as the parent company of NuStrata Logistics Liberia Inc. (NSL-L), a licensed and registered Liberian company. The complaint says that NSL-US and NSL-L presented a corporate mission of providing public transportation bus service in Liberia’s capital Monrovia dubbed the “Lizard Bus,” and in September 2013 the companies obtained more than $1 million in a loan from OPIC, which provides loans to U.S.-based companies that invest in emerging markets.
According to the criminal complaint, Jackson and his conspirators submitted false financial documents to access OPIC funding. Jackson and Individual 1 wired $700,000 from NSL-L’s bank account in Liberia to NSL-US’s Bank of America account in the U.S., and the funds were then dispersed to the personal accounts of Jackson and Individual 1. NSL-L made a single interest payment to OPIC in January 2014 and then defaulted on the loan, while the Lizard Bus service in Monrovia ceased operations in April 2014 due to a lack of funds.
Jackson was released on a $100,000 secured bond and will make his initial appearance in New Jersey federal court on Oct. 4. If convicted, he faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine on the mail and wire fraud charges and a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $500,000 fine on the money laundering charge.