HOUSTON (CN) - A Houston man was arrested and charged late last week with defrauding the government of $29 million by selling renewable fuel credits from biofuels he never produced.
Philip Joseph Rivkin aka Felipe Poitan Arriaga, 49, was arrested Wednesday evening in Houston; Guatemala deported him that day for fraudulently securing Guatemalan citizenship, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
Rivkin appeared in Federal Court Thursday and was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and making false statements under the Clean Air Act.
Rivkin ran, or claimed to run, at least three biofuel companies in Houston: Green Diesel, Fuel Streamers, and Petro Constructors, prosecutors said.
Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, producers of biofuels may qualify for credits, known as renewable identification numbers, or RINs, which they can sell to other companies that need them.
Rivkin claimed to have produced millions of gallons of biofuels and sold the credits, though he never produced the fuel in the first place, prosecutors said. He is accused of getting 45 million fraudulent RINs, and selling them, and claiming fraudulent tax credits for them.
The indictment demands that Rivkin forfeit more than $29 million in cash, a Lamborghini, a Maserati and a Bentley, an airplane, and millions of dollars worth of art that was seized from him in 2012.