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Developer Zai Indicted in Croatian FCU swindle
CLEVELAND (2/9/12)--Eddy Zai, a Cleveland-area financier, was charged Wednesday with 34 counts related to obtaining $16.7 million in fraudulent loans from the defunct St. Paul Croatian FCU in Eastlake, Ohio.

Zai, 43, is one of 19 people charged in an indictment unsealed Wednesday morning (The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer  Feb. 8).

He significantly contributed to the credit union's collapse because he [allegedly] was the single largest recipient of the fraudulent loans, Stephen Anthony, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Cleveland said in statement, according the Dealer.

Zai is charged with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of conspiracy, one count of bank bribery, 11 counts of money laundering, 17 counts of making false statements to a bank, and one count of making false statements to law enforcement, the Dealer said.

Koljo Nikolovski, 49, allegedly a central figure in the loan scam that caused the collapse of St. Paul Croatian--in one of the largest credit union failures in U.S. history--pleaded guilty Jan. 30 to 18 counts of bribery, bank fraud and money laundering. Nikolovski has been linked by Macedonian authorities to organized crime there. He is scheduled for sentencing on April 23 (News Now Feb. 1).

Nikolvoski entered the plea in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland. The charges stemmed from his alleged role in a $2.5 million fraudulent loan scam in which he allegedly obtained several loans worth about $2.9 million from 2003 through 2005 from the credit union (Cleveland.com and News-Herald.com Jan. 31).

Anthony Raguz, 51, of Mentor, former CEO of the defunct credit union, pleaded guilty in January to issuing more than 1,000 fraudulent loans to more than 300 account holders from 2000 to April 2010, according to the Justice Department documents (News Now Jan. 4). He allegedly accepted more than $500,000 in bribes, kickbacks and gifts from people obtaining the fraudulent loans. His sentencing will be Feb. 24.

Zai and others allegedly submitted fake loan documents to the credit union in bilking it out of the $16.7 million and then--to thank Raguz--Zai reportedly gave him several payments, usually in  $100 bills hidden in envelopes and delivered directly to Raguz at his credit union office, the indictment stated, according to the Dealer.

St. Paul Croatian FCU was placed into conservatorship on April 23, 2010, and closed the following May 1. It held $238.8 million in funds from 5,400 members when it collapsed, costing the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund $170 million. The collapse has prompted lawsuits by the National Credit Union Administration seeking to recoup some of the losses (News Now Jan. 4).


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