Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Columbia Man Sentenced for Investor Fraud
Contact Person: Winston Holliday (803)-929-3000
Columbia, South Carolina—- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that ROBERT STUART LEBEN, age 53, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced today in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina, for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, in connection with an investor fraud scheme. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis of Columbia sentenced Leben to 40 months of incarceration. Leben also was ordered to pay over $1.8 million in restitution to the individual victims.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that between 2008 and 2015, Leben controlled the Structured Finance Group (SFG), which purportedly invested in United States Treasury fixed-income securities called “T-STRIPS” on behalf of his clients. Leben developed a plan to buy discounted T-STRIPS and use the difference between the discounted price and the face value to generate income by trading in commodities. Leben used two third party intermediaries between himself and those giving him money to be invested. Records obtained by the FBI show correspondence from Leben to investors confirming the amount handed over and falsely representing to those individuals that they had active balances in their accounts. However, rather than buy T-STRIPS, Leben diverted the bulk of investor money for his own use, including purchasing a $500,000 house, a backyard pool and landscaping worth $180,000, vacations, surgical procedures, and various financial gifts to his family members. The investigation revealed eleven victims who lost approximately $2.3 million, some of which has been recouped.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Winston Holliday and Jim May of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.