Former Dubai exec jailed for 16 months in US

Ex Axius CEO conspired to manipulate stock price, according to US court
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Daniel Shane
Sun 16 Jun 2013 01:32 PM

The former CEO of Dubai-based firm Axius was sentenced to 16 months in jail by a US court after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to bribe brokers and manipulate the price of his employer’s stock.

Prosecutors said that Swiss citizen Roland Kaufman, who claimed to have ties to the Saudi Arabian and UAE royal families, schemed with an associate to inflate the share price of Axius in order to help sell a skincare unit for $100m.

He and friend Jean-Pierre Neuhaus was arrested in March 2012 after meeting with an undercover federal agent posing as an accomplice.

“[Kaufman was] in a position where you commanded a great deal of respect and you blew it,” said US District Judge John Gleeson during the hearing at a federal court in New York. “The point is to hold you accountable in a way that reflects the seriousness of your crime.”

Axius, which refers to itself as a “holding company and business incubator” that develops other businesses, is incorporated in Nevada, and its principal offices are in Dubai, according to FBI documentation.

When the agent initially suggested that the plot could lead to an FBI investigation, Kaufman claimed “he would use his influence with the Saudi royal family to deflect any inquiry,” prosecutors said last year.

Kaufman also claimed to be close to US billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

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