If Lenin Came from Sarasota

Raid here connected with broker arrested in United States

 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


Jonathan R. Curshen

Investigators raided the Centro Colón offices of a man who described himself as an expert in International Asset manipulation charge in the United States.

According to a complaint that was filed Sept. 4 Curshen and a Maintland, Florida, man identified as Bruce Grossman, 50, schemed to defraud investors in Industrial Biotechnology Corp. common stock by paying secret cash kickbacks to an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a middleman willing to recruit corrupt stockbrokers.

The U.S. Security Exchange Commission, the stock regulating agency, filed a civil complaint to enjoin the pair from illegal activities, to force them to surrender any money they may have made and assess a money penalty.

The civil complaint alleges that beginning in at least June 2008, Grossman and Curshen engaged in an undisclosed kickback arrangement with an individual who claimed to represent a group of registered representatives with trading discretion over the accounts of wealthy customers.

Unbeknownst to Grossman and Curshen, the individual actually was an undercover FBI agent, and Grossman and Curshen promised to pay a 2 percent kickback to the agent and the registered representatives he purported to represent in exchange for the purchase of up to $3 million of Industrial Biotechnology Corp. stock through the customers' accounts, said the complaint.

The civil complaint further alleges that from June 27 to July 2 Grossman and Curshen instructed the agent to purchase approximately 85,000 shares of Stuart Burchill's Industrial Biotechnology Corp. stock for a total of approximately $76,000 through matched trades using detailed instructions concerning the size, price and timing of the purchase orders. Thereafter, Grossman and Curshen paid bribes of almost $19,000 to the agent.

Such a deal would stick unknowing investors with overpriced stock.

The criminal complaint could mean five years in prison if the men are convicted, according to U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia in New York City, whose office is prosecuting the case. Both Grossman and Curshen are on bail, the U.S. attorney said.

The Poder Judicial press office said that the raid at 9 a.m. Thursday was conducted by the Fiscalía de Fraudes, agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization, the criminal fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI agents.

The press office said that the amount of the fraud is some $100 million, an amount that clearly puts the investigation in areas other than the stock manipulation. The offices are on the fifth and eighth floor of Edificio Centro Colón.

The press office also said that three persons were under investigation by the U.S. agencies. The press summary did not name Curshen specifically.

Shortly after the raid, the foreign ministry sent out a reminder that Curshen had been stripped of his privileges as a diplomat Oct. 8. He had been honorary consul in Costa Rica for the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. In fact, a former employee said that Curshen bragged that his diplomatic status would prevent any police raids of his offices.

Curshen is believed to have U.S. and British citizenships. He appears to be competent in self-promotions and announced on Red Sea's Web site that he wrote a book about obtaining a second passport for business reasons. His clientèle was almost exclusively from the U.S. and Canada, associates reported. Among other tasks his firm would create offshore corporations for foreigners. U.S. agents may have been in search of those records.