Companies schemed to steal $4 million and purchase 'prestigious' cars, says suit

Kelly Holleran Oct. 27, 2008, 7:00am

A Nevada company has filed suit against Illinois and California corporations, claiming two companies took part in a scheme to steal more than $4 million from the Nevada company and to purchase prestigious automobiles with the money.

I.T.C. International paid more than $4 million to America Voyage Corporation and expected to receive 30,000 metric tons of scrap metal in return, according to the complaint filed Oct. 21 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Instead, it only received 1,900 metric tons around April, the suit states.

I.T.C. International is an importer and exporter of raw materials and has an emphasis on supplying the materials to South Asia and South East Asia, according to the complaint.

The company first entered into negotiations with International Voyage Corp. after IVC approached it in January 2008 regarding a prospective sale of heavy melting steel scrap, the suit states.

I.T.C. International claims it agreed to pay $320 per metric ton for the scrap after visiting the Illinois property where the scrap was held. As part of the Jan. 18 written agreement, the scrap was to be delivered at 200 metric tons per week until the total 30,000 metric tons ordered were delivered.

In addition, I.T.C. International agreed to pay a $960,000 deposit within three days after signing the contract, which it did on Jan. 31, according to the complaint.

But John Nguyen, who worked for IVC, came to I.T.C. International, claiming the contract was unenforceable because his signature was forged, the suit states.

I.T.C. International claims it signed a second contract on March 3.

Nguyen later came to I.T.C. International, claiming it did not have the 30,000 metric tons of scrap because it had entered into several contracts to sell the same scrap to multiple companies, according to the complaint.

Nguyen said instead another company, AVC, would provide the scrap, the suit states.

Before AVC promised to supply and deliver the 30,000 metric tons of scrap, though, I.T.C. International claims it was forced to sign a "substitute" contract and to provide an additional $4 million deposit to buy out pending contracts with other companies.

I.T.C. International entered into a contract with AVC on March 23 and wired $4 million to the company, according to the complaint.

It has not received any additional scrap since it was delivered the 1,900 metric tons worth $608,000 around April, the suit states.

I.T.C. International claims AVC told it the only way it would deliver more scrap material is if I.T.C. International purchased a piece of Georgia property valued at $8.9 million.

Nguyen told I.T.C. International he would sell the company the land for $4.85 million, according to the suit.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that none of the Defendants have any interest in the Georgia Property, and Defendants' proposition to sell this Property to Plaintiff was yet another attempt to defraud Plaintiff out of millions of dollars," the suit states.

I.T.C. International claims after it signed the third contract, it learned AVC and IVC had entered into numerous contracts with other companies, promising to supply scrap.

Both companies had earned millions through the alleged fraud, according to the complaint.

In August, Thien Tran, a worker for one of the companies, admitted that Nguyen and another worker had acted to defraud I.T.C. International and other companies by purporting to sell the same amount of scrap located on the Illinois property, accepting millions in deposit money and deliberately failing to supply scrap to the companies, the suit states.

IVC's and AVC's workers have used the funds for their personal use, including toward the purchase of "extravagant autos," the suit states.

I.T.C. International claims at least three other companies, including Asia Link, have entered into similar contracts with IVC and AVC with similar results.

I.T.C. International is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000, plus costs, interest, attorney's fees and any other relief the court determines appropriate.

Christopher W. Byron, Christopher J. Petri and Brain R. Kalb of Byron, Gerber, Petri and Kalb of Edwardsville will be representing it.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 08-L-984.

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