U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23860 / June 15, 2017
Securities and Exchange Commission, Plaintiff-Appellee v. Edwin Yoshihiro Fujinaga, The Yunju Trust, and June Fujinaga, Defendants-Appellants, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Appeal Nos. 15-16026 / 16-15623
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Edwin Yoshihiro Fujinaga and MRI International, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 2:13-CV-1658 JCM (CWH) (D. Nev.)
Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment and Remedies Orders Against MRI International, Edwin and June Fujinaga, and The Yunju Trust in Ponzi Scheme Case
On June 7, 2017, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued two opinions that affirmed the entry of summary judgment in favor of the Securities and Exchange Commission on its claims against MRI International; MRI CEO, Edwin Fujinaga and his wife, June Fujinaga; and Mrs. Fujinaga's trust, The Yunju Trust. The panel also upheld an order of judgment requiring Edwin Fujinaga and MRI to pay more than $580 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil money penalties, as well as an order holding June Fujinaga and her trust liable to pay disgorgement of more than $2.3 million in ill-gotten gains.
On September 11, 2013, the SEC filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada alleging that Defendants Edwin Fujinaga and MRI perpetrated an elaborate Ponzi scheme designed to misappropriate money from investors. The SEC alleged that the defendants raised more than $800 million from thousands of investors living primarily in Japan under the ruse that MRI was using their investments to buy medical accounts receivable from medical providers at a discount to recover their full value from insurance companies. The SEC alleged that the defendants used the investments to pay back earlier investors, and that Mr. Fujinaga used investor funds for his own purposes, including to buy property and luxury cars. The SEC subsequently added June Fujinaga and The Yunju Trust as relief defendants in the case, seeking to disgorge assets and funds that they received from Mr. Fujinaga and to which they had no legitimate claim.
On October 3, 2014, the District Court granted the SEC's motion for summary judgment on liability against Edwin Fujinaga and MRI for violations of Sections 17(a)(1), (2), and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. On January 27, 2015, the District Court entered a final judgment holding them jointly and severally liable for disgorgement of proceeds in the amount of $442,229,611.70 and for prejudgment interest in the amount of $102,129,752.38. That judgment also imposed civil money penalties of $20 million against each of them, and provided injunctive relief by permanently enjoining them from further securities violations. On July 29, 2015, the District Court granted the SEC's motion for summary judgment on liability for disgorgement against Mrs. Fujinaga and her trust, and, on August 11, 2015, entered a final judgment for disgorgement. On March 4, 2016, in ruling on a motion for reconsideration filed by Mrs. Fujinaga and the trust, the District Court affirmed their liability and ordered them to jointly and severally disgorge $2,333,382.
For further information, please see Litigation Release Number 22832 (October 3, 2013) [SEC Obtains Asset Freeze and Other Emergency Relief in Ponzi Scheme Targeting Investors in Japan]; Litigation Release Number 23111 (October 10, 2014) [SEC Obtains Summary Judgment Win on Liability in Ponzi Scheme Case]; Litigation Release Number 23184 (January 30, 2015) [Judge Orders MRI International Inc. and Its CEO Edwin Fujinaga to Pay More Than $580 Million in Ponzi Scheme Case]; and Litigation Release Number 23482 (March 9, 2016) [Court Denies Motion to Reconsider Summary Judgment Filed by Wife of MRI CEO Edwin Fujinaga and Wife's Trust in MRI Ponzi Scheme Case].