Plymouth attorney Timothy Jon Oliver allegedly bilked a Mexican construction company out of $500,000 for a real estate development project in Libya that may or may not have existed, according to federal charges filed this week.
A six-count indictment on wire fraud charges alleges that Oliver spent all but $1,000 of a $500,000 payment from ARS Tectonica in 2009 for personal purposes and never followed through on his promise to use the funds to secure a line of credit to pursue a construction project in Bani Walid, Libya.
Oliver could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A receptionist at the law firm of Oliver & Johnson where he works said Oliver was out of the office and had "left to do something urgent."
On the Web page for Oliver & Johnson, Oliver is described as a lawyer "with an emphasis in finance, commercial law and real estate law" since 1980.
In 2006, Oliver made headlines on another real estate deal when he was involved in a land development project in Mexico. The Minnesota Department of Commerce raised red flags after it determined that Oliver and another developer sold lots to Minnesotans without registering them under the state's consumer protection law. As part of a settlement with the Commerce Department, the developers agreed to make full refunds to Minnesotans who bought a lot in the Manzanillo project.
In the federal indictment filed Monday, Oliver is described as "vice chairman for North African Affairs" for a company called GVA International Ltd. that was "purported" to be developing the Bani Walid project.
Oliver allegedly "induced" ARS to send another company he controlled, American Diversified Industries (ADI), $500,000 to help secure a performance bond to present to the development arm of the Libyan government that was overseeing the Bani Walid project.
The contract was represented to ARS as a "potentially lucrative opportunity for ARS Tectonica to perform construction services in Libya."
Oliver told ARS that he would obtain an additional $2 million to be added to ARS's $500,000 contribution and secure a $2.5 million line of credit from the Hiway Federal Credit Union in St. Paul. The credit line was to be presented to the Libyan government as a performance bond for the project.
The indictment states that Oliver pressured ARS to send the money by falsely stating that the credit union was reconsidering its willingness to issue the letter of credit until it received the ARS funds.
ARS wired the money to Oliver's ADI account on May 21, 2009, and within eight weeks all but $1,000 was gone, according to the government. Oliver, however, convinced ARS for more than a year that its funds had been used for the Libyan project, according to the indictment.
In addition to the criminal charges, federal prosecutors want a forfeiture order for any proceeds from the alleged fraud.