Nathan Stoliar, 64, of Australia, pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Vegas to five felonies for his role in a $41 biofuels fraud.
Stoliar and another defendant had been charged in January 2014 in a 57-count indictment.
He was arrested after he returned to the United States in early February to surrender.
Stoliar pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, two counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements under the Clean Air Act.
He’s required by the plea to forfeit $4 million and pay $1 million in restitution.
He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering and wire fraud, five years in prison for conspiracy, and two years in prison for making false statements under the Clean Air Act. He could also be fined millions of dollars.
Sentencing has been set for Oct. 30,2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Stoliar and his co-conspirator perpetrated a massive fraud against a renewable fuels program created to protect our nation’s energy security and independence,” said Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“The Justice Department will continue to pursue fraudsters at home and abroad and protect the integrity of federal programs as it protects the environment,” Hirsh said.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 created federally-funded programs to encourage production and use of renewable fuels such as biodiesel.
Biodiesel producers and importers can generate and attach credits known as “renewable identification numbers,” or RINs. to the gallons of biodiesel they produce or import.
RINs are routinely bought and sold in the marketplace.
Stoliar admitted that beginning around September 2009, he and co-defendant James Jariv operated companies that falsely represented themselves as a producers of biodiesel from “feedstocks” such as animal fat and vegetable oils.
The companies generated and sold RINs based on phony production and sales claims.