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Portuguese ‘finance prodigy’ arrested in USA on fraud charges

Carlos Manuel Santos was considered a ‘finance prodigy’ in Portugal

A 29-year-old Portuguese businessman has been arrested in the United States of American on fraud charges.

Carlos Manuel Santos, who was once considered a “finance prodigy” in Portugal, is the CEO of San-Diego based financial firm Ethos Asset Management, Inc., which offers financing to international businesses.

He was taken into custody in Newark, New Jersey as he arrived in the United States from abroad, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California announced in a statement.

His arrest is based on a complaint charging him with “wire fraud conspiracy related to a loan scam.”

According to the complaint, Santos is accused of orchestrating the fraud through his company, Ethos Asset Management, Inc.

“Santos required prospective borrowers to provide an upfront fee in an amount equal to a certain percentage of the loan amount. However, upon receipt of the upfront fee, Santos and Ethos did not disburse the loan as agreed upon by the parties. Santos used the upfront fees to repay other prospective borrowers, issue commissions to his co-conspirators, and to pay for personal expenses,” says the complaint.

It also claims that that to “lure prospective borrowers and to obtain lines of credit from financial institutions in furtherance of the scheme, Santos manipulated Ethos’ balance sheets and real financial account statements to artificially inflate Ethos’ net worth.

“For example, the complaint alleges that Santos induced at least one victim to pay an upfront fee in excess of $8 million by representing Ethos had $359,088,190.22 in a specific brokerage account, but records established that Ethos had no such account.  Similarly, the complaint contends Santos altered Ethos bank account statements to inflate bank account balances to prospective borrowers, sometimes by more than $100 million than what was deposited in the account,” the statement from the Attorney’s Office adds.

The young businessman is now facing up to 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Carlos Manuel Santos holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics (2012-2015) with an 18 average grade, and a Master’s degree in Accounting, Corporate Finance, and International Taxation (2017) with a grade of 19, from ISEG – Lisbon School of Economics & Management at the University of Lisbon, with which he cooperated as an assistant until 2021 when his contract was revoked.

By Michael Bruxo

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Article corrected with updated information on his role at ISEG on November 17