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Green Diesel CEO Rivkin pleads guilty to RIN fraud

Notorious RIN defrauder Phil Rivkin pleads guilty, faces more than 10 years in prison
By Ron Kotrba | June 17, 2015

It’s been almost three years since the raid on the Fuel Streamers and Green Diesel LLC offices after the U.S. EPA issued a Notice of Violation in April of that year for generating more than 60 million fraudulent RINs. Since then, we’ve seen several individuals and companies charged with RIN fraud, and several corresponding convictions and guilty pleas entered. This week, justice again caught up to the notorious Phil Rivkin, owner of Fuel Streamers and Green Diesel.

Last June, Rivkin was deported from Guatemala where he was going by the name Felipe Poitan Arriaga, for fraudulently securing Guatemalan citizenship. This was after he had been on the lamb for more than two years, purportedly in Europe initially and then in Central America. Two Secret Service agents arrested Rivkin in Houston after he was expelled from Guatemala.

The next day, a 68-count indictment was returned against Rivkin for charges including Clean Air Act false statements, wire fraud, mail fraud, and for engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity. The indictment included a notice of forfeiture to include cash in excess of $29 million; three vehicles including a Lamborghini, Maserati, and a Bentley; a Canadair LTD airplane; and millions of dollars’ worth of artwork that was previously seized from Rivkin in 2012 and was included in a civil action for forfeiture.

Yesterday (June 16) the 50-year-old Rivkin pleaded guilty to a Clean Air Act false statement and mail fraud as part of his role in a scheme to defraud EPA by falsely representing that he was producing millions of gallons of biodiesel fuel. According to the terms of the plea agreement, Rivkin faces more than 10 years in prison and will be responsible for $51 million in restitution to help reimburse victims.

“These crimes are a serious threat to an important program that helps combat climate change,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at EPA. “For undermining the renewable fuels standard, Mr. Rivkin will pay substantial fines and restitution, and he also faces significant prison time. Companies and individual managers should get the message that there are serious consequences for breaking the rules and undermining the integrity of this program.”

In the plea agreement, Rivkin admitted that from July 2010 to July 2011, he devised the biodiesel fraud scheme as his business operation falsely generated RINs and sold them to oil companies and brokers for more than $29 million.

Rivkin’s guilty plea is one more step forward in putting the dark times of RIN fraud behind the biodiesel industry, sending yet another powerful message that if you try to bilk the system, you will get caught.