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FBI says Pearlman has phony firm

By HELEN HUNTLEY
Published June 16, 2007


Music producer Lou Pearlman eats breakfast at the Westin Resort at Nusa Dua on the island of Bali before being taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI and Indonesian police. A German tourist tipped the FBI to his whereabouts. Pearlman left Orlando in January, and sightings of him had been reported around the world.
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[Thorsten Iborg | Special to the Times]
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Pearlman in his booking mug that was taken Thursday in Guam.

Sparkling financial statements that showed fast-growing profits and his own blossoming net worth were music producer Lou Pearlman's ticket to fat bank loans.

But it wasn't easy keeping up appearances when the accounting firm supplying those statements didn't exist. Just how far Pearlman went to create an illusion is detailed in the federal criminal complaint unsealed late Thursday.

Cohen & Siegel, which supposedly had offices in Coral Gables and Germany, was nothing more than an answering service with mail and messages forwarded to Pearlman and one of his associates.

Pearlman flew lenders to Germany, then whisked them off in a limousine to visit the offices of Cohen & Siegel.

There were Cohen & Siegel signs on the building and the lenders met purported partners who, in at least one instance, supplied them with reference letters and claimed to have 100 employees.

"There is no such accounting firm, " the FBI says in its affidavit attached to the criminal complaint.

In addition to creating phony financial statements, the fake accounting firm is also listed as the preparer of phony tax returns for Pearlman and his company.

The falsified documents are a big part of the bank fraud charge that led to Pearlman's arrest Thursday.

[Last modified June 16, 2007, 07:23:58]


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