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Businessman sentenced in $180m bank fraud that paid for lavish lifestyle, classic cars



CLEVELAND (AP) — A businessman who orchestrated a $180 million check-kiting scheme and used the proceeds to live a lavish lifestyle and amass one of the world’s most revered classic car collections has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison.

Najeeb Khan, 70, of Edwardsburg, Michigan, told a federal judge Thursday that he was “blinded by greed” to carry out the scheme and buy more than 250 cars, as well as airplanes, boats and a helicopter, according to Besides receiving a 97-month sentence, he must pay $121 million in restitution to Cleveland-based KeyBank, $27 million to clients and $9.8 million in back taxes.

Authorities have said Khan carried out the fraud from 2011-2019 while growing his payroll processing business in Elkhart, Indiana. He funneled dozens, sometimes hundreds, of checks and wire transfers with insufficient funds through three banks, artificially inflating the amount in his accounts. He siphoned off about $73 million for himself.

He used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included expensive vacations, mansions in Arizona and Michigan and properties in Florida and Montana, as well as planes and yachts. His massive car collection included pristine vintage Ferraris, Fiats and Jaguars.

Khan had plead guilty to bank fraud and attempted tax evasion. His attorneys said he had helped his victims recover some funds, in part by selling off his car collection that fetched about $40 million at auction.

Prosecutors said that when Khan’s scheme collapsed, about 1,700 of his clients lost out on money Khan’s company had withdrawn for payroll taxes. Those companies included small- and mid-sized businesses, nonprofits and charities, including the Boy Scouts of America and four Catholic dioceses.

Some victims had to pay the IRS or their employees out of their own pockets or take out lines of credit, prosecutors said. Others laid off employees.

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Black Family Loses Out on Discrimination Lawsuit Over Investment Property 



The Houstonian black real estate investors filed the federal lawsuit after they said they were prohibited from buying condos in a community advertised to Asian buyers.

Last Wednesday, the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by three Black real estate investors in Texas was dismissed “without the option to refile.”

“The decision hinged less on whether the family had been discriminated against than whether the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discriminating in the ‘sale or rental of a dwelling,’ had been violated,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

In 2022, James Ra-Amari and his wife Misty Ra-Amari, and Misty’s sister Rosemary Afful filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against realtor Josie Lin, “Lin’s company, UMRE; Grand West Condominiums; Grand West Residential Condominium Association, Inc.; United Property Management; and RE/MAX and EXP Reality, two real estate brokerages.”

The three investors purported that Lin “refused them the option to purchase three condominiums in a newly constructed community. They say that they were denied the units because of their race.”

The Ra-Amaris and Afful sought “compensatory, special, and punitive damages, economic damages for alleged violation of the Fair Housing Act, and infliction of emotional distress.”

According to the civil lawsuit, the condos’ marketing materials were “advertised as ‘…a new option for a safe and simple Asian life’ and [said], ‘Katy Asian town is within walking distance.’”

In addition, there was allegedly an “information packet [that] marketed the complex as a ‘new option for Chinese and Asian communities.’”

The suit also claimed that Lin told the three real estate investors that “all the current owners were personal friends and knew each other.”

The Black family’s argument: Lin’s comments in concert with the promotional materials explicitly targeting “‘Asian communities’ established discrimination.”

But the judge dismissed many of the defendants from the suit, citing that the Ra-Amaris and Afful failed to establish a business relationship between themselves and Lin or that Lin was an agent “acting on their behalf.”

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety, arguing semantics, pointing out that “a condo is only a ‘dwelling’ if the buyer planned to occupy it, and the family had identified themselves instead as investors in court documents. Additionally, they argued that the family had never indicated in court documents that they had actually made an offer.”

United States District Judge David Hittner largely sided with the defendant’s assertions that the Black family had failed to demonstrate they even “had a case.”

In a written statement, the plaintiffs’ attorney Justin Moore said “This case highlights the ongoing challenges and importance of the Fair Housing Act.”

“Our stance is that real estate investment has historically been a pathway for many Americans to build wealth, and our clients’ endeavors align with this tradition,” Moore continued. “Property at its essence is an investment…Your home is an investment whether you live in it or not.”

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Empowerment Conference ULTRA 2024 Returns to Houston February 3rd



HOUSTON, Texas (January 22nd, 2024) – This coming February, Houstonians are invited to ring in the second month of the year with an empowerment conference that aims to keep attendees on track, accountable, and fully engaged to exceed their personal goals in 2024. The ULTRA Conference 2024 (presented by Ultrashift, Inc., a Houston-area based non-profit organization, and hosted by leadership practitioner and author Dr. Harry Akintola) will take place on Saturday, February 3rd at ACF Center (2204 Sharpview Drive) in west Houston.

As citizens worldwide continue to merge into the new year and prepare for February, their hopes of maintaining new resolutions and goals for career, financial, spiritual, and physical advancement often begin to see signs of inconsistency and shakiness. For Dr. Akinola, that is often the sweet spot and perfect timing to teach individuals and organizations how to master their minds and consciousness to yield prosperity. Since its inception in 2009, ULTRA Conference has impacted the lives of thousands and has hosted this event in many cities around the world, including South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town), the United Kingdom (London), Nigeria (Lagos), and Tanzania (Dar es Salaam).

According to event organizers, “Ultra 2024 promises to be an immersive ‘inspiritainment’ experience, driving home the point that the future is not something to be passively anticipated but actively shaped.” All of this year’s conference speakers and panelists are award-winning presenters and specialists from across various industries. Presenters and panelists for this year’s conference include keynote speaker and host Dr. Harry Akinola, JP Morgan Chase Head of CCB Talent Roti Balogun, Zeitios AI/ML Consulting CEO Iyanuoluwa Odebode, Ph.D, Wazobia Market Founder & CEO Tunde Fasina, Hampton HGDS Real Estate Investment Trust CEO Candra Brown, Fairdale Realty & Gazette Mortgage President & CEO Victor Lofinmakin, and Transformational Coach Jimi Tewe.

The conference will be sanctioned into a five-part session each dedicated to a range of topics and interactive activities, including Future-Ready Skills (exploring the critical skills necessary for thriving in tomorrow’s job market and how to acquire them), Embracing AI (a deep dive into practical strategies for integrating artificial intelligence into your business model and career, ensuring you stay ahead of the technological curve), Local & Global Business Strategies (gaining  invaluable insights into Houston’s dynamic business environment as a model for development and learning how to leverage  these strategies on a global scale), Citizenry in Action (learning how civic engagement and personal discipline can become powerful tools for societal change and individual success), Diverse Intelligence (discover how balancing the four intelligences can lead to a more satisfying and successful life), with strategic interactive breakout and networking sessions integrated into all  phases of the conference experience.

As an accomplished corporate executive who has headed up several learning and leadership development organizations in many multinational firms (including Standard Bank, Puma Energy and Chase Bank where he currently serves as Executive Director – Head of Talent, Business Banking), Dr. Akinola hopes that individuals will gain momentum and discipline to follow through on every endeavor set for their lives. “Like a butterfly’s journey from larva to flight, you cannot attain or achieve without first transforming. Ultra 2024 – Re-Imagine Your Future is more than an inspirational and educational conference,” said Dr. Akinola. “It’s an experience, a catalyst for introspection, a reawakening of thought, and a reset of aspirations, guiding you to become, empowering you to do, to have, and to soar towards your envisioned future.” Registration for this year’s conference is now open to the general public. To learn more about the ULTRA Conference 2024 and to register, please visit the official website online at, or follow Dr. Harry Akinola on Instagram at Harry Akinola (@HarryAkinola)

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Oil prices edge higher amid mixed US cues, Red Sea strikes continue


on– Oil prices rose slightly in Asian trade on Thursday as severe cold weather appeared to have spurred some disruptions in U.S. production, while military action in the Middle East raged on.

But gains in crude were limited by industry data showing an unexpected build in U.S. inventories. While the cold weather caused some production stoppages, it also appeared to have dissuaded travel, which is a key driver of U.S. fuel demand.

Strength in the dollar weighed on oil prices, as traders priced in a smaller chance of early interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, following stronger-than-expected retail sales data.

Oil prices were also reeling from steep intraday losses on Wednesday, after gross domestic product data from top importer China missed expectations for the fourth quarter. Overall growth in 2023 also barely edged past a government target, indicating sustained economic weakness in the world’s largest oil importer.

Brent oil futures expiring in March rose 0.5% to $78.23 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.6% to $72.90 a barrel by 20:25 ET (01:25 GMT).

Both contracts were trading largely flat so far in 2024, as markets weighed expectations of worsening demand against fears of tighter Middle Eastern supplies. U.S. and UK forces carried out a fresh wave of strikes against the Iran-aligned, Yemen-based Houthi group this week, as the group continued with its attacks on vessels in the Red Sea.

Oil prices had sharply pared intraday losses on Wednesday after top U.S. oil producing state North Dakota said severely cold weather would see output fall by over 50%- a trend that is likely to dent overall U.S. production, which hit record highs over the past two months.

US oil inventories unexpectedly rise, product stockpiles see sustained builds- API

But severe cold weather in the U.S. appeared to also be eating into demand. Data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed an unexpected build in U.S. inventories over the week to January 12.

A particular point of contention was gasoline and distillate inventories logging a third consecutive week of strong gains, highlighting weaker demand in the world’s largest fuel consumer. Cold weather shut down travel across vast swathes of the U.S. over the past two weeks.

The API data usually heralds a similar reading from official inventory data, which is due later on Thursday.

Elsewhere, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries released its first monthly report for 2024, slightly earlier than usual amid increased market uncertainty.

The cartel maintained its global oil demand forecast for 2024, and said demand will grow by 1.85 million barrels per day in 2025.

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