In late 2007, he was sentenced to 84 months in jail in what US prosecutors said was a major scheme to defraud several targeted victims of their hard-earned monies. The victims included firemen and the sheriff department employees.
He had promised to build condos in Florida and double the earnings of investors in a few months.
Instead, he was hauled off a plane by Feds when he reportedly attempted to flee. He was charged, jailed and then asked to leave the US.
Today, Aleem Hussain, 54, is the President of the Lusignan Golf Club, in Guyana, and he has unveiled an ambitious, world class golf community here.
Like the Florida project, there is a big sports name attached- world renowned golfer, Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus is said to be “partnering” in building the golfing community somewhere on East Coast Demerara, on 500 acres of land.
Hussain is reported to have even convinced a few government officials to endorse his project.
It appears that Hussain, who boasts excellent marketing skills, likes a big splash.
Last week, he was able to attract Roddy Carr to Guyana. Carr is said to be the Senior International Representative for Nicklaus Design, the world’s leading golf course design firm.
Carr, during a signing of an agreement last week, said it is a very pioneer move for Guyana.
“It is one of the few countries that does not have a golf residential resort area. What is going to happen in Guyana going forward, it is going to be a requirement that you have facilities for people to relax, enjoy themselves and live.
“So what we are looking to do is build a world class golf facility that will have schools, homes and medical facilities that will be there for the growth of Guyana.”
It appears that Nicklaus will be doing the designs of the project while Hussain will be raising the monies.
However, some news agencies had the impression that Jack Nicklaus himself would be spearheading and financing the project.
However, Hussain clarified to this newspaper that he is raising the US$100M from private investors and commercial financing from local and international banks.
Invited to the signing last week was Mitra Ramkumar of Tourism Hospitality Association of Guyana.
Things Falls Apart
Over the weekend, chinks in Hussain’s carefully moulded exterior started appearing.
Following the story of the project in Kaieteur News over the weekend, a Ministry of Health official said that the golfing official had approached them a few years ago, and made an offer to produce videos for health education.
However, his suave ways raised suspicions and a Google background check found that an individual named Aleem Hussain, was charged in Florida in a major fraud case. He was jailed.
The ministry wanted nothing to do with Hussain.
In Guyana, Hussain who said he is from Albouystown, has managed to get himself elected as President of the Lusignan Golf Club, unveiling some ambitious promotions to raise the profile of the organization.
With regards to the US$100M golfing project which had social media tongues wagging over the weekend, Hussain has approached the Guyana Office For Investments and a number of Government agencies and ministries.
He even had Minister of Sports, Dr. George Norton, talking about the project.
Last week, Hussain who has links to Caricom Investment Management Group (CIMGRO) and NexGen Global Marketing, argued that the project will boost sports here tremendously.
“Taking the very best of the world to start will put Guyana on the very top of the world, especially since in this region there is no Jack Nicklaus or PGA course. It will boost Guyana’s economy and we are looking at a major hotel group and other stake holders.”
He added that they are finalizing the acquisition of the land for the project and as part of the venture the group has committed to upgrade the LGC and people will be able to live and play golf at the highest level here and this project will create jobs.
However, while Hussain has built a good reputation here, court documents and even the respected newspaper, Wall Street Journal, is painting a different picture.
Judge Gregory Presnell in late 2007, in a plea arrangement, sentenced him to 84 months. He was ordered to leave the US after his sentence and not re-enter without permission. He was also ordered to pay restitution: US$8,904,998.76 to victims.
In February 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported the matter which was attracting attention in Florida.
Hussain formed his real-estate company in 2004, calling it Main Street USA, after a nearby Disney World attraction. He bought a complex of 27 aging, two-story apartment houses in Orlando and set out to convert them into condos. His timing looked favorable. That year, for the first time, the average price of a condo in the U.S. exceeded that of a single-family home, and in the Orlando area, condo and house prices jumped 15%.
But not much has gone as planned for Mr. Hussain, 42 years old, nor has it for his hundreds of investors, who include a bunch of local sheriff’s deputies.
By 2007, Hussain’s company was being liquidated by a federal bankruptcy court, and he is residing in the Seminole County jail, charged with 23 counts of federal mail and wire fraud.
Mr. Hussain’s 300 or so investors face potential losses of up to US$400,000 apiece.
Born in Guyana in 1964, he worked in real-estate sales in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Costa Rica, in the 1980s.
He moved to Orlando, Florida around 2004 when the city was the epicenter of a national boom of conversions of rental apartments to condominiums.
Hussain and his partners formed “No-Fee Realty” to broker condo sales, and two subsidiaries, “USA Mortgage” and “Main Street USA Mortgage,” to broker mortgages and home-equity loans, in some cases to enable property owners to invest in condos.
Charming and Beguiling
Hussain was described as charismatic and beguiling. He would demonstrate for employees his formidable sales skills by buttonholing potential home-financing customers at supermarkets and persuading them to fill out applications, which involved disclosing their Social Security numbers, recalls former employee Michael Lombardo.
To build trust with the local real-estate community, he took on a partner, Alan Randel, a real-estate broker who had worked in the area for several decades. Mr. Randel, the company’s president, hasn’t been charged in the case and declines to comment.
First, Mr. Hussain had to raise money to buy apartment buildings. His pitch to investors: Main Street would buy properties, convert them into condos, then sell them at a profit. He said he would set up a private real-estate investment trust (REIT) to help finance the deals. Investors in the REIT, he said, would get steady, attractive dividends. Those who wanted higher, quicker returns, he said, could co-invest directly in the conversion projects.
Hussain cut a deal with the Orlando Magic, the National Basketball Association franchise. For US$350,000, Main Street secured the right to use the team’s name in advertising, and to use head coach Brian Hill in a marketing video.
Mark Pilkington, a counterterrorism official at the sheriff’s department who invested US$300,000, says the Magic marketing deal reassured him.
In September 2005, with US$10 million from about 200 investors, Mr. Hussain moved to buy the 27 apartment houses known as Waldengreen. The complex contained 278 units ranging in size from 517 to 1,079 square feet.
He was alerted to an 18-acre lakefront estate for sale in Winter Garden, which county records show was owned by Khalil bin Laden, a brother of Osama bin Laden. Mr. Hussain planned to refurbish the Spanish-colonial-style mansion and to add houses, condominiums or stores on the grounds, company documents indicate.
However, Hussain’s company started running out of cash. It had lost US$3.6 million in deposits on two other apartment complexes it had tried to buy. Dividend payments to the REIT investors, which had been steady, stopped.
Main Street sought bankruptcy-court protection in Orlando. By then, several investors, including some sheriff’s deputies, had contacted federal prosecutors to report that REIT dividend payments had stopped and that Mr. Hussain had refused to return their original investments, as promised by the investment documents.
In October, Mr. Hussain rented a car and drove to Atlanta to catch a flight to Costa Rica. U.S. Marshals, alerted by federal investigators in Orlando, met him at the gate and arrested him.
A federal grand jury indicted him on 23 counts of mail and wire fraud. Among the accusations: He falsely represented to investors that their money would be kept in the REIT, when in reality there was no REIT and the money sat in a checking account. And he told investors their dividend payments came from investment profits, when he actually was paying them from money invested by others.
Investigators also said Main Street sold condos at inflated prices to Mr. Hussain’s friends or relatives to generate misleading appraisals that justified the higher prices paid by outside buyers.
Investors and others had filed US$19 million of claims in bankruptcy court.
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