Pair convicted in bank fraud case related to cannabis transactions

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Two businessmen indicted in 2020 for defrauding merchant banks on behalf of California cannabis delivery company Eaze have been convicted by a Manhattan jury.

According to Law360, Hamid Akhavan and Ruben Weigand were found guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for tricking banks into processing more than $150 million in marijuana-related transactions for Eaze by disguising them as fake websites and dummy corporations.

The convictions follow a guilty plea by former Eaze CEO James Patterson last month in the same criminal case. Patterson resigned as CEO in 2019.

Eaze was not a defendant in the trial. The company “has said it cooperated with the authorities in the criminal probe,” Law360 reported.

Patterson admitted during the course of the case that he knew if banks were aware of the true nature of the transactions they wouldn’t be processed because most major banks still refuse to work with cannabis companies since marijuana is still federally illegal.

The trial, which commenced March 1 and wrapped up this week, concluded with jurors deliberating for a mere six hours before delivering guilty verdicts for both Akhavan and Weigand.

Prosecutors alleged that Akhavan and Weigand went to extensive lengths and told “layer upon layer of lies” to manipulate the banks into processing the transactions over a three-year period from 2016 to 2019.