Las Vegas man who fled to Fiji to avoid fraud charges pleads guilty

A Las Vegas man accused of defrauding victims of more than $1.4 million in an investment scheme, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud and one count of tax evasion, the U.S. attorney general’s office in Nevada announced Thursday.

Aneal Maharaj, 64, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of tax evasion, six counts of bank fraud and one count of making a false declaration in a bankruptcy petition.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16.

Authorities said from 1990 to about October 2004, Maharaj operated a multilevel marketing program from Las Vegas where he promised investors that they could pay off a 30-year mortgage in five years or less by becoming franchise owners in businesses he called “PowerNet Marketing Systems” and a home-loan plan he called “Systematic Mortgage Amortization Reduction Technology, or SMART.

At least 17 individuals each invested between $25,000 and $500,000 in the scheme.

Maharaj was originally charged in September 2005 with mail fraud and wire fraud. He faced additional charges in 2008.

Shortly after, he fled to Fiji. He fought extradition for more than two years, but on Nov. 15, 2011, he was extradited to Las Vegas to face charges.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at or 702-383-4638.

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