Harvard Business School MBA Accused Of Defrauding Alums In $2.9M Ponzi Scheme

Harvard Business School MBA Accused Of Defrauding Alums In $2.9M Ponzi Scheme

A Harvard Business School MBA has been accused by New York state’s attorney general of operating a $2.9 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded at least 29 investors — including one who allegedly committed suicide when he discovered he had lost all of his investment.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday (February 29) accused HBS Class of 2003 MBA Vladimir Artamonov of tricking investors by promising them returns of 500% to 1,000% by claiming to learn which investments Berkshire Hathaway — Warren Buffett’s holding company — planned to make.

Among those who the court order indicates provided affidavits against Artamonov are three of his Harvard classmates from 21 years ago: Mei Shibata, currently a partner at Oliver Wyman; Arndt Nicklisch, chief investment officer of James Campbell Co., a real estate firm based in Hawaii; and Rahul Mehendale, a managing director at Deloitte.

The legal action represents a big fall for a once high-flying New York City social climber who played in the Pretty Young Thing society circuit, made evident by the numerous paparazzi snaps of him at various city galleries and hot spots. He’s been photographed at the Electric Room, The New York Edition, and HG Contemporary Gallery with one-time model Quinta Witzel and former Olympic skater Alexandra Duisberg who once dated ex-Google executive Eric Schmidt. He attended the midsummer summer solstice celebration at the PUBLIC Hotel with David Roeske, a mountain climber cum finance exec known for his ascents of Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, and K2.


Harvard Business School MBA Accused Of Defrauding Alums In $2.9M Ponzi Scheme

Vladimir Artamonov. LinkedIn

According to Attorney General James, Artamonov used persuasive skills to get otherwise intelligent friends and acquaintances to part with their money. “Even sophisticated investors can be conned by fraudsters, especially when personal relationships and networks are used to build a false sense of trust,” Letitia James says in a statement from her office. “Vladimir Artamonov used his alumnus status from Harvard Business School to prey on his classmates and others while seeming legitimate and dependable. Instead, he has been scamming people out of their investments, with horrific consequences. Today, we have put a stop to this scheme and encourage anyone who has been defrauded to come forward to my office.”

James, best known for recently securing a half-billion-dollar judgment against Donald Trump for fraud in one of the former president’s many ongoing legal cases, says her office has obtained a court order blocking Artamonov “from harming investors through his fraudulent scheme,” and from withdrawing and transferring funds in his bank and brokerage accounts.

A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. Artamonov is accused of losing millions in investors’ funds by buying short-term options but not disclosing his losses and instead using new investments to repay existing investors. “Artamonov also used his investors’ money to fund unauthorized personal expenses for vacations, shopping, and dining,” James’ office says.

From September 2021 through the present, James’ office says, Artamonov solicited money for an investment fund that he called “Project Information Arbitrage” or the “Artamonov Fund”; he “identified many of his investors through the HBS alumni network,” many of whom “did not have a close personal relationship with him and only knew him as an acquaintance.”


“Since 2021, Artamonov has secured at least $2.9 million from at least 29 individual investors and engaged in a Ponzi scheme by paying the existing investors with the new investors’ fund,” James’ office says in the statement. “For instance, in October of 2022, Artamonov received $100,000 from an investor, and lost virtually all of these funds within a few weeks on short-term options. But when the investor asked for an update, Artamonov told the investor that he had yet to invest and solicited an additional $50,000 from him.”

The fraud came to James’ office attention when it learned about an investor who killed himself after discovering he had lost $100,000 in Artamonov’s alleged scheme. Yet, “Even after the tragedy, Artamonov continued to solicit new investors and lied to them regarding the fund’s strategy and performance,” James’ office says.

Contacted for comment by CNBC, Mark Cautela, HBS spokesman, responded in an email: “We just found out about this earlier today. We have no additional comment.”

Artamonov’s LinkedIn account identifies him as an “investment professional” at Greenlight Capital, a New York City-based hedge fund with a $4.5 billion portfolio; however, he has not worked there for more than 15 years since leaving the firm in December 2008. Since 2009 he has worked as a portfolio manager at Coastal Investment Management, a California-based “value-focused” hedge fund that he founded along with Todd Plutsky. According to data insights firm Preqin, Coastal “employs a long/short equity strategy that focuses on special situations. The firm’s flagship fund, Coastal Investment Partners, was launched in July 2009.”

Before attending Harvard Business School in 2001, he worked for two years at Merrill Lynch as a financial analyst in its M&A group, a job he got after graduating from The Wharton School in 1999.


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