Japanese father, son appear in Las Vegas in $1.5B fraud case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two former investment executives from Japan who appeared in court in Las Vegas are facing criminal fraud charges in what prosecutors call a $1.5 billion international Ponzi scheme.

Seventy-year-old Junzo Suzuki and his 40-year-old son, Paul Suzuki, pleaded not guilty Thursday and a federal magistrate set a hearing next Wednesday to decide if they’ll be freed from custody pending trial.

Their attorneys, Richard Wright and Junji Suzuki, declined to comment. Junji Suzuki said he is not related to the defendants.

Junzo and Paul Suzuki were arrested in Japan in January, two months after a federal jury in Las Vegas found their 72-year-old co-defendant, Edwin Fujinaga, guilty of fraud and money laundering.

Prosecutors say their company, MRI International Inc., had thousands of Japanese victims.

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