RIN Scheme Sentencing

California Man Pleads Guilty to Renewable Fuel Credits Scheme

OAKHURST, N.J. (DTN) -- The U.S. Attorney's Office District of Columbia announced Ijomah Oputa of Los Angeles, California, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 months of imprisonment for wire fraud in connection with the generation and sale of fraudulent renewable fuel credits from 2017 through 2021.

Oputa created a fake renewable importing company and fraudulently generated Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, on volumes of biofuel that he claimed to have imported from foreign biofuel producers. No such imports had actually occurred. Oputa generated false documentation of the alleged imports, including fake classified correspondence with a branch of the U.S. military. Oputa then sold the fraudulent RINs to a RIN trading company for approximately $426,000, which he deposited in a bank account he opened using a stolen identity.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden ordered restitution in the amount of approximately $462,200 to ACT Fuels and $33,600 to RIN Alliance, two of the victims of the wire fraud scheme.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 created or extended several federally funded programs to incentivize production of renewable fuels, including biodiesel, and to encourage the use of such fuels in the United States. Authorized biodiesel producers and importers could generate and attach credits, known as RINs, to biodiesel they produced or imported. Because certain companies need RINs to comply with regulatory obligations, RINs have significant market value.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division.