Nevada Park Developer Under Investigation
Prominent Pahrump, Nev., developer Hans Seibt is being investigated for criminal charges in connection with his bankruptcy filing, an investigator confirmed last week, according to the Pahrump Valley Times.
"In a way it's a Ponzi-like scheme. We're not sure," said Bill Holland, a former Las Vegas Metro detective hired by the bankruptcy court to do forensic accounting.
"We have only preliminary evidence he received an awful lot of money that was supposed to be promised to certain property endeavors, which turned out probably were not," Holland said.
A Ponzi scheme is a situation in which investors are paid by future investors.
Seibt sent letters to his clients Aug. 30 informing them he would be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The filing was blamed on the dramatic downturn in the U.S. housing market presenting severe liquidity challenges in the credit and mortgage markets, diminished consumer confidence, increased home inventories and foreclosures and downward pressure on home prices.
Numerous investors, including many in Pahrump, are fearful they will lose their life savings through the bankruptcy.
Seibt's flagship development, the Seibt Desert Retreat Motorcoach Park, has been taken over by a first trust deed holder, Dunham and Associates of San Diego, and renamed Desert Treasures RV Park.
Seibt was scheduled to be questioned in a private examination similar to a deposition last Friday (Feb. 27), but the date was postponed until April 7 at the request of his lawyers.
Hearings for investors to provide their input began in late October and lasted through early December. Holland said they only expected about 30 people for the first hearing, which was scheduled in a small court and had to be moved to a larger courtroom when about 300 men and women showed up.
While Holland is investigating criminal wrongdoing, local creditors are optimistic they will recover some of their investment through civil action in the bankruptcy case. Ken Hogan, with the law firm of Gordon and Silver, is representing the creditors.
Holland said about a third of the investors have legitimate first trust deeds to the property. The problem, he said, is with people who invested in one of the eight limited liability corporations who thought they were purchasing property directly.
"Most of them invested in property and it turned out they were not invested in property. They were invested in limited liability companies that in turn went out and bought property. There are about five other LLCs that are not in bankruptcy in which most of the partners or investors are invested in those LLCs. So probably they haven't lost their property, they just don't have exclusive rights on the property," Holland said.