Did Fyre organiser misrepresent wealth?

NEW YORK • Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old entrepreneur behind the disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, lives in a US$21,000- a-month (S$28,900-a-month) penthouse apartment in Manhattan and drives a US$110,000 Maserati.

Arrested by federal agents last Friday on a charge of wire fraud, he was carrying US$5,000 in cash.

Yet when he appeared last Saturday before a judge and was released from jail on a US$300,000 bond, he was represented by a public defender.

After the festival that was billed as a luxury getaway collapsed in chaos in April, he hired a legal team to defend him against more than a dozen lawsuits.

At the hearing, McFarland's lawyer, Ms Sabrina Shroff, said his previous lawyers had not been paid enough to continue to represent him.

In a criminal complaint unsealed last Friday, the government accused McFarland of operating a scheme to defraud investors by drastically overstating his wealth and the revenues of his company, Fyre Media, whose main business was a website that allowed people to book celebrities for concerts and parties.

In one example of these misrepresentations, the complaint said he had doctored a Scottrade account statement to say he owned US$2.5 million in a particular company's stock, when in reality his position was worth only US$1,500.

NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'Did Fyre organiser misrepresent wealth?'. Print Edition | Subscribe