NEW YORK — Ross A. Henry, who served as the chief financial officer of Village Roadshow Pictures until December, has been indicted by a grand jury and arrested on charges of defrauding the film financier-producer out of $4 million.
Henry has been held without bail since his arrest last Friday and will next be in court Monday on a post-indictment arraignment hearing.
Henry, an Australian national, was apprehended by FBI agents as he attempted to clear customs at Los Angeles Intl. Airport.
His passport had been red-flagged by the FBI and federal prosecutors, who fixed on Henry following a three-week investigation after VRP reported that funds were missing. VRP is the production arm of Australia-based Village Roadshow Ltd., which has emerged as one of the most successful financier-producers in Hollywood over the past two years, counting The Matrix” and Analyze This” among recent profitable films.
According to the five-count grand jury indictment, Henry faces such charges as wire fraud and making false statements to a financial institution when he allegedly misappropriated the entirety of a $4 million credit line that VRP held with City National Bank in Beverly Hills. While the credit line was earmarked for paying production expenses, Henry is accused of using his position to get the bank to wire the funds to an account at ABN AMRO Bank in New York. He then put the money into an investment program offered by Sundance Financial Corp. It is unclear what ultimately happened to those funds, which are unaccounted for.
Henry allegedly made the unauthorized transfer of funds on Feb. 2, 1999. He prepared reports for VRP and its Australian-based parent falsely representing that no funds had been withdrawn from the credit line, while at the same time causing VRP to make interest payments to the bank totaling $330,000. He also submitted to CNB a renewal of the credit line.
Jeffrey Isaacs, the lead prosecutor on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, said that after officials from VRP notified his office of the missing funds, about a month ago, the investigation quickly focused on Henry.
Because he was living in Australia, Henry was not told of the pending indictment. It was kept quiet until he returned to the U.S. and was arrested. Henry, who is incarcerated in the Metropolitan Detention Center in L.A., was initially represented by a public defender. Considered a flight risk because he lives abroad, Henry was denied bail last Monday. The issue will likely be revisited when he appears in court again on Monday.
Isaacs said the full cooperation of VRP execs with the investigation resulted in a speedy assemblage of a case and a quick arrest.