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Top executive at NBC Universal accused of fraud

The ex-treasurer of the GE unit stole $800,000 to pay for lavish trips and other items, authorities say. He pleads not guilty.

January 26, 2007|Thomas S. Mulligan | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — General Electric Co., which prides itself on its management prowess and financial controls, allegedly was fleeced by one of its top executives.

Federal authorities Thursday arrested the former treasurer of GE's NBC Universal unit on charges that he stole more than $800,000 from the company and used the proceeds for lavish private jet trips, a summer house rental in the Hamptons and other personal spending.

Victor Jung, 34, of New York, a 12-year veteran of NBC Universal, was indicted on two counts of wire fraud. Arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court, he pleaded not guilty and was released on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond.

"We plan to vigorously defend against these charges," Jung's lawyer, Christopher Brennan, said Thursday.

According to the indictment, Jung in November 2005 secretly formed a company called NBCU Media Productions, listing himself as owner. He opened accounts for the company at a Commerce Bank branch located about five blocks from NBC Universal's headquarters in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center.

Jung then allegedly arranged for General Electric to send wire transfers of $575,000 and $238,450 in January and April 2006, respectively, to the bank accounts of his phony company.

As treasurer of NBC Universal, Jung's job included overseeing the company's bank accounts and providing financial analyses and reports to GE, federal authorities said.

The name he allegedly chose is close to that of an actual NBC Universal subsidiary, NBC Media Productions, which does long-form nonfiction programming for Dateline, MSNBC and other platforms.

Shortly after the first transfer, Jung sent $387,189 from the phony company's bank accounts to Marquis Jet Partners Inc., a New York-based firm that leases private jets, the indictment states. Over the next few months, he and companions allegedly flew Marquis jets to such destinations as Miami, Antigua, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. In the air, they enjoyed "shrimp cocktail, Veuve Clicquot champagne, Grey Goose vodka and Mondavi wine," according to the indictment.

Jung allegedly used another $56,000 from the company for a summer rental of a home in Southampton, N.Y. He also paid off an $87,416 American Express card bill, the indictment states.

"When we discovered the potential integrity breach, we promptly brought it to the appropriate authorities and are cooperating fully with the investigation," NBC Universal said in a statement Thursday.

An NBC Universal spokeswoman declined to provide details on Jung's employment history. Brennan said that Jung had worked there for 12 years before being terminated last July.

The indictment was announced Thursday morning by Michael J. Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan.

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thomas.mulligan@latimes.com

Times staff writer Matea Gold contributed to this report.

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