Ex Polar Air Cargo executive pleads guilty to fraud

Photo: Freedomz/ Shutterstock

Former Polar Air Cargo executive Robert Schirmer has pleaded guilty for his part in allegedly defrauding the cargo carrier out of millions of dollars. 

Robert Schirmer was one of 10 people charged earlier this year with defrauding the Atlas Air Worldwide/DHL subsidiary of tens of millions of dollars in revenue, said the US Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York in a press release on October 24.

Schirmer pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 

He also agreed to pay forfeiture in the amount of $983,759.32 and to make restitution to Polar in the amount of just over $9.3m.

“Schirmer pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud before US District Judge Jesse M. Furman,” said the US District Court release.

Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the guilty plea.

Williams said: “Polar senior executive Robert Schirmer admitted his guilt in a scheme to defraud his employer that lasted more than a decade.  Today’s plea reflects our office’s longstanding commitment to rooting out corporate fraud.” 

Schirmer is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Furman on February 13 2024.

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made in public filings and in public court proceedings, from at least in or about 2009 through to about July 2021, Schirmer and nine other individuals participated in a massive scheme to defraud Polar. 

At all relevant times, Schirmer and three co-defendants were senior executives of Polar (the “Executive Defendants”), and six co-defendants (the “Vendor Defendants”) owned and operated various Polar vendors and customers. 

The Executive Defendants are alleged to have accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks from the Vendor Defendants, and also “reaped substantial financial benefits as a result of their secret ownership interests in certain Polar vendors, in exchange for ensuring that those vendors received favourable business arrangements with Polar”. 

“The fraud they perpetrated — which involved a substantial portion of Polar’s senior management and at least 10 customers and vendors of Polar — led to pervasive corruption of Polar’s business, touching nearly every aspect of the company’s operations, for over a decade,” the US District Court said.

As a result of the scheme, the Executive Defendants, along with two co-conspirators who also worked as senior executives at Polar, received unlawful payments, either directly or through various limited liability companies they controlled, in excess of approximately $23m in kickback payments or disbursements as a result of their ownership of conflicted companies, the court claimed.

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]