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Financial Crimes

ICE takes accused international Ponzi schemer into U.S. custody

three men walking toward plane
three men walking toward plane

ORLANDO, Fla. - Special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) traveled to Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, yesterday to pick up David A. Smith, who stands charged in the Middle District of Florida with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering.

Authorities in Turks and Caicos handed Smith over to U.S. authorities pursuant to an official request by the United States government for Smith to be brought to Orlando to face federal charges.

Smith currently is serving a 6 1/2 year prison sentence in Turks and Caicos for fraud and conspiracy offenses. He pleaded guilty to those crimes in September.

On August 18, Smith was charged with four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and eighteen substantive counts of money laundering.

If convicted, Smith faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count.

"One of ICE-Homeland Security Investigations' critical missions is investigating the flow of illicit money across U.S. borders and the criminal enterprises behind that money," said ICE Director John Morton. "Not only do these kinds of financial schemes damage the lives of the thousands of victims, but the international money laundering involved poses a direct threat to the security of the U.S. financial system."

The court notified Smith that the United States intends to forfeit certain items of property that are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense, including a money judgment in the amount of $128 million; a residence located in Windemere, Fla.; precious gemstones, precious metals; jewelry, and $40,103.90 involved in a wire transfer that was conducted on July 24, 2006.

According to court documents, for more than three years, Smith executed a scheme to defraud more than 6,000 investors in Florida and elsewhere out of over $220 million. In addition to defrauding those investors, Smith conspired to launder the proceeds of his criminal activities.

Smith will remain in federal custody, and he will make an initial appearance before a Federal Magistrate Judge.

This case is being investigated by ICE HSI in Orlando, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), FBI, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), National Futures Association (NFA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.