Jamaican David Smith, who headed failed investment scheme Olint, was yesterday sentenced to 30 years in a US federal jail for defrauding thousands of investors out of US$220 million. But he will first have to finish a previously imposed jail term in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). The 42 year-old was sentenced yesterday, four and a half months after taking a plea deal on 23 counts of wire fraud and money laundering offences.
Before serving the sentence Smith will be returned to the TCI to serve a six-and-a-half-year sentence that was imposed in September 2010 after he pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges, stemming from the same Olint scheme. American authorities will seek his extradition after he completes the jail time in the Caribbean island. US District Judge Mary Scriven has ordered that Smith’s federal sentence run concurrently with his sentence in the TCI, which means he will spend just under 24 years in the US jail.
Several of the victims of the Olint scheme, some of whom lost their life savings, spoke at yesterday’s sentencing hearing while others provided statements to the judge, relating how their lives were devastated by the fraud. [. . .] Smith had been indicted on 18 counts of money laundering to conceal specified unlawful activity, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, arising out of what prosecutors said was a Ponzi scheme that started no later than February 2005 and continued through July 2008.
According to court documents, for more than three years, Smith executed a scheme to defraud more than 6,000 investors in Orange County, Florida as well as in his homeland Jamaica, the TCI and elsewhere out of more than US$220 million. He led investors to believe that he was investing their money in foreign currency trading and earning, on average, 10 percent per month, when in fact he was not trading their funds.
Instead, Smith transferred the funds to his private bank accounts to finance “a lavish and expensive lifestyle and from which he and others received millions of dollars in goods, services and other benefits”, according to prosecutors. All the while, he was issuing false statements to investors about their accounts and paying earlier investors from the funds paid in by later investors. Smith also conspired with others to launder approximately US$128 million of proceeds that were obtained as a result of the wire fraud scheme.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has acknowledged that considerable investigative support has been and continues to be provided by foreign law enforcement agencies and governments, including the Financial Crimes Unit with the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force, the Financial Services Commission in Jamaica, the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team in Turks and Caicos, and the governments of the United Kingdom, Turks and Caicos, and Jamaica. Additional support has been provided by the United States’ Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association.