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Financier pleads guilty in Florida to fraud

March 29, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

ORLANDO (AP) - A Jamaican man accused of running a Ponzi scheme that scammed $220 million out of thousands of investors in central Florida and the Caribbean pleaded guilty Tuesday in a deal that spares his wife of any charges.

David Smith pleaded guilty to 23 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.

He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, although federal prosecutors are recommending a lighter punishment.

Smith ran a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme though an investment group called Olint, which pooled money from investors for foreign currency trading, prosecutors said. Instead of investing the money in trades, Smith used it to pay off redemption requests from other investors and funneled money into his personal bank account to buy a $2 million home in Turks and Caicos Islands, make a down payment on a Lear jet and sponsor a jazz festival in Jamaica, the plea agreement said.

Olint and three other companies run by Smith attracted more than 6,000 investors from central Florida, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the plea agreement.

Smith was sentenced last September to 6 1/2 years in prison in the Turks and Caicos Islands after he pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to defraud. Prosecutors in Florida have said he can serve both sentences at the same time.

Under the terms of the Florida agreement, Smith must forfeit $128 million which prosecutors say were proceeds from the fraud, a house purchased in 2006 for $730,000 for his sister and brother-in-law and gemstones and jewelry.



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