Raleigh man who fled after being charged in $129M Ponzi scheme arrested

William Wise, fugitive since 2009, has been charged in $129M fraud

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comApril 17, 2012 

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William Wise

KEITH BEATY — Toronto Star

Fugitive financier William Wise, a former Raleigh resident, has turned himself in to federal authorities in San Francisco, according to the Texas lawyer who acted as receiver in Wise’s civil case.

Once a resident of the gated Olde Raleigh development, Wise faces up to 100 years in prison and millions in fines based on a 17-count indictment returned in San Francisco in February. Along with a California woman, Wise is charged with stealing more than $129 million from victims who thought they would get high levels of return on certificates of deposit issued by Wise’s bank. Instead, they wound up funding a lavish lifestyle for Wise, the indictments said.

“When you take it and blow it on prostitutes and world travel, you don’t usually have money left over for the poor investors,” said Richard Roper, the Fort Worth lawyer who was the receiver in the civil case brought by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wise disappeared in March 2009, just as federal and state investigators converged at his Raleigh home to seize records and property.

According to court records, Wise’s scheme was based on phony CDs issued by his Millennium Bank, located in the small island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

There’s no evidence that Wise invested any of the money, records showed, instead relying on the Ponzi tactic of paying earlier investors “interest” based on deposits by the newly duped.

“I’d love to talk to him,” said Roper, who’s spent years trying to assemble Wise assets to repay investors.

According to the Toronto Star newspaper in Wise’s native Canada, he didn’t mean for all his investors to lose what they’d put in his hands.

“I’m prepared to take my lumps,” he said, according to the Star. “If I didn’t feel badly, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I’ve helped cause a lot of pain. Regardless of whether it was my intention or not, the result has been horrendous, horrific.”

Goldsmith: 929-829-8929

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