Local man charged for operating $4 million Ponzi scheme - KMOV.com

Local man charged for operating $4 million Ponzi scheme

(KMOV)--The United States Attorney’s Office announced Friday the indictment of former St. Louis resident Richard Saunders, for allegedly taking more than 4 million dollars in a Ponzi-style scheme.

Saunders is charged with operating a scheme in which investors were paid returns on their investments using investment funds obtained from other investors, rather than from returns on legitimate investments. 

Authorities say that between November 2004 and January 2008, Saunders allegedly spent, paid and diverted more than $1.3 million in investor funds.  Some of the funds were allegedly transferred to overseas accounts, including accounts in the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Thailand.  In 2008, Saunders fled the U.S. and relocated to Southeast Asia without paying investors.

Saunders was recently located and apprehended in Thailand and was deported to the United States with the assistance of the Royal Thai Police. Saunders was taken into U.S. Custody Thursday.

According to the indictment, Saunders operated and was affiliated with a business known as Advisors Capital Holdings, Inc., in St. Louis County, as well as other businesses including Advisors Security Insurance Co, Hamilton Capital Holdings, Tech Consulting, Auto/Rite Properties, protective Benefit Trust, YTU Associates, Policy Administrators, and Fidelity Health Care Consultants. 

Authorities say that between 2002 and February 2008, Saunders executed a scheme in which he promised investors guaranteed returns by investing in allegedly low risk offshore annuities, based on complex insurance products with guarantees by insurance companies.  Investors were advised that their investments would provide returns of approximately 14% to 20%.  Additionally, the indictment alleges that Saunders attempted to evade payment of a large part of the income tax for the years 1992 through 1997.  Saunders formerly worked for the IRS.

Richard Saunders, 62, formerly of St. Louis, was indicted in July 2010, on four felony counts of wire fraud, three felony counts of money laundering, and six felony counts of tax evasion.  The indictment was sealed until Saunders’ arrest.

If convicted, each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000; each count of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000; and each count of tax evasion carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

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