A third man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money in a scam involving the sale of bogus insurance to a New York tour operator whose boat capsized in 2005 killing 20 elderly tourists, federal officials reported.
U.S.Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Lucy Cruz, special-agent-in-charge of Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) announced that accountant Malchus Irvin Boncamper, 56, of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, West Indies, pleaded guilty in federal court before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake.
Boncamper admitted to conspiring to launder the proceeds of a fraud scheme that sold fake liability insurance policies over the course of more than 10 years to businesses throughout the United States and elsewhere, including a company called Shoreline Cruises Inc. which operated a 40-foot tour boat called the Ethan Allen on Lake George, N.Y., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
The tour boat operator discovered its insurance policy was fictitious after the Ethan Allen sank on Oct. 2, 2005, in a tragic accident that claimed the lives of 20 elderly tourists.
According to the announcement released by federal officials:
- Boncamper acquired four insurance companies for the scheme in St. Kitts and Nevis — Commercial Acceptance Indemnity Ltd., United Re-insurance Group Ltd., Polaris International Ltd. and Brentwood Re Ltd. — and created financial statements for the companies listing assets he knew were worthless, including bonds purportedly guaranteed by a Swiss bank that was fictitious.
- A co-conspirator sent Boncamper’s financial statements to Shoreline Cruises Inc. in October 2004 to convince its owners to purchase the fictitious insurance offered through the scheme.
- Boncamper also opened bank accounts to hold insurance premiums obtained through fraud including an account opened in 2006 at a bank in Liechtenstein.
He faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison without parole to be followed by a maximum three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and an order to pay full restitution to victims. His sentencing is set for Jan. 19, 2012.
Boncamper has been held in pre-trial custody since he was arrested at Miami International Airport on Jan. 14, 2011. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick White of the U.S. District Court in Miami found that Boncamper presented a serious risk of flight and ordered him detained.
Five other defendants were charged along with Boncamper. Christopher Purser pleaded guilty Oct. 5, 2011, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while Edmund Benton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.
Co-defendant Robert Steve Mills is set to begin trial before Judge Lake on April 16, 2012, while the remaining two defendants are pending extradition. Those three defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty by due process of law, the announcement said.
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas