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US prisoner fails to stop confiscation of £50,000 stashed in Island bank

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AN IDENTITY thief – who launched an unusual legal battle in Jersey from his cell at New Jersey’s Fort Dix prison – has failed to stop the confiscation of £50,000 he had stashed in a local bank.

The Royal Court

Michael David Reid, who is currently serving a 14-year sentence in the US, was part of a sophisticated fraud run from Bogota, in Colombia, which saw over 250 people living in Venezuela and other countries robbed of their identities and assets between 2005 and 2007. Accounts were then set up in the US to launder the stolen funds.

Reid, who held both British and Canadian passports, was extradited from Colombia in 2007 on the basis of ten alleged fraud offences and two alleged offences of money laundering.

He was returned to the US where he made a plea agreement with officials in 2009, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Reid was sentenced to 14 years in prison and some years later, a US court imposed a forfeiture order of $1 million on his assets.

According to a statement from the Island’s Attorney General, Jersey’s Royal Court granted an asset freeze and following a request by US officials, just over £50,000 was seized from a local bank account in Reid’s name.

But Mr Reid protested against the legal developments in Jersey.

He said the papers served on him were in ‘disarray’ and missing references to Jersey lawyers.

He also complained that his arrest in Colombia had been a human rights violation, that there were problems with his extradition and he had been blackmailed into signing a plea agreement with US officials.

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However, in a recent case presided over by Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, the court refused to entertain Reid’s complaints. ‘The papers were re-served on the defendant by a deputy US marshal on 16 June 2017, following which the respondent did not make contact with either the Court or the Law Officers’ Department,’ the judgment reads.

‘Accordingly, on 14 July, 2017, the Court ordered that the US Order be registered and enforced, subject to a delay of 28 days, to allow for representations to be made to the Court by persons holding any interest in the property in Jersey, comprising bank accounts held by the respondent at the Royal Bank of Canada in the total sum of US$746.89 and £50,358.92.’

Reid then attempted to stop the forfeiture by approaching local counsel but no one agreed to represent him.

Last week, it was found that Reid was ‘effectively attempting to re-litigate his case before the Royal Court’.

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Reid’s assets will not be paid into the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund.

‘Fraud perpetrated by means of identity theft is a particularly unpleasant type of fraud,’ Attorney General Robert MacRae said of the decision. ‘This case again reinforces Jersey’s commitment to tackling corrupt practices and demonstrates that Jersey is no place to hide the proceeds of crime.

‘It also shows that in enforcing overseas Orders, the Royal Court will not allow itself to be drawn into re-litigating an overseas criminal case.’

Tania Targett

By Tania Targett
Journalist

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