15 November 2018
In October 2015, Her Majesty’s Attorney General received a request for assistance from the United States Department of Justice, relating to Michael David Reid, a serving prisoner at Federal Correctional Institute Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Mr Reid (a holder of British and Canadian passports) committed offences when living in Bogota, Colombia.
On 25 September 2007, the United States authorities sought the arrest and detention of Mr Reid in Colombia, pending an application for his extradition. His arrest was sought on the basis of ten alleged fraud offences and two alleged offences of money laundering.
From April 2005 until October 2007, Mr Reid and his co-conspirators engaged in an elaborate scheme to steal money from account holders at various financial institutions. The fraud was perpetrated by stealing the identities and assets of more than 250 people living in Venezuela and other countries outside the United States.
Accounts set up in the United States were then used to launder the illicit funds.
Mr Reid was arrested and detained in Colombia and later extradited by the Colombian authorities to the United States to face the alleged money laundering charges.
On arrival in the United States, Mr Reid was charged with both fraud and money laundering.
Following a plea agreement signed on 16 February 2009, Mr Reid pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. On 27 May 2009, he was sentenced by the United States District Court for Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division) to 168 months’ imprisonment followed by 36 months’ supervised release. On 7 November 2014, the United States Court imposed a Forfeiture Order against him in the sum of $US 1Million.
On 19 May 2016, an asset freeze was granted by Jersey's Royal Court. This saw just over £50,000 seized from accounts held in Mr Reid’s name at a local financial institution.
On 14 July 2017, the Royal Court ordered that the US Forfeiture Order be registered and enforced in the Island. Mr Reid subsequently argued that the US Forfeiture Order should not be registered and enforced.
In a judgment delivered on 18 October, 2018, the Royal Court refused to entertain Mr Reid’s complaints. The Court accepted the Attorney General’s argument that Mr Reid’s complaints had received full consideration by the US Court and that Mr Reid was effectively attempting to re-litigate his case before the Royal Court.
You can read the judgement online.
The US Forfeiture Order against Mr Reid’s assets will now be enforced in the Island and the assets paid into the Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund.
Attorney General Robert MacRae QC said: “Fraud perpetrated through identity theft is a particularly unpleasant type of fraud. 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.”