Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Defendants operated and promoted the First International Bank of Grenada, which defrauded depositors out of nearly $170 Million

Portland, Ore. — Today in federal court in Portland, Oregon, United States District Court Judge Garr M. King announced sentencing in the case of four defendants who had previously pled guilty to charges arising out of their involvement in promoting a $170 million fraudulent investment scheme in the name of the First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG). In their sentencing presentation, federal prosecutors described the FIBG scheme as “easily the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the District of Oregon and one of the most devastating anywhere.” Several victims of the scheme were present at sentencing and told the court how much money they had lost and how the case had affected their lives. The defendants and their sentences are as follows:

Robert J. Skirving, 59, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced to 97 months incarceration, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. He was ordered to pay restitution of more than $32,000,000.

Laurent Barnabe, 68, a Canadian citizen and current resident of Lake Oswego, Oregon, was sentenced to 72 months incarceration, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Barnabe was also ordered to forfeit his interest in money held in a foreign bank account and to pay restitution of more than $26,000,000.

Douglas Ferguson, 74, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced to 52 months incarceration, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $26,000,000.

Rita Regale, 54, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced to 18 months incarceration, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $26,000,000.

“Through their deceitful scheme, the defendants shattered the retirement hopes and dreams of thousands of victims throughout the world to lavishly enrich themselves,” stated United States Attorney Karin J. Immergut. “This was an extremely difficult case that required federal prosecutors and agents from the Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to relentlessly hunt down evidence all over the world. We are pleased that these defendants will finally be held accountable for their crimes.”

The sentencing brought to a conclusion an eight-year investigation and prosecution into a massive fraud scheme operated out of the Caribbean nation of Grenada with ties to Oregon. The defendants were indicted in October 2003 on conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering charges arising out of the creation and promotion of the First International Bank of Grenada. Established in 1997, FIBG offered interest rates to depositors as high as 300%. It claimed to have earned more than $12 billion in high-yield trading, and to have acquired assets in excess of $26 billion. In reality, it was just a Ponzi scheme, attracting deposits of approximately $170 million dollars and using that money to make phony “interest” payments to depositors, invest in phony high-yield investment schemes, and pay significant sums to the defendants. Some of the money was obtained by persuading victims to roll-over pension and IRA money into FIBG. When FIBG was taken over by the Grenadian government in August 2000, it had less than $2 million in real assets. Several Oregon depositors lost significant sums of money. The prosecution was undertaken in Oregon because almost $50 million dollars raised during the scheme were funneled through a bank account in Forest Grove, Oregon.
As part of its sentencing submission, the government outlined some of the benefits enjoyed by the defendants with money raised by the Bank:

Defendant Skirving purchased a $1.3 million home in Clackamas, Oregon and a $2.8 million home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He also invested more than $1 million in an organic tomato farm in Mulino, Oregon.

Defendant Barnabe purchased a $350,000 yacht he called the “Offshore Funs,” and wire transferred more than $1 million from Grenada to accounts in Austria.

Defendant Regale chartered private planes to travel between Grenada and the U.S. at a cost of $30,000 per trip, purchased three Mercedes automobiles at a cost of approximately $200,000, and rented a lavish beachfront home in Naples, Florida for more than $300,000.

Defendant Ferguson and his girlfriend received more than $25,000 per month during their involvement in the scheme.

In addition to contacting and coordinating with thousands of victims worldwide, the investigation of this case required several unusual steps, including obtaining the Bank’s records from Grenada, locating and seeking forfeiture of assets throughout the United States, Grenada, Austria, and Uganda, and the arrest of two persons – one of whom was Douglas Ferguson – in Uganda in early 2004. In preparation for trial, witness depositions were taken in Grenada, Barbados, Canada, and Britain. In addition to these defendants, four other individuals – including two attorneys – have been charged in related indictments or as part of obtaining their cooperation

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