* Jamaican financier at center of big Caribbean fraud case
* He is accused of swindling investors out of $300 million
* Case is one of Caribbean's biggest Ponzi schemes
By Kevin Gray and Pascal Fletcher
MIAMI, Aug 27 U.S. authorities want to
extradite from the Turks and Caicos Islands a Jamaican banker
accused of running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of
nearly $300 million in one of the Caribbean's biggest financial
fraud cases, a law enforcement official said on Friday.
U.S. prosecutors have filed criminal charges against David
A. Smith, who is currently under investigation but on bail in
the Turks and Caicos, a British overseas territory.
Smith faces fraud, money laundering and other charges in
the Turks and Caicos, said John Briggs, the deputy senior
investigator of the Turks and Caicos special investigation and
"It's alleged that he's run a Ponzi scheme to the tune of
about $300 million," Briggs told Reuters.
In a court filing earlier this month in Orlando, Florida,
U.S. prosecutors say Smith defrauded thousands of investors
from the United States, Jamaica and other Caribbean
territories, promising his investments in foreign currency
trading would yield monthly average returns of 10 percent.
Among the affected were investors in Florida, which has
been hit by a number of high-profile Ponzi schemes in recent
years, including fallout from the massive fraud scandals
surrounding convicted Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff and
accused Texas financier Allen Stanford.
Briggs said U.S. authorities have "formally applied for
extradition on a number of counts ... but the outcome of that
will be that they've got to wait until the case here (in Turks
and Caicos) is completed," he said.
Smith was due to appear on Sept. 28 in a Turks and Caicos
court, where he would either plead guilty or face trial, Briggs
Smith's lawyer in the Turks and Caicos, Oliver Smith,
refused to comment on the charges against his client.
In the U.S. case against him, prosecutors say Smith used
the money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle, including collections
of gemstones and jewelry, and he paid out early investors with
new cash from investors in a classic Ponzi scheme.
Many prominent Jamaicans were allegedly among his victims,
including leading politicians and doctors in Jamaica, where
Smith set up an investment house called Olint. His business
links included a Florida currency trading company.
Jamaican authorities shut down Olint's offices there four
years ago, but Smith moved on to operate out of the Turks and
Caicos, located north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
In Jamaica, Smith was a well-known philanthropist and
supporter of a popular church attended by wealthy Jamaicans. He
offered to pool investors' money and some allegedly even sold
their houses and used the proceeds to invest with Smith.
In a move that mimicked Madoff, whose $65 billion Ponzi
scheme collapsed and was exposed during the global economic
crisis, Smith regularly sent statements to clients showing
their investments were generating profits, prosecutors said.
(Additional reporting by Horace George in Kingston; Writing by
Kevin Gray; editing by Matthew Lewis)