Local News

Former Raleigh banker indicted in $129M Ponzi scheme

Posted March 1, 2012

— A former Raleigh banker who has been missing for three years was indicted last week on charges that he ran a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than $75 million.

William Wise, 62, was charged with 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count each of money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in California.

Wise operated Millennium Bank from a west Raleigh office. He billed it as a unit of a Swiss bank based on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, but federal authorities allege it was a front for a Ponzi scheme. The indictment charges that Millennium promised investors a 16 percent return on certificates of deposit, but Wise and a California woman used investors' money to repay earlier investors and fund lavish lifestyles for themselves.

A receiver appointed by the court in 2009 to review Millennium's books found that Wise gave his wife a $12,000 weekly allowance and spent $6,000 to $10,000 a month for each of his girlfriends, $1 million on wine, $800,000 to build an hangar in Atlanta for a corporate jet, $450,000 for three boats and an undetermined sum for a 2008 New Year's Eve party for 50 people on St. Vincent.

Wise's assets were seized and auctioned off to help repay investors. He was ordered to pay more than $75 million to investors after failing to respond to a civil suit over the alleged scheme.

The indictment alleges that Millennium sold close to $130 million in the fraudulent certificates of deposit between January 2004 and March 2009, and that investors lost more than $75 million.

Jacqueline Hoegel, who ran Millennium's office in Napa, Calif., was indicted on the same conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud charges as Wise, along with four counts of filing false tax returns and one count each of obstruction and making false statements.

Wise's whereabouts are not known. Private detectives have searched for him in Florida and Canada, according to court documents. His wife and son returned to their native Canada after the government forced the sale of their luxury home in west Raleigh to recover cash.


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  • muggs Mar 1, 2012

    You know his wife and kid know his location they are probably getting a tidy some each month to shut up.

  • parcman Mar 1, 2012

    he took the $ and ran, he is n dubai somewhere on a beach laughing ....im glad bernie m wasnt that smart . all illegal ventures come to an end sooner or later

  • whatelseisnew Mar 1, 2012

    He should have gotten a job with Social Security. Their ponzi scheme does not result in arrests and they have stolen trillions.

  • JCL Mar 1, 2012

    He did a very criminal act and has no moral compass. That said, he could not have done this without other people's money being "given" to him. I am sure there were plenty of red flags on these deals. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Greed can really blind a person and corrupt them.

  • eric52272 Mar 1, 2012

    I don't know why everyone is mad at the guy. He sounds like a smart guy who knew how to make alot of money. If you are dumb enough to believe that you will get back 16% on a CD, when the best rates you can find are 1.25 up to 2.5, then you deserve to be taken advantage of.

  • Platinum Mar 1, 2012

    Completely OT, but I just looked at pics of this guy's house when it was on the market. Too bad hideous decorating is not a punishable offense or he'd face more charges. Fake plants everywhere, heavy 80s curtains. Yuck!

  • itsnews2me Mar 1, 2012

    Just another case of "the best way to rob a bank is to own one."

  • JayJay Mar 1, 2012

    Why is it they can't find this guy? Maybe we need a wral reporter to look fo rhim.

  • wuffin Mar 1, 2012

    "spent $6,000 to $10,000 a month for each of his girlfriends"....I wonder how many girlfriends he had in addition to a wife?? He was busy!! askme ~~~~~~~

    Go that right!! Wife & x number of girlfriends? yep, I would run away too!

  • ontodanex1 Mar 1, 2012

    A guaranteed return of %16............ Screams fraud!