Local News

Ex-Raleigh banker indicted in Ponzi scheme now faces tax charge

Posted August 6, 2012 3:25 p.m. EDT

— A former Raleigh banker accused of running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than $75 million now faces a federal income tax evasion charge.

William Wise, 62, was indicted in March on 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count each of money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud. He ended three years on the run a month later, surrendering to federal authorities in San Francisco.

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 each for 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.

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.

A federal complaint recently filed against him in Raleigh alleges that he owes more than $1 million in back taxes on more than $3 million in unreported income in 2008.