Lawyer checks on accused banker's home
Posted June 10, 2009 1:45 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2009 7:07 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Attorneys appointed by a federal court to seize assets from several people implicated in an investment fraud case were at the Raleigh home of a man at the heart of the case.
William Wise, 58, operated Millennium Bank, which he billed as a St. Vincent-based unit of a Swiss bank. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit in March against Wise and others, saying they were using the bank as a front for a Ponzi scheme that has stolen more than $68 million from 375 investors, including at least 12 in North Carolina.
The suit alleges Millennium Bank advertised certificates of deposit that guaranteed 7 to 9 percent returns in luxury lifestyle magazines and on its Web site. The returns were more than four times the interest rates offered on CDs by most commercial banks, authorities said.
Wise pocketed at least $12.3 million in the scheme, according to the suit, financing a lavish lifestyle that included a private jet, elaborate parties at an estate on St. Vincent that he intended to buy and wine and cigar collections.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but a federal judge has frozen the bank accounts of 11 firms and seven people, including Wise; his wife, Lynn; and Philippe Angeloni, 63, a Millennium Bank director and former executive vice president who lives in Raleigh.
A WRAL News story on Wise attracted the attention of Richard Roper, who was appointed receiver in the case to auction property owned by the defendants in civil suit to recover money for the investors. Footage showed an unidentified man unloading boxes outside Wise's home in the gated Olde Raleigh community.
Jessica Magee, an attorney representing Roper, arrived in Raleigh from Texas on Wednesday to find out when the video was shot. She then went to Wise's home with a police escort to carry out the court order freezing William and Lynn Wise's assets.
"We're making a detailed inventory and catalog of the personal and real property effects of the defendant and relief defendant," Magee said, declining to comment further.
She took notes and photos of property at the 5,200-square-foot, five-bedroom Georgian home, which is on the market for $1 million.
Family members still live in the home, but sources close to the investigation said William Wise is back in his native Canada.