News and Press Releases

Boncamper Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Conspiracy

Oct. 21, 2011

HOUSTON - Malchus Irvin Boncamper, 56, of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, West Indies, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Lucy Cruz, special-agent-in-charge of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI). The Caribbean accountant pleaded guilty in federal court today before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake.

Boncamper admitted to conspiring to launder the proceeds of a fraud scheme that sold fake liability insurance policies over the course of more than 10 years to businesses throughout the United States and elsewhere, including a company called Shoreline Cruises Inc. which operated a 40-foot tour boat called the Ethan Allen on Lake George, N.Y. The tour boat operator discovered its insurance policy was fictitious after the Ethan Allen sank on Oct. 2, 2005, in a tragic accident that claimed the lives of 20 elderly tourists.

Boncamper acquired four insurance companies for the scheme in St. Kitts and Nevis (Commercial Acceptance Indemnity Ltd., United Re-insurance Group Ltd., Polaris International Ltd. and Brentwood Re Ltd.) and created financial statements for the companies listing assets he knew were worthless, including bonds purportedly guaranteed by a Swiss bank that was fictitious. A co-conspirator sent Boncamper’s financial statements to Shoreline Cruises Inc. in October 2004 to convince its owners to purchase the fictitious insurance offered through the scheme. Boncamper also opened bank accounts to hold insurance premiums obtained through fraud including an account opened in 2006 at a bank in Liechtenstein.

Boncamper now faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison without parole to be followed by a maximum three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and an order to pay full restitution to victims. Judge Lake has set Boncamper’s sentencing for Jan. 19, 2012. Boncamper has been held in pre-trial custody since he was arrested at Miami International Airport on Jan. 14, 2011. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick White of the U.S. District Court in Miami found that Boncamper presented a serious risk of flight and ordered him detained.

Five other defendants were charged along with Boncamper. Christopher Purser pleaded guilty Oct. 5, 2011, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while Edmund Benton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money. Co-defendant Robert Steve Mills is set to begin trial before Judge Lake on April 16, 2012, while the remaining two defendants are pending extradition. Those three defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty by due process of law.

The charges are the result of an intensive investigation conducted by the IRS-CI with assistance from Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations and the Texas, New York and California Departments of Insurance. During this four-year investigation, the U.S. government also received extensive and valuable assistance from the governments of St. Kitts and Nevis and also St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Investigators also received valuable assistance from the governments of The Bahamas, Nicaragua, The Philippines and Australia.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John R. Lewis and Belinda Beek are prosecuting the case.