A South Florida man convicted of pretending to be a member of the Saudi royal family to defraud would-be investors has been sentenced to more than 18 years in an American prison, the US Department of Justice has announced.
Anthony Gignac, a 48-year old Colombian national and resident of Miami, was pretending to be a Saudi royal alternatively named Khaled Al-Saud, Khalid Al-Saud, Khalid bin Al-Saud and Sultan bin Khalid Al Saud.
“Over the course of the last three decades, Anthony Gignac has portrayed himself as Saudi Prince in order to manipulate, victimise and scam countless investors around the world,” US Attorney Fajardo Orshan said in a statement.
“As the leader of a sophisticated, multi-person, international fraud scheme, Gignac used his fake persona, Prince Khalid bin Al-Saud, to sell false hope,” Orshan added.
In June 2015, Gignac and a co-conspirator created a fraudulent investment company – Marden Williams International – which sought investments into non-existing projects from individuals and businesses around the world.
Using the company, Gignac falsely claimed to have access to exclusive business ventures throughout the world, including a pharmaceutical company in Ireland, a casino in Malta and a jet-fuel trading platform in the Middle East.
Additionally, according to prosecutors, Gignac took a number of steps to support his fraudulent persona, including purchasing fake diplomatic licence plates, traditional Saudi garb and “luxury goods consistent with the lavish lifestyle of a Saudi Royal.”
He also ran an Instagram account depicting himself as a prince and in which he posted pictures of Saudi royal family members, including King Salman, with captions such as “my dad.”
In total, prosecutors estimate that Gignac defrauded investors of nearly $8 million, which he used to finance a lavish lifestyle including luxury cars, yachts, travel on private jets and a two-bedroom property on Miami’s Fisher Island. Investors were also duped into giving Gignac gifts such as paintings and jewellery.
“The entire blame of this entire operation is on me, and I accept that,” Gignac said in court at the sentencing, according to the Miami Herald. “I am not a monster.”
Court records show that Gignac, a former street child from the Colombian capital of Bogota, has been posing as a Saudi royal at various other times over the course of the last 30 years, leading to his arrest on several occasions in California, Michigan and Florida.
In 1991, for example, Gignac, then 21, was arrested in Los Angeles after spending $3,488 in room and food charges and $7,500 in limousines while posing as a Saudi prince.
In a later incident, in 2006, he was arrested for an unpaid bill of $27,000 at a Miami hotel. The arrest came after Gignac was robbed in the hotel and police contacted legitimate Saudi diplomats to report the incident.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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