A Webster Groves man who had a law office in Clayton has been indicted in connection with a $52 million Ponzi scheme, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri stated.
Martin T. Sigillito, 62, was charged April 28 along with James Scott Brown, 66, of Leawood and Derek J. Smith, 67, of Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. The indictment includes 22 counts and became public Wednesday.
"When it comes to Ponzi schemes, the amount of money stolen in this case is the largest in the history of the Eastern District of Missouri," stated Dennis Baker, special agent in charge of the FBI's St. Louis Division, in the release. "No matter how elaborate the schemes, they all eventually collapse."
Between 2000 and 2010, the release stated, Sigillito is suspected of having used nearly $8 million from U.S. investors to "support an affluent lifestyle." Investors thought they were giving money to British Lending Program (BLP) toward real estate development projects.
He operated Martin T. Sigillito and Associates in Clayton but had no law partners and few if any clients, the release stated. The indictment claims Sigillito portrayed himself as an expert in finance and international law and a lecturer at England's Oxford University.
The business was listed as being in good standing as of a 2010-2011 biennial registration report posted on the website of the Missouri Secretary of State. It is located in a suite at 7710 Carondelet Ave.
Instead of operating the Clayton office, the release stated, Sigillito is suspected of having spent his time at exclusive St. Louis clubs, traveling first-class on international trips, buying a home in Marthasville, MO, employing a chauffeur, sending his children to private schools, purchasing and leasing vehicles and investing in a Lake of the Ozarks condominium project.
Sigillito also is an ordained priest and bishop in the American Anglican Convocation church, the release stated.
"Many BLP lenders placed a great deal of trust in Sigillito and Brown based on their claimed expertise, their status as attorneys, affinity through family connections and private organizations, and particularly Sigillito’s mastery of multiple languages, his status as a board member of The Racquet Club and his status as a bishop," the release stated. "The indictment alleges that Sigillito took advantage of several lenders who were particularly vulnerable due to age, friendship, lack of financial expertise, family circumstances and faith."
If convicted, the release states, Sigillito could be required to forfeit $52.5 million and property such as hundreds of antique books, coins and artifacts; six Persian rugs; dozens of bottles of alcohol; and his property in Marthasville.
The FBI and criminal investigation arm of the IRS investigated the case.
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