Posing as a sultan in the Saudi Royal family, a serial Miami con man who bamboozled investors to sink millions of dollars into his bogus business deals has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Anthony Gignac, aka "Sultan Bin Khalid Al Saud" among many aliases, faces years in prison at his sentencing in August after pleading guilty to impersonating a foreign government official, identity theft and fraud.
Gignac, 47, admitted that he and his partners stole about $8 million from 26 victims worldwide over the past two years, according to his plea agreement filed Friday in Miami federal court. Gignac and his co-conspirators lived lavishly, buying up Ferraris, Rolls Royces, Rolex watches, Cartier jewelry and a two-bedroom condo on exclusive Fisher Island on Biscayne Bay.
"He falsely told others that he had diplomatic immunity and was required to check in with the U.S. Department of State every few hours," according to the U.S. attorney's office. "Gignac was given gifts, including expensive paintings and jewelry, based on his false representations."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Gignac, who was born in Colombia but had lived in South Florida and other parts of the country since the early 1990s, got busted by the feds last November when he flew from London to New York on a fake passport with another person's name.
His arrest sent federal investigators with a search warrant to Gignac's Fisher Island residence, which had a "Sultan" nameplate on the front door. Inside, investigators with the Diplomatic Security Service found various business cards with Gignac's aliases and titles, such as "His Royal Highness," "Prince" and "Sultan."
Investigators also discovered fraudulent diplomatic license plates, a phony diplomatic security badge, unauthorized credit cards, thousands of dollars in cash, and financial documents in the name of a member of the Saudi Royal family.
Since his arrest, Gignac has been held without bond at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami.
According to a statement filed with his plea deal, Gignac and his partners created a fraudulent investment company, Marden Williams International, in 2015 for purportedly legitimate business opportunities around the world.
In sales pitches, Gignac and the others represented that he was a member of the Saudi Royal family and had exclusive business deals — including a private offering in a Saudi Arabian company, prosecutor Trinity Jordan said. One investment victim sank $5 million into that deal.
In 2017, Gignac pretended to be a member of the Saudi Royal family with $600 million in a J.P. Morgan account as he tried to purchase a Miami hotel. He stayed at the hotel using a credit card in the name of a Saudi Royal family member.
During his visits at the hotel, he drove a Ferrari with diplomatic license plates.
An accomplice, Carl Marden Williamson, who played an important role in Gignac's scams, was also charged in the federal case. But Williamson was dismissed from the case in March after prosecutors learned he died in North Carolina.
Whatever small fortune Gignac amassed through his scam appears to have vanished. At his plea hearing on Friday, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga found that Gignac qualified for a federal public defender at taxpayer expense. His private attorney, Steven Vitale, who handled his plea deal, no longer represents him.