#AceNewsReport – Aug.21: Adams was wanted in connection with his arrest at Belfast International Airport in May 2018, when more than 180,000 Euros was found in his luggage.
#AceDailyNews reports that a suspected money launderer extradited from Republic of Ireland to face charges and 41-year-old Mark Adams from Malahide in Dublin was transported by the Irish authorities to the border just south of Newry yesterday (18 August) where he was picked up by NCA officers.
He was subsequently released on bail but failed to return, and in January 2020 a European Arrest Warrant was issued: Following the extradition yesterday Adams appeared before Antrim Magistrates charged with three counts of money laundering. He was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on 7 September.
NCA Belfast Branch Commander David Cunningham said: We are grateful to the Irish authorities for their assistance in extraditing Adams back to Northern Ireland to face money laundering charges. It demonstrates our commitment to work together to tackle organised crime impacting on both sides of the border.”
#AceNewsReport – Aug.04: According to court documents, Xizhi Li, 48, played a leadership role within a years-long conspiracy to use a foreign casino, foreign and domestic front companies, foreign and domestic bank accounts, false passports and other false identification documents to launder money on behalf of transnational drug-trafficking organizations, whose main drug-trafficking activities involved cocaine.
#AceDailyNews reports that Chinese national and naturalised U.S. citizen pleaded guilty yesterday to his involvement in a conspiracy to launder at least $30 million in drug proceeds on behalf of foreign drug-trafficking organizations. Another Chinese national was sentenced to seven years in prison today for his role in the same conspiracy…
The defendant dealt directly with members of drug-trafficking organizations or their representatives to obtain and service “contracts” to move their drug proceeds. Once the defendant and his co-conspirators obtained a “contract” to launder drug proceeds, they would engage in financial transactions that were designed to conceal the illicit source of the original funds, in return for the payment of commissions.
“The defendants laundered millions of dollars on behalf of drug traffickers through the global financial system in a manner that concealed the source and nature of the illicit funds,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Global money-laundering networks enable drug cartels to profit from their deadly trade, and yesterday’s guilty plea and today’s sentence underscore the Justice Department’s commitment to dismantling the financial infrastructure of transnational criminal organizations to take the profit out of crime. This plea and sentence would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our federal law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.”
“This prosecution demonstrates the enormous value of collaborating with agencies across the government and with our international partners to dismantle and hold accountable transnational criminal organizations that pose a significant danger to the public,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The far-reaching conspiracy in this case involved the laundering of millions of dollars of illegal proceeds on behalf of transnational drug-trafficking organizations through the use of a casino, front companies, foreign and domestic bank accounts, false identification documents, and bulk cash smuggling. We greatly appreciate the essential and innumerable contributions from our partner agencies, all of whom worked closely together to thoroughly follow the facts and evidence that led to the unraveling of this multimillion-dollar money-laundering scheme.”
“DEA’s mission is to make our communities safer and healthier, which means bringing to justice the most dangerous individuals and organizations that traffic drugs in the United States and around the world,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Through the collective efforts of the DEA and our law enforcement partners, we relentlessly pursue individuals, like the one here, who allegedly laundered more than $30 million in drug profits.”
“The successful outcome of this complex, multi-year investigation is owed to dogged determination by the dedicated men and women of the Drug Enforcement Administration, working closely with our federal law enforcement partners,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Todd Scott of DEA’s Louisville Division. “We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to stop transnational criminal organizations from operating within our borders, and we will use every tool available in our mission to protect the American people.”
Co-defendant Tao Liu, 46, of Hong Kong, helped to execute the money laundering scheme. At times, Liu accepted bulk drug cash on behalf of Xizhi Li, which he later deposited into bank accounts that Li provided. Additionally, Liu was the target of a months-long undercover investigation during which he attempted to bribe what he believed was a corrupt U.S. Department of State official to obtain U.S. passports for individuals, including Liu himself, who were not otherwise entitled to use or possess such documents. This purportedly corrupt official was actually an undercover DEA agent. Liu agreed to pay $150,000 per passport as part of this scheme.
Li pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 26 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison as well as a $10-million forfeiture money judgment. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Liu pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and a separate bribery charge on April 14 and was sentenced today to seven years in prison.
On April 14, co-defendants Jiayu Chen, 46, of Brooklyn, New York, and Jingyuan Li, 49, of San Gabriel, California, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. On July 20, Chen was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $2.8 million dollars.
Additionally, on June 16, Eric Yong Woo, 43, of Alhambra, California, also pleaded guilty to his role in the money-laundering conspiracy. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 21 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Finally, Jianxing Chen, 40, of Belize, was charged in the superseding indictment for his alleged involvement in this money-laundering and drug-trafficking conspiracy. He is pending extradition following his arrest in Lima, Peru. Chen was captured with significant assistance from The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
The DEA’s Louisville Division and the DEA’s Special Operations Division–Bilateral Investigations Unit are investigating this case, with assistance from the DEA’s Office of Special Intelligence, Document and Media Exploitation Unit and the DEA’s offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Omaha, Atlanta, Newark, Portland, Dallas, Mexico City, Merida (Mexico), Guatemala City, Belmopan (Belize), Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta (Indonesia), Manila (Philippines), Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Lima (Peru), and Canberra (Australia). The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Interpol, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center (CBP – National Targeting Center) were partners in the investigation of this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Peters and Michael P. Ben’Ary and Trial Attorneys Kerry Blackburn, Mary K. Daly, and Stephen A. Sola of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Federal Police, the Australia Department of Home Affairs, the Mexican Federal Police, the Guatemalan National Civil Police and the New Zealand Police also provided significant assistance.
This prosecution is part of two Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigations. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
#AceNewsReport – July.27: Investigators from the OCP – a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service Unit – had been watching the group as they conducted multiple drugs and cash handovers in Gravesend, Kent, in the week prior to their arrests.
#AceDailyNews reports on the Venetic Investigation: Kent woman headed up family-run multi-million cocaine dealership: Nicola Stevens’ illegal business was brought down in April last year when she, along with the five other members of the criminal network, were arrested by the Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) via takedown of EncroChat
The group conducted their business via the encrypted messaging service EncroChat, which was taken down in July 2020 as part of Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted messaging service, EncroChat: Messages downloaded from their phones showed them arranging meetings to pick up or exchange drugs and money on a daily basis: Upon receiving a message that he was about to be delivered some cash, Coribel AKA ‘Dreamwalker’ replies, “And you want me to take to mum?”, referring to Stevens.
Stevens, 51, coordinated the group’s activity with her son-in-law and second in command, Luke Coribel, 32.
They were supported by three couriers – David Adeniji, 29, Kyle Hills, 32, and Quang Viet Pham, 29.
Her partner, Philip Spence, 52, helped launder the dirty cash.
On 14 April 2020, OCP officers watched Adeniji and Hills meet briefly on Hillingdon Road in Gravesend, before both driving separately the short distance to Coribel’s house on Gatwick Road.
Coribel came out of his house and opened the door to his van for Hills, who then transferred a large box from his own van to Coribel’s.
Officers then moved in and detained Hills but Coribel fled the scene on foot. The box was seized from his van and found to cocaine 20 kilos of cocaine. A further four kilos were found under the floorboards in his house.
Adeniji also attempted to drive away but was stopped and arrested a short time after.
At the same time, Stevens and Spence were arrested at their house on Rochester Road, where officers seized over £200,000 in cash, encrypted phones, a money counting machine and drug dealing paraphernalia.
Coribel handed himself in to a local police station two days later.
Officers arrested Pham a week prior to this, after he was seen picking up a bag of cash from Stevens. He had attempted to hide the bag in a specially constructed concealment in his van disguised as a Honda-branded generator.
A matching concealment was found in Adeniji’s car on the day of his arrest.
In another exchange sent during lockdown, Stevens AKA ‘Avocadovermouth’ tells Adeniji AKA ‘Powerroyal’, “Im going to look on line and buy you all hi viz jackets make you look like workers”.
Following Adeniji’s arrest, Stevens received a message telling her “Stay inside… They got royal (Adeniji).” She replied, “Who, the police?” and is then told, “Yes stay in hide money”.
Investigators were able to evidence that in total, the crime group were involved in the movement of over around 786 kilos of cocaine and £5 million in cash.
The total profit of the drugs sold by the group is believed to be at least £27.5 million.
Yesterday (23/07/2021) at Woolwich Crown Court, a jury found Stevens guilty of Conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering. Spence was convicted of money laundering.
They were also both sentenced today to 15 years and nine months respectively.
The other four members of the group had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and money laundering on various dates.
They were each sentenced to between seven and eight years in jail but on 30 April 2021, a judge deemed their sentences too lenient and increased them as follows:
Coribel – 8 years 3 months – now sentenced to 13 years
Pham – 7 years 2 months – now sentenced to 12 years
Adeniji – 8 years 3 months – now sentenced to 13 years
Hills – 7 years 6 months – now sentenced to 11 years
John Coles, Head of Specialist Operations at the NCA said: This targeted investigation conducted jointly by the NCA and the Met Police has taken out an entire organised crime group who were responsible for distributing huge amounts of class A drugs throughout London and the home counties: Today’s convictions mean the last remaining members of the group, Stevens and Spence, will join the rest of their criminal family behind bars: Disrupting the organised crime groups responsible for bringing class A drugs into the UK is a priority for the NCA. Cocaine supply causes significant harm to the public through its links to violence and the exploitation of young and vulnerable people: Through our partnership with the Met, we’re able to ensure we’re targeting those higher up the drug supply chain and having a significant impact at a local level.”
Detective Superintendent Simon Moring from the Metropolitan Police Service said: “Tackling violence on the streets of London remains our absolute top priority: This operation has significantly disrupted the activities of an organised crime group intent on importing and distributing Class A drugs across not just London, but the entire of the United Kingdom: There is an undeniable link between drugs and violence on the streets. Many people may believe this level of organised crime has no impact on the day to day lives of the general public, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The drugs distributed by this group would have gone down the chain and ended up being sold on the streets of cities across the country: We will continue to develop and carry out operations of this scale and will continue to identify those involved in serious and organised crime and bring them to justice.”
#AceNewsReport – July.27: She initially denied having any cash on her, but Border Force officers found the money in vacuum-packed bundles, stuffed inside her five checked in suitcases. Hanlon was arrested for money laundering….
#AceNewsDesk reports that Multi-million cash courier who thought she would be living a “perfect life” sentenced to 34 months in jail after The National Crime Agency’s investigation into Tara Hanlon, age 30 and from Leeds, began in October 2020 after she was stopped from boarding a flight from Heathrow to Dubai.
The bundles were covered in coffee, in an apparent attempt to disguise them from being picked up by sniffer dogs.
NCA investigators were able to trace her travel patterns over the previous months, and found that she had made three other trips in July and August 2020.
Enquiries with the Dubai authorities showed that on each occasion she had declared she was carrying more than a million pounds in cash upon arrival, totalling £3.5 million.
In interviews with NCA officers she admitted being driven to a hotel in London to pick up the cases, and was having her flight and hotel bills paid for.
Text messages found on her phones by NCA investigators indicated she was being paid around £3,000 for each trip.
In messages to a contact she bragged “3 big ones…with this wage and the next my debts go bye”. Other messages also indicated she was looking to recruit other couriers, referring to the job as a “…perfect life a few days in the sun and a few at home.”
Hanlon later admitted money laundering charges, and today (Monday 26 July) a judge at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced her to 34 months in prison.
NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby
“Hanlon smuggled more than £3.5 million criminal cash out of the UK and was caught red handed with another £2 million. This money undoubtedly came from organised crime.
“Tara Hanlon thought that she was going to be living a jet-set lifestyle, instead she is now serving a prison sentence. I hope her story is a cautionary one for others who would consider doing the same.
“Stopping the flow of illicit cash is a priority for the NCA and our partners.”
Following the arrest of Hanlon a number of other cash couriers were identified suspected of being linked to the same money laundering network.
In November 2020 Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, aged 38, from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic, was intercepted as he attempted to board a flight from Heathrow to Dubai. £1.3 million cash was found in his bags, with investigators identifying he had made two previous trips in July and August.
Kamaryt pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was given a two-year jail sentence on 9 March 2021.
Eight other people were arrested in a series of raids in May 2021 at locations in London, Surrey, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester. They were released under investigation while enquiries continue.
#AceNewsReport – June.27: Thorncroft, 56 (19.09.64) of Chelsfield Lane, Orpington, was found not guilty of money laundering: He was bailed and will be sentenced at the same court on 30 July:
Appearing at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, 23 June, Dominic Thorncroft, the former chairperson of the Association of UK Payment Institutions (AUKPI) for 14-years, and a company director of a money service business (MSB) and the company’s Money Laundering Regulation Officer (MLRO), was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of committing the following six offences:
Failing to submit a suspicious activity report (SAR), (contrary to section 330 & 334 of POCA);
Four counts of retaining unlawful credit (contrary to section 24A(1) and (6) of the Theft Act 1968);
One offence of breaching Money Laundering Regulations (contrary to regulation 45 of the MLR).
Thorncroft’s trial started on Tuesday, 1 June.
The investigation into Thorncroft began in June, 2016, after officers executed a search warrant at the offices of his MSB company, based in Peckham.
A laptop used by the defendant was seized and on it officers found the contents that showed the MSB had received money from over 60 individuals who were defrauded.
Officers discovered that between late July and late October 2014, over 60 victims paid out a total of nearly £850,000 after being contacted over the phone by a ‘salesman’ who persuaded them to invest in a money-making scheme of some sort. The type of scheme was not always the same, but what all the money-making schemes had in common was that they did not exist.
All of the fraudulent money was credited to the bank accounts of the MSB that Thorncroft was a director of.
Most of the money was then transferred out of Thorncroft’s account and onto the fraudsters based in Hong Kong and China.
As part of the Met’s Economic Crime Team’s investigation, officers were confident that the money that was received into the bank account was then transferred out of the UK and it was the proceeds of the criminal conduct.
Thorncroft was known to have met with one of the fraud suspects as well as having a copy of the suspect’s passport. He failed to disclose this information to the police in 2014. Consequently, he was found guilty of failing to submit a SAR as he was under a legal obligation to report suspicious activity.
Thorncroft was also found guilty of retaining monies belonging to four of the victims which totalled approximately £16,000.
The one count of breaching Money Laundering Regulations relates to a separate transfer in February 2016. That transfer involved a person who was subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order which prohibited them from remitting money overseas. The transfer in question was £265,000.
It wasn’t until 3 April, 2019, that officers interviewed Thorncroft under caution. He was further interviewed under caution on 30 April and 14 May that year.
It was on 7 May, 2020, that officers were able to charge Thorncroft with the offences.
Detective Sergeant Mark Hoddinott, from the Central Specialist Crime Command (Economic Crime), said at conviction: “This was a really complex fraud investigation where a person with serious responsibilities and knowledge of the regulations around anti-money laundering failed in their duties to make the required disclosures to the authorities: If Thorncroft had complied with his own company policies then he would not have been prosecuted. Instead, he paid absolutely no regards to his overriding duty to anti-money regulations; consequently, many individuals suffered great financial loss and considerable personal trauma: In his role as the chairperson of AUKPI when these crimes were being committed by him, Thorncroft worked closely with law makers, regulators, banks and other financial institutions, representing the interests of the money remittance sector. The AUKPI provided its members with anti-money laundering training: I’m really pleased that a dedicated team of Met officers investigating this case have secured this conviction, especially grateful to Detective Constable Silje Mikkelsen for her investigative tenacity and commitment to supporting the victims. I would also like to express my thanks and gratitude to the jury who I am sure at times found the case being presented before them complex and possibly confusing: This conviction is a reminder to those working in the regulated sector of their duties when it comes to money laundering regulations.”
#AceNewsReport – June.14: The Pulitzer Board at Columbia University recognized the FinCEN Files reporting team on Friday for pulling off a “massive reporting project” that produced “sweeping revelations” about the “role of some of the world’s biggest banks in facilitating international money laundering and the trafficking of goods and people, corruption that continues to frustrate regulators across the world.”
FinCEN Files Investigation: Named Pulitzer Prize finalist has been honored for the 2021 in International Reporting, bringing more acclaim to the groundbreaking project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, BuzzFeed News and more than 100 other media partners around the world.
“This latest honor is a tribute to the dogged work of ICIJ staffers and partner journalists around the world,” ICIJ director Gerard Ryle said. “It’s also a tribute to the power of collaborative journalism that is at the heart of ICIJ’s model. We’re pleased to share the honor with BuzzFeed, which made this partnership possible by sharing an explosive trove of secret U.S. government documents with ICIJ and other partners.”
BuzzFeed News won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for its innovative series of stories about China’s mass detention of Muslims. Along with the FinCEN Files collaboration, other finalists in the International Reporting category were the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
ICIJ and its partners won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2017 for another investigation of financial corruption, the Panama Papers.
Earlier this year, three Norwegian lawmakers nominated ICIJ for a Nobel Peace Prize for nearly a decade of investigations — including the Panama Papers and the FinCEN Files — that have exposed how politicians, the mega-wealthy and criminal groups have used the “offshore” financial system to dodge taxes and launder dirty money.
The FinCEN Files investigation revealed that five global banks — JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon — continued to profit from suspect transactions even after they paid fines to U.S. authorities for previous misconduct and in some cases signed deferred prosecution deals.
In hundreds of news stories that began publishing in September 2020, ICIJ, BuzzFeed News and other partners detailed how laws intended to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish — and how banks that move dirty money can protect themselves by filing “suspicious activity reports” that authorities are unlikely to read, let alone act on.
The investigation began when a whistleblower provided BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold with a remarkable collection of highly confidential documents on file with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known in shorthand as FinCEN. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, the U.S. Treasury official who disclosed the financial intelligence documents to BuzzFeed News, was sentenced last week to six months in prison.
In an opinion piece published Thursday, BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Mark Schoofs called the conviction and sentencing of Edward “unjust and unfair. Our criminal justice system must recognize that much of what we know about financial corruption, government surveillance and corporate crime comes not from reporters working in isolation but from journalists working with people who risk their liberty and livelihood to ensure that the truth comes out.”
The documents included more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports, which banks and other financial institutions are required to submit to FinCEN when they see the hallmarks of illegal activity.
Turning these dense reports into groundbreaking journalism required a massive feat of data sifting and analysis — and a coordinated global reporting effort. Journalists fanned out across the world, contacting thousands of sources: presidential advisers, bankers, cops, even gangsters and arms dealers. Along the way, ICIJ and its partners obtained more than 17,600 additional documents, including audit reports and other records, from dozens of countries.Journalists gathered in Hamburg for a FinCEN Files meeting. Image: Scilla Alecci/ICIJ
“It took a global team effort to uncover the flows and destructive evil of dirty money around the world,” Ryle, ICIJ’s director, said. “Our efforts prompted widespread criticism of the weakness of international defenses against a kind of criminal activity that can drive inequality and destabilize nations.”
The FinCEN Files investigation has been credited with sparking new efforts by governments around the world to fight money laundering.
After ICIJ, BuzzFeed News and other partners approached the Treasury Department with the investigation’s findings, the department announceda plan to “address the evolving threats of illicit finance.” New York’s top banking regulator, who plays a big role in policing global banks, acknowledged dirty money had metastasized “within the guts of financial institutions.”
The U.K.’s powerful Treasury Committee said it would pursue an investigation of the effectiveness of the country’s anti-money laundering regime. Authorities in Liberia, Seychelles and Thailand launched inquiries and lawmakers in the European Parliament demanded a more aggressive approach to fighting money laundering.
“The FinCEN Files took financial reporting to new heights,” BuzzFeed News’ top editor, Schoofs, said Friday in response to the Pulitzer Board’s announcement. The confidential documents that Edwards provided, he said, led to a “monumental reporting effort” that “exposed how major banks profited from dirty money coursing through their accounts, while the U.S. government watched but rarely took action.”
#AceNewsReport – Mar.24: According to court documents, between approximately 2013 and 2019, Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio (De Jongh), 48, a former procurement officer and manager in Citgo’s Special Projects Group, accepted more than $7 million in bribe payments from businessmen including Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino (Gonzalez), a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen, and Tulio Anibal Farias Perez (Farias), a Venezuelan national and Houston resident, and others in exchange for assisting the businessmen and related companies in procuring contracts with Citgo, and providing them with other business advantages:
Former Venezuelan Official Pleads Guilty in Connection with International Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme: ‘A dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen and former official at Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), pleaded guilty Monday in connection with his role in laundering millions of dollars in bribes and corruptly providing business advantages to multiple individuals who obtained contracts with Citgo and PDVSA’
De Jongh admitted to directing bribe payments from Gonzalez, Farias, and others into bank accounts in the names of shell companies that he controlled in Panama and Switzerland. In some instances, he also directed the creation of fake invoices to justify the payments. De Jongh laundered the bribe proceeds through U.S. and international bank accounts and used the funds to purchase real property located in the Houston area. In addition to monetary payments, De Jongh also received bribes in the form of gifts and other things of value from Gonzalez, Farias, and others including tickets to a 2014 World Series Game, Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, and a U2 concert. Gonzalez and Farias also entered guilty pleas in connection with the case.
“Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio accepted millions of dollars in bribe payments — placing law-abiding individuals and companies at a competitive disadvantage — and then laundered those bribe payments into the United States to fund his lavish lifestyle,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This guilty plea demonstrates the commitment of the department and our law enforcement partners to hold accountable individuals who engage in corruption and use our financial system to promote and launder the proceeds of their crimes.”
“Foreign bribery schemes like this pose a significant threat to the public trust and fair-trade practices,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston. “This plea is a step in the right direction, but we will continue to level the playing field for companies and consumers by aggressively investigating individuals and corporations who violate the FCPA and misuse our financial system.”
De Jongh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller on Aug. 19, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Judge Miller will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. In addition, as part of his plea, De Jongh also agreed to forfeit over $3 million seized from his bank accounts and 15 properties that he purchased with his corrupt proceeds.
To date, the Justice Department has announced charges against 28 individuals, 22 of whom have pleaded guilty, as part of a larger, ongoing investigation by the U.S. government into bribery at PDVSA.
HSI Houston is conducting the ongoing investigation with assistance from HSI Boston and Miami.
Trial Attorney Sarah E. Edwards and Assistant Chief Sonali D. Patel of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Johnson and John P. Pearson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristine E. Rollinson is handling the forfeiture aspects of the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General of Panama also provided assistance.
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.23: The indictment alleges that Mun defrauded banks and laundered money in an effort to evade counter-proliferation sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United States and the United Nations,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “We will continue to use the long reach of our laws to protect the American people from sanctions evasion and other national security threats.”
First North Korean National Brought to the United States to Stand Trial for Money Laundering Offenses: ‘After nearly two years of legal proceedings, Mun Chol Myong (Mun), 55, a national of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been extradited to the United States’
This case represents the first ever extradition to the United States of a DPRK national. Mun is accused of laundering money through the U.S. financial system as part of a scheme to provide luxury items to the DPRK.
“We are pleased that Mun has been extradited and will stand trial for the offenses alleged in the indictment,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will always be prepared to protect our nation’s financial system and pursue those who violate our laws, regardless of where they might hide.”
“One of the FBI’s biggest counterintelligence challenges is bringing overseas defendants to justice, especially in the case of North Korea,” said Assistant Direction Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Thanks to the FBI’s partnership with foreign authorities, we’re proud to bring Mun Chol Myong to the United States to face justice, and we hope he will be the first of many.”
“It is important to underscore the relevance of this first-ever extradition of a North Korean national,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael F. Paul of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office. “Our Minneapolis agents worked this case closely with international partners highlighting how FBI special agents are persistent and have an international impact wherever they are.”
According to the indictment and other court documents unsealed today, between April 2013 and November 2018, Mun and others conspired to covertly and fraudulently access the U.S. financial system. Mun is alleged to have defrauded U.S. banks and violated both U.S. and United Nations (U.N.) sanctions as part of his money laundering activities in transactions valued at over $1.5 million. The indictment further alleges that Mun was affiliated with the DPRK’s primary intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is the subject of U.S. and U.N. sanctions.
Mun has been detained in a foreign country since his arrest by local authorities on May 14, 2019. He made his initial appearance today in federal court in the District of Columbia, where he was indicted on May 2, 2019. Mun faces six counts of money laundering, including conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the indictment, Mun and his conspirators went to great lengths to avoid detection of their sanctions-busting operation. They used a web of front companies and bank accounts registered to false names and removed references to the DPRK from international wire transfer and transactional documents. By intentionally concealing that their transactions were for the benefit of DPRK entities, Mun and his conspirators deceived U.S. correspondent banks into processing U.S. dollar transactions for the benefit of DPRK entities, which the correspondent banks would have otherwise not processed.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office and coordinated by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. The Department of Justice would also like to thank the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the FBI’s Investigative Operations Division for providing analytical support during the investigation. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing Mun’s arrest and extradition. The FBI’s Washington Field Office also provided essential support during the extradition process.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael P. Grady and Tejpal S. Chawla of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney David C. Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, with support from Paralegal Specialist Brian Rickers and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick, are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.