Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.
Case Number: 1:19-cr-00838-PAE
Judge: Paul A. Engelmayer
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (New York County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office
Description: New York, New York money laundering charge criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant, Amit Agarwal, the operator of an international wholesale consumer electronics business based in New Jersey, was charged with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business that operated primarily between Colombia and the United States.
Miguel Cespedes, Omar Mogollon, Luis Felipe Gonzalez Arcila, Ivan Rojas Acosta, Alex Barrera Forero, and David Ortiz Villamizar were previously charged in three separate indictments for their roles in the scheme. They were arrested in Colombia, and the United States Government is seeking their extradition to the United States.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As he admitted today, Amit Agarwal was a key player in a shadow financial network that allowed the movement of drug traffickers’ profits into our banking system and across our borders. Now he awaits sentencing for his crimes.”
According to the Indictments, the superseding Information, and statements made in open court:
From at least in or about June 2018 through at least in or about 2019, AMIT AGARWAL participated in a scheme to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business to move funds between the United States and Colombia, among other places. Among other things, the purpose of the scheme was to enable clients with cash located in the United States to transfer the value of that cash to other countries, principally Colombia, without the need for physically transporting United States currency across an international border or directly depositing large amounts of cash into the legitimate financial system.
To effectuate the scheme, “clients,” i.e., the owners of funds located in the United States, utilized the services of money brokers operating primarily in Colombia (the “Money Brokers”). The Money Brokers offered “contracts” typically requiring (a) the pick-up of United States currency from couriers throughout the United States and the receipt of international wires in the United States, and (b) the delivery of a corresponding amount of pesos in Colombia to the Money Brokers. In exchange for successfully delivering on a contract, the Money Brokers earned a commission, taken from the pesos received by them in Colombia. The person(s) with whom the Money Brokers contracted to arrange for the pick-up and receipt of United States currency also received a commission taken from the pesos received by the Money Brokers in Colombia. Although the payment of commissions from the funds collected pursuant to a contract meant that the clients did not receive the full value of the funds that the clients owned in the United States, this scheme enabled the clients to avoid the risks of having large quantities of cash detected at international borders and to avoid triggering financial reporting requirements.
Cespedes, Mogollon, Gonzalez, Rojas, Barrera, and Ortiz engaged in the scheme as Money Brokers. As Money Brokers, working at times independently and at times together, they offered and executed upon multiple contracts requiring the pick-up of funds throughout the United States, and the delivery of a corresponding value of pesos to them in Colombia. In exchange for their work as Money Brokers, they received a commission taken from the pesos delivered to them in Colombia, as did the individuals with whom they contracted.
AGARWAL was the chief executive officer of a consumer electronics products business based in East Hanover, New Jersey (the “Agarwal Electronics Business”). Among other things, the Agarwal Electronics Business exported consumer electronics to purchasers throughout the world, including purchasers located in Colombia. In connection with its business activities, the Agarwal Electronics Business maintained a bank account in the United States, controlled and operated by AGARWAL (the “Agarwal Bank Account”).
Typically, as part of the scheme, the funds collected in the United States pursuant to contracts offered by Cespedes, Mogollon, Gonzalez, Rojas, Barrera, and Ortiz were deposited in a bank account located in the United States (“Bank Account-1”), and then transferred to the Agarwal Bank Account. AGARWAL agreed to accept these funds into the Agarwal Bank Account, and AGARWAL also agreed to accept funds into the Agarwal Bank Account that had been wired to Bank Account-1 from foreign locations, including Mexico.
Upon receiving confirmation that funds collected pursuant to a Money Broker contract issued by Cespedes, Mogollon, Gonzalez, Rojas, Barrera, or Ortiz were available for deposit into the Agarwal Bank Account, AGARWAL arranged for the export of a roughly equivalent value of consumer electronics products to certain consumer electronic product suppliers located in Colombia (the “Colombian Electronics Suppliers”). The Colombian Electronics Suppliers, in turn, arranged to pay for the products by delivering pesos to an individual in Colombia, who then delivered those funds to the Money Brokers. In this way, funds collected in the United States were remitted to Colombia, without requiring that they be reported, declared, or smuggled over international borders.
During the execution of the scheme, federal law enforcement agents working in an undercover capacity, and persons operating at the direction of federal law enforcement agents, informed AGARWAL that the funds he agreed to receive in the Agarwal Bank Account from Bank Account-1, pursuant to the scheme, represented the proceeds of narcotics trafficking activity. AGARWAL, however, continued to accept the funds into the Agarwal Bank Account while facilitating the Money Broker contracts.
* * *
AGARWAL, 39, a citizen of India, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. AGARWAL will be sentenced by Judge Engelmayer on July 14, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.
Cespedes is charged in United States v. Miguel Cespedes, 19 Cr. 839, with one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmission business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Barrera and Ortiz are charged in United States v. Alex Barrera Forero and David Ortiz Villamizar, 19 Cr. 840, with one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business, and one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmission business, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Mogollon, Gonzalez, and Rojas are charged in United States v. Omar Mogollon, et al., 19 Cr. 837, with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business and operation of an unlicensed money transmission business, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Mogollon is also charged with one count of international money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.
Ms. Strauss praised the investigative work of the DEA, and thanked authorities in Colombia, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Tara M. La Morte and Cecilia E. Vogel are in charge of the prosecution.
18:1956-4999.F MONEY LAUNDERING - FRAUD, OTHER
18:371.F CONSPIRACY TO OPERATE AN UNLICENSED MONEY TRANSMITTING BUSINESS
Outcome: 02/11/2021 Order of Referral to Probation for Presentence Investigation and Report as to Amit Agarwal. (ajs) (Entered: 02/11/2021)
02/11/2021 Set/Reset Hearings as to Amit Agarwal: Sentencing set for 7/14/2021 at 02:30 PM before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer.. (ajs) (Entered: 02/11/2021)
02/11/2021 49 CONSENT PRELIMINARY ORDER OF FORFEITURE AS TO SPECIFIC PROPERTY as to (S1 19-Cr-838) Amit Agarwal. WHEREAS, on or about February 11, 2021, AMIT AGARWAL (the "Defendant"), was charged in a one-count Superseding Information, S1 19 Cr. 838 (PAE) (the "Information"), with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 (Count One); WHEREAS, the Information included a forfeiture allegation as to Count One of the Information, seeking forfeiture to the United States, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 982(a)(1), of any and all property, real and personal, involved in the offense charged in Count One of the Information, or any property traceable to such property, including but not limited to a sum of money in United States currency representing the amount of property involved in the offense charged in Count One of the Information, and $2,174,999.28 of the funds formerly on deposit at Citizens Bank in Account Number ending in 9354, held in the name of Best Electronics USA LLC, that were seized pursuant to a warrant signed by the Honorable Kevin Nathaniel Fox on or about December 20, 2019, and any and all funds traceable thereto, including accrued interest (the "Specific Property");...[*** See this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture As To Specific Property ***]... IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED AND AGREED, by and between the United States of America, by its attorney Audrey Strauss, United States Attorney, Assistant United States Attorneys, Tara M. La Morte and Cecilia E. Vogel of counsel, and the Defendant, and his counsel, Peter M. Skinner, Esq. and Brendan F. Quigley, Esq., that: 1. As a result of the offense charged in Count One of the Information, to which the Defendant pled guilty, all of the Defendant's right, title and interest in the Specific Property is hereby forfeited to the United States for disposition in accordance with the law, subject to the provisions of Title 21, United States Code, Section 853. 2. Best Electronics USA LLC hereby consents to the forfeiture of the Specific Property to the United States, and Best Electronics USA LLC will not file any third-party petition or otherwise challenge the forfeiture of the Specific Property, or assist anyone other person in doing so. 3. Pursuant to Rule 32.2(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture as to Specific Property is final as to the Defendant, AMIT AGARWAL, and shall be deemed part of the sentence of the Defendant, and shall be included in the judgment of conviction therewith....[*** See this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture As To Specific Property ***]... 9. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture as to Specific Property, and to amend it as necessary, pursuant to Rule 32.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. 10. The Clerk of the Court shall forward three certified copies of this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture as to Specific Property to Assistant United States Attorney Alexander J. Wilson, Co-Chief of the Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, United States Attorneys Office, One St. Andrew's Plaza, New York, New York 10007. 11. The signature page of this Consent Preliminary Ordr of Forfeiture as to Specific Property may be executed in one or more counterparts, each of which will be deemed an original but all of which together will constitute one and the same instrument. SO ORDERED: (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 2/11/2021) [*** NOTE: The Clerk of the Court has forwarded three certified copies of this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture as to Specific Property to AUSA Alexander J. Wilson, via interoffice mail on 2/11/2021. ***] (bw) (Entered: 02/11/2021)
02/11/2021 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer:Arraignment as to Amit Agarwal (1) Count 1s held on 2/11/2021.Defendant present (on bond) with attorneys, Andrew Lankler & Brendan Quigley. AUSA Cecilia Vogel present. Court reporter present.Defendant sworn, pleads GUILTY to the S1 Information. Bond continued. See transcript. Plea entered by Amit Agarwal (1) Guilty as to Count 1s. (ajs) (Entered: 02/12/2021)