The U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, has charged two suspects with providing shadow banking services for cryptocurrency exchanges.
Announcing the charges via a press release, Berman revealed that authorities had arrested one of the suspects, 60-year-old Reginald Fowler. Fowler was charged with bank fraud and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The Chandler, Arizona resident misled banks globally so as to open bank accounts with them.
Allegedly, Fowler represented his business as a real estate venture. However, he was just opening bank accounts for several crypto exchanges which enabled these exchanges to support fiat currencies. The exchanges falsely advertised themselves as having in place adequate know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) programs.
According to the press release, hundreds of millions of dollars flowed through the accounts operated by the two suspects from customers purchasing cryptos.
The other suspect, Ravid Yosef remains at large. The 36-year-old resident of Tel Aviv, Israel was also central to the operation.
Both suspects are charged with one count of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Each of these carries a maximum of 30 years in prison. Additionally, Fowler faces charges of operating unlicensed money transmitting business and conspiracy to do the same. Each of these counts carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The investigation was led by U.S Attorney Berman, FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney and IRS Special Agent Jonathan Larsen. Larsen warned other criminals who have been using cryptos to launder money that their days are numbered:
“As this indictment shows, IRS-CI will continue to follow the money, no matter if it’s virtual currency, to bring criminals to justice. This should serve as a warning to cyber-criminals who think they can hide behind virtual currency that IRS-CI is fully committed to unraveling these schemes.”
Just a week ago, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted three individuals who allegedly sold counterfeit drugs over the dark web. The three are alleged to have laundered over $2.3 million using Bitcoin Core (BTC), selling counterfeit Xanax pills.
A drug ring in New York also pleaded guilty to money laundering using cryptos recently. The criminals had laundered close to $3 million using cryptos. This was the first conviction involving crypto money laundering by prosecutors in New York.
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