Indian national and CEO of Agarwal Electronics Business, East Hanover, NJ, Amit Agarwal was indicted along with six Colombian nationals for offenses relating to various international money laundering schemes and the operation of unlicensed money transmission businesses on January 7, 2020.
The six Colombian nationals who were indicted along Amit Agarwal are Omar Mogollon, Luis Felipe Gonzalez Arcila, Ivan Rojas Acosta, Alex Barrera Forero and David Ortiz.
According to the indictments unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
..From at least in or about June 2018 through at least in or about 2019, MIGUEL CESPEDES, OMAR MOGOLLON, LUIS FELIPE GONZALEZ ARCILA, IVAN ROJAS ACOSTA, ALEX BARRERA FORERO, DAVID ORTIZ VILLAMIZAR, and AMIT AGARWAL all participated in schemes to launder funds from locations throughout the United States to recipients in, among other places, Colombia. Among other things, the purpose of the schemes 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 commissions 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. Pursuant to the contracts offered by the Money Brokers, 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. AGARWAL understood these funds to be narcotics proceeds and sought to repatriate them to South America while avoiding the risk associated with having large quantities of cash detected at international borders, and avoiding the currency reporting requirements imposed by United States laws.
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.
Charges and Arrests
Amit Agarwal was arrested on December 20, 2019, at Newark International Airport and charged with one count of money laundering.
The six Columbian nationals were arrested in Colombia, and the United States Government will be seeking their extradition to the United States.
If convicted on one count of money laundering, Amit Agarwal faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only.
And, the actual sentencing of Amit Agarwal will be determined by the United States District Judge Paul A. Engelmeyer who has been assigned with the case.
The charges and allegations in the indictment are mere accusations and Amit Agarwal and six other Columbian nationals must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.