National Money Laundering
Risk Assessment
2015
National Money Laundering Risk Assessment
Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...............................................
Executive
Summary
1
National Money Laundering Risk Assessment
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The 2015 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment (NMLRA) ide...
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of every dollar spent by retail buyers in the United States. It is the thousands...
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and control the funds. Alternatively, the account may be opened in the name of a...
Introduction
5
National Money Laundering Risk Assessment
INTRODUCTION
The 2015 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment (NMLRA) identifi...
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o Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
o Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
...
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Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1960, which prohibits operating a money trans...
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Methodology
The terminology and methodology of the NMLRA are based on the guidan...
Threats:
Predicate Crimes
10
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SECTION I. THREATS: PREDICATE CRIMES
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crim...
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fraud losses to the federal government, approximately $80 billion annually.14
He...
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3. Tax Fraud
The IRS found $6.5 billion in attempted fraudulent tax refunds in 2...
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merchants have return rates of up to 85 percent.30
The FDIC and the OCC have iss...
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based in Columbia and the Caribbean are involved in transporting and distributin...
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3. Cocaine
The United States remains the single
largest national cocaine market ...
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Designer drugs, because they are not controlled substances, are sold openly on t...
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can be particularly susceptible to criminal influences. That Strategy cites a Wo...
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 Online dating scams, which involve taking advantage of individuals who are led...
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In 2013, in New York, 34 alleged members and associates of two related Russian-A...
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a dedicated kleptocracy team that focuses on recovering the proceeds of foreign ...
Vulnerabilities
and Risks:
Money
Laundering
Methods
22
National Money Laundering Risk Assessment
SECTION II. VULNERABILITIES AND RISKS:
MONEY LAUNDERING METHODS
In the context o...
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wholesalers who in turn purchase their next drug supply from top level wholesale...
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 In 2006, in Ohio, two men were indicted for their involvement in operating ill...
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Examples of Money Laundering Using Drug Cash, Continued
Bribes, Horses, and Farm...
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a. Bulk Cash Smuggling
Bulk cash smuggling is the process of physically moving h...
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Much of the cash that goes to the
Mexican DTOs remains as cash. No
more than hal...
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Table 2
b. Trade-based Money Laundering
Trade-based money laundering (TBML) is t...
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According to DEA 102
,
much of the bulk U.S.
currency that comes into
Panama fro...
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on the deposit of U.S. dollars in Mexico is the emergence of Mexican money broke...
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Table 3 Case Examples of Cash Used in Trade-based Money Laundering Cont.
 I...
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c. Licit and Illicit Cash Often Indistinguishable
According to the Federal Reser...
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Mexican DTOs.112
There are also many opportunities for smuggling between officia...
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National Money Laundering Risk Assessment – 06-12-2015

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  • 1. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment 2015
  • 2. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Table of Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ..........................................................................................................................1 Threats .......................................................................................................................................................2 Vulnerabilities ...........................................................................................................................................3 Risks ..........................................................................................................................................................4 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................5 Participants ................................................................................................................................................6 Sources.......................................................................................................................................................7 Methodology.............................................................................................................................................. 9 SECTION I. THREATS: PREDICATE CRIMES .....................................................................................10 A. Fraud ..................................................................................................................................................11 B. Drug Trafficking ................................................................................................................................14 C. Human Smuggling..............................................................................................................................17 D. Organized Crime................................................................................................................................17 E. Public Corruption ...............................................................................................................................20 SECTION II. VULNERABILITIES AND RISKS: MONEY LAUNDERING METHODS.....................22 A. Cash....................................................................................................................................................23 B. Banking ..............................................................................................................................................35 C. Money Services Businesses................................................................................................................54 D. Casinos...............................................................................................................................................74 E. Securities ............................................................................................................................................78 CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................................................85
  • 3. Executive Summary 1
  • 4. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The 2015 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment (NMLRA) identifies the money laundering risks that are of priority concern to the United States. The purpose of the NMLRA is to explain the money laundering methods used in the United States, the safeguards in place to address the threats and vulnerabilities that create money laundering opportunities, and the residual risk to the financial system and national security. The terminology and methodology of the NMLRA is based on the guidance of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international standard-setting body for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing safeguards. The underlying concepts for the risk assessment are threats (the predicate crimes associated with money laundering), vulnerabilities (the opportunities that facilitate money laundering), consequence (the impact of a vulnerability), and risk (the synthesis of threat, vulnerability and consequence). Threats Money laundering1 is a necessary consequence of almost all profit generating crimes and can occur almost anywhere in the world. It is difficult to estimate with any accuracy how much money is laundered in the United States. However, while recognizing the limitations of the data sets utilized, this assessment estimates that about $300 billion is generated annually in illicit proceeds. Fraud and drug trafficking offenses generate most of those proceeds. Fraud encompasses a number of distinct crimes, which together generate the largest volume of illicit proceeds in the United States. Fraud perpetrated against federal government programs, including false claims for federal tax refunds, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, and food and nutrition subsidies, represent only one category of fraud but one that is estimated to generate at least twice the volume of illicit proceeds earned from drug trafficking. Healthcare fraud involves the submission of false claims for reimbursement, sometimes with the participation of medical professionals, support staff, and even patients. Federal government payments received illegally by check can be cashed through check cashing services, some of which have been found to be complicit in the fraud. Use of the Internet to commit identity theft has expanded the scope and impact of financial fraud schemes. Personal identifying information and the information used for account access can be stolen through hacking or social exploits in which the victim is tricked into revealing data or providing access to a computer system in which the data is stored. A stolen identity can be used to facilitate fraud and launder the proceeds. Stolen identity information can be used remotely to open a bank or brokerage account, register for a prepaid card, and apply for a credit card. Drug trafficking is a cash business generating an estimated $64 billion annually from U.S. sales. Mexico is the primary source of supply for some drugs and a transit point for others. Although there are no reliable estimates of how much money Mexican drug trafficking organizations earn overall (estimates range from $6 billion to $39 billion), for cocaine, Mexican suppliers are estimated to earn about 14 cents 1 The three stages of money laundering are: (1) placement, in which illicit proceeds are introduced into the financial system; (2) layering, in which the criminal attempts to separate the proceeds from the crime through a series of transactions; and (3) integration, where the illicit funds re-enter the economy disguised as legitimate funds. 2
  • 5. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment of every dollar spent by retail buyers in the United States. It is the thousands of low level drug dealers and distributors throughout the country who receive most of the drug proceeds. The severing by U.S. banks of customer relationships with Mexican money exchangers (casas de cambio) as a result of U.S. enforcement actions against U.S. banks between 2007 and 2013, combined with the U.S. currency deposit restrictions imposed by Mexico in 2010, are believed to have led to an increase in holding and using drug cash in the United States and abroad, because of placement challenges in both countries. This shifted some money laundering activity from Mexico to the United States. International organized crime groups target U.S. interests both domestically and abroad. The criminal activity associated with these groups includes alien smuggling, drug trafficking, extortion, financial fraud, illegal gambling, kidnapping, loan sharking, prostitution, racketeering, and money laundering. Some groups engage in white-collar crimes and co-mingle illegal activities with legitimate business ventures. Vulnerabilities The size and sophistication of the U.S. financial system accommodates the financial needs of individuals and industries globally. The breadth of products and services offered by U.S. financial institutions, and the range of customers served and technology deployed, creates a complex, dynamic environment in which legitimate and illegitimate actors are continuously seeking opportunities. This assessment finds that the underlying money laundering vulnerabilities remain largely the same as those identified in the 2005 United States Money Laundering Threat Assessment. The money laundering methods identified in this assessment exploit one or more of the following vulnerabilities: Use of cash and monetary instruments in amounts under regulatory recordkeeping and reporting thresholds; Opening bank and brokerage accounts using nominees to disguise the identity of the individuals who control the accounts; Creating legal entities without accurate information about the identity of the beneficial owner; Misuse of products and services resulting from deficient compliance with anti-money laundering obligations; and Merchants and financial institutions wittingly facilitating illicit activity. Cash (bank notes), while necessary and omnipresent, is also an inherently fungible monetary instrument that carries no record of its source, owner, or legitimacy. Cash generated from drug trafficking or fraud can be held or spent as cash. Alternatively, criminals can buy cashier’s checks, money orders, nonbank wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, and traveler’s checks to use instead of cash for purchases or bank deposits. Transactions with cash and cash alternatives can be structured to stay under the recordkeeping and reporting thresholds, and case examples demonstrate that some merchants will accept more than $10,000 in cash without reporting the transaction as required. To move funds into an account at a bank or broker-dealer, case examples show criminals may use an individual, serving as a nominee, to open the account and shield the identities of the criminals who own 3
  • 6. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment and control the funds. Alternatively, the account may be opened in the name of a business that was created to hide the beneficial owner who controls the funds. Trade-based money laundering (TBML) can involve various schemes that disguise criminal proceeds through trade-related financial transactions. One of the more common schemes is the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) which involves money brokers making local currency available in Latin America and Asia for drug dollars in the United States. Another form of TBML involves criminals using illicit proceeds to purchase trade goods, both to launder the cash and generate additional profits. Risks Any financial institution, payment system, or medium of exchange has the potential to be exploited for money laundering or terrorist financing.2 The size and complexity of the financial system in the United States, and the fertile environment for innovation, create legitimate and illegitimate opportunities. However, the potential money laundering risks are significantly reduced by anti-money laundering regulation, financial supervision, examination, and enforcement. The risks that remain, including those that are unavoidable, are: Widespread use of cash, making it difficult for authorities to differentiate between licit and illicit use and movement of bank notes; Structured transactions below applicable thresholds to avoid reporting and recordkeeping obligations; Individuals and entities that disguise the nature, purpose, ownership, and control of accounts; Occasional AML compliance deficiencies, which are an inevitable consequence of a financial system with hundreds of thousands of locations for financial services; Complicit violators within financial institutions; and Complicit merchants, particularly wholesalers who facilitate TBML, and financial services providers. The case examples cited throughout the NMLRA show that criminals use every feasible money laundering method available to them, exploiting opportunities wherever they find them. This means that in practice, different money laundering methods are used simultaneously or sequentially, or are alternated in response to actions taken by law enforcement and financial supervisors. The continuously shifting and opportunistic focus of money launderers makes it difficult and potentially misleading to attempt to rank order financial services or sectors on the basis of money laundering risk. 2 See U.S. Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment 2015. 4
  • 7. Introduction 5
  • 8. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment INTRODUCTION The 2015 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment (NMLRA) identifies the money laundering risks that are of priority concern to the United States. The purpose of the NMLRA is to help the public and private sectors recognize and understand the money laundering methods used in the United States, the effectiveness of current efforts to address the threats and vulnerabilities that create money laundering opportunities, and the residual risk to the financial system and national security. The NMLRA updates and expands the National Money Laundering Threat Assessment (MLTA) of 20053 by: Consolidating information from agency-specific, Congressional, and White House sources published since 2006; Identifying case examples and trends from approximately 5,000 money laundering-related federal prosecutions (2006-2011); Drawing from the work of the interagency Task Force on the U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Framework and the Securities and Derivatives Markets Working Group, which have identified illicit financing threats, trends, and risks in the United States; and Identifying priority money laundering risks. Participants The NMLRA was drafted by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (TFFC). In preparing the NMLRA, TFFC consulted with the following offices and agencies: Department of the Treasury o Terrorism and Financing Intelligence Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture (TEOAF) o Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigations (CI) Small Business/Self-employed (SBSE) Department of Justice (DOJ) o Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) o Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) 3 U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment, U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment Working Group, 2005. 6
  • 9. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment o Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) o Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) o Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) o United States Secret Service (USSS) Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) United States Postal Service (USPS) Staff of the Federal functional regulators (FFR)4 Sources The NMLRA is compiled from agency-specific, interagency, and Congressional advisories, analysis, guidance, reports, and testimony published since 2006, new domestic research and analysis, and relevant private sector and international studies. Private sector input was incorporated through analysis conducted by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of Bank Secrecy Act reporting, including suspicious activity reports (SARs) and currency transaction reports (CTRs). The Department of the Treasury, with the support of EOUSA, conducted an unprecedented analysis of some 5,000 federal indictments and other charging documents alleging money laundering and related charges in cases from 2006 to 2011.5 The criminal charging documents reviewed cited at least one of the following money laundering-related charges: Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1956, which prohibits conducting a financial transaction with the proceeds of any of a number of specified unlawful activities (SUAs) with the specific intent to promote an SUA; conceal or disguise the source, origin, nature, ownership, or control of the proceeds; evade reporting requirements; or evade taxes. The SUAs for 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and 18 U.S.C. § 1957 are identified at 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(7). This statute also criminalizes the international movement of criminal proceeds with the specific intent to conceal or disguise the source, origin, nature, ownership, or control of the proceeds or to evade reporting requirements. Even the international movement of clean money is illegal if the movement is conducted with the specific intent of promoting illegal activity. Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1957, which makes it a crime to conduct a monetary transaction of more than $10,000 knowing those funds were proceeds of an SUA. 4 This includes staff of: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve); National Credit Union Administration (NCUA); Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SEC staff also sought input from the staff of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is the largest self-regulatory organization for broker-dealers doing business with the public in the United States. CFTC staff also sought input from the staff of the National Futures Association and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, Inc. 5 Many states also have laws against money laundering. See Appendix A for list of state money laundering laws. 7
  • 10. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1960, which prohibits operating a money transmitting business without obtaining a state license, if one is required; without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; or, regardless of the business’s license or registration status, transmitting or transporting funds derived from a criminal offense or intended to be used to promote or support unlawful activity. Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5313, which requires a financial institution to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with FinCEN for each cash transaction or group of related cash transactions in a day that aggregate to more than $10,000. Willful failure to file a CTR is criminalized under Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5322. Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5316, requires an individual to file a Currency or Monetary Instruments Report (CMIR) with FinCEN whenever the individual brings into or takes out of the country more than $10,000 in monetary instruments, including currency, traveler’s checks, and all bearer negotiable financial instruments. Willful failure to file a CMIR is criminalized under Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5322. Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5324, prohibits anyone from intentionally structuring transactions in amounts less than $10,000 specifically to evade the CTR, CMIR, or Form 8300 filing requirements and prohibits anyone from filing a CTR, CMIR, or Form 8300 that contains a material omission or misstatement. Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5331, which requires a nonfinancial trade or business to file a Form 8300 with FinCEN for each cash transaction or two or more related cash transactions in a day that aggregate to more than $10,000. Willful failure to file a Form 8300 is criminalized under Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5322. Title 31 of the U.S. Code, Section 5332, which makes it a crime to conceal and transport more than $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into or out of the United States with the intent to evade the CMIR requirement. These statutes encompass a broad range of money laundering activity. It should be noted, however, that not all prosecutions for financial crimes include a money laundering or related charge, so the indictments and other court documents reviewed are not necessarily representative of all financial crime prosecutions. Additionally, the criminal charging documents were not intended to support this type of research as criminal charging documents need not catalog every criminal act or detail. Despite the flaws inherent in this type of study, the data provide a revealing glimpse into the state of illicit finance in the United States. The case examples cited in the NMLRA illustrate current money laundering risks. The cases reveal a number of ultimately failed schemes to launder money. 8
  • 11. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Methodology The terminology and methodology of the NMLRA are based on the guidance of the FATF,6 which presents a process for conducting a risk assessment at the national level. This approach uses the following key concepts: Threats: These are the predicate crimes that are associated with money laundering. In some cases, specific crimes are associated with specific money laundering methods. Understanding the threat environment is essential to understanding the vulnerabilities that create money laundering opportunities, and to understanding the residual risks. Vulnerability: This is what facilitates or creates the opportunity for money laundering. It may relate to a specific financial sector or product, or a weakness in regulation, supervision, or enforcement, or reflect unique circumstances in which it may be difficult to distinguish legal from illegal activity. Consequence: Not all money laundering methods have equal consequences. The methods that allow for the most amount of money to be laundered most effectively or most quickly present the greatest potential consequences. Risk: Risk is a function of threat, vulnerability, and consequence. It represents a summary judgment. The NMLRA uses all available information to identify as objectively as possible the priority money laundering risks to the United States.7 The fact-finding and assessment process involved: Identifying the nature and volume of predicate financial crime in the United States to determine the source of domestic illicit proceeds; Tallying the money laundering methods identified through civil and criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions; Assessing the deterrent effect of domestic regulation, supervision, and enforcement on potential money laundering methods; and Using the foregoing research and analysis to identify residual money laundering risks in the United States. The NMLRA begins with an overview of the predicate crimes associated with money laundering that are the threats present in the United States. Following this overview, a chapter is devoted to each of the financial sectors identified as money laundering conduits in law enforcement investigations and prosecutions, supervisory examinations, and reporting to FinCEN. Each chapter identifies the relevant preventive measures, money laundering vulnerabilities with case examples, and the residual risks. 6 FATF Guidance, National Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, February 2013. 7 The NMLRA considers the threat, vulnerabilities, consequences, and risks posed to the United States as a whole, as opposed to the risks relevant to a financial institution. Each financial institution should conduct its own risk assessment based on vulnerabilities and other relevant factors specific to that financial institution. 9
  • 12. Threats: Predicate Crimes 10
  • 13. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment SECTION I. THREATS: PREDICATE CRIMES The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated proceeds from all forms of financial crime in the United States, excluding tax evasion, was $300 billion in 2010, or about two percent of the U.S. economy.8 This is comparable to U.S. estimates. UNODC estimates illicit drug sales were $64 billion9 , which the DEA believes is a reasonable current estimate, putting the proceeds for all other forms of financial crime in the United States at $236 billion, most of which is attributable to fraud. A. Fraud The dollar volume of fraud dwarfs other illicit proceeds-generating crimes in the United States. Unlike drug trafficking, fraud proceeds rarely start off as a cash purchase. The transactions typically occur through normal, regulated financial channels and are intended to appear as legitimate.10 Criminals will, however, use check cashers, money transmitters, automated teller machines (ATMs), and normal withdrawals or transfers from bank or brokerage accounts to cash out fraud proceeds. A number of crimes today involve misuse of computers and illicit computer access via the Internet. According to DOJ, “One study earlier this year found that the United States is number one in data breaches world-wide — accounting for about 76 percent of all incidents in 2014. Another study last summer estimated the annual cost of cybercrime at no less than $400 billion.”11 Law enforcement has been encountering criminal misuse of computers since the early 1980s, the dawn of the computer age.12 The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) brought existing law up to date in 1986 in order to address the unauthorized access and use of computers and computer networks. Since then, the CFAA has been amended at least eight times as computer crimes have grown in sophistication. Cyber criminals today can attack the U.S. from overseas, beyond the immediate reach of American law enforcement. To respond, U.S. authorities work closely with foreign counterparts and use a combination of civil and criminal tools. Cybercrime can exploit new payment technologies for money laundering, but may also rely on low technology options. 1. Healthcare Fraud According to the FBI, the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that 3 to 5 percent of total health care expenses are fraudulent.13 Healthcare fraud accounts for the largest dollar volume of 8 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Estimating Illicit Financial Flows Resulting From Drug Trafficking and other Transnational Organized Crimes, October 2011. 9 Estimates vary. RAND Corporation estimated $100 billion in the study, “What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs: 2000-2010," prepared for ONDCP, Office of Research, February 2014. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/policy-and-research/wausid_results_report.pdf 10 FinCEN published guidance for financial institutions on potential indicators of healthcare fraud in the SAR Activity Review, Issue 20, October 2009. 11 Caldwell, Leslie R., Assistant Attorney General, Remarks at the Criminal Division’s Cybersecurity Industry Roundtable, Washington, D.C., April 29, 2015. 12 DOJ, Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes (Office of Legal Education 2013). 13 FBI, DOJ, FY 2014 Authorization and Budget Request to Congress, April 2013. That would put healthcare fraud between $84 billion and $140 billion based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tally of $2.8 trillion in healthcare spending in 2012. Available at http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics- Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NationalHealthAccountsHistorical.html 11
  • 14. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment fraud losses to the federal government, approximately $80 billion annually.14 Healthcare fraud also victimizes private sector insurance companies.15 The FBI estimates insurance fraud to be a separate $30 billion dollar a year enterprise.16 Payments are often obtained illegally by check and cashed through check cashing services, some of which are complicit in the fraud. Medical identity theft, in addition to victimizing the payer, can also take advantage of unsuspecting patients and medical professionals. Often the information is “stolen by employees at medical facilities, and resold on the black market.”17 In May 2009, the DOJ and HHS created the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT).18 HEAT’s work led to a 75 percent increase in individuals charged with criminal healthcare fraud from 2008 to 2011.19 In FY 2013, the Justice Department opened 1,013 new criminal health care fraud investigations. 2. Identity Theft According to DOJ, Bureau of Justice Statistics, direct and indirect losses from identity theft totaled $24.7 billion in 2012. Among identity theft victims, existing bank (37%) or credit card accounts (40%) were the most common types of misused information.20 Identity theft refers to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception. A stolen payment card or hacked bank or brokerage account may be referred to as access device fraud, bank fraud, credit card fraud, cyber fraud, and/or identity theft. Cybercriminals who steal personal data may exploit it themselves or sell it. Typical sales of stolen identity information involve funds transfers through money transmitters and are often under the $3,000 federal recordkeeping threshold.21 When transferring funds out of a hacked bank account, cybercriminals may hire intermediaries (“money mules”) who receive the fraudulent funds transfers often without knowing the transactions are illegal.22 The money mules are instructed to take a percentage of the funds they receive as their compensation and forward the rest via a licensed money transmitter, often to a recipient outside the United States. Recent cases demonstrate cybercriminals can avoid using money mules by transferring funds from hacked accounts to prepaid debit cards, and cashing out at an ATM.                                                              14 FBI, Health Care Fraud. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/health-care-fraud 15 Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/health-care-fraud 16 Available at http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2012/january/insurance_013112 17 Medical Identity Theft, Coalition Against Financial Fraud. Available at http://www.insurancefraud.org/scam- alerts-medical-id-theft.htm#.UyXbF6hdWSo 18 Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney District of Rhode Island, “Efforts to Prevent, Investigate, and Prosecute Medicare and Medicaid Fraud,” Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, March 26, 2012. 19 HHS, Medicare Fraud Strike Force Charges 91 Individuals for Approximately $430 Million in False Billing, October 4, 2012. Available at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/10/20121004a.html 20 Erika Harrell, Ph.D. and Lynn Langton, Ph.D., DOJ, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistic, Victims of Identity Theft, 2012. Available at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit12.pdf 21 See https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2009/10/moneygram-pay-18-million-settle-ftc-charges-it- allowed-its-money 22 See http://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2010/nyfo093010.htm 12
  • 15. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment 3. Tax Fraud The IRS found $6.5 billion in attempted fraudulent tax refunds in 2010, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found potentially $5.2 billion more.23 Tax fraud linked to identity theft increased to more than 1.1 million cases in 2011, up from 51,700 in 2008.24 Identity thieves who obtain a legitimate taxpayer’s name and Social Security number can file a fraudulent claim for a tax refund early in the filing season before the legitimate taxpayer files. Income tax refunds can be paid by paper check or electronically either via direct deposit to a bank account or to a prepaid debit card. Criminals can open prepaid debit card accounts online using stolen identity information, and then cash out a fraudulent tax refund at an ATM. To help financial institutions identify and report suspicious transactions associated with potential tax refund fraud, FinCEN issued an Advisory on February 26, 2013, identifying red flag indicators associated with potentially fraudulent tax refund direct deposit transactions.25 4. Mortgage Fraud Mortgage fraud results in an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion in annual losses in the United States.26 Mortgage fraud schemes contain some material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission that is relied on by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan.27 Mortgage fraud can be used to generate illicit profits or to qualify for housing. On August 16, 2012, FinCEN issued an advisory highlighting common fraud schemes and potential red flags related to mortgage loan fraud so that financial institutions may better assist law enforcement when filing suspicious transactions.28 Drug traffickers and others who rely on an illicit cash income use mortgage fraud to acquire property. Between 2005 and 2013 pending FBI mortgage fraud investigations almost tripled to 1,954, with close to 70 percent involving losses of more than $1 million.29 The FBI currently has 84 task forces or working groups investigating complex financial crimes including mortgage fraud. 5. Retail and Consumer Fraud As payment alternatives have increased and the Internet has expanded sales options, the role of third party payment processors (TPPPs) has grown. TPPPs are bank customers that provide payment-processing services to merchants and other business entities. TPPPs work for merchants to facilitate non-cash payments, and some facilitate fraud. One indication of a problem is an unusually high rate of reversed transactions because of consumer complaints. The industry average return rate for automated clearing house transactions is less than 1.5 percent, and less than 0.5 percent for checks, but some processors and                                                              23 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, There Are Billions of Dollars in Undetected Tax Refund Fraud Resulting From Identity Theft, July 19, 2012, Reference Number: 2012-42-080. Available at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2012reports/201242080fr.html 24 Id. 25 FinCEN, Advisory, Tax Refund Fraud and Related Identity Theft, FIN-2013-A001, February 26, 2013. 26 National Associate of Realtors®. Available at http://www.realtor.org/rmoquiz2.nsf/mortgagefraud?openform 27 Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/mortgage-fraud/mortgagefraudwarning.pdf 28 FinCEN, Advisory, Suspicious Activity Related to Mortgage Loan Fraud, FIN-2012-A009, August 16, 2012. 29 Robert S. Mueller III, Director, FBI, Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, December 14, 2011; FBI, Just the Facts, Mortgage Fraud Statistics. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about- us/investigate/white_collar/mortgage-fraud. 13
  • 16. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment merchants have return rates of up to 85 percent.30 The FDIC and the OCC have issued guidance regarding the risks associated with banking TPPPs.31 FinCEN issued an Advisory on the risk associated with TPPPs on October 22, 2012.32 6. Securities Fraud The term securities fraud covers a wide range of illegal activities including, among others, affinity fraud, high yield investment programs, microcap fraud, Ponzi schemes, pre-initial public offering investment scams, pyramid schemes, insider trading, market manipulation, and pump and dump schemes.33 Securities accounts can be used to originate illicit proceeds through the implementation of these fraudulent securities trading practices. Securities fraud is the most common predicate crime for criminal money laundering cases involving transactions through broker-dealers. The proceeds of drug trafficking and other crimes sometimes find their way into brokerage accounts at the layering stage more than at the placement stage.34 Most identified cases of illicit activity in the securities markets relate to some form of fraud, including securities fraud, identity theft, or embezzlement. In 2013, the SEC filed 686 enforcement actions, which resulted in more than $3.4 billion in disgorgement of illicit profits and penalties combined.35 B. Drug Trafficking Although drug use in America has declined by one-third since its peak in the late 1970s,36 recent data show a mixed picture. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of people using marijuana, the most popular illegal drug in America, increased by 30 percent between 2007 and 2012.37 During the same period, the survey shows heroin use almost doubled, cocaine use fell by a third, and use of methamphetamines dropped by 40 percent. In 2011, the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) found that Mexican-based drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) “dominate the supply, trafficking, and wholesale distribution of most illicit drugs in the United States. Various other [DTOs] operate throughout the country, but none impacts the U.S. drug trade as significantly as Mexican-based traffickers. Reasons for Mexican organizations’ dominance include their control of smuggling routes across the U.S. southwest border and their capacity to produce, transport, and/or distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.”38 Other DTOs and gangs                                                              30 Michael J. Bresnick, Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Executive Director, Remarks at the Exchequer Club of Washington, D.C., March 20, 2013. 31 FDIC, Guidance on Payment Processor Relationships, FDIC FIL-127-2008, November 7, 2008 (revised July 2014); Risk Management Guidance: Payment Processors, OCC Bulletin 2008-12, April 24, 2008. 32 FinCEN, Advisory, Risk Associated with Third-Party Payment Processors, FIN-2012-A010, October 22, 2012. 33 See SEC, Investing Basics. Available at http://investor.gov/investing-basics/avoiding-fraud/types-fraud 34 See USA v. Oladimeji Seun A Yelotan, (S.D. Miss., July 8, 2014)(1:14-cr-00033-HSO-JMR); Zions First National Bank, Civil Money Penalty, FinCEN, Feb. 10, 2011. 35 Fiscal Year 2013 Agency Financial Report, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, at p. 17. Available at http://www.sec.gov/about/secpar/secafr2013.pdf; Fiscal Year 2014 Agency Financial Report, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, at p. 19. Available at http://www.sec.gov/about/secpar/secafr2014.pdf 36 R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director, National Drug Control Policy, Remarks before the 51st Regular Session of Inter- American Drug Abuse Control Commission, Washington, DC, May 9, 2012. 37 HHS, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. 38 NDIC, DOJ, National Drug Threat Assessment 2011. 14
  • 17. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment based in Columbia and the Caribbean are involved in transporting and distributing drugs to and in the United States.39 Federal law enforcement agencies focus their investigative resources on the leadership of the major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, which tend to be headquartered outside the United States. State and local law enforcement agencies focus more on street level drug dealers, who may be members of gangs affiliated with Latin American drug DTOs.40 FBI estimates that 1.4 million people belong to 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs in the United States.41 Gangs are engaged in robbery, drug and gun trafficking, fraud, extortion, and prostitution rings. According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, prepared by the National Gang Intelligence Center, “[m]any US- based gangs have established strong working relationships with Central America and Mexico-based DTOs to perpetuate the smuggling of drugs across the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders.”42 1. Marijuana Although authorities agree marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States, there is little additional information available.43 In 2010 NDIC reported, “the amount of marijuana available in the United States—including marijuana produced both domestically and internationally—is unknown.”44 The Office of National Drug Control Policy concurs: “The extant methodology for estimating the amount of marijuana available to the United States lacks credibility.”45 State ballot initiatives were passed in 2012 legalizing marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington, and more than a dozen other states have passed decriminalization measures. 2. Heroin The number of people starting to use heroin has been steadily rising since 2007, which may reflect a shift away from abuse of prescription pain relievers to a similar, easier to obtain, and cheaper alternative.46 Despite its recent surge in popularity, heroin remains one of the least used illegal drugs in the United States with around one percent of the population having tried it.47 The U.S. heroin market is supplied entirely from foreign sources, with more than half of the supply coming from Mexico.48 The increase in Mexican heroin production since 2006 coincides with a decrease in production in Colombia.49 U.S. retail expenditure on heroin is estimated to be $12 billion.50                                                              39 See ONDCP overview of the Carribbean. Available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/caribbean 40 In addition to the federal statutes prohibiting money laundering (18 U.S.C. § 1956 and 18 U.S.C. § 1957), there are also prohibitions in some states allowing for state-level prosecutions for money laundering. See Appendix 1 for a list of state statutes prohibiting money laundering. 41 See FBI overview of Gangs. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/gangs 42 National Gang Intelligence Center, FBI, National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends, 2011. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment 43 HHS, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. 44 NDIC, National Drug Threat Assessment 2010. 45 Drug Availability Estimates in the United States, ONDCP, 2012. 46 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Letter from the Director. Available at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/letter-director 47 DEA FY 2012 Performance Budget. 48 Drug Availability Estimates in the United States, ONDCP, June 2012. 49 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2013. 50 What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, ONDCP, 2012. 15
  • 18. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment 3. Cocaine The United States remains the single largest national cocaine market in the world, but this market has been in decline for 30 years because of law enforcement successes domestically and in Colombia, violence between DTOs, and a gradual decline in demand. 51 As much as 70 percent of the revenue generated by cocaine is earned by mid-level wholesalers and retail dealers.52 4. Methamphetamine Methamphetamine is the most widely abused, domestically produced synthetic drug in the United States. According to DEA, Mexican DTOs produce at least 80 percent of the methamphetamine consumed in the United States.53 However, domestic production is increasing.54 5. Synthetic/Designer Drugs Synthetic or designer drugs are unregulated psychoactive substances designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances. Their use is proliferating. 55 Among students in the United States, use of designer drugs is already more widespread than the use of all other illicit drugs except marijuana. The vast majority of this new generation of designer drugs are developed and manufactured in foreign clandestine laboratories and then smuggled into the United States in bulk form or as finished product.56                                                              51 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2013. 52 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Globalization of Crime, 2010. 53 DEA, FY 2013 Performance Budget Congressional Submission. 54 NDIC, Central Valley California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis 2010. 55 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2013. 56 Joseph T. Rannazzisi, DEA, Testimony before the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, September 25, 2013. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces The Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) coordinates federal law enforcement efforts against the largest national and international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Consistent with the President’s National Drug Control Strategy, OCDETF attacks all elements of the most significant drug trafficking organizations affecting the United States including money laundering and firearms trafficking that support the drug trade. OCDETF coordinates the annual formulation of the Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) List, a multi-agency- nominated target list of the command and control elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Twenty-eight of the current 67 CPOT targets are based in Mexico. OCDETF also requires its participants to identify and nominate major Regional Priority Organization Targets (RPOTs) as part of the annual Regional Strategic Plan. As of the end of FY 2013, 94 percent of all active OCDETF investigations were multi-district, multi-state, multi-regional or international in scope. Beginning in FY 2010, 100 percent of OCDETF investigations have had an active financial component. In FY 2013, 11 percent of OCDETF defendants were charged with financial violations and 74 percent of indictments resulting from OCDETF investigations included asset forfeiture. From FY 2010 to FY 2013 OCDETF investigations were responsible for the seizure of over $2.65 billion. Source: Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, Department of Justice, FY2015 Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement Congressional Budget Submission 16
  • 19. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Designer drugs, because they are not controlled substances, are sold openly on the shelves at gas stations, convenience stores, and via the Internet. At retail establishments they are sold with disclaimers such as “not for human consumption,” in products masquerading as incense, potpourri, bath salts, plant food, glass/window and jewelry cleaner, badger repellant, and snail/slug repellant.57 DEA is leading an ongoing multinational law enforcement investigation, dubbed Project Synergy, which targets designer drug manufacturing and distribution networks. As of May 2014, 150 individuals have been arrested and more than $20 million in cash and assets has been seized. The investigation has uncovered a “massive flow of drug-related proceeds to countries in the Middle East, including Yemen, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as other countries.”58 C. Human Smuggling Alien smugglers pay fees to DTOs to operate in the areas controlled by the DTOs, according to DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). 59 Countries with high migrant populations (e.g., Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras) use smugglers located in Mexico to cross the United States/Mexico border. The DTOs dictate when and where the smugglers will cross the border. In other respects the DTOs and human smugglers operate independently. Most illegal aliens entering the United States from Mexico are Mexican, and more than 90 percent of illegal Mexican migrants are assisted by professional smugglers.60 Payment is typically made using money transmitters or bank deposits. FinCEN issued an advisory in September 2014 alerting financial institutions to red flag indicators of potentially illicit financial activity linked to human smuggling and human trafficking.61 D. Organized Crime Organized criminal groups from all over the world are present in the United States and target the United States from abroad. These organizations include the Italian La Cosa Nostra (Mafia), as well as groups from Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and the Middle East.62 Criminal activity associated with organized crime includes extortion, illegal gambling, kidnapping, loan sharking, murder, prostitution, and racketeering. These groups also smuggle aliens; traffic in drugs; commit financial fraud and counterfeiting; and launder money. Some organized criminal groups cooperate across ethnic and racial lines, engage in white-collar crimes, and co-mingle illegal activities with legitimate business ventures. According to the President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime,63 developing countries where the rule of law is weak                                                              57 Id. 58 DEA News: Huge Synthetic Drug Takedown, news release, May 7, 2014. Available at http://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2014/hq050714.shtml 59 Matthew Allen, Phoenix Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, May 21, 2012. 60 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime, 2010. 61 FinCEN, Advisory, Guidance on Recognizing Activity that May be Associated with Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking–Financial Red Flags, FIN-2014-A008, September 11, 2014. 62 See FBI overview of Organized Crime. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about- us/investigate/organizedcrime/overview 63 White House, Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, July 2011. Available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/Strategy_to_Combat_Transnational_Organized_Crime_July_2011.pd f 17
  • 20. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment can be particularly susceptible to criminal influences. That Strategy cites a World Bank estimate of about $1 trillion spent annually on bribery of public officials, causing an array of economic distortions and damage to legitimate economic activity. The International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) is the centerpiece of DOJ’s transnational organized crime program. The role of the IOC-2 is to marshal the resources and information of nine U.S. law enforcement agencies, as well as federal prosecutors, to combat those transnational organized crime groups posing the greatest threat to the United States, including but not limited to those criminal organizations named on the Top International Criminal Organizations Target (TICOT) List. 1. La Cosa Nostra La Cosa Nostra has operated in the United States for more than 100 years, becoming entrenched in almost all aspects of business, particularly in New York. While this organization will intermingle illicit proceeds with legitimate business profits, the FBI notes that one of the difficulties in tracing Mafia proceeds is the group’s preference for cash (bank notes). Payouts related to fraud, extortion, and other criminal activities are generally made in cash. Mafia members will store up to several million dollars in cash rather than place the money in a bank. In 2011 the FBI led the largest Mafia investigation in the Bureau’s history, resulting in approximately 130 arrests, predominantly in New York.64 Charges included murder, drug trafficking, arson, loan sharking, illegal gambling, witness tampering, labor racketeering, and extortion. According to the FBI New York field office, the Mafia extortion racket, or so-called “mob tax,” alone generates millions of dollars annually.65 2. African Criminal Enterprises African criminal enterprises have been identified in major metropolitan areas across the United States selling illegal drugs and perpetrating various fraud schemes.66 The political, social, and economic conditions in African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia have helped some enterprises expand globally. Nigerian criminal enterprises are among the most aggressive and expansionist of the international criminal groups. The Nigerian groups are infamous for their financial frauds, which cost the United States an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion annually. Schemes are diverse, targeting individuals, businesses, and government offices. Examples include:  Advance fee (or 419) fraud which typically involves a person claiming to have access to a large amount of money that they are willing to share in return for help transferring or depositing the funds. The victim is asked for money to pay initial fees. After the money is transferred, the benefactor disappears.                                                              64 FBI, Mafia Takedown, news release, January 20, 2011. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/january/mafia_012011 65 Statement by FBI New York Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk, January 20, 2011. 66 See FBI overview of African organized crime. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about- us/investigate/organizedcrime/african 18
  • 21. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment  Online dating scams, which involve taking advantage of individuals who are led to believe a serious relationship is developing. The victim may be asked for money to pay for travel in order to meet, or for a health emergency. Once the money is transferred the paramour disappears. Alternatively, the victim may be asked to perform some activity that helps to support another criminal scheme.  Check cashing/funds transfer fraud, which involves a person outside the United States asking for help transferring funds. The victim, who may be contacted as a result of posting a resume online, may receive money orders, checks, or funds transfers, and is asked to take a percentage and transfer the funds offshore. The funds received are typically fraudulent or stolen. Some element of each of these illicit activities was present in a 2014 indictment in Mississippi in which more than a dozen members of a Nigerian criminal organization were charged with fraud, account takeovers, and money laundering.67 The group operated via the Internet, primarily from South Africa but with alleged co-conspirators in the United States and Canada. The group allegedly bought stolen credit card numbers, bank and brokerage account data, and personal identifying information online. They used the information to open new accounts, transferring value from the hacked accounts to banks accounts opened with stolen account information and altered or forged foreign passports. The group also used the stolen funds to buy consumer electronics, or transferred the money to prepaid cards. The group allegedly recruited additional victims and unknowing accomplices by sending mass e-mails to U.S. participants at online dating sites and other online community web sites. Some victims were sent counterfeit checks and asked to deposit them into their bank accounts and transfer the proceeds to recipients in Africa. Others were asked to receive shipment of fraudulently acquired merchandise and reship the goods to Africa. 3. Eurasian Organized Crime According to law enforcement, Russian and Eurasian organized crime groups leverage close political ties abroad to protect their interests and facilitate access to the international financial system. 68 Eurasian organized crime groups are a particular concern because of their systemic use of sophisticated schemes to move and conceal their criminal proceeds using U.S. banking institutions and U.S. incorporated shell companies. FinCEN, citing SARs, reported in 2006 on the apparent abuse by Russian criminal groups of U.S. shell companies69 used to open bank accounts outside the United States: “A review of SAR data on both a macro and micro scale indicates that suspected shell companies incorporated or organized in the United States have moved billions of dollars globally from accounts at banks in foreign countries, particularly those of the former Soviet Union, and predominantly the Russian Federation and Latvia. Most of these companies are LLCs and corporations … Many of the U.S.-based suspected shell companies were observed to maintain banking relationships with Eastern European financial institutions, particularly in Russia and Latvia.”                                                              67 USA v. Oladimeji Seun A Yelotan, (S.D. Miss., July 8, 2014)(1:14-cr-00033-HSO-JMR). 68 White House, Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, July 2011. 69 Available at http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/rp/files/LLCAssessment_FINAL.pdf; See below for a discussion of the misuse of shell companies, particularly to access the banking system. 19
  • 22. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment In 2013, in New York, 34 alleged members and associates of two related Russian-American organized crime groups were indicted for a range of offenses including the operation of at least two international bookmaking organizations that catered to wealthy individuals in the United States, Russia, and the Ukraine.70 One enterprise is alleged to have moved tens of millions of dollars in illicit gambling proceeds from the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and shell companies in the United States.71 The other enterprise allegedly laundered the proceeds of a gambling operation through U.S. bank accounts and a Bronx plumbing company in which the organization acquired a 50 percent ownership interest as payment of a gambling debt. In 2011, in Los Angeles, 90 people were charged in two indictments targeting the Eurasian street gang known as Armenian Power.72 One indictment accused defendants of participating in sophisticated bank fraud schemes, identity theft, debit card skimming, and manufacturing counterfeit checks. The gang’s membership is made up of individuals from Armenia and other countries of the former Soviet bloc. According to the FBI, Armenian Power uses bank wires and couriers carrying cash, gold, and diamonds to send illicit proceeds to Armenia. 4. Middle Eastern Criminal Enterprises The FBI notes that although there is a nexus between terrorist financing and financial crime supporting Islamist extremist groups, there are also Middle Eastern criminal groups operating to make money through illegal activities.73 These Middle Eastern groups typically are loosely organized theft or financial fraud rings and have been active in the United States since the 1970s. E. Public Corruption Public Corruption within in the United States involves the corruption of local, state, and federal government officials. Many taxpayer dollars are wasted or lost as a result of corrupt acts by public officials.74 In 2013, 315 federal officials were convicted of public corruption offenses, including a former Congressman who was convicted of 17 felony offenses including money laundering. 75 Most corruption cases are handled by the local United States Attorney’s Office in the district where the crime occurred. DOJ’s Public Integrity Section oversees the federal effort to combat corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government. In addition, the United States is often a desirable destination for the proceeds of foreign official corruption, which undermines democratic institutions and threatens national security.76 The Asset Forfeiture/Money Laundering Section of DOJ has                                                              70 U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 34 Members and Associates of Two Russian- American Organized Crime Enterprises with Operating International Sportsbooks That Laundered More Than $100 Million, news release, April 16, 2013. 71 USA v. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, (S.D.N.Y., Apr. 12, 2013) (13 CRIM 268). 72 Department of Justice, Armenian Power Gang Leaders Convicted for Their Role in Racketeering Conspiracy, news release, April 17, 2014. 73 See FBI overview of Middle Eastern Criminal Enterprises. Available at http://www.fbi.gov/about- us/investigate/organizedcrime/mideast 74 FBI, FY 2015 Authorization and Budget Request to Congress, March 2014. 75 DOJ, Report to the Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section for 2013. Nationwide federal prosecutions of public corruption in 2013 included 1,134 charged, 1,037 convicted, and 499 awaiting trial. Available at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pin/docs/2013-Annual-Report.pdf 76 White House, Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, July 2011. 20
  • 23. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment a dedicated kleptocracy team that focuses on recovering the proceeds of foreign official corruption. Domestic and foreign official corruption are separate threats and are distinguishable from the bribery of foreign officials by U.S. companies, which is addressed by the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).77                                                              77 See DOJ overview of FCPA. Available at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/guidance/guide.pdf 21
  • 24. Vulnerabilities and Risks: Money Laundering Methods 22
  • 25. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment SECTION II. VULNERABILITIES AND RISKS: MONEY LAUNDERING METHODS In the context of this risk assessment, vulnerability refers to the money laundering methods that make it possible to use the proceeds of financial crimes (the threats). Different threats exploit different vulnerabilities. Risk is a function of threat, vulnerability, and consequence and represents a summary judgment. A. Cash Cash (bank notes) is an essential component of the U.S. and global economies, and of money laundering. There was approximately $1.36 trillion of U.S. banknotes in circulation as of March 11, 2015,78 and much of that currency circulates globally. To mitigate the risks associated with the deposit or use of large sums of potentially illicit anonymous cash, the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) 79 established AML customer identification, recordkeeping, and reporting obligations for financial institutions, which reduce the potential for criminals to place illicit proceeds into the financial system or to use illicit proceeds anonymously. Financial institutions are required to verify a customer’s identity and retain records of certain information prior to issuing or selling bank checks and drafts, cashier’s checks, money orders, and traveler’s checks when purchased with cash (bank notes) in amounts between $3,000 and $10,000 inclusive.80 For cash transactions above $10,000, whether a single transaction or a series of related transactions with a customer in a single business day, financial institutions are required to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with FinCEN.81 Other businesses must report cash transactions of more than $10,000 to the IRS and FinCEN (Form 830082 ), subject to certain exceptions.83 Purchases of monetary instruments and wire transfers under $3,000 do not require a transaction record or customer identification. Retail transactions under $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments do not have to be reported to the IRS or FinCEN. 1. Vulnerabilities Drug proceeds start and often remain as cash, while proceeds from fraud rarely start out as cash but may end up as cash after laundering, or during the layering stage in an effort to break the audit trail. At each stage in the drug trafficking supply chain, from South America to Mexico, from Mexico to the United States, and within the United States, illicit drug purchases are typically paid for with cash.84 Street dealers use the cash they earn from retail transactions to purchase their next drug supply from midlevel                                                              78 Available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12773.htm 79 The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970 (commonly referred to as the “Bank Secrecy Act”) requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, file reports of cash transactions exceeding $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 amended the BSA. See 31 U.S.C. § 5311-5330 and 31 C.F.R. Chapter X. Available at http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/bsa/ 80 31 C.F.R. § 1010.415. 81 31 C.F.R. § 1010.311. 82 31 C.F.R. § 1010.330. 83 Id. 84 Exceptions are illegal online pharmacies and web sites selling illegal drugs, which accept electronic payments. See Online Pharmacy Guide for Acquirers June 2014, Visa Inc.; see also http://www.fincen.gov/law_enforcement/ss/html/Issue13-story4.html; 23
  • 26. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment wholesalers who in turn purchase their next drug supply from top level wholesalers. The DTOs will allow trusted top level wholesalers to receive drug shipments worth millions of dollars on consignment, with payment made in cash after the drugs are sold.85 The largest portion of each dollar spent on illegal drugs goes to the lower rungs of distributors and street sellers.86 One estimate of how a consumer’s dollar spent on cocaine is allocated has the Andean growers’ share at about 1.5 percent, the processors’ share at 1 percent, the Colombian and Mexican transporters’ share at 13 percent, the Mexican and U.S. wholesalers’ share at 15 percent, and the Mexican and U.S. mid-level to final retailers’ share at about 70 percent.87 It is difficult to estimate accurately how much money the Mexican DTOs earn from the drug trade overall. Estimates range from a low of $6 billion to a high of $39 billion.88 The wide disparity is due to varying estimation models and differing assumptions about consumption, purity, and price. The cash earned by retail dealers is typically held and spent as cash. A drug trafficker attempting to use more than $10,000 in cash (bank notes) in a transaction with a merchant may attempt to break up the purchase into a series of smaller payments (referred to as structuring) in an attempt to avoid the merchant reporting the transaction to FinCEN and the IRS. Alternatively, a drug trafficker may seek a complicit merchant who will accept the cash and agree not to report the transaction. There have been a number of cases of complicit merchants working with drug traffickers to launder cash (see Table 1). Drug trafficking is probably the most significant source of illicit cash, but it is not the only source:  In 2008, Newark, N.J., police detective was indicted for money laundering for her part in helping a heroin dealer and operator of an illegal gambling ring launder his illicit proceeds. The proceeds from illicit gambling, estimated by DEA to be as much as $10,000 a day, generated almost as much cash as the weekly revenues from heroin distribution. The woman wrote checks to pay for the air conditioning system in the heroin dealer’s luxury home in return for illicit cash.89  In 2006, in Michigan, 15 people were indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering.90 According to the indictment, debt collectors for the gambling ring used a used car business as a front to receive and launder millions of dollars in illicit gambling debt payments. In addition to accepting cash and checks at the car dealership, and depositing the funds in the business’s bank account, the dealership also took car titles as payment from losing bettors and sold the cars on the lot.                                                              85 USA v. Arturo Beltran-Leyva, et al., (N.D. Ill., 2009). Available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2009/pr0820_01b.pdf 86 See Cameron H. Holmes, Mexico Threat Assessment: Strategy and Countermeasures, Southwest Border Anti- Money Laundering Alliance, August 2012, Page 10. 87 Id. Figures add to more than 100 because of rounding. 88 NDIC estimated DTOs earn $18b to $39b in the 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment. RAND Corporation put the figure at approximately $6 billion in Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico, Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Brittany M. Bond, Peter H. Reuter, 2010. 89 DEA, Suspended Newark Police Detective Convicted at Trial for Laundering Gambling and Drug Proceeds, news release, October 30, 2008. 90 USA v. Peter Dominic Tocco, et al., (E.D. Mich., Mar. 3, 2006)(2:06-cr-20122-AC-VMM). 24
  • 27. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment  In 2006, in Ohio, two men were indicted for their involvement in operating illegal pain clinics at which patients received prescriptions for narcotics.91 The clinics operated for only weeks or months at most before closing and being reestablished elsewhere on an ongoing basis. Patients could allegedly obtain a medical prescription for Lorcet and Xanax if they brought an x-ray and could pay cash. Payments ranged between $150 and $250 per patient per visit. The cash was split at the end of each day between the employees, including a licensed physician. The physician allegedly made structured cash deposits to local bank accounts and then made structured withdrawals in the form of cashier’s checks, which were used to buy a car and a boat, and to make deposits to a brokerage account.                                                              91 USA v. Nick Capurro and William H. Jewell, Jr., (S.D. Ohio, Sept. 20, 2006)(1:06-cr-00112-SAS). Table 1. Examples of Money Laundering Using Drug Cash Boats, Cars, and Motorcycles  In 2012, a Texas auto dealer was convicted for intentionally selling luxury cars to individuals for cash derived from illegal activities. No IRS Form 8300 was filed to report the large cash transactions. The dealer registered the cars in the names of nominees, and recorded the transactions as leases so that the dealership would retain ownership if the cars were seized by law enforcement. (USA v. Richard Alan Arledge, (E.D. Tex., Dec. 6, 2010) (4:09-cr-00089- RAS-DDB).  In 2009, in Ohio, a used car dealer was charged with laundering drug proceeds for known Cleveland area drug dealers, accepting cash for high-end used cars and structuring the deals to avoid IRS reporting requirements. The dealer sold three cars for approximately $51,000.00 in cash to undercover FBI agents posing as drug dealers. (USA vs. Vincent Pisano, (N.D. Ohio, Feb. 3, 2009) (1:09-cr-00034).  In 2008, in Virginia, an auto dealer was charged with money laundering for allegedly facilitating the cash purchase of boats, cars, and motorcycles for individuals alleged to be involved in a variety of illicit activities including drug trafficking and illegal gambling. The defendant allegedly used checks drawn on his auto dealership’s bank account to buy motorcycles, cars, and boats, which he then resold for cash. The accused allegedly structured the deposit of the cash he received into his personal and business accounts. (USA vs. Shirland L. Fitzgerald, et. al., (W.D. Va., Sept. 10, 2008) (4:08-cr-00001-JLK). Bribes, Horses, and Farm Expenses  In 2012, in Texas, several individuals associated with the Los Zetas drug trafficking organization, were indicted for laundering drug proceeds through the purchase, breeding, training, and racing of quarter horses outside of Dallas. Cash payments of $200,000 a month on average went to boarding, breeding, and training the horses, and on at least one occasion between $200,000 and $300,000 in cash was paid to an owner in Oklahoma to purchase a horse. (continued on next page) 25
  • 28. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Examples of Money Laundering Using Drug Cash, Continued Bribes, Horses, and Farm Expenses, continued  Among the routine expenses, allegedly, was paying bribes in Mexico. The bank notes that were old and dilapidated, or had markings on them, were allegedly used for bribes. (FBI Affidavit in Support of Search Warrant, filed June 11, 2012, 3:12-MJ-255). Jewelry  In 2014, a Pennsylvania jeweler pleaded guilty to failing to file an IRS form 8300 following the receipt of approximately $12,500 in currency as payment for a watch. The transaction allegedly involved the proceeds of drug trafficking. (DOJ, Pittsburgh Jewelry Store Owner Failed to File IRS Report of $10,000+ Transaction, news release, January 15, 2014).  In 2009, a New Jersey couple was charged with cocaine trafficking and money laundering in relation to an alleged distribution network that stretched from Canada to Georgia. Total cash expenditures by the couple over seven years were estimated to be more than $5 million with approximately $2 million spent on jewelry. (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, news release, Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking and Money Laundering Network Indicted Along with 15 Others as Part of a Racketeering Scheme, January 27, 2009).  In 2006, a Georgia man was indicted for money laundering for allegedly agreeing to sell jewelry for cash that was represented to be drug proceeds. The Atlanta jeweler allegedly accepted more than $50,000 in cash without reporting the transaction to FinCEN and the IRS. (USA vs. Toros Seher, et. al., (N.D. GA., Aug. 23, 2006)(1:06-cr-00322-TCB-CCH). Real estate  In 2013, a New York man was convicted of conspiracy to distribute a large amount of cocaine. The man allegedly paid $467,000 in cash to build and furnish a house, which his grandmother allowed to be put in her name. (IRS-CI, Examples of Narcotics-Related Investigations - Fiscal Year 2013, http://www.irs.gov/uac/Examples-of-Narcotics-Related- Investigations-Fiscal-Year-2013)  In 2012, in Mississippi, seven people were charged in two indictments with marijuana trafficking and money laundering. According to one indictment two defendants spent almost $1.5 million in cash over two years on home improvements at several properties, vehicles, and other items. To avoid using more than $10,000 in cash at any one time, the pair used a combination of cash, cashier's checks, and money orders to make some of the purchases. (3:12-cr-00014-DPJ-LRA)(S.D. Miss., Feb. 23, 2012).  In 2006, a Tennessee real estate broker was indicted for falsifying loan documents and transaction records to facilitate a home sale to a cocaine dealer. The broker received $415,000 in cash to purchase the property. The broker allegedly structured bank deposits, prepared a fraudulent mortgage application, and arranged for a straw buyer. (1:06-cr-00029 filed April 11, 2006). 26
  • 29. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment a. Bulk Cash Smuggling Bulk cash smuggling is the process of physically moving hidden amounts of cash and monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 into or out of the United States without filing a Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (CMIR) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.92 Some of the cash collected domestically to pay Mexican DTOs for drugs is channeled from distribution cells across the United States to cities and towns along the southwest border, and from there is smuggled into Mexico.93 Bulk cash smuggling remains the primary method Mexican DTOs use to move illicit proceeds across the southwest border into Mexico.94 The following case example is typical:  In 2008, in Wyoming, eight people were indicted in a large scale methamphetamine distribution and money laundering ring.95 According to the indictment, the drug was smuggled into the United States from Mexico for distribution in Arizona, Utah and Wyoming. The drug was acquired on consignment, meaning that payment to the sellers in Mexico was made after the drug was sold in the United States. Proceeds were sent to Arizona via cash and money transmitters for aggregation, with the cash subsequently smuggled into Mexico to pay the methamphetamine sellers. Drug proceeds owed to a particular DTO enter Mexico in the geographic area where the DTO controls the smuggling routes. Arizona, for example, borders the Mexican state of Sonora where the Sinaloa Cartel is dominant. Arizona serves as a consolidation and staging point for drug proceeds going to the Sinaloa Cartel. In FY 2011, more than half of all currency and monetary instruments seized along the southwest border in connection with ICE HSI narcotics investigations were seized in Arizona.96 Based on a survey sample of cash seizures at official points of entry along the southwest border, ICE HSI reports cash seizures consist primarily of $20 bills, which the DTOs use to pay employees and for operational expenses. Excess $20 bills and other small denomination notes have usually been exchanged for $100 bills at centros cambiarios (money exchangers) in Mexico, and potentially through other financial services providers, and are used to pay drug suppliers or stored for future use.97                                                              92 Each person (including a bank) who physically transports, mails, or ships currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 at one time out of or into the United States (and each person who causes such transportation, mailing, or shipment) must file a Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCEN Form 105). 93 A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Boarder, Majority Report of the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, November 2012. 94 Id. 95 USA v. Vidal Carrillo-Ontiveros, et al., (D. Wyo., Sept., 19, 2007)(2:07-cr-00237-WFD). 96 Mathew C. Allen, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, testimony before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security of the House Committee on Homeland Security, May 21, 2012. 97 USA – Mexico, Bi-National Criminal Proceeds Study, Department of Homeland Security; The Physical Flow of Dollars in the Mexican Financial System (June 2010). 27
  • 30. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Much of the cash that goes to the Mexican DTOs remains as cash. No more than half and potentially much less of the cash is placed in a financial institution at the direction of a DTO.98 DEA points out that the seizure of $205 million in U.S. $100 banknotes in March 2007 from a Mexico City residence is an example of an alleged supplier of precursor chemicals to Mexican DTOs stockpiling cash.99 U.S. currency not used, or sold to money brokers, in the United States, and not used or stored in Mexico, is sent to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, or Panama for laundering or to pay narcotics suppliers. Mexican regulations, which took effect in 2010, limiting U.S. bank note deposits by individual account holders at financial institutions to $4,000 per month, and U.S. currency exchanges by non-account holders to $1,500 per month, may have been a factor in DTOs moving more currency to other countries (see Table 2).100 Banks had been allowed to accept up to $14,000 in currency per month from businesses operating in the U.S. border region or in defined tourist areas. The restrictions also apply to brokerage houses and casas de cambio. In 2014 the restrictions were revised and allowed Mexican financial institutions to opt into a regime that lifted the deposit restrictions for businesses operating for at least three years, as long as the customers provide their banks with financial statements and tax returns for the last three years, and can justify conducting transactions involving U.S. bank notes in amounts above the $14,000 threshold. Businesses unable or unwilling to comply continue to be subject to the original limits.                                                              98 Id. 99 Affidavit in Support of Complaint and Arrest Warrant for Zhenli Ye Gon, (D.D.C., June 15, 2007) (1:07-cr- 00181-EGS). 100 Key Locations and Vulnerabilities Related to Money Laundering Methods Used by Transnational Criminal Organizations to Transport, Launder, and Store Illicit Proceeds, ICE HSI – Office of Intelligence, August, 15, 2013. Bulk Cash Smuggling Center U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC) in Williston, Vermont provides operational support to federal, state, and local law enforcement bulk cash interdictions and investigations. Since its inception in August 2009, the BCSC has initiated 824 investigations, which have resulted in 648 criminal arrests, 431 indictments, and 319 convictions. HSI’s Operation Firewall is a partnership with U. S. Customs and Border Protection to disrupt the smuggling of bulk cash en route to the border, at the border, and internationally. Operation Firewall targets the full array of methods used to smuggle bulk cash, including commercial and private passenger vehicles, commercial airline shipments and passengers, and pedestrians crossing U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. Since its inception in 2005 through March 2012, Operation Firewall has resulted in more than 6,613 seizures totaling more than $611 million, and the arrests of 1,416 individuals. These efforts include 469 international seizures totaling more than $267 million and 302 international arrests. Source: ICE HSI, National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center, Williston, Vermont 28
  • 31. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Table 2 b. Trade-based Money Laundering Trade-based money laundering (TBML) is the process of disguising the origin of criminal proceeds through the import or export of merchandise and trade-related financial transactions. TBML refers to a variety of schemes that can involve moving illicit merchandise, falsifying the value of merchandise, and misrepresenting trade-related financial transactions with the purpose of disguising the origin of criminal proceeds and integrating the funds into the financial system. TBML is one of the more complex methods of money laundering to investigate, particularly because it involves complicit merchants. TBML can have a more destructive impact on legitimate commerce than other money laundering schemes. According to ICE HSI, transnational criminal organizations may dump imported goods purchased with illicit proceeds at a discount into a market just to expedite the money laundering process. The below-market pricing is a cost of doing business for the money launderer, but it puts legitimate businesses at a competitive disadvantage. This activity can create a barrier to entrepreneurship, crowding out legitimate economic activity. TBML also robs governments of tax revenue due to the sale of underpriced goods, and reduced duties collected on undervalued imports and fraudulent cargo manifests. The funds laundered through TBML schemes are estimated to be in the billions of dollars annually.101                                                              101 ICE HSI, Trade Transparency Unit overview of TBML. Available at http://www.ice.gov/trade-transparency U.S. Dollar Cash Deposit Restrictions in Mexico Individuals Businesses Bank Customer Non-bank Customer Border/Tourist Areas Rest of Country Mexican Nationals Foreigners $4,000/month $300/day or $1,500/month $1,500/month $14,000/month or unlimited if additional information provided Prohibited, or unlimited if additional information provided 29
  • 32. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment According to DEA 102 , much of the bulk U.S. currency that comes into Panama from Mexico goes to the Colon Free Trade Zone to pay for goods destined for Colombia. 103 DEA explains that this exchange of cash from Mexican DTOs, typically through a money broker, to legitimate merchants exporting goods to Colombia is an example of TBML. This example, involving the exchange of U.S. drug dollars for Colombian pesos to pay Colombian DTOs, is referred to as the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE).104 Mexican drug traffickers now are satisfying their debts to their Colombian cocaine suppliers by delivering drug cash to Colombian money brokers’ agents in the United States. The cash is either placed into the U.S. financial system, smuggled out of the United States, or delivered to U.S. businesses in payment for goods shipped to Colombian importers. The importers in Colombia pay the money brokers in Colombian pesos, which the money brokers use to satisfy the Mexican drug traffickers’ debt to the Colombian cocaine suppliers. In recent years, Colombian money brokers have emerged as full service money laundering intermediaries, arranging for the pick-up in the United States of cash due to Colombian DTOs and making the money available in foreign currencies or accounts in Colombia and elsewhere. This connection between Mexican DTOs and Colombian money brokers has reduced the cost and risk to both Mexican and Colombian DTOs. The Mexican DTO’s custody of drug dollars in the United States and associated money laundering concerns end when the money broker picks up the cash. As discussed in a 2010 case, “in practice, the BMPE process often involves more than one peso broker: in many instances, one broker has the direct relationship with the narcotics trafficker in Colombia and bears ultimate responsibility for the laundering of the drug money; a second broker has the criminal associates in the United States and elsewhere outside of Colombia who can collect and accumulate the narcotics proceeds; and a third broker has the contacts with Colombian individuals and companies who want to sell pesos for dollars to import goods into Colombia while avoiding United States and Colombian currency exchange and income reporting requirements.”105 According to U.S. law enforcement, one of the apparent consequences of the restrictions                                                              102 DEA, Office of Financial Operations, A Perspective on Mexican Bulk Cash Movement and Money Laundering Trends, February 2012. 103 Id. 104 The black market peso exchange is a large-scale money laundering system used to launder proceeds of narcotic sales in the United States by Latin American drug cartels by facilitating swaps of dollars in the U.S. for pesos through the sale of dollars to Latin America businessmen seeking to buy U.S. goods to export. 105 USA v. Paolo Gomez and Jairo Herman Torres, (S.D.N.Y., Jan. 11, 2010)(1:09-cr-00611-MGC). 30
  • 33. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment on the deposit of U.S. dollars in Mexico is the emergence of Mexican money brokers who acquire drug dollars in the United States to sell to Mexican importers, paralleling the role of Colombian money brokers (see Table 3).106 In one case, the Mexican money broker identified potential importers in Mexico for U.S. goods and then required a U.S. wholesaler to accept payment in cash for the orders. The money broker, acting as intermediary, would not identify the customers, requiring the U.S. wholesaler to accept the cash or reject the sale.107 This arrangement not only creates a trade-related market in the United States for drug cash, but more importantly it entices legitimate merchants to take on the role of money launderer on behalf of Mexican drug traffickers and Colombian money brokers.                                                              106 DEA, Office of Financial Operations, A Perspective on Mexican Bulk Cash Movement and Money Laundering Trends, February 2012. 107 USA v. Peace & Rich Import Inc., Chaur Hwan Lin and Antonio Pareja, (C.D. Cal., Feb. 13, 2013) (2:13-cr- 00107-JAK). Table 3 Case Examples of Cash Used in Trade-based Money Laundering  In 2014, in Florida, a Ft. Lauderdale jeweler pleaded guilty to money laundering in a case that involved allegations of TBML. The jeweler accepted drug cash, primarily $20 bills, from a Mexican DTO, and in exchange would send the corresponding value, minus a commission, via wire transfers to Mexico. The jeweler deposited the drug cash in the business’s bank account as if it had been received over the counter from retail customers, and maintained false invoices in its records to justify the wires as payments for gold although no gold was received.1 In a separate scheme, the jeweler undervalued legitimate gold shipments from Guatemala to evade the tax due. The tax evasion scheme was detected by ICE HSI by comparing the declared value of the gold with its actual market value. The scheme was charged as smuggling and money laundering.  In 2013, a California wholesale distributor of silk flowers and other goods was indicted on charges alleging the Los Angeles company accepted drug cash in payment for goods it shipped to Mexico. The company also allegedly structured the deposit of additional cash into its bank account for the purpose of making BMPE-related payments to other U.S. merchants, as directed by a Mexican peso broker. USA v. Peace & Rich Import Inc., et al., (C.D. Cal., Feb. 13, 2013) (2:13-cr-00107-JAK).  In 2012, in California, a Mexican businessman pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with the owners of a Los Angeles toy wholesaler, Woody Toys, to launder drug dollars. The toy company accepted drug cash in payment for toys shipped to Mexican merchants, and subsequently made structured bank deposits with the drug cash. (U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, Mexican Toy Dealer Pleads Guilty in Drug Money Laundering Case, news release, August 1, 2012) 31
  • 34. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment     Table 3 Case Examples of Cash Used in Trade-based Money Laundering Cont.  In 2010, in Georgia, the owner of an Atlanta car dealership was convicted of money laundering in connection with a TBML scheme that involved repatriating the proceeds of U.S. heroin sales to Nigeria. Proceeds of heroin sales in Detroit were sent to the auto dealer in Atlanta who used the money, sent as cash and money orders, to buy cars. The auto dealer did not file a Form 8300 to report the transactions. Some of the cars were shipped to Nigeria to pay the heroin suppliers. Other cars were sold to launder the drug proceeds and raise additional revenue. The auto dealer raised additional revenue by hiding in each vehicle shipped from the United States undeclared consumer goods for resale in Africa. In addition, the auto dealer also operated an unlicensed money transmitting business and used a portion of the proceeds from his legitimate African auto sales to pay out remittances in Nigeria without having to transfer funds through the financial system.  In 2012, in California, the owners of Angel Toy Company were sentenced in association with a BMPE scheme similar to the 2013 case above, in which the toy manufacturer agreed to accept drug cash in payment for toys shipped to Colombia and then structured the deposit of the cash into the company’s bank account. (U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California , Owners of Los Angeles Toy Company Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in International Scheme to Launder Money for Drug Traffickers, news release, January 31, 2012)  In 2011, in New York, Vikram Datta, the owner of multiple retail perfume stores located on the United States-Mexico border, was convicted of charges related to exporting perfume to Mexico in exchange for payment in drug dollars. After drugs were sold in the U.S., the proceeds were smuggled to Mexico where the cash was sold to Mexican money exchange businesses for Mexican pesos. The exchange businesses later transported the U.S. drug dollars back into the United States and used them to purchase perfume from retailers in Laredo, Texas, that would then ship the perfume to purchasers in Mexico. From January 2009 through January 2011, more than $25 million in U.S. currency was deposited in bank accounts controlled by Datta. (IRS-CI, Businessman Sentenced for Laundering Millions of Dollars for a Mexican Narcotics Trafficking Organization, http://www.irs.gov/uac/Examples-of-Money-Laundering- Investigations-Fiscal-Year-2012) 32
  • 35. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment c. Licit and Illicit Cash Often Indistinguishable According to the Federal Reserve, of the U.S. currency in circulation, approximately three-quarters is in the form of $100 bank notes and about three-quarters of those U.S. $100 bills are held outside the United States.108 Although there was estimated to be a general decline in the share of $100 bank notes held abroad between the late 1990s and 2007, the financial crisis in 2008 reversed that trend as more citizens globally acquired U.S. dollars, particularly $100 banknotes. A 10-year study of U.S. currency held abroad, conducted jointly by the U.S. Treasury, Federal Reserve, and U.S. Secret Service, found that foreigners hold U.S. currency because it is anonymous, portable, and liquid, reasons relevant to both law abiding citizens and criminals.109 The following reasons, cited by the joint study, for holding and using U.S. banknotes abroad can complicate U.S. law enforcement efforts to trace the illicit movement of cash outside the United States:  In times and places where the political or economic situation is uncertain, U.S. currency is held for security against inflation and general calamity  Expatriate workers throughout the world often carry or send portions of their earnings to their home countries as U.S. currency; and between visits home workers may hold U.S. banknotes  Travelers to other parts of the world carry U.S. currency because it is easier to exchange for local currency than the traveler’s home currency  Cross-border trade in many areas is conducted largely in U.S. currency  Informal, or unlicensed, sectors in many economies are highly dollarized The joint study estimates that Russia and other countries in Eurasia and other parts of Europe account for about 40 percent of international holdings of U.S. currency. About 25 percent of U.S. bank notes held outside the United States are held in Latin America, 20 percent are in Africa and the Middle East, and about 15 percent are in Asia. Many Latin American countries have made exclusive or significant use of U.S. currency in their history, including Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.110 Panama, Ecuador, and El Salvador currently have dollarized economies. Federal Reserve researchers found that “currency movements are difficult to measure for some of the same reasons that currency is popular: It can be easily concealed and readily carried across borders, even in large quantities.”111 Many cash couriers are believed to cross daily from the United States to Mexico at official points of entry smuggling small amounts of currency (usually $5,000–$10,000) on behalf of                                                              108 Ruth Judson, Crisis and Calm: Demand for U.S. Currency at Home and Abroad from the Fall of the Berlin Wall to 2011, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 2012. 109 U.S. Treasury (2006), The Use and Counterfeiting of U.S. Currency Abroad, Part III, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Treasury. 110 IMF, Dollarization Declines in Latin America, Finance & Development, March 2010, Volume 47, Number 1. Available at https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2010/03/dataspot.htm 111 Richard D. Porter and Ruth A. Judson, The Location of U.S. Currency: How Much Is Abroad?, Federal Reserve Bulletin, October 1996. 33
  • 36. National Money Laundering Risk Assessment Mexican DTOs.112 There are also many opportunities for smuggling between official points of entry along the almost 2,000 mile U.S./Mexico border and the 5,225-mile U.S./Canada border. Most bulk cash seizures occur at airports, which may be due to the additional time U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have to inspect luggage and conduct one-on-one interviews with passengers compared to the situation along the U.S. land borders.113 Another complicating factor in identifying illicit cash and illicit actors is the role of speculators who buy and sell bank notes hoping to make money on the difference between the black market exchange rate and the legitimate market exchange rate.114 Speculators buy dollars from money brokers selling drug cash and then sell it at the market rate or use the cash, and in the process inadvertently help to launder drug proceeds and confuse law enforcement. When speculators declare cash when crossing the US/Mexico border or when their financial institutions file CTRs or SARs regarding large cash deposits, law enforcement is left to figure out whether these individuals are opportunists or real money launderers. 2. Risks Cash (bank notes) is an effective money laundering vehicle. It is anonymous, widely used, and everyday spending with illicit cash is difficult to trace and impossible to confiscate once it is spent. Using large quantities of cash, however, can be conspicuous, cumbersome, and dangerous for criminals. Cash reporting and record keeping requirements mitigate this risk. The role of complicit retailers and wholesalers willing to accept cash in amounts exceeding $10,000 without reporting the transactions to the IRS or FinCEN is a problem that law enforcement is assessing and monitoring. The ongoing challenge for policy makers is to balance continued progress against the illicit use of cash with the need to accommodate legitimate cash transactions, as well as widespread legitimate demand for U.S. currency globally.                                                              112 USA – Mexico, Bi-National Criminal Proceeds Study, Department of Homeland Security; The Physical Flow of Dollars in the Mexican Financial System (June 2010). 113 Id. 114 Id. 34

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