Pakistani National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Operate an Unlicensed Money Remitting Business
Baltimore, Maryland - Imdad Ullah Ranjha, age 34, a Pakistani national residing in Glen Burnie, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to operate an unlicensed money remitting business, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to his guilty plea, Imdad Ranjha worked at Hamza, Inc., a money remitter business in the District of Columbia operated by co-defendant Saifullah Ranjha (S. Ranjha). A cooperating witness, acting at the direction of law enforcement, gave S. Ranjha and his associates a total of $2,208,000 in government funds in order to transfer the monies abroad through an informal money transfer system called a “hawala,” using a network of persons and/or businesses to transfer money across domestic and international borders without reliance upon conventional banking systems and regulations. The cooperating witness represented that the monies were the proceeds of, and related to, his purported illegal activities, including drug trafficking.
S. Ranjha was the primary point of contact for the cooperating witness and received the bulk of the monies from the cooperating witness. S. Ranjha was assisted on some occasions by Imdad Ullah Ranjha, and another co-defendant each of whom kept the cooperating witness apprised, either in person or on the phone, of transaction details. Most of the monies were turned over to S. Ranjha at locations in Maryland. On a few occasions, the cooperating witness met with S. Ranjha, Imdad Ranjha or other associates at Hamza, Inc., to provide them with monies for a particular hawala transfer. S. Ranjha arranged with Imdad Ranjha and other associates for the equivalent amount of monies, minus commissions, to be delivered to the cooperating witness, his third party designee, or a designated bank account in Canada, England, Spain, Pakistan, Japan and Australia. S. Ranjha kept a commission of approximately five percent of the amount of currency sought to be transferred on each occasion. Other conspirators involved in a particular transaction retained an additional commission of between three to five percent of the transaction amount. All the funds transferred abroad were picked up by cooperating individuals and returned to the Government.
"ICE is committed to ensuring the integrity of the nation's financial systems and will continue to pursue those who seek to exploit it through cooperative law enforcement efforts with our federal and international law enforcement partners," stated Scot R. Rittenberg, Acting Special Agent in Charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Baltimore, Maryland.
Special Agent in Charge C. Andre’ Martin, IRS-Criminal Investigation stated, "IRS-Criminal Investigation has the financial investigators and expertise critical to locating the money and prosecuting the offenders. IRS-Criminal Investigation is united with the rest of the law enforcement community in our resolve to financially disrupt those that commit crimes against our society and the world economy.”
Imdad Ranjha faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison at his sentencing, which U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has scheduled for March 24, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.
Saifullah Anjum Ranjha, age 45, a Pakistani national residing in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and to concealing terrorist financing and was sentenced to 110 months in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for their investigative work. In addition, Mr. Rosenstein thanked our international partners, the Spanish National Police; Australian Federal Police; London Metropolitan Police; and Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their help.
Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Christine Manuelian who is prosecuting the case.