Pakistani National Sentenced for Money Laundering Conspiracy

June 27, 2008

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Muhammad Anwar Pasha, age 63, a Pakistani national residing in New York, today to 28 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to launder money, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Pasha is subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence.

“With the cooperation of international authorities, we are working to prevent criminals from using the hawala system to transfer the proceeds of their criminal activities to foreign countries,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

“This case exemplifies how cooperative international law enforcement efforts lead to the exposure of individuals and groups seeking to exploit our financial systems,” said James A. Dinkins, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “ICE will continue to pursue those who circumvent our laws for financial gain.”

“IRS-CI is united with the rest of the law enforcement community in our resolve to financially disrupt criminal organizations that commit crimes against our society and the world economy,” said C. Andre' Martin, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation's Washington DC Field Office.

According to his guilty plea, between May 2006 and September 19, 2007, a cooperating witness, acting at the direction of ICE and FBI agents in Maryland, provided approximately $1,655,000 to Mehmood and his co-defendants 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 illegal drug trafficking.

In April and May of 2007, the cooperating witness discussed arrangements for a $500,000 hawala transaction involving a hand-to-hand transfer of cash in Spain. Between June 4 and June 7, 2007, the cooperating witness was directed to meet with Pasha and three other individuals, including Raja Mehmood, in New York to hand over the money in $100,000 increments.

On June 4, 2007, the cooperating witness received a text message from a Pakistani number, directing him to meet with Pasha and give him $100,000. The message also included the serial number for a dollar bill and Pasha’s phone number. The cooperating witness and Pasha spoke by phone on June 5, 2007, and agreed to meet at a location in Brooklyn, New York. Once at the location, the cooperating witness gave Pasha $100,000 and Pasha gave the cooperating witness a dollar bill with a serial number matching the information received in the text message. While Pasha counted the money he had received, he told the cooperating witness that “this money will remain here deposited in the bank. We just send the receipt of this money to the party on the other end for money to be delivered to the intended recipient.” In response to a question from the cooperating witness about whether the “man on the other end” was “okay,” Pasha replied that the man was “trustworthy because this business is run on trust and faith.” The cooperating witness then told Pasha that the money was from the sale of a half kilo of heroin and that his drug business was very profitable. The cooperating witness met with co-defendant Raja Mehmood the previous day and also gave him $100,000, in exchange for a dollar bill with a serial number matching the information the cooperating witness had previously received in a text message.

Co-defendants Raja Mehmood, also known as Raja Ansar Mohammad, age 33, a Pakistani national residing in Brooklyn, New York, Ahmad Masood Malik, age 34, of New York, and Adeel Sattar, also known as Ahmad Jamal, Laala and Adeel Rana, age 24, of Hollis, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and were sentenced to 39 months, 21 months and 33 months in prison, respectively.

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; Dutch National Police; and Belgium Federal Police for their help. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York also provided assistance in this case.

Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Christine Manuelian, P. Michael Cunningham and Philip Jackson, who are prosecuting the case.



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