Lebanese National Extradited from Malaysia to Face Charges in Wide-Ranging Counterfeit Currency Plot with Ties to Lebanon and Iran
Defendant Sold High-Quality Counterfeit U.S. Currency to Undercover Secret Service Agent Posing as Member of New York-Based Criminal Enterprise
On July 22, Louay Ibrahim Hussein had his initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom. Hussein is charged in connection with his leadership role in a wide-ranging scheme to distribute large quantities of high-grade counterfeit U.S. currency believed to be produced with support from sponsors in Lebanon and Iran for sale and use in markets across the globe, including in the United States and Europe. Hussein, a Lebanese national, was arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2014, and arrived in the United States on Thursday, July 21, following extradition proceedings. Earlier today, Hussein was ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy until he can satisfy the terms and conditions of a proposed substantial bond package.
The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers for the Eastern District of New York, Special Agent in Charge David E. Beach for the U.S. Secret Service’s New York Field Office and Assistant Director in Charge Diego G. Rodriguez for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Field Office (FBI).
As alleged in the complaint and related filings, the charges against the defendant arose from a long-term undercover investigation in which the defendant and his co-conspirators sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in counterfeit currency to an agent with the U.S. Secret Service who was posing as a member of a New York-based criminal enterprise. Over the course of several months in 2012, the defendant, through intermediaries located overseas, sold the agent nearly $150,000 in high-quality counterfeit $100 bills and nearly $150,000 in counterfeit Euro notes. In October 2013, the defendant attempted to make another sale to the agent in Cyprus of approximately $300,000 in counterfeit currency, again through intermediaries. In June 2014, the defendant and co-defendant Nazer Al-Shekh Mosa aka Mohammed Hasan Haidar, a Syrian national, sold the undercover agent approximately $170,000 in counterfeit currency in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hussein and Mosa were arrested in August 2014 in Malaysia, pursuant to provisional arrest requests from the United States, during an attempt to sell additional counterfeit currency to the undercover agent. Mosa waived extradition last year, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute counterfeit currency on April 20, and is awaiting sentence. A U.S. - based co-conspirator, Mouafak Al Sabsabi, also was arrested in August 2014. Al Sabsabi pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute counterfeit currency and was sentenced principally to time served and a three year term of supervised release on May 31.
The investigation has revealed that Hussein and his co-defendants are members of a multinational criminal network engaged in the production and distribution of counterfeit U.S. currency. In conversations with the undercover agent and others, Hussein claimed to have access to as much as $800 million in high-quality counterfeit U.S. currency for sale to clients based in Iran and elsewhere, and offered to procure weapons, narcotics and counterfeit currency and to have them shipped through U.S. ports.
“The reliability of U.S. currency is a pillar of the global financial system. As alleged, counterfeiters such as the defendant and his co-conspirators exploited that reliability and threatened the stability it provides, all to serve their own greed,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “This investigation sends the message around the world that counterfeiters, wherever located, can and will be brought to justice.”
U.S. Attorney Capers extended his grateful appreciation to the New York Field Offices of the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI, to the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and to the Royal Malaysian Police and Attorney General’s Chambers for their assistance in the investigation and in effecting the defendant’s extradition.
“This investigation highlights the immeasurable effectiveness of law enforcement partnerships in combatting fraud,” said Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Beach. “We will continue to work closely with our domestic and international partners to defeat criminal enterprises and protect the Nation’s financial infrastructure.”
“We are pleased that Louay Ibrahim Hussein was extradited and will now face the U.S. justice system for his role in a charged international counterfeit currency ring,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “As uncovered in a multi-year investigation with the U.S. Secret Service, we allege Hussein and his co-conspirators sold more than a half a million dollars of counterfeit U.S. currency with the help of sponsors in Lebanon and Iran. Additionally, Hussein claimed to have access to millions more. Counterfeit currency doesn’t just devalue authentic currency, it weakens markets and global economies.”
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel P. Nitze and J. Matthew Haggans are in charge of the prosecution.