Fugitive Extradited From Lebanon To Face Money Laundering Charges
PHILADELPHIA – Karim Messaoud, 47, a foreign national of Senegal and Morocco, made his initial appearance today after being extradited from Lebanon to the United States, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.
In 2005, a federal grand jury handed up a 36-count indictment charging Messaoud with one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and 35 counts of laundering of monetary instruments. Messaoud fled the United States shortly after his indictment. U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond will preside over the trial. No date has yet been set.
According to the indictment, from April 2000 through September 2002 Messaoud illegally transferred monies through Western Union and other sources. At the time he committed these acts, Messaoud believed he was doing so for drug dealers, and that the funds were the proceeds of their drug trafficking. Messaoud structured the transfers in smaller amounts and in ficitious names to evade United States reporting requirements and to conceal the true source of the funds, and directed his co-conspirator to do the same. There were 24 illegal transactions by Messaoud totalling $337,500, and between Messaoud and his co-conspirator, a grand total of $407,500 in funds that were illegally transferred.
The extradition of this fugitive was a complex process that involved collaboration between the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs in Washington D.C., the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshal Service, and the Lebanese government.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Rotella.
The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.