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Press Release

Professor Of International Studies Charged In International Money Laundering Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Prof. Bruce Bagley Participated in the International Laundering of over $2 Million Derived from Venezuelan Bribery and Corruption

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) announced the arrest today of BRUCE BAGLEY on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.  BAGLEY allegedly participated in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of a Venezuelan bribery and corruption scheme into the United States.  BAGLEY will be presented today in federal court in Miami, Florida.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in the Southern District of New York.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Bruce Bagley, a college professor and author of the book Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today, allegedly opened bank accounts for the express purpose of laundering money for corrupt foreign nationals.  Moreover, the funds Bagley was allegedly laundering were the proceeds of bribery and corruption, stolen from the citizens of Venezuela.  Today’s charges of money laundering and conspiracy should serve as an object lesson for Bruce Bagley, who now faces a potential tenure in federal prison.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Criminals employ a host of methods to launder the proceeds of their crimes, but in order to be successful, they need a way to hide and move their money.  As we allege, Bagley, an American professor, contributed to the success of illegal activity overseas, carried out against the Venezuelan people, by facilitating access to illicitly obtained funds, and profiting from his role in the crime.  About the only lesson to be learned from Professor Bagley today is that involving oneself in public corruption, bribery, and embezzlement schemes is going to lead to an indictment.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today[1]:

In or about November 2016, BRUCE BAGLEY, a professor of international studies with publication credits including the book Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today, opened a bank account (“Account-1”) on behalf of a company (“Company-1”) that BAGLEY owned and controlled.  Between in or about November 2016 and in or about November 2017, Account-1 had minimal activity.  In or about November 2017, Account-1 began receiving monthly deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts located in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (the “Overseas Accounts”).  Each month, BAGLEY would receive a deposit of approximately $200,000 from one of the Overseas Accounts into Account-1.  Thereafter, he would withdraw approximately 90 percent of the funds in the form of a cashier’s check, payable to an account held by another individual (“Individual-1”).  BAGLEY would send the remainder of the funds to his personal account.  BAGLEY and Individual-1 would visit the bank together to complete these transactions.  Between in or about November 2017 and in or about October 2018, Account-1 received approximately $2.5 million from the Overseas Accounts.

The Overseas Accounts belonged to a Colombian individual (“Individual-2”).  BAGLEY and Individual-1 discussed the fact that they were moving Individual-2’s funds and that the funds represented the proceeds of foreign bribery and embezzlement stolen from the Venezuelan people.  Despite this fact, BAGLEY continued to receive money from accounts belonging to Individual-2, and continued to pass the majority of those funds to Individual-1.  Moreover, BAGLEY entered into sham contracts that purported to justify the transfer of Individual-2’s funds into Account-1.

In or about October 2018, Account-1 was shut down for suspicious activity.  Nevertheless, in or about December 2018, BAGLEY provided Individual-1 with information for a new bank account (“Account-2”) in order to transfer additional money belonging to Individual-2.  On two occasions, BAGLEY received funds into Account-2 after Individual-1 had told BAGLEY that the funds represented the proceeds of bribery and public corruption.  BAGLEY transferred the majority of these funds to Individual-1 but retained approximately 10 percent as a commission for his services.

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BAGLEY, 73, of Coral Gables, Florida, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from the FBI’s New York Money Laundering Investigation Squad.  

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Thane Rehn and Sheb Swett are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.            


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Updated November 18, 2019

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 19-382