Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that DJONIBEK RAHMANKULOV was sentenced today to 121 months in prison for laundering millions of dollars in criminal proceeds obtained from computer hacking, healthcare fraud, and Small Business Administration loan fraud, as well as operating an international unlicensed money transmitting business. The defendant was convicted at trial on September 1, 2022, of money laundering conspiracy, bank fraud, and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Djonibek Rahmankulov laundered money for a living. He exploited the financial system to launder millions of dollars from multiple fraudulent schemes and repeatedly lied to banks to operate his illegal enterprise. Once caught — and even after he was convicted — the defendant continued to show that he believed he was above the law by threatening a witness and submitting false information to the Court. Today’s sentence reflects that this Office will find and prosecute those who seek to abuse the U.S. financial system to launder dirty money.”
According to the superseding Indictment, evidence at trial, and statements made in Court:
Between 2017 and September 2020, RAHMANKULOV operated a network of shell companies that were used to launder millions of dollars of criminal proceeds from multiple types of criminal activity. RAHMANKULOV worked with computer hackers who fraudulently gained control of the bank accounts of victims located throughout the United States and executed millions of dollars in fraudulent wire transfers into bank accounts opened by RAHMANKULOV and his co-conspirators. RAHMANKULOV received wire transfers into bank accounts he created and bank accounts he instructed others to create and laundered these proceeds through multiple additional bank accounts to prevent the victims and the banks from recovering the stolen funds.
In addition, RAHMANKULOV worked with a network of pharmacies engaged in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. These pharmacies submitted millions of dollars of fraudulent billing for HIV medications that they did not dispense or obtained illegally, including by repurchasing medications from HIV patients who were Medicaid recipients. RAHMANKULOV created companies to receive these criminal proceeds from the pharmacies and laundered them through a variety of means, including by using them to fund an unlicensed money transmitting business that illegally moved money to and from multiple countries, including Iran.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, RAHMANKULOV filed fraudulent applications for COVID relief loans from the Small Business Administration for multiple companies he controlled. He laundered the proceeds of loans and grants through these companies. RAHMANKULOV also made a number of materially false statements to financial institutions in connection with his money laundering schemes, both when opening bank accounts and when executing financial transactions with those bank accounts.
RAHMANKULOV sought to obstruct justice during the pendency of his case. In the months before trial, RAHMANKULOV instructed a witness to lie to law enforcement. When the witness later informed RAHMANKULOV that the witness would tell the truth to law enforcement, RAHMANKULOV threatened the witness, stating, among other things, that if he went to prison, “I will drag all of you with me, and once you are there, then I will have my revenge.” Nonetheless, the witness testified at trial. RAHMANKULOV continued seeking to obstruct justice after his conviction. In advance of his sentencing, he submitted multiple letters to the Court purporting to show support from members of the community, but two of these letters were in fact fraudulent and had not been written by the purported authors.
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In addition to the prison term, RAHMANKULOV, 35, of Queens, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release. RAHMANKULOV was further ordered to pay a forfeiture of $5,413,278 and a $40,000 fine.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Money Laundering Investigation Squad.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cecilia Vogel, Thane Rehn, and Samuel Raymond, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Nerlande Pierre, are in charge of the prosecution.