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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Monday, October 6, 2014

Edmonds Man who Operated Illegal Money Transmitting Business Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Transmitted More Than $150 Million Of Questionable Origins To And From USA

            A 55-year-old Edmonds, Washington man who moved more than $150 million from overseas sources, through his U.S. bank accounts, and then back overseas, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  PAVEL ROMBAKH, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine in the 1990’s, pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in May 2014.  As part of his plea, he forfeited to the government cash and property worth $510,000.  At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart stated, “He moved a staggering $150 million….  The money came out of Russia and Cyprus, into the U.S. and was wired out to Latvia, the United Arab Emirates and China.  That makes this a serious offense.”

            According to records filed in the case, over a five year period, ROMBAKH received wires of more than $150 million from overseas and then wired the funds back out to other accounts.  Many of the wires originated in Russia and Cyprus and were promptly re-wired to England, Latvia, the United Arab Emirates, and China.  ROMBAKH kept a small percentage of the funds as his fee.  Investigators were not able to determine the source of the funds, nor what they were used for overseas.  Defense attorneys claimed some of the money went to a mining company in Mongolia, but no evidence corroborating this claim was found in the investigation.

            “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to ensuring the integrity of our nation's banking system,” stated Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander.  “Financial Institutions are regulated by federal law.  Rombakh attempted to circumvent that law by acting like a bank but without the necessary oversight that protects our overall financial system.”

            The case was investigated by IRS-CI and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Woods and Francis Franze-Nakamura.
Updated March 20, 2015