Pakistani National Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering
Conspiracy and Concealing Terrorist Financing
Maryland (FBI) — Saifullah Anjum Ranjha, age 45, a Pakistani
national residing in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, pleaded
guilty today to conspiring to launder money and to concealing
terrorist financing, announced United States Attorney for the
District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
hawala system can be used by criminals to launder money without
using financial institutions, by giving the money to a person
in the United States and picking it up in a foreign country,” said
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Identifying hawala
networks that violate the law often requires the cooperation
of international authorities.”
As the U.S.
financial industry strengthens its anti-money laundering programs,
the use of the hawala system to move illicit funds becomes
increasingly attractive to terrorist and other criminal organizations,” stated
James Dinkins, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement. “We will continue to work jointly
with our domestic and foreign law enforcement partners to investigate
the movement of illicit funds via the hawala system.”
networks need money to be effective. Fortunately, IRS-CI is
effective at following the money to find the source of the
crime,” said Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation
Special Agent in Charge, C. Andre’ Martin.
to his guilty plea, Ranjha was born in Pakistan and became
a lawful permanent resident of the United States in September
1997. He operated a money remitter business in the District
of Columbia known as Hamza, Inc. A cooperating witness, acting
at the direction of law enforcement, held himself out to Ranjha
and his associates to be involved in large scale international
drug trafficking, international smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes
and weapons. He also represented that he was providing assistance
and financing to members of al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations
and their operatives. From October 2003 to September 19, 2007,
the cooperating witness gave Ranjha and his associates a total
of $2,208,000 in government funds in order to transfer the
monies abroad through an informal money transfer system called
a “hawala,” using a network of persons and/or businesses
to transfer money across domestic and international borders
without reliance upon conventional banking systems and regulations.
The cooperating witness represented that the monies were the
proceeds of, and related to, his purported illegal activities
and Ranjha laundered these funds believing they were to be
used to support those activities.
the primary point of contact for the cooperating witness and
received the bulk of the monies from the cooperating witness,
for a total of 21 hawala transactions in amounts ranging from
$13,000 to $300,000. Most of the monies were turned over to
Ranjha in locations in Maryland. On a few occasions the cooperating
witness met Ranjha and other co-conspirators at Hamza, Inc.
to provide monies for a particular hawala transfer. Ranjha
arranged with his associates for the equivalent amount of monies,
minus commissions, to be delivered to the cooperating witness,
his third party designee, or a designated bank account in Canada,
England, Spain, Pakistan, Japan and Australia. Ranjha kept
a commission of approximately five percent of the amount of
currency sought to be transferred on each occasion. Other conspirators
involved in a particular transaction retained an additional
commission of between three to five percent of the transaction
amount. All the funds transferred abroad were picked up by
cooperating individuals and returned to the Government.
a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the money laundering
conspiracy and 10 years in prison for concealing terrorist
financing. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis scheduled sentencing
for November 4, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal
Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation for their investigative
work. In addition, Mr. Rosenstein thanked our international
partners, the Spanish National Police; Australian Federal Police;
Dutch National Police; and Belgium Federal Police for their
help. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District
of New York also provided assistance in this case.
commended Assistant United States Attorney Christine Manuelian
who is prosecuting the case.