Da Ying Sze from Queens, NY, admitted on Feb. 22 his role in a $653 million money laundering scheme, and also running an illegal money transmitting company. The 43-year-old also pleaded guilty to bribing bank workers for various financial transactions.
Sze pleaded guilty in Newark, NJ federal court to one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of operating an illegal money transmitting company, and one count of giving something of value to a financial institution employee.
US Attorney Philip Sellinger told the media that the defendant laundered a ‘staggering amount of money,’ and the crime won’t be tolerated. He added that several federal and local law enforcement agencies worked together to destroy the huge money laundering operation.
A DEA spokesperson added that the massive amount of money laundering allowed drug traffickers to expand their evil work throughout the US and world. She noted that the man’s actions led to many drug overdose deaths across the United States.
Federal Court Documents Reveal Reach Of The Crime
From 2016 to 2021, Sze money laundered $653 million in cash from drug crimes, using several financial methods and institutions. He also accepted illegal funds in cash and deposited it into New York and New Jersey banks.
Sze also hid the sources of the illegal money by buying bank checks, writing business and personal checks, and wiring money in the US and overseas. The wire transactions sent the money to thousands of people worldwide.
For his work, received a commission of 1-2%, which amounted to $6 to $12 million. He also gave gift cards to workers in financial organizations to facilitate illegal financial transactions. The man illegally influenced bank employees to give him special benefits so they wouldn’t report the illegal transactions. He gave bank employees at least $58,000 in gift cards related to his illicit transactions, making millions of profits.
The money laundering charge has a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000. The charge of running an illegal money transmitting business has a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. The bank bribery charge has a maximum penalty of 30 years and a $1 million fine.
Other Recent Federal Money Laundering Crimes
Financial crimes have been on the upswing in the COVID era, as some criminals lied to get federal financial aid intended for businesses affected by the pandemic.
One of them is Christina Burden, 32, who was sentenced to three years in federal prison for money laundering and bank fraud. She is accused of illegally applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $4.6 million for four phony companies. Burden netted a total of $1.1 million from the PPP fraud.
PPP fraud took off in 2020 and 2021 with more than 10,800 cases reported involving more than $1 billion. At least 11,000 got funds totaling more than $3 billion with various application problems.
According to the Department Of Justice, Burden opened several fake businesses in California to receive loans. She modified the applications by putting in incorrect date related to business operations to qualify the businesses for PPP loans.
She also submitted fake IRS documents, including a 940 and W-3 form. The IRS documents had false information about how many employees the businesses had, as well as payroll, wages paid, and additional phony statements.
Burden admitted during the plea deal that she knew that the money she received was because of the operational dates for the companies she claimed. The money loaned also was related to the number of employees and payroll costs she stated.
In total, Burden claimed she had 90 employees and a payroll every month of $700,000.
With the illegal funds, she spent $125,000 on luxury items from Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Louis Vuitton. Burden also bought $184,000 in airline tickets and for private jet travel. Thousands also were spent on car and boat rentals, and she wired money to people who bought luxury cars.
She must pay $1.1 million in restitution after she gets out of prison and be under probation for three years.
Another man who took advantage of the PPP loan program is Benjamin Sayki, 31, from Virginia. He pleaded guilty this month to laundering $900,000 in Paycheck Protection Program funds.
The Department of Justice reported that Sayki received $900,000 in illegal CARES Act money at three financial institutions in the name of two real Virginia businesses. But he transferred the funds to other people and entities.
One of the people he sent money to was Donald Trosin who said he had 120 employees on payroll with $5 million in expenses. He never ran a business.
Sakyi faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $500,000 fine. Trosin has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for his part in the money laundering crimes.
The last example of recent PPP money laundering crimes is Butherde Darius, 49. He was arrested in January for illegally applying for $860,000 in PPP loans for a non-existent company. He has been charged with single counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.
Darius submitted fake PPP loan applications for his fake company and made up his number of employees and revenue. The money he received was spent on airfare, hotels, and various personal expenses. He also made cash withdrawals of $60,000.