Consumer electronics wholesaler in New Jersey pleads guilty to participating in a conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business

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Amit Agarwal, operator of an international wholesale consumer electronics business based in New Jersey, pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business that operated primarily between Colombia and the United States.

Agarwal pled guilty before United States District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer according to a Feb. 11, 2021 press release from  Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Miguel Cespedes, Omar Mogollon, Luis Felipe Gonzalez Arcila, Ivan Rojas Acosta, Alex Barrera Forero, and David Ortiz Villamizar were previously charged in three separate indictments for their roles in the scheme.  They were arrested in Colombia, and the United States Government is seeking their extradition to the United States.

“As he admitted today, Amit Agarwal was a key player in a shadow financial network that allowed the movement of drug traffickers’ profits into our banking system and across our borders,” U.S. Attorney Strauss is quoted saying in the press release.

Agarwal, 39, a citizen of India, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Engelmayer on July 14, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.

According to the Indictments, the superseding Information, and statements made in open court outlined in the press release – from at least in or about June 2018 through at least in or about 2019, Agarwal participated in a scheme to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business to move funds between the United States and Colombia, among other places.

In effect, the scheme enabled clients with cash located in the United States to transfer the value of that cash to other countries, principally Colombia, without the need for physically transporting United States currency across an international border or directly depositing large amounts of cash into the legitimate financial system.

Agarwal was the chief executive officer of a consumer electronics products business based in East Hanover, New Jersey (the “Agarwal Electronics Business”).  Among other things, the Agarwal Electronics Business exported consumer electronics to purchasers throughout the world, including purchasers located in Colombia.

In connection with its business activities, the Agarwal Electronics Business maintained a bank account in the United States, controlled and operated by Agarwal (the “Agarwal Bank Account”).

Typically, as part of the scheme, the funds collected in the United States pursuant to contracts offered by Cespedes, Mogollon, Gonzalez, Rojas, Barrera, and Ortiz were deposited in a bank account located in the United States (“Bank Account-1”), and then transferred to the Agarwal Bank Account.

Agarwal agreed to accept these funds into the Agarwal Bank Account, and Agarwal also agreed to accept funds into the Agarwal Bank Account that had been wired to Bank Account-1 from foreign locations, including Mexico.

Upon receiving confirmation that funds collected pursuant to a Money Broker contract issued by Cespedes, Mogollon, Gonzalez, Rojas, Barrera, or Ortiz were available for deposit into the Agarwal Bank Account, Agarwal arranged for the export of a roughly equivalent value of consumer electronics products to certain consumer electronic product suppliers located in Colombia (the “Colombian Electronics Suppliers”).

The Colombian Electronics Suppliers, in turn, arranged to pay for the products by delivering pesos to an individual in Colombia, who then delivered those funds to the Money Brokers (Cespedes et al).

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