On November 18, 2019, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest of Professor Bruce Bagley of the University of Miami on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering. The indictment alleges that Bagley participated in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of graft and corruption in connection with public works projects in Venezuela.
In particular, the indictment alleges that in November 2016, Bagley on behalf of Bagley Consultants, Inc, a company Bagley and his wife incorporated in 2005, opened a bank account. Between November 2016 and November 2017, the account had minimal activity. In November 2017, the account started receiving monthly deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts located in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Each month, Bagley would receive a deposit of approximately $200,000 from one of the overseas accounts into his corporate account. Thereafter, he would withdraw approximately 90 percent of the funds in the form of a cashier’s check, payable to an account held by another individual, an unnamed Colombian individual who helped him to move the money.
Between November 2017 and October 2018, his corporate account received approximately $2.5 million from the two overseas accounts. The Colombian individual to whom the overseas accounts belonged discussed the fact that they were moving another individual’s funds and that the funds represented the proceeds of foreign bribery and embezzlement stolen from the Venezuelan people. In addition to continuing to receive the money, Bagley entered into sham contracts purporting to justify the transfer of the funds belonging to an apparent Venezuelan person into the Colombian’s account.
In October 2018, a bank closed the account of Bagley Consultants, Inc. for suspicious activity. On December 2018, Bagley provided the Colombian individual with information for a new bank account in order to transfer additional money belong to the Venezuelan person. On two occasions, Bagley received funds into the new account after the Colombian individual allegedly told Bagley that the funds represented the proceeds of bribery and public corruption. Bagley transferred most of the funds to the Colombian individual and retained approximately 10 percent as a commission for his services.
Bagley, 73, is a professor of international studies with publication credits, including the book Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today.
The case shows the utility of the unnamed bank, making a suspicious activity report, which apparently led to the investigation and indictment. The case also illustrates the desperate efforts of people in Venezuela to move money, especially alleged proceeds of corruption.
The current issue of the IELR will have a more comprehensive article on this matter.
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