Three men in Michigan are accused of wiring millions of dollars to Yemen and other countries. (istock)
Three Michigan men accused of wiring $88 million to multiple overseas accounts claim that they did nothing wrong, arguing they were simply sending money to family members.
Federal prosecutors, however, claim that the trio created fake companies with the express purpose of moving large sums of money from the country.
Omar Alhalmi, 38, was charged last month with funneling $22.3 million to Yemen and other countries, while Fahd Samaha, 45, and Maged Alsabahi, 29, is accused of running an illegal cash-delivery operation from 2013 to 2015, the Detroit Free Press.
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According to charges filed Jan. 22 the three men involved in the secret banking practices by creating multiple fake companies, using the addresses of vacant buildings, shop windows of houses, and used “straw” entrepreneurs ” or “fronts”, to help send millions to various countries, including sweden and China.
The plaintiffs claim Alhalmi never revealed where the money comes from and where it’s produced, and at least 13 fake business bank accounts from 2011 to 2016 to gain access to the banking sector, the wiring of the service, the Free Press reported.
However, Alhalmi the lawyer believes that the government knew exactly what he was doing and there was nothing illegal about where the money came from or where it went.
Nabih ayad, told the Free Press that Alhalmi and the other two men collected from people in the Yemeni society which wanted to send money to loved ones back home. He said users were to pay a fee to have their money wired back to Yemen.
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“Not everyone has a bank in the old country,” he told the newspaper. “You talk about a large Yemeni community (in metro Detroit). How do they get the money back home.”
He added: “They are just creating an opportunity for their loved ones to receive money…In the old days, they used to just pass out the hand. Here they do by means of a wiring service.”
Ayad said that he believes that the government is over-zealous in the matter and that the government has never suggested that the money wound up in the wrong hands.
“My client’s case, the government had already visited its operations in 2013 and never told him to stop doing it,” he added.
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The three men are charged with the use of filing a false currency transaction report, and the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting companies. The crimes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.