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Bank Insider Charged with Accepting Bribes to Facilitate Millions of Dollars of Money Laundering

NEWARK, NJ. – A New Jersey-based employee of an international financial institution was arrested today for accepting bribes to facilitate millions of dollars of money laundering, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Oscar Marcelo Nunez-Flores, 32, of North Plainfield, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of accepting bribes as an employee of a financial institution. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court and was released on $150,000 unsecured bond.

“As alleged, Nunez corruptly exploited his position inside a bank to help launder millions of dollars in drug money in exchange for bribes. Today’s arrest shows that my office will expose and prosecute those who abuse positions of trust and seek to corrupt our financial institutions.”

U.S. Attorney Philp R. Sellinger

“The DEA will continue to work diligently to pursue and dismantle all elements from Drug Trafficking Organizations,” Special Agent in Charge for the DEA Caribbean Division Denise Foster said. “Money launderers help drug trafficking organizations flourish and poison our communities. We will continue to allocate all our law enforcement resources to make a greater impact in vulnerable areas where criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking are causing greater damage.”

“IRS - Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners will continue to work together to hold accountable and disrupt bad actors like the defendant, who allegedly accepted bribes to facilitate millions of dollars of money laundering,” Tammy Tomlins, Special Agent in Charge of IRS - Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office, said. “We are committed to protecting the integrity of our financial institutions by investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in financial crimes.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Nunez works for an international financial institution, at a branch located in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Starting in early 2022, Nunez exploited his position as a bank employee to facilitate money laundering activities in exchange for bribes. Nunez used his position and inside access to open bank accounts in the names of shell companies with nominee owners. Those accounts were then used to launder narcotics proceeds, including to Colombia. Nunez assisted the money laundering efforts by giving those who bribed him online access to the accounts, along with dozens of debit cards for the accounts that were later used to withdraw cash from ATMs in Colombia. Nunez received thousands of dollars in bribes for each account he opened.  The investigation has revealed that millions of dollars were laundered to Colombia through accounts opened by Nunez since early 2022.

The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of bank bribery carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, or three times the value of the thing given, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents and task force officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under the direction of Special Agents in Charge Denise Foster in San Juan, Puerto Rico, David F. Reames in Seattle, Washington, and Cheryl Ortiz in Newark; special agents and task force officers of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins in Newark; and special agents of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, New York Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia Tarasca, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington for their assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark J. Pesce of the Economic Crimes Unit and Angelica Sinopole of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark and Trial Attorneys D. Zachary Adams, Chad Davis, and Chelsea Rooney of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel J. Olinghouse (District of Puerto Rico) and Vince Lombardi (Western District of Washington) also assisted with the investigation.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

nunez.complaint.pdf (128.3 KB)

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