Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - Office of Inspector General

International Wholesale Currency Dealer Sentenced for Criminal Operations; Forfeits $1.1 Million

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

International Wholesale Currency Dealer Sentenced for Criminal Operations; Forfeits $1.1 Million

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michael A. Deshong, Daniel C. Silva, and Carl Brooker (619) 546-9290

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY—November 16, 2021

SAN DIEGO — GPOMCT Grupo Empresarial S.A. de C.V., an international, Mexico-based wholesale currency dealer and currency exchange business, was sentenced in federal court yesterday to three years’ probation and ordered to forfeit $1.1 million for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, GPOMCT used the U.S. financial system to process large amounts of currency that were at high risk for including criminal proceeds without registering as a financial institution in the United States or complying with U.S. anti-money laundering regulations or reporting requirements in order to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors.

Mexico’s anti-money laundering restrictions limit the amount of U.S. dollar deposits in Mexico, creating a need for individuals and businesses in Mexico with large amounts of U.S. currency—whether acquired legitimately or otherwise—to convert their U.S. dollars into Mexican pesos. This is a need that GPOMCT attempted to meet, the sentencing memo said.

Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led the investigation into hundreds of transactions that involved GPOMCT importing large volumes of U.S. dollars into the United States between 2019 and 2021. Agents from Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and San Diego County Sheriff's Department assisted HSI in the investigation.

According to the sentencing memorandum, GPOMCT gained an unfair competitive advantage by accepting large amounts of U.S. dollars from its customers in Mexico in exchange for pesos, then importing its U.S. dollars into the United States. Through its subsidiaries, GPOMCT controls more than 40 locations in Mexico that handle an average of over $1 million in U.S. currency daily. Between September 2019 and September 2020, GPOMCT imported approximately 195 shipments of currency—each worth between $90,000 and $100,000 in U.S. dollars. GPOMCT further employed the services of an armored car company to collect currency for delivery to a third-party intermediary in Miami, Florida—all part of its money transmitting services to Mexican and U.S. customers seeking to convert U.S. dollars to pesos.

These services as a wholesale currency dealer meant GPOMCT operated as an unlicensed money transmitting business in the United States. By failing to register as a money transmitting business, GPOMCT did not file currency transaction reports with the Department of the Treasury, as required by the Bank Secrecy Act, nor did it subject itself to inspection by the Department of Treasury for compliance with these financial laws and regulations.

Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman said, “Violating financial laws and regulations not only impairs the fight against international money laundering, tax evasion, and other crimes—these violations can be crimes themselves. This office expects the highest level of compliance from financial institutions in the Southern District of California.” Grossman praised the prosecution team at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the agents from Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for their excellent work on this case.

“When money services businesses fail to comply with federal statutes and regulations, they create an unacceptable risk for illicit funds to be laundered through our financial infrastructure,” said Chad Plantz, Acting Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “HSI is committed to investigating these violations to uphold the integrity of the U.S. financial system and protect our communities, as well as sending a resounding message to all currency exchange businesses, money services businesses, and financial institutions to comply and embrace robust anti-money laundering practices and regulations.”

“Financial crimes, such as those in this case, threaten the integrity of the U.S. financial system and allow money laundering, tax evasion, and other illicit transactions to spread across international borders, undermining the public’s faith in financial institutions. We appreciate the cooperation of our law enforcement partners in investigating this and other financial crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Pittano of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC OIG).

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 21cr2120-JLS                            

GPOMCT Grupo Empresarial S.A. de C.V.

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Operating an Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business—Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1960

Criminal Forfeiture—Title 18, U.S.C., Section 982

Maximum penalty: $500,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater; criminal forfeiture

AGENCY

Homeland Security Investigations

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (OIG)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

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