A Queens, New York, man today admitted his role in coordinating a $653 million money laundering conspiracy, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and bribing bank employees in connection with financial transactions, according to a press release from the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.
Da Ying Sze, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of operating and aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, and one count of corruptly giving anything of value to an employee of a financial institution in connection with financial transactions.
“The defendant in this case laundered a staggering amount of money,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “Neither money laundering, the narcotics distribution that funded it, nor the bribery of a financial institution that facilitated the money laundering will be tolerated. A broad cross section of federal and local enforcement partners dismantled this sophisticated money laundering operation.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that criminals who launder illegitimate profits can’t evade detection from IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners,” Michael Montanez, Special Agent in Charge IRS Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office, said. “This guilty plea is a significant step toward holding the defendant accountable for his role in conspiring to hide hundreds of millions of dollars gained from narcotics distribution.”
“The money laundering discovered during this investigation allows drug traffickers to expand their operations throughout the U.S. and around the world,” Susan A. Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, said. “The actions of DA Ying Sze contribute to high number of overdose fatalities across the country. The men and women of DEA, along with our law enforcement partners, work tirelessly to disrupt the flow of illicit narcotics proceeds to those drug organizations looking to flood our streets with deadly poison.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2016 through 2021, Sze laundered more than $653.3 million in cash, consisting of narcotics and other illicit proceeds, utilizing a variety of financial institutions and methods. Sze routinely accepted illicit proceeds in cash and deposited the cash into financial institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, utilizing bank accounts in the names of shell companies and conspirators. Sze then further obfuscated the source of the illegal cash by purchasing official bank checks, writing personal and business checks, and making international and domestic wires to transfer the illegal cash to thousands of individuals and entities in the United States, China, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. For his services, Sze received a fee of approximately 1 to 2 percent of the cash laundered.
From 2020 through 2021, Sze routinely provided gift cards and other things of value to employees of at least one financial institution in connection with financial transactions, seeking to corruptly influence financial institution employees to provide Sze with special benefits and to avoid suspicion and reporting of his unusual financial transactions. In 2020 and 2021, Sze provided at least $57,000 in gifts to financial institution employees in connection with financial transactions, and made millions of dollars of profits in connection with such financial transactions.
The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of operating and aiding and abetting the operation of an illegal money transmitting business carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greatest. 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 greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents and task force officers of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark; special agents and task force officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the Morristown, New Jersey, Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Darnell Richardson; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, New York Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia Tarasca; and the New York City Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.