In a significant legal development, a New York man, Gyanendra Asre, has pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to maintain an anti-money laundering program, a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.
The plea is connected to a complex scheme designed to channel high-risk international financial business, totaling over $1 billion, through a relatively small and unsophisticated credit union.
Background of the Scheme:
Between 2014 and 2016, Gyanendra Asre, a 56-year-old New Yorker, served on the supervisory board of the New York State Employees Federal Credit Union (NYSEFCU), an institution obligated to have an anti-money laundering program.
Asre, despite being a certified anti-money laundering specialist with international banking expertise, played a role in orchestrating a scheme that involved funneling substantial funds, including large cash transactions from a foreign bank, through NYSEFCU and other entities.
Misrepresentations and Lack of Oversight:
Asre, leveraging his anti-money laundering credentials, assured NYSEFCU that he and his businesses would adhere to the necessary anti-money laundering oversight mandated by the Bank Secrecy Act.
Relying on these assurances, the credit union, primarily serving New York state public employees with a volunteer board, allowed Asre to conduct high-risk transactions.
However, contrary to his commitments, Asre deliberately neglected to implement and sustain an anti-money laundering program at NYSEFCU.
Consequences and Legal Ramifications:
This failure resulted in NYSEFCU processing high-risk transactions without the mandated oversight and without filing any Suspicious Activity Report, a legal requirement in such cases.
Gyanendra Asre now faces legal consequences, with his sentencing scheduled for May 3.
The severity of the sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge, taking into account U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Law Enforcement Announcement:
The announcement of Asre’s guilty plea was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, and Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The case was investigated by HSI, and the prosecution is led by Acting Chief Margaret Moeser of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan C. Harris and Francisco J. Navarro for the Eastern District of New York.
Implications for Financial Institutions:
The case underscores the vulnerability of financial institutions to individuals with ill-intentions and the critical need for rigorous anti-money laundering measures.
MLARS’ Bank Integrity Unit continues to play a crucial role in investigating and prosecuting cases involving financial institutions that pose a threat to the integrity of the broader financial system.
Gyanendra Asre’s guilty plea sheds light on the sophisticated schemes that can exploit unsuspecting financial institutions.
It prompts a broader conversation about the importance of stringent anti-money laundering protocols and the constant vigilance required to safeguard the integrity of the financial system.