Houston/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 24, 2024
Richmond Resident Convicted of Running Multimillion-Dollar Illegal Money Transmitting BusinessSource: Google Street View

In a brisk decision by a federal jury, Sameer Sami Rasheed Al Salman, an Iraqi residing in Richmond, has been found guilty of operating an unlicensed multimillion-dollar money transmitting business out of his driveway. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, after less than an hour of deliberation, the 55-year-old faced the verdict following a trial that spanned two days.

The case presented revealed that, since 2020, Salman had been moving vast sums of money across the globe, including to countries like China, Indonesia, and India from several bank accounts in the United States. The defense's narrative, claiming Salman had the legal right to operate such a business back in Iraq, fell flat on the jury who were unpersuaded by the argument, and handed down a guilty as charged decision. The evidence against Salman was robust, featuring accounts of hawala transactions – a traditional method of money transfer that skirts the formal banking system – which saw sums up to $40,000 changing hands before Salman's Richmond home.

A search of Salman's residence by authorities, spurred by extensive surveillance efforts, led to the discovery of more than $282,000 in cash. “Money flowed from Iraq through Houston thanks to Rasheed Al Salman’s illegal money transmitting business, a business he conducted from his home’s driveway and without a license,”  U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani stated. The implications of such an operation extend beyond mere illegality, posing a threat to the established financial order by evading regulatory oversight, thus potentially fuelling the machinations of international crime syndicates, authorities contend.

Presiding U.S. District Judge Sim Lake has set the date for Salman's sentencing on August 16. The repercussions, could land the unlicensed operator up to five years in federal prison paired with a hit to the wallet – a potential fine maxing out at $250,000. The FBI's investigative work paved the way for the courtroom showdown, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Winter and Steven Schammel at the prosecution's helm.