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Brothers who helped launder $250 million through online payment company, AlertPay, are jailed

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

THE OWNERS OF an online payment transfer company, AlertPay, have been sentenced to time in prison for laundering over $250 million for criminal organisations.

Firoz Patel, who founded payment company AlertPay in 2004, has been sentenced to three years in prison while his brother and co-founder Farhan Patel was sentenced to 18 months.

The two were found to have been in serious breach of compliance restrictions and allowed AlertPay to facilitate the laundering of millions on behalf of drug cartels and Ponzi schemes, the Montreal Gazette reports

As part of the sentencing, $4 million in personal assets has been forfeited by the two brothers, while AlterPay will be barred from business for three years.

At the recent sentencing hearing in a Washington DC court, both brothers claimed that their crimes were the result of a struggle to keep up to speed with the competition.

They claimed that while trying to match other well-known payment providers like PayPal, and working through the logistics of legal compliance, they simply became ‘in over their heads.’

“You were facilitating that conduct in a very real way. I don’t know if you ever through of the drug addicts it was creating or how elderly people were losing their life savings,” the judge said, dismissing their excuses as “astonishing.”

Ferhan Patel acknowledged AlterPay’s serious breaches of US federal law and criticised his own ‘lack of judgement’ in the case.

“While we were making mistakes, I tried to rectify them when we saw the opportunity to do so,” he said.

“We tried hiring regulatory lawyers. We made a lot of efforts in compliance since. But unfortunately…. we were aware we were in violation of federal laws while doing so.”

It is understood that, despite having no licences to operate anywhere in the US, the brothers conducted business for AlertPay in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Frioz Patel had complained in a prior interview that the company “kept getting shut down for absolutely frivolous reasons,” – now revealed be the act of assisting criminals in laundering money. 

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