By Dan Byrne for AMLi
A GERMAN CITIZEN has pleaded guilty in the United States to laundering over $1M through a Hong Kong shell company.
Henning Schwarzkopf – a licenced attorney active in locations such as Hamburg, Monaco and Singapore – pleaded guilty to the charges against him last Wednesday, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
He was arrested on the back of a criminal complaint filed in October of last year.
Acting United States Attorney Mark Lesko described how Schwarzkopf “brazenly plotted to launder over $1 million in funds,” that he believed were the proceeds of a securities fraud scheme, although the DOJ noted that this scheme had been brought to Schwarzkopf by an “undercover agent.”
“Schwarzkopf knew the money he was moving from the account of a Hong Kong-based shell company to bank accounts in New York was obtained through fraudulent means,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney.
“…But proceeded to engage in this money laundering scheme anyway in exchange for more than $50,000 in illegal kickbacks.”
According to the DOJ, the “undercover agent” was introduced to Schwarzkopf in October 2019 as a stock promoter who ran pump-and-dump schemes involving share-price manipulation.
The agent also explained that he paid illegal kickbacks to companies or stockbrokers who purchased those manipulated shares, and that he needed Schwarzkopf’s help to “create a fog” around them, disguising the source-of-funds before they reached the brokers.
Schwarzkopf agreed, the DOJ said. He retained a 5% fee from each transfer he was involved with, and this amounted to 30 in total, making him an illegal profit of $1,100,784.
This, the DOJ noted, was despite the fact that he, “provided no services except to receive funds from the Undercover Agent in the bank account of a Hong Kong-based shell company that he controlled, and then forward those funds to bank accounts in New York.”
“Today’s guilty plea signals an end to Schwarzkopf’s fraud,” said Sweeney. “But our office will continue to pursue all criminals whose crimes affect the integrity of the financial markets.”
Schwarzkopf now awaits sentencing. On foot of his guilty plea, he could face as much as twenty years behind bars and a fine of up to $250,000.
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