In a shocking revelation, 56-year-old Gyanendra Asre of Greenwich, Connecticut, described as an “experienced anti-money laundering specialist,” pleaded guilty on Wednesday to orchestrating a complex scheme that illegally moved more than $1 billion through small financial institutions. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) uncovered this massive transfer, including hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign jurisdictions, which took place without proper oversight and a blatant disregard for filing Suspicious Activity Reports, as mandated by law.
Asre admitted guilt in Brooklyn federal court to one count of failing to maintain an anti-money laundering program, a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. His sentencing is scheduled for May 3, with the possibility of facing up to 10 years in prison. Despite the severity of the charges, a lawyer for Asre has yet to respond to media inquiries, leaving many questioning the motives behind this illicit financial operation.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) imposed a $100,000 civil penalty on Asre and barred him from participating in any financial institution’s affairs for the next five years. This serves as a stern warning against those who compromise the integrity of financial systems for personal gain.
The DOJ highlighted that Asre, a former member of the supervisory board of the New York State Employees Federal Credit Union (NYSEFCU), exploited the institution’s vulnerabilities from 2014 to 2016. Despite being labeled as “small” and “unsophisticated,” the NYSEFCU fell victim to Asre’s deliberate negligence and lack of adherence to anti-money laundering regulations.
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Before his involvement with the NYSEFCU, Asre had a significant banking background, having served as a senior vice president at a domestic bank. The DOJ emphasized his extensive experience in international banking and thorough training in anti-money laundering compliance and procedures. Astonishingly, Asre, entrusted with overseeing anti-money laundering activities, chose to betray that trust.
Asre assured the NYSEFCU that he and his businesses would adhere to the required anti-money laundering oversight, based on which he was granted permission to conduct high-risk transactions. Subsequently, he orchestrated the movement of over $1 billion through the NYSEFCU and other entities, with some funds allegedly originating from undisclosed Mexican banks.
However, Asre’s actions were far from aligning with his representations. The DOJ revealed that he willfully failed to establish and maintain an anti-money laundering program at the NYSEFCU. This negligence resulted in the processing of high-risk transactions without proper oversight and the failure to file a single Suspicious Activity Report, a legal requirement for such transactions.
In October 2017, the National Credit Union Administration took decisive action, liquidating the NYSEFCU due to “significant deficiencies” in regulatory compliance. FinCEN’s consent order with Asre directly implicated him, stating that his actions were a major contributing factor to the dissolution of the credit union. This highlights the severe consequences of his deliberate negligence and its impact on the financial institution.
Erin Keegan, the acting special agent-in-charge at the Department of Homeland Security’s investigative division in New York, expressed concern over Asre’s calculated exploitation of a small financial institution. Keegan commended the investigative efforts of HSI New York and other law enforcement partners for ensuring the upholding of vital regulations that form the foundation of the banking system.
In conclusion, Gyanendra Asre’s guilty plea sheds light on the disturbing actions of an individual entrusted with preserving the integrity of financial systems. His deliberate evasion of anti-money laundering regulations, leading to the unlawful movement of over $1 billion, serves as a stark reminder of the need for stringent oversight and accountability in the financial sector. As the legal proceedings unfold, the case raises broader questions about the vulnerability of smaller financial institutions and the importance of robust regulatory frameworks to safeguard against such illicit activities.