Wow. He must have sold a lot of Miracle Grow to make this haul, huh? -SF
Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez runs a successful gardening store in Miami-Dade, but not quite successful enough to explain the $24 million cops found stashed in his wall. The 44-year-old was charged with offenses including money laundering and marijuana trafficking after police found the cash stuffed in 5-gallon Home Depot buckets in a secret compartment guarded by a statuette of St. Lazarus in a raid on Tuesday, the Miami Herald reports. Officers also recovered cash and marijuana from Hernandez-Gonzalez’s “Blossom Experience” store, which they say caters to indoor pot growers with products like lights and fans.
Hernandez-Gonzalez, whose sister was also arrested, is accused of trafficking marijuana to Tennessee. He had been under investigation since 2010, when he chatted to an undercover cop about life in the drug trade, reports WPTV. Miami-Dade police plan to make the record-breaking amount of seized cash their own through civil forfeiture laws—and Hernandez-Gonzalez has been told his $4 million bond can’t be delivered in buckets. “For a man with $20 million in his walls, an elevated bond is clearly necessary,” Miami-Dade prosecutor Adam Korn said at a hearing Wednesday. (Cops in Washington state seized cash and drugs after an Easter egg hunt was disrupted.)
Read the Original Article at Newser
Convicted con man Gilbert Chikli, sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison by a French court last year but living openly in Ashdod, is credited with masterminding a fraud that has cost companies $1.8 billion. To get away with it, he became the first of many to look east
ASHDOD, Israel — Gilbert Chikli was rolling in money, stolen from some of the world’s biggest corporations. His targets: Accenture. Disney. American Express. In less than two years, he made off with at least 6.1 million euros from France alone.
But he had a problem. He couldn’t spend the money. A tangle of banking rules designed to stop con men like him stood between Chikli and his cash. He needed to find a weak link in the global financial system, a place to make his stolen money appear legitimate.
He found it in China.
“China has become a universal, international gateway for all manner of scams,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Because China today is a world power, because it doesn’t care about neighboring countries, and because, overall, China is flipping off other countries in a big way.”
A visionary con man, Chikli realized early on — around 2000, the year before China joined the World Trade Organization — the potential that lay in the shadows of China’s rise, its entrenched corruption and informal banking channels that date back over 1,000 years. The French-Israeli man told the AP he laundered 90 percent of his money through China and Hong Kong, slipping it into the region’s great tides of legitimate trade and finance.
Today, he is in good company.
Criminals around the world have discovered that a good way to liberate their dirty money is to send it to China, which is emerging as an international hub for money laundering, an AP investigation has found. Gangs from Israel and Spain, North African cannabis dealers and cartels from Mexico and Colombia are among those using China as a haven where they can safely hide money, clean it, and pump it back into the global financial system, according to police officials, European and US court records and intelligence documents reviewed by the AP.
China’s central bank and police refused repeated requests for comment.
In a regular briefing with reporters Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the government “places great emphasis” on fighting crimes such as money laundering and is working to expand international cooperation. “China is not, has not been, nor will be in the future a center of global money laundering,” he said.
Chikli is widely credited in France with inventing a con that has inspired a generation of copycats. Chikli’s scam, called the fake president or fake CEO scam, has cost companies around the world $1.8 billion in just over two years, according to the FBI. And the damages are rising fast.
Read the Remainder at Times of Israel