Three Brooklyn Residents Charged With Money Laundering For Stealing Over $ 30 Million From Foreign Banks | USAO-EDNY
An indictment was unsealed earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Val Cooper, Alex Levin and Garri Smith with money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to violate travel law in connection with their roles in a scheme to steal more than $ 30 million in cash and other valuables from safes in banks abroad, primarily in Eastern Europe. The defendants were arrested this morning and will be brought to justice this afternoon before the American justice of the peace Robert M. Levy.
Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., deputy director in charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent for Homeland Security Investigations, New York Office (HSI); and Dermot F. Shea, commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrests and charges.
âThe defendants and their co-conspirators were apparently part of a sophisticated network of criminals who used high-tech cameras to steal millions of dollars in cash and other valuables from victims who had attempted to protect their property by using safes in foreign countries, and then laundered the proceeds of their scheme through the US financial system, âActing US Attorney Lesko said. “This office will hold accountable anyone who uses our financial system to commit fraud and theft here or abroad.” Mr. Lesko thanked the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the governments of Azerbaijan, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan for their help in the investigation.
“The crimes we allege in this indictment read like something straight out of Hollywood fiction,” said FBI Deputy Director Sweeney. âThe thieves used sophisticated tools to thwart the security systems of foreign banks and attempted to cover their tracks by laundering money through US banks. However, thanks to the exceptional work of our FBI Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and our international partners, these criminals now face real federal charges and the possibility of being put in real time in a federal prison.
âUsing cutting edge technology, these modern bank robbers allegedly exploited small, unsophisticated banks to gain access to safes and looted $ 30 million in other people’s cash and valuables. Cooper, Levin and Smith then used bank accounts located in the United States to launder the proceeds of their illegal activities, âsaid the special agent in charge of HSI Fitzhugh. “HSI is proud to work alongside our domestic and international law enforcement partners, including the United States Attorney’s Office, EDNY, and will use our unique and extensive powers to bring those who come to justice. engage in criminal activity for their own financial gain. These defendants must now face our justice system and respond to the allegations contained in the indictment.
As stated in the indictment and court documents, between March 2015 and October 2019, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly stole more than $ 30 million in cash and other valuables from safes. strong in banks of several foreign countries, including Ukraine and Russia. , North Macedonia, Moldova, Latvia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. The co-conspirators targeted foreign banks that appeared to lack security features, including CCTV cameras in some areas. After choosing a bank, they rented safes there, pretending to be customers. The co-conspirators entered the vault rooms of the targeted banks and used sophisticated photographic equipment, including endoscopes typically used in medical procedures, to photograph the inside of the locks of the vaults belonging to other people. Another co-conspirator used these photographs to create duplicate keys, and then other co-conspirators used the duplicate keys to open victims’ safes in order to steal the contents, including coins, gold bars, jewelry and other goods.
Cooper, the head of the network, led others, received stolen goods and used his bank accounts in the United States to launder the proceeds of the scheme. Levin used his bank accounts in the United States to purchase photographic equipment used in some of the flights and also to launder the proceeds. Smith himself committed some of the vault thefts, stealing from the United States to foreign countries to steal property from victim vaults at targeted banks.
Earlier today, officers executed a search warrant at, among other locations, Cooper’s residence. There, agents discovered, among other things, non-numbered safe keys, cash, high-end jewelry and handbags. Officers also searched a storage unit in Brooklyn controlled by Cooper and found an endoscope and a safe lock.
The charges in the indictment are allegations and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted of a money laundering conspiracy, the accused face up to 20 years in prison.
This case is part of an operation of the Special Forces against Drugs of Organized Crime (OCDETF). The OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level money launderers and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a multi-agency, prosecutor-led, intelligence-led approach that leverages the forces federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. against criminal networks.
The government’s case is handled by the Organized Crime and Gangs Section of the Office. Deputy United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman, Andrey Spektor, and Joy Lurinsky, lead the prosecution, assisted by Deputy United States Attorney Brian D. Morris of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.
VAL COOPER (also known as âVal Kononâ and âValeriy Kononenkoâ)
Age: 56 years old
Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn, New York
GARRI SMITH (also known as âIgor Berkâ and âIgor Berkovichâ)
Brooklyn, New York
EDNY File N Â° 21-CR-208 (LDH)