FEDS: Illegal Money-Transmitting Businesse Operating In ‘Shadows’ Funneled $172 Million Offshore For ‘Shell’ Companies; Murky Enterprises Blocked From Using Oregon Banks ‘Like The Corner ATM’

Tigard, a small city in Oregon, was home to Victor Kaganov. Kaganov has pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business that funneled $172 million to at least 50 countries. Prosecutors said he established "shell companies" for Russian clients. PHOTO: Wikipedia

An Oregon man living in a small town set up “numerous” shell companies for Russian clients and funneled more than $172 million to at least 50 countries, prosecutors said.

Victor Kaganov, 69, of Tigard, has pleaded guilty to charges of operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Tigard is small city whose population is about 47,000.

Kaganov was born in Russia. He moved to the United States in 1998 and became a naturalized citizen, prosecutors said.

At least one of the shell companies purported to have a tie to Cyprus, according to records. At least three of the companies used the word “Fishing” in their corporate names. Some used the word “Financial.”

The announcement of the guilty plea was made in Washington by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Using stark language, Breuer said U.S. investigators followed the money to expose the crime and were committed to exposing similar crimes. The FBI has repeatedly warned Congress about a “shadow” banking system and shell companies set up to disguise crimes.

“Now more than ever, we are determined to bring to justice those who attempt to hide funds in U.S. financial institutions,” Breuer said.

The probe was led by the office of U.S. Attorney Dwight C. Holton of the District of Oregon. Holton, like Breuer, also used stark language when describing the Oregon caper.

“When shell corporations are illegally manipulated in the shadows to hide the flow of tens of millions dollars overseas, it threatens the integrity of our financial system,” Holton said. “Sunshine kills the stink of corruption — our laws aim to bring the sunshine in, and we will enforce these laws vigorously.”

Holton and Breuer were backed by Oregon’s top FBI agent, who also used stark language.

“We will not allow Oregon to be used like the corner ATM for people in foreign countries,” said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge. “Crimes like these eat away at the stability and prosperity of the American financial system.”

Agents determined that Kaganov made at least 4,200 illegal wire transfers.

“In order to move money in and out of the United States, Kaganov created various shell corporations under Oregon law, and then opened bank accounts into which he deposited money he received from his Russian clients,” prosecutors said. “Kaganov admitted he would then wire the money out of the accounts based on wire instructions he received from his clients.”

Kaganov’s operation complied with neither Oregon law nor U.S. law, prosecutors said.

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