Monday, November 21, 2011


The deposition of an important witness, taken this week in a Miami civil suit pending between a Brazilian cattle export company and an employee accused of embezzling funds and thereafter wiring them to accounts she had access to in Panama, has confirmed that the fraudster used part of the money to pay off what appears to be a debt in Panama, and then had the balance remitted to the personal account of her husband, Didimo Alberto Navarro, reportedly adding her on as a signatory.          

 The case, involving the former clerical employee, Lourdes Cajale, which was detailed here recently in an article entitled When While-Collar Crime becomes Money Laundering*, is a classic illustration of the fact that, when the proceeds of most crimes (known as predicate acts) are deposited into the global financial system, or even when such deposits as attempted, unsuccessfully, the crime of money laundering, with its maximum 20-year penalty under US law, generally occurs.

Since the last article, further discovery in the case has indicated that Ms. Cajale, who left a number of unhappy creditors behind in her native Colombia, including one who holds an unsatisfied final judgment, moved some of the stolen funds from the US, into Panama, and back into the United States. The extended family of the owner of the company has recently received a number of kidnapping threats, telephoned to relatives in Barranquilla, in an attempt to discourage them from seeking justice in the United States. That is an indication of the true character of the individual who embezzled from her employer.

Thus, even a minor white-collar crime will frequently morph into a money laundering event. In addition, prosecutors often also charge individuals having relatively minor roles with money laundering conspiracy. The significant penalties that these charges bring often convince defendants to enter guilty pleas to lesser counts, rather than risk a potential long sentence upon conviction after trial, for laundering. The next time that a client asks you to do a favour for him or her, and facilitate a financial transaction that is unusual, think twice, if you want to keep your freedom and your job.

Will the evidence produced in the civil case** result in a Federal criminal money laundering indictment against the fraudster in Miami, and others who facilitated the financial transfers in Panama ? We cannot say, but we will continue to follow all developments in this case, as they occur.
*The article first appeared on 18 October, 2011.
**Case No.: 09-64119 CA (15) Eleventh Judicial Circuit, in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida .

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