Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We are continuing to monitor the case of Lourdes Mercedes Cajale, the export firm clerk who allegedly embezzled funds from the company, moving them from Miami, through an unsuspecting Panamanian intermediary,  to accounts she controlled in Panama, and then, after being discovered, had the nerve to sue her employer under a purported oral employment agreement*. Will she ultimately be charged with a violation of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 ? We cannot say, but recent developments in the case indicate that the case is heating up**.

(1) Her lawyer, Miami criminal defence attorney Richard Diaz, has moved for sanctions against Financial Crime Consultant Humberto Aguilar, who is reportedly analyzing the facts in the case, on behalf of the export company, to ascertain whether embezzlement and the techniques of money laundering have indeed occurred. Mr. Diaz is bluntly disputing Mr. Aguilar's professional credentials, which is puzzling. Aguilar, himself a former Miami attorney, served a term in Federal Prison for money laundering, and has become known as an international authority in the AML field. He regularly lectures at anti-money laundering conferences and  financial crime seminars around the world. Is attorney Diaz questioning the competency of an obvious expert simply as a delaying tactic or is there another reason ?

(2) Reliable sources indicate that Ms. Cajale, who recently became a US citizen, failed to disclose the existence of this matter in either her application for citizenship, or any subsequent filing.  Most experienced immigration lawyers agree that that concealing such material information is grounds for revocation of her citizenship, even after it has been granted. I submit that concealment of the fact that you have been involved in an embezzlement is material. Why did Ms. Cajale fail to disclose ?

(3) There's more; Cajale reportedly was granted asylum in the United States, based upon her allegation that she kept a residence for penniless Colombian youth, to keep them from joining the country's paramilitary groups, and that her life was threatened by members of the ELN, a designated Colombian global terrorist organisation, due to this activity. She also reportedly claimed that her handyman was himself an ELN agent, sent to report on her to his superiors in the terrorist group, and that he admitted his role to her. It has been alleged that this was a complete fabrication, that there was no such home, which conduct, if true, constitutes immigration fraud. A testimonial letter from local clergy was reportedly given to US authorities, to support her claim, which is curious due to the fact that Cajale reportedly ran no such programme.

If her original asylum in the US was obtained fraudulently, the subsequent naturalisation proceedings were tainted, and therefore revocable by the authorities. The asylum, residence and eventual citizenship of her family members, which was reportedly solely based upon her status, may also be in jeopardy.

(4) The production of bank records requested in a parallel proceeding in the Republic of Panama, alleging that the transfer of funds through a Panamanian intermediary who had no knowledge of their illicit nature, are expected to indicate that the $161,000 was split up into three portions, and transferred to accounts owned by Lourdes Mercedes Cajale and her husband, Didimo Alberto Navarro Reyes. These documents are scheduled to be released on or about the 22nd of December.

Where this matter will end we cannot say, but we shall continue to review the progress of  the court file, ask questions, and report back to our readers on the final outcome; Stay tuned.
*When White Collar Crime becomes Money Laundering - Part 1, Kenneth Rijock's Financial Crime Blog,18 October, 2011. When White Collar Crime becomes Money Laundering - Part 2, Kenneth Rijock's Financial Crime Blog,13 December, 2011.
** A recent high-profile California case, appearing in the media, involved employees who embezzled firm money to fund a transcontinental spending spree, appears to have a number of similarities with the Cajale case. The defendants in that case have been charged with a number of felonies.

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