His name is Gary Lundgren*, an Alaskan stockbroker who abruptly left the state of Washington after a sexual harassment was filed against him there. He landed in the Republic of Panama, and was soon seen to have large amounts of US Dollars in his possession. The cash was Colombian drug profits, obtained due to a family connection to a major drug organization operating there (Perez).
His problem was, how to launder that money ? While he could easily deposit it into any one of a number of "see-no-evil" Panamanian banks, his clients wanted that money cleaned, and invested in the United States. How would he circumvent the AML compliance programs in place at American financial institutions ? Any large deposits coming from Panama would be immediately flagged for Source of Funds and Beneficial Ownership questions, and he could not easily explain huge deposits.
To make matters worse, Lundgren had no securities license in Panama, so he could not purchase stocks for front companies controlled by the drug trafickers. He needed to satisfy his clients, who demanded a solution from him, and are not known for patience.
His solution: to lend out the cash to newly-arrived residents, all Americans, Canadians and Europeans, who needed local financing to buy real estate, residential condominiums mainly, and direct them to make their monthly payments into the Washington bank account of his American brokerage house, Interpacific Investors Services, Inc. at the local Bank of America branch, at 203 Kirkland Avenue, in Kirkland, Washington.
These payments, from a wide variety of his clients, would not trigger any alarms, because the remitters were all legitimate individuals, and the amounts each not large enough to draw compliance attention at B of A. Of course, one wonders why the bank's compliance department did not see those payments as an artful form of structuring.
|Gary Lundgren, and his wife, Griselda Perez
Since Ricardo Martinelli is no longer the President of Panama, Lundgren no longer benefits from his protection; will he now be extradited to face justice in the United States, or will he continue to operate his laundry in Panama ?
* Also known as Gary James Lundgren. His attorney, who assisted him in all his money laundering ventures, is Alcides Bartolo Peña Araya, whom we have previously profiled on this blog.