US sanctions former Kyrgyz customs official for role in $700M money laundering scheme News
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US sanctions former Kyrgyz customs official for role in $700M money laundering scheme

The US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions Wednesday on former Kyrgyz Customs Service deputy Raimbek Matraimov for his role in a $700 million money-laundering scheme. The Treasury also announced sanctions on two other individuals and three companies.

According to the department, Matraimov was involved in a company’s evasion of custom fees through bribery of customs officials. The customs officials would clear more expensive products as low-value goods, and they would allow for the company’s goods to pass more quickly through customs. Other companies would go through more lengthy processes, involving thorough inspection, which would lead to items sitting in customs warehouses for weeks or months.

Matraimov assisted in this process, and he was in charge of collecting and distributing the bribes. He smuggled cash into the Kyrgyz Republic, making “hundreds of millions of dollars” from his involvement.

The US also sanctioned Harry Varney Gboto-Nambi Sherman, a Liberian lawyer and senator, for bribing judges, and Wan Kuok Koi, a leader of the Chinese organized criminal organization 14K Triad. 

Wednesday was also International Anti-Corruption Day, which has been observed annually on December 9 since 2003. On the sanctions, Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich stated: “On International Anti-Corruption Day, Treasury remains fully committed to imposing costs on those who facilitate corruption at the expense of the people.”

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