money laundering

Government of Cape Verde

Ten days ago, Colombian businessman Alex Saab was arrested in Cape Verde, an island republic off Africa’s west coast, as his private jet was refueling. Saab is wanted in the U.S. on money-laundering charges involving hundreds of millions of dollars – but his detention in Cape Verde and his possible extradition to Miami carry big political stakes in Venezuela.

For decades, Bruce Bagley has been regarded as a leading expert on organized crime in Latin America, particularly on money laundering. Now, the University of Miami professor is in trouble for the way he may have applied that knowledge.

Bagley was arrested Monday on charges of laundering $3 million on behalf of corrupt foreign nationals who collected the illicit funds through bribes and by embezzling from a public works project in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s Business Elite Face Scrutiny In $1.2 Billion Money Laundering Case

Nov 4, 2019
PEDRO PORTAL / MIAMI HERALD

As Venezuela’s oil-based economy continues to crumble, a politically connected class of businessmen with financial ties to Miami has grown fabulously wealthy from energy deals with the socialist government. Among the Venezuelan upper crust who have made fortunes during the Bolivarian revolution: Alejandro Betancourt.

Miami Herald

They’re called enchufados — Venezuelans “plugged in” to the country’s corrupt socialist regime who bring allegedly dirty wealth here to Florida. The U.S. has just indicted one of the wealthiest alleged enchufados — who may now lose his Coral Gables mansion among numerous other assets.

Joy Cooper Hallandale Beach
Miami Herald File Photo Circa 2007 / WLRN

Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper has been arrested and charged with three third-degree felonies including money laundering, official misconduct and exceeding the limit on campaign financial contributions.

Cooper's arrest on Thursday came after an undercover investigation by the FBI, according to a statement from the Broward County State Attorney's Office.

Cooper has been Hallandale Beach’s mayor since 2005. She is the city's first elected mayor.

‘Blood gold’ in your jewelry is poisoning workers and the rainforest. Here’s how to stop it.

Jan 23, 2018
Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Illegal gold molded into our wedding rings, dangling around our necks and hidden in our smartphones is polluting the rainforest with toxic chemicals and exploiting workers in Latin America.

Read the Miami Herald investigative series: Dirty gold, clean cash 

Associated Press

The U.S. government added Venezuelan Vice President Tarek El Aissami to its sanctions list Monday, saying he “played a significant role in international narcotics trafficking” and freezing his access to a fortune estimated at $3 billion after a lengthy investigation of his alleged links to drug traffickers and Muslim extremists.

The measure also covers Samark Lopez — accused of being the principal front man for El Aissami — and nearly a dozen companies linked to Lopez, including some in Miami.

When foreign leaders loot their homelands, they sometimes like to stash their valuables in the U.S. Yachts, mansions and artwork have all been purchased in America with laundered money, according the the U.S. Justice Department.

It happens often enough that the department has set up a special unit dedicated to tracking down international kleptocrats.

Miami Herald

Miami Herald investigative reporter Michael Sallah was tipped off by a mysterious text message.

"It was... night and all of a sudden I get a text photograph of three notebooks under a desk," he told WLRN in an interview. "And I was told that these were in the [village of Bal Harbour] police department and that I had never seen these records before."

Tax Credits/ Flickr

For six months, hundreds of Miami-Dade-based companies are under closer than usual scrutiny by financial cops.

The businesses export electronics from five ZIP codes surrounding Miami International Airport. In April, the U.S. Treasury Department's FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) bureau slapped an order on the companies to report more of their business dealings involving cash. 

In the last year, over $57 million in illegal assets relating to federal cases in South Florida have been seized by the United States government, according to data provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Florida.

$57,321,390.40 to be exact.

Jeff Hester / Creative Commons/Flickr

For 18 months straight South Florida home prices have been rising. One reason is cash. For every 10 homes sold in July in our region, seven were bought with cash: no mortgage, no credit check.  

Moreover, 90 percent of the cash buyers of Miami condos are foreign, which often means less financial oversight is involved in the purchase.

RELATED: What Kind Of Money Fuels The Miami Real Estate Market?

Elaine Chen / WLRN

The housing recovery has come fast to South Florida. But some are concerned that the cash-fueled rebound here may be relying, in part, on dirty money.