University of Miami professor and money laundering expert indicted for laundering money
Professor Bruce Bagley knows all about laundering money. He taught International Relations at the University of Miami. He served as an expert witness in U.S. federal court on drug trafficking and organized crime in Latin America and even testified on numerous occasions before the U.S. Congress.
But earlier this month, Bagley’s squeaky-clean reputation went out with the wash. He was arrested for channeling $2.5 million into bank accounts from corrupt foreign nationals with the express purpose of laundering money on their behalf.
Court documents allege that beginning in November 2017, Professor Bagley started receiving monthly deposits into his business bank account. Suddenly the account, which sat nearly untouched since it was opened in 2005, began to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars each month from foreign sources purported to be a food company.
A Strange Money Laundering Cycle Alerts Authorities
Each month, approximately $200,000 was wired into Bagley’s account. Almost immediately, the money transferred back out: 90% disbursed by cashier’s check or wire transferred to another individual. The remainder was wired to a different, personal account in Bagley’s name. After a period of suspicious transactions, authorities were alerted, and Bagley’s account was closed by the bank.
Undeterred, Bagley opened a new account which received and transferred money in a similar fashion. Bagley provided sham contracts offered as proof of the legitimacy of the funds to justify the transfers. The funds were alleged proceeds generated from a wealth management firm.
Money Laundering Charges Made
Court documents state that the professor agreed to receive deposits from foreign bank accounts in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. That money went into his Weston, Florida business account. It then transferred into the bank accounts of his co-conspirators by cashier’s check or wire transfer. This occurred for nearly two years to conceal the nature, source, and control of the original funds.
The indictment claims the money was a result of corruption and political bribes from Venezuelan citizens intended for public works projects in that country. The portion of the laundered money transferred to Bagley’s account served as his commission for his illegal work. In total, 14 deposits between November 2017 and October 2018 were made into the account.
During the period of the money laundering conspiracy, the indictment states that Bagley discussed the fact that funds were moved on behalf of another individual and that the money was the proceeds of unlawful activity. That allegation led to the charge of money laundering offenses in violation of Title 18, USC, Sections 1956 (a)(1)(B)(i) and 1957(a). Further, it was part of a conspiracy which involved financial transactions which were proceeds of unlawful activity, knowing that the transaction was designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, the location, source, ownership and the control of the proceeds. Bagley is said to have received approximately 10% of the overall money that was processed– totaling nearly $250,000.
Federal prosecutors did not say if the accusations against Professor Bagley were connected to other open investigations or with others who are targeted in the bribery scheme but said only that the corruption was “in connection with public works projects in Venezuela.” If he is convicted, Bagley is subject to 20 years in prison and may be made to forfeit any and all property involved in or traceable to the property involved in the offenses outlined in the indictment. He has been placed on administrative leave at the University of Miami.