Criminal Justice

Oft-quoted money laundering expert is himself charged with the crime

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A University of Miami professor often quoted by journalists as an expert on money laundering, drug trafficking and corruption in South America is facing federal money laundering charges.

Prosecutors charged 73-year-old Bruce Bagley of Coral Gables, Florida, in an indictment unsealed Monday, according to a press release.

Bloomberg Law, the New York Times, the Miami Herald and the Washington Post have coverage.

According to the Miami Herald, Bagley’s arrest shocked the University of Miami and fellow academics across South America. Bagley is an international relations professor at the university and wrote the book Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today. He has also been an expert witness in court. He was placed on administrative leave Monday.

The indictment alleges that Bagley participated in a scheme to launder $3 million in proceeds he thought to be derived from bribery and corruption in connection with public works projects in Venezuela. He kept 10% of the money for his work, according to the indictment.

Bagley is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.

Prosecutors say Bagley opened a bank account in Weston, Florida, in about November 2016 under the name of a consulting company that he created. In about November 2017, the bank account began receiving monthly deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars from banks in the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. The money was said to come from a food company and a wealth management firm.

Bagley would send 90% of the money in the form of a cashier’s check to a person referred to by prosecutors as “Individual-1.”

When Bagley’s bank account was shut down for suspicious activity in about October 2018, Bagley created a new bank account for the money transfers, prosecutors said. The transfers continued until April 2019.

Bagley’s attorney, Daniel Forman, told the Miami Herald that they would diligently defend the case. “We’re confident at the end of the day he’s going to be vindicated,” Forman said.

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