3 accused of laundering money through Iran

Jan. 20, 2010 at 8:03 PM

NEW YORK, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A federal sting operation aimed at disrupting a U.S.-Iran money-laundering operation has netted three New York businessmen, the FBI said Wednesday.

The FBI said in a statement on its Web site that the agency, along with the IRS and U.S. attorney's office, worked together on the investigation that led to Reza Safarha, 54, aka Ali Safarha; Nick Mohamey, 56, aka Abdollah Mohammadipour and Abdi Pour; and Mohammad Sourush Mahalaty, 48, aka Mohammad Soroush, being charged with conspiring to launder money from the United States to Iran.

Safarha and Mohamey were arrested Thursday in the Queens borough of New York and Mahalty was arrested last Wednesday in Jericho, N.Y.

The trio are alleged to have engaged in the illegal transfer of money to Iran from 2007 to 2008 using the "hawala" system, a remittance method facilitating the transfer of funds outside traditional banking channels.

The FBI said they used a confidential informant to approach the three suspects about coordinating the transfer of about $300,000 they believed to be the proceeds of criminal activity to accounts located outside of the United States, including in Iran.

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