Martin Luther King Jr. Day: How America is honoring the civil-rights hero

All over the country, scores of people will gather to honor one of America’s most prolific civil rights heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on his birthday.

King, who would have turned 91 on Jan. 15, is regarded for championing equal rights for African Americans through organized boycotts and rallies as well as by encouraging non-violent protests such as the one in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Perhaps most famously, King led the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his poignant “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Here are how some cities are paying tribute to King’s legacy.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech to huge crowd gathered for the Mall in Washington DC during the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom (aka the Freedom March). (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech to huge crowd gathered for the Mall in Washington DC during the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom (aka the Freedom March). (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

New York City

The Brooklyn Academy of Music will hold its 34th annual tribute on Monday to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A BAM tradition since 1990, the celebration is New York City’s largest public tribute to King’s life and vision, according to the Brooklyn institution.

Harlem, N.Y. 

Harlem Gospel Choir MLK Matinee: Every MLK Day the world-famous singers put on a matinee performance as a way to “share messages of love and inspiration.”

A walking tour of Historic Harlem: This MLK Day, tour the historic neighborhood of Harlem, the center of African American history, culture, and activism. The Big Onion tour group examines the area’s past, from a 17th century Dutch Village to mecca for black Americans. Stops include the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the landmarked Hotel Theresa, and more.

San Antonio

San Antonio honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with 33rd official march on Monday at 10 a.m. Considered one of the largest observances in the nation, drawing estimated crowds of over 100,000 people, the march caps off DreamWeek, a 16-day celebration that honors King, promoting diversity, tolerance and equality. The program includes morning worship, remarks from religious and community leaders along with dance performances and music.

San Diego

The 40th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade,  organized by the Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity— the oldest African American fraternity in the U.S. of which King was a member– is held on Jan. 19 and features floats, high school bands and drill teams and participants from colleges, churches, and more.


The Penn State community will honor the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. during the 35th annual MLK Commemoration at University Park, with events on Jan. 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and during the month of January.The student-led, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Committee will present the Evening Celebration for the 35th annual MLK Jr. Commemoration Week at University Park, featuring speakers Symone D. Sanders and Bakari Sellers, on Jan. 22.

Kevin Durant MLK Classic

Maryland native Kevin Durant aims to mesh culture and basketball with the Kevin Durant MLK Classic. More than a traditional basketball tournament, the classic hopes to provide student-athletes with unique community engagement and education experience in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Washington DC

MLK Day film program: The Kennedy Center honors Martin Luther King, Jr. with a double feature of films drawn from the writings of James Baldwin, an American novelist, playwright, and activist.


MLK parade: For the 20th time, bands, floats, step teams, honor and color guards, equestrian units, pols and civic leaders will make their way down Baltimore’s Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to honor the preacher, author, activist and Nobel laureate.


NAACP Annual Freedom March Parade promotes and encourages strong families and community involvement.


Eldrin Bell guarded MLK’s body for 12 hours after he was killed. Bell will share how those experiences affected him and recall personal anecdotes from his friendship with King after Denver’s 35th annual Marade.

Hunting money launderers? There’s AI for that

By Dean DeChiaro

Encouraged by a recent green light from regulators, the financial services industry is exploring new ways of using artificial intelligence to help them comply with banking regulations and to better detect fraudulent transactions used by criminals and terrorists.

This move toward new approaches to banking compliance comes despite growing concern that more government scrutiny could force the United States to fall behind similar efforts already underway overseas.

Last December, federal regulators, including the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, issued a joint statement encouraging the industry “to consider, evaluate and, where appropriate, responsibly implement innovative approaches” to detect money laundering operations and terrorist financing.

“The agencies realize that private sector innovation, including new ways of using existing technologies or adopting new technologies,” such as artificial intelligence, “can help banks identify and report money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit financial activity by enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency” of their compliance programs, the regulators said.

The go-ahead resulted in a flurry of activity by banks, consulting firms and fintech companies, all of which are seeking less expensive, more streamlined ways to monitor banking transactions for possible money laundering, the cost of which has risen to roughly $25 billion per year since new compliance requirements were put in place following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Tim Mueller, the managing director for global investigations and compliance at Navigant, a Chicago-based consulting firm, said the current enthusiasm reminds him of the late 1990s, when he was advising banks on how to enhance their businesses using the World Wide Web.

“Although you could make some pretty significant arguments that AI is going to be bigger than the internet,” said Mueller, who gave a presentation on Navigant’s efforts to harness the technology at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum last month in Davos, Switzerland.

“It’s kind of impossible to ignore,” he added. “If you don’t start to understand how AI can help you serve your clients better, […] you’re going to be out of business and irrelevant in the very near future.”

Still, the industry is proceeding with caution. While banks and their partners feel emboldened by the December notice from regulators, they remain wary of its stipulation that banks may not be fully exempt from punishment if pilot programs expose existing gaps in their compliance operations.

“If I’m an institution, that makes me a little nervous,” said David Stewart, who leads the financial crimes and compliance division at SAS, a North Carolina-based software company.

“Some of the things we’re doing with our clients in Hong Kong are substantially more innovative than what our clients have an appetite to do in the United States because they feel they’re under such heavy regulatory scrutiny,” Stewart said.

Increasing efficiency

In partnership with Ayasdi, a Silicon Valley-based machine-learning company that has also worked with Citibank and HSBC, Navigant is seeking to challenge the traditional means of weeding out possible money laundering when monitoring a large number of transactions, which Mueller described as “pretty dicey.”

Currently, transaction monitoring typically scrutinizes a limited data set and relies heavily on humans trained to spot red flags. Transactions are segmented by broad categories such as a client’s business type, location or risk level as determined by the bank, which allows significant data to fall through the cracks.

The strategy tends to result in a high number of false positives — normal banking behavior initially flagged as suspicious. According to Mueller’s presentation at Davos, an estimated 95 percent of alerts generated in the first phase of a transaction review are found to be false-positives, and 98 percent of alerts do not lead to the filing of a suspicious activity report.

Enter Ayasdi, which used artificial intelligence to mine four years’ worth of transaction data belonging to two of Navigant’s clients, Scotiabank of Canada and Intesa Sanpaolo of Italy, for instances of possible money laundering.

Instead of analyzing transactions using 20 or 30 categories, the banks were able to see data generated across 500 data points, said Alex Baghdjian, Ayasdi’s financial services strategy lead. False positives plummeted as a result, while the number of alerts that were chosen for further review rose.

“Not only were we able to get rid of the noise — all these alerts that were non-productive — but we also identified all these new areas of risk that were being escalated,” said Baghdjian. “Not only did we increase efficiency, but we drastically increased effectiveness as well.”

Navigant and Ayasdi aren’t alone in their pursuits. Bigger banks like WellsFargo are also experimenting with machine learning in the anti-money laundering sector. But firms are reluctant to charge too far ahead, lest they run afoul of regulators grappling with the promise and pitfalls of artificial intelligence.

“It’s not an industry that lends itself to being first movers,” said Mueller.

Regulatory woes

The December notice by regulators, which struck a largely optimistic tone while still warning banks against getting greedy, is just one recent sign the government is growing more curious about, and yet suspicious of, new innovation in compliance procedures. And it follows a larger trend in fintech: The industry’s rapid growth is prompting regulators to closely track innovation that could change forever the way Americans bank.

For instance, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Friday launched a 10-member “Fintech Advisory Group” of bankers, attorneys and academics in order to “establish clear points of contact with senior representatives and thought leaders” in the fintech industry.

The group, which is scheduled to have its first meeting next Monday, “will also gather insights that may inform our interaction with market participants and institutions, our training and hiring efforts, and the application of innovative approaches for internal business use,” said Kevin Stiroh, executive vice president and head of the supervision group at the New York Fed.

The move marks a departure for the Federal Reserve System as a whole, which has historically taken a hands-off approach to fintech innovation compared with other banking regulators.

Other regulators are taking on their own initiatives. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the FDIC have both signaled they’re willing to work with fintech innovators, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently proposed a “regulatory sandbox” in order to allow companies to experiment with new financial products without needing to worry about breaking the law.

Still, the stakes are higher when it comes to anti-money laundering, and firms have trained a nervous eye on the December notice’s condition that U.S.-based firms would not “necessarily” face penance for past violations uncovered by current experimentation. For Stewart of SAS, the U.S. regulatory stance stands in stark contrast to what he considers more lenient approaches by the United Kingdom and Singapore.

“It’s great that the regulators are putting these advisories out there,” he said. “But if we want to continue to be competitive within the financial services industry, our institutions can’t be at a disadvantage.”

Minot man sentenced to federal prison for drug, gun, money laundering

BISMARCK – A 37-year-old Minot man was sentenced Monday, March 18, to more than 12 years in federal prison after being convicted on drug, gun and money laundering charges.

Dennis Allen Corwin was the leader of a ring distributing meth in the Minot and Bismarck area, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

When he was arrested in Bismarck, authorities found approximately five pounds of meth and 30 firearms in his vehicle and shop in Minot. The drug ring had transported more than 70 pounds of meth from Mexico to North Dakota.

He was convicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance; distribution of a controlled substance; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession or sale of stolen firearm; possession of firearms by a prohibited person; possession of a short-barreled shotgun; and laundering of monetary instruments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Corwin will be on supervised probation for five years following his release from prison.

How Wells Fargo Uses AI, Biometrics To Fight Money Laundering

Digital banking customers of today aren’t looking for the bank with the newest features — they’re looking for the bank that can keep their data safe. Any security mishap can send customers to one of the other digital banking apps that are ready and waiting for them.

In the new Digital Banking Tracker™, PYMNTS examines the ways digital banking is changing as security measures grow more stringent, and challenger banks look to amass more customers.

Around the Digital Banking World

One such brand looking to expand within the next year is German challenger bank N26, which is seeking to branch out of its native Europe and into the United States. Following a funding round of approximately $300 million, the fully digital bank is aiming to compete with both U.S. incumbents and challengers by the end of 2019. The challenger’s expansion comes as banks around the world are launching platforms of their own, including financial institutions (FIs) in Thailand and the Philippines.

Thailand’s United Overseas Bank, for one, is opening a fully digital brand this year called TMRW. The digital bank is designed to target millennial consumers who are more comfortable using digital services, and comes equipped with live chat features to support digitally native conversations.

Meanwhile, several global scandals have brought the importance of anti-money laundering (AML) protections to the forefront. The more than $220 billion money laundering scandal involving Estonia-based Danske Bank continues to affect the global banking world. Several banks, including Germany’s Deutsche Bank, are caught in the crossfire, with their own AML protections coming under scrutiny from German regulators.

Tapping into Emerging Tech: How Wells Fargo is Fighting Fraud

To protect against the rise of money laundering and digital fraud hammering banks, many are turning to new technologies to stem the tide. Wells Fargo, for one, is using artificial intelligence (AI) and biometric authentication tools in combination to track patterns that human analysts overlook, according to Chuck Monroe, head of AI enterprise solutions for Wells Fargo.

“We’re using AI to go through and look across the internet, including the deep dark web, [for] signals that would apply to a particular AML situation,” Monroe said in a recent interview with PYMNTS. “There are lots of opportunities in the AML space to leverage AI to look much [deeper], because no human could do that level of investigation.”

To learn more about how Wells Fargo is using AI and biometrics for AML, take a look at the Tracker’s feature story.

Deep Dive: Digital Banking and Anti-Money Laundering

As the banking world gets more digital and interconnected, many banks are starting to worry about money laundering. Take the banks that were engaging in routine business with Danske Bank, for example. Several of those banks are now being examined by regulators to ensure that they’re staying compliant with AML rules to keep launderers out.

That said, the digital banking world is expanding quickly, which means that banks across the globe need to keep a careful eye on the methods they’re using for AML and other fraud protections. To find out how banks are upgrading their security, take a look at the Tracker’s Deep Dive.

About the Tracker

The Digital Banking Tracker™, in collaboration with Feedzai, brings the latest news, research and expert commentary from the FinTech and consumer banking space. It also includes a provider directory that features the rankings of more than 250 companies serving or powering the digital banking sector.

Crypto Activist and Bitcointopia Founder Pleads Guilty to Charges: Land Fraud, Money Laundering

By Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team

The way to bitcoin-utopia is laden with regulatory issues and scam artists. In a recent confession, Morgan Rockoons the founder of Bitcointopia and a well-known crypto activist has conceded to both charges against him in two bitcoin-related cases.

He had been charged with an illegal wire transfer as well as being party to a real estate scam venture.

What was going on with money laundering?

In early 2018 Morgan Rockoons was under the microscope as the government came down heavily on him for money laundering. As such activities make traceability of money extremely hard and raise fears of funding criminal activities, this is considered pretty serious and dealt with appropriately.

When the case came out, news outlets were projecting this as a test case to see how far the judiciary of the land was willing to loosen the leash and allow cryptocurrency advocates to trade in fiat currency.

However, the events that transpired seem to suggest this has little to do with Crypto and more with a trader not following clearly laid down rules. According to the officials, Morgan Rockoons was running his operation without the requisite license and not following protocol. He is alleged to have transferred “about $9,200 in bitcoin to the agent for $14,500 in cash, taking the remainder as a transaction fee”.

That is exactly what the recent plea also seems to bring into focus; that the whole case had more to do with business fraud than any precedent-setting cryptocurrency case. This appears to be a simple case of a business being charged for money transmission violations without a proper financial license.

The Bitcoin City dream in ashes

At the time of his arrest, Rockoons was rather boisterous and was playing up his crypto credentials. After being released on bail he had started pushing the blockchain agenda more. And one of the ventures he advocated was a plan to start an idealistic community. He quickly went about advertising this “Bitcoin City”.

Soon all his channels and associates were pushing for this, a Disneyland-Ishq venture. To this end, the Bitcointopia Inc was launched giving everyone the impression Morgan Rockoons was a visionary and futurist.

However, this all came crashing down when he was arrested again. This time the prosecution alleged that the whole scheme was a fraud. Rockoons and his partners had pushed to sell almost a 1000 acre of undeveloped land in Elko County, Nevada to build a city centered around automation and blockchain technology.

As facts came out it became apparent that most of this was federally owned land with only about 10 odd acres in the embattled CEOs or his company’s name. In January, he seemed to be more combative, twitting:

” I am going to court on Monday at 2 PM, in room 4A, if you support me and my mission to protect Bitcoin & build a Bitcoin City please come to court and show support, it would mean the world to me, PS, Jail Sucks, Love Morgan, From FEDERAL PRISON XO”.

Yet that fire seems to have been extinguished in a little over a month as on the 8th of this month he pleads guilty to both charges of wire and land fraud.

As this publication has repeatedly stated, the actions of individuals cannot and should not reflect on the technology. Unlike men ideas are incorruptible. The idea of a freer and more transparent future should not get muddled by the actions of someone.

Weather Rockoons actions were deliberate or misinformed if a law has been broken and a fair trial has ensued then punishment should ensue.

Three Anti-Money-Laundering Trends Financial Institutions Should Know In 2019

By Tony Raval

As criminals become more sophisticated at performing money laundering activities, regulators are increasing their commitment to anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance. For banks, this means they must work diligently to maintain AML compliance amid a sea of growing regulation. It is now more important than ever to remain on top of AML compliance measures within institutions. In this article, we will explore three of the key anti-money-laundering trends and challenges for 2019.

1. AML Compliance For Cryptocurrency Becomes Standard

Global cryptocurrency adoption will continue to expand in 2019. This is causing regulatory bodies to work diligently to create AML standards for cryptocurrency companies. In 2018 we saw the release of the Fifth AML Directive in the EU, which created regulatory obligations for crypto exchanges. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will also be releasingspecific international AML standards for crypto companies in mid-2019. As more governments acknowledge the role of cryptocurrencies in the financial system throughout the year, crypto companies will need to become serious about maintaining AML compliance.

Many crypto companies are realizing that regulations are necessary in order to keep expanding the cryptocurrency market. Regulations are not something they can avoid, and crypto companies are going to have to deal with them. As one crypto company executive put it, “One cannot exist without the other.”

2. AML Becomes Automated As False Positives Continue To Increase

The number of people with access to financial services has steadily increased over time. Financial technology (fintech) is facilitating financial inclusion in previously underrepresented populations around the world, leading to an increase in consumer adoption of financial technologies and services, especially from fintech disruptors. This is increasing the transaction volume financial institutions must monitor to maintain AML compliance.

Many financial institutions use outdated technology to run their AML programs. This technology leads to a high volume of false positives, which has adverse effects on banks. Not only does this add more friction to customers during onboarding and payment processing, but it also increases operational costs for financial institutions. As fintech disruptors continue to gain market share among consumers, many banks are shifting toward automated technologies to completely transform their AML procedures.

Expect to see fraud and risk departments in many financial institutions increase their adoption of AI and machine learning for AML monitoring. AI can detect patterns in large volumes of data as well as adapt to changes in criminal activity over time. Plus, many fraud management departments will likely add blockchain technology to monitor complex transactions in conjunction with AI technology. Since blockchain is a cryptographic ledger that is decentralized, secure and immutable in nature, it is an ideal technology for maintaining AML compliance. This means that building an AML system with AI on the blockchain will identify and stop suspicious transactions effectively with minimal friction and high efficiency.

Overall, these tools should increase the effectiveness of AML while also simplifying the process for many financial institutions.

3. Financial Institutions Work To Combat Identity Theft

With the number of data breaches reaching an all-time high in 2018, the amount of identity theft taking place in the global landscape is staggering. Criminals are using stolen identity information to create synthetic identities they then use to gain access to financial services to perform nefarious activities such as money laundering. These facts are making know your customer (KYC) an essential part of an overall AML strategy. It’s a part of the process financial institutions cannot ignore.

Regulatory technology companies are creating solutions that aim to make identity management much easier for financial institutions. Rather than relying on an internal team, financial institutions can now use identity verification solutions to quickly and efficiently verify customer identities during onboarding. Automated identity checks offer companies faster results, lower consumer friction and more accurate detection of high-risk individuals.

These technologies will help financial companies remain in compliance and avoid costly fines.

It is more important than ever to maintain AML compliance. With money laundering taking place in increasingly complex ways, the pressure is mounting for financial institutions to combat financial crime. For many institutions, increased regulations will cause them to refine their AML strategies. This will cause many fraud and risk assessment departments to use new technologies to combat money laundering within their institutions, from AI for transaction monitoring to identity verification solutions for KYC checks. These trends will shift the AML landscape in 2019 and lead to better risk management by financial institutions overall.

‘El Chapo’ renews U.S. law enforcement concerns about money laundering via prepaid cards

By Brett Wolf

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence) – The recent trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has reignited U.S. law enforcement officials’ concerns about the use of prepaid cards to launder proceeds of crime.

The purported abuse of prepaid cards by Guzman’s organization to move drug proceeds out of the United States, as depicted in the trial, was “definitely not shocking,” John Tobon, a senior official with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), told Regulatory Intelligence.

While prepaid card providers are required to have anti-money laundering programs{here} and must report suspicious activity, there remains no requirement that individuals moving cards loaded with cash report the funds when crossing U.S. borders.

In 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department proposed a rule{here.pdf} aimed at forcing those moving prepaid cards loaded with more than $10,000 in or out of the country to declare the funds – just as a similar amount of cash or traveler’s checks would have to be disclosed under existing rules.

But Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), facing industry pushback, has not finalized the rule{here}.

During Guzman’s trial last month, the jury heard testimony that the Sinaloa Cartel led by Guzman used prepaid cards to move drug proceeds from New York to South America to pay for cocaine. The cards, loaded with proceeds of narcotics sales in the United States were transported overseas and the cash was withdrawn at ATMs, the jury heard.

The jury convicted Guzman of money laundering conspiracy and other crimes, and the money laundering witness testimony served as a reminder to law enforcement that FinCEN has not issued a reporting requirement.

U.S. law enforcement officials with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which probes cross-border money laundering schemes, consider FinCEN’s failure to enact a prepaid card cross-border reporting requirement problematic.

“I’ve been really fighting, getting into shouting matches with FinCEN personnel because it’s one of those things where the industry has really gone out of their way to thwart these rules,” HSI’s Tobon said.

FinCEN, which in 2016 told Regulatory Intelligence that the effort to develop a cross-border reporting rule for prepaid cards was “not dead,” did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

HSI continues to see prepaid cards used to launder money and the lack of a FinCEN rule on cross-border transport of the cards is “a significant vulnerability,” Kevin Tyrell, assistant special agent in charge with HSI in Miami, told Regulatory Intelligence.

While HSI officials are concerned about transnational organized crime rings smuggling cards loaded with dirty cash out of the country, such schemes do not always involve “mules” who carry the cards. In some cases, criminals simply mail prepaid cards with impunity, Tyrell said.

If U.S. authorities conduct an “outbound inspection” of packages at a mail facility and discover a package full of traveler’s checks, they can seize the instruments and investigate whether required reporting occurred, Tyrell said.

“But if they find a package full of prepaid cards, they still can’t do anything, they just have to let them go,” Tyrell said.

FATF Issues Preliminary Guidelines on Digital Assets to Combat Money Laundering

By Ana Berman

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization that develops policies against money laundering, has published preliminary guidelines for cryptocurrencies on its website on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The FATF held a meeting on preliminary crypto requirements on Feb. 22. According to the organization, the new text of the Interpretive Note to Recommendation 15 — which contains  requirements for regulating and supervising digital asset services providers — has been finalized.

However, the FATF expects to benefit from private sector consultations that are scheduled for May, asking entrepreneurs to send their comments to the organization by Apr. 8. Once the recommendation is finalized, it can be formally adopted by the FATF. The final meeting is scheduled for June 2019.

Firstly, the task force urges countries to follow guidelines to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing with cryptocurrencies — an amendment from a previous edition signed in 2018.

Moreover, digital asset providers are obliged to be licensed or registered in the jurisdictions they were created, and their owners have to provide identity information to relevant authorities. The FATF also adds that crypto products must sometimes be certified, should the host country requires it.

The guidelines also compel governments to form adequate regulation and supervision over digital assets. The FATF emphasizes that monitoring must be conducted by a competent authority instead of a self-regulatory body in order to successfully prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. The country that applies the guidelines must also establish criminal, civil or administrative sanctions for violating the rules.

Finally, the FATF obliges digital asset providers to obtain and keep records of senders and beneficiaries of crypto transfers, and to provide the data to appropriate state or international authorities should they require it. If a transaction is suspected to be illicit, the country has to take measures to freeze the action or prohibit the transfer.

The FATF currently has over 30 member countries. European countries make up a large percentage of the member states, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, France and others. While the organization first issued a “risk-based-approach” guideline for cryptocurrencies in 2015, the organization amended and updated it in late 2018 following the pop of the initial coin offerings (ICO) bubble that began in 2017.

Democrats are planning to grill Michael Cohen about Trump Organization money laundering

By Travis Gettys

Michael Cohen’s testimony has already set off bombshells, based on a prepared statement he will deliver to the House Oversight Committee, but Democrats plan to pursue another area that hasn’t yet drawn as much attention.

The longtime Trump Organization lawyer will tell lawmakers the president knew about Roger Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks and spoke with his son about an infamous meeting with a Russian attorney promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, but NBC News reporter Heidi Przybyla said Democrats are also interested in Trump’s shady business dealings.

“Beyond that, Democrats want a lot more, and they want to delve deep into this issue of money laundering, not just with Russia but other potential foreign countries,” Przybyla told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“There was a story that maybe didn’t get a lot of attention last year in February,” she continued, “about a Trump Tower last year in Panama, where the South Americans were essentially trying to kick out Trump business officials. They saw them going into a room with documents, and they heard a shredder going.”

“Why is that important?” Przybyla added. “Democrats are going to dig into this whole notion how the Trump Organization operates with these shell companies, which are supposed to be investments, and a lot of these individuals and foreign countries think are going to be investment but actually turn out to be shell companies potentially used for money laundering.”


Feds accuse three Wyoming restaurants of involvement in drug money laundering scheme

By Shane Sanderson

Three Wyoming restaurants participated in a multistate drug money laundering scheme, authorities allege in a 50-page civil complaint filed Friday in federal court.

The filings state that Mexican fast food restaurants in Colorado and Wyoming — including Rodolfo’s Mexican Grill in Cheyenne, Rolando’s Mexican Grill in Cheyenne and Almanza’s Mexican Food in Laramie — were involved in a scheme to use falsified invoices to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars in concert with a Colorado Springs food distributor. When law enforcement raided the Colorado Springs facility, they found more than $35,000 cash. No cash registers or prices for food items were found in the facility, according to the filings.

The bank accounts associated with Almanza’s Mexican Food and Rolando’s Mexican Grill were closed before law enforcement began investigating the case, the documents state.

By Monday evening, defense attorneys had not responded to the prosecution’s latest filing, but in earlier filings they largely denied the allegations.

The man who ran the distribution business, which is known as El Potosino Foods, has connections with a Mexican drug cartel, the documents state. The phone number for Jose Aguilar-Martinez, who owns El Potosino, turned up in previous investigations of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, although the documents do not specify the investigations or the phone number’s connection to them.

Authorities have said Zambada is a leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the United States.

Earlier this month, a jury convicted Guzmán, another Sinaloa cartel leader, of various federal crimes, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds and international drug distribution. His lawyers have said he will seek a new trial following a Vice News report alleging juror misconduct during the case.

The allegations implicating one of the Wyoming restaurants were reported by the Star-Tribune in January. The report drew from responses to a sealed civil complaint filed in November.

In their responses, defendants laid out some of the government’s allegations, including that bank accounts belonging to Hilario Montejano-Aleman, the owner of Rodolfo’s Mexican Grill in Cheyenne, were used in drug money laundering.

Rather than filing documents under seal, prosecutors partially redacted, and on Friday filed publicly, their amended complaint. It revealed more details of the case, which does not bring any criminal action against the alleged money launderers. Instead, the filings seek to require the forfeiture of $1.5 million spread across 15 bank accounts and two safe deposit boxes alleged to be used in the scheme.

The bank safe deposit boxes alone contained more than $800,000 linked to drug trafficking, according to the documents. One of those boxes was filled to capacity with hundreds of thousands of dollar bills that investigators say are tied to drug trafficking. A woman accessed the box at a Colorado Springs bank 16 times over the course of nine years. Every time she appeared pregnant. “Or, in retrospect, carrying the cash inside of a false belly,” prosecutors wrote.

Although the allegations span multiple states and businesses, the investigation began in Wyoming.

Law enforcement began investigating the case in Cheyenne in July 2016 after receiving a report of a suspicious vehicle purchase. That purchase was among multiple turned up by investigators in which purchasers put down $10,000 or more in cash, the documents state. Among those vehicles were a 2007 Cadillac Escalade for which a cook at the Laramie restaurant put down $14,000 cash.

The case also has a Casper connection, although the extent of that connection is not clear. According to prosecutors, a phone number associated with Rodolfo’s called a Casper number that the DEA is investigating in a different case.