Lapas attēli

Starting in January 1984, Mr. Behar would deliver sums of money to me, $15,000, $20,000, $25,000. I would be paid anywhere from $50 to $100 for converting this into cashiers checks and money orders. Specific instructions were to never make out a check for more than $9,000, always make out a check in a Latin name, a Latin name being Gonzales, Rodrigues, et cetera, and the remitter, put down any name there I chose, and we picked a property management company and we used that.

This continued from January through April 1984, and Mr. Behar made a trip to Colombia on business, came back and asked me if I would like to make a trip to California with one of his associates who worked with me at the time, with Mr. Behar, actually. Supposedly, there was $400,000 waiting in California to be picked up and either brought back to Miami or laundered in the California area. We never used the term "laundering." At that point I had no idea we were doing anything illegal, other than the fact that Mr. Behar was a businessman, and I did not know making out cashiers checks was illegal.

We went to California. All we had was a beeper number, and we arrived in California, in Los Angeles, dialed a beeper number, received a return call at our hotel, and set up an appointment with a gentleman, Hecho, went to a house in Palos Verde when Hecho called us back and gave us an address, and sitting on a table we found $200,000, not the $400,000, and this $200,000 was turned over to us without any identification other than the telephone call and the fact that here we are and here is the money.

We started working Wilshire Boulevard on a Monday morning with $200,000 in cash, and by Tuesday at 11, we had converted the $200,000 into cashiers checks. We had no California identification. We were two Florida residents. Not one bank asked us to identify ourselves, and in each institution we made out checks in the amount of $9,000, converted the entire $200,000 in 1/2 days never leaving Wilshire Boulevard.

When I arrived back in Miami-did you want to say something, sir?

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Oh, no, no. Mr. Torres sees how popular-see, he is from California. They must have a lot of banks on Wilshire Boulevard.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. One on every corner, sir.

When we arrived back in Miami, I found an article in the Miami Herald describing money laundering, and at that time I realized I was involved in money laundering. I immediately contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and they turned me over to the Internal Revenue Service, Operation Greenback, in Miami.

I met with two agents and explained exactly what I had been doing for the past 5 months, and at that point I was asked to go to work for the U.S. Government as an informant. From June 1984 through February 1985, I worked for the U.S. Government, laundering money for a number of money launderers in the Miami area, turning over the back copies of the cashiers checks or money orders and allowing the Government to build a case up against these people.

I don't know if you have any questions now. I think you pretty much have an idea of what my activities were.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. I certainly do have some questions. I just want to make sure you have had an opportunity to tell your entire story.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. I think that's about it.
Chairman ST GERMAIN. Fine.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Friedberg can be found in the appendix.]

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Mr. Friedberg, you say that it wasn't until you returned from California, having introduced yourself to many banks on Wilshire Boulevard, and were in Miami that you saw the article in the paper about money laundering. Tell me. When you were asked by your friend, who lived in the apartment complex that you worked in, to go to work for him and convert cash into cashiers checks using any old name that you wanted and using phony names as the remitters, and the fact that he was paying you to go from one bank to another and cautioned you to stay under $9,000, that didn't ring a bell with you? Didn't you say to him, well, how come we are using all these phony Latin names? Didn't that ever occur to you?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Absolutely. I questioned him on a number of occasions, and Mr. Behar is a very eloquent individual. Mr. Behar had a legitimate import/export business. Mr. Behar said that he was in the money exchange business in Colombia, constantly on the phone with Colombia, 10 to 12 times a day, always knew the peso in relation to the dollar, et cetera, could always tell you, well, we are buying dollars and selling dollars and it is much easier if there is a Latin name because we do send the checks down to Colombia, and if it is in the name of a Latin, we don't have any problem, but when it's in American names, they get a little suspicious.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Let's look at the name of the remitter. He said to use different names for remitters, phony names.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. It didn't make any difference at that point. It came from a management company. His statements really were that the problem was not here in the United States but in Colombia, and he was defrauding the Colombian authority, which is what he was saying, that they were bringing the money into Colombia not to have to pay taxes on it or to avoid problems not in the United States but in Colombia.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Were you collecting workman's compensation?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. No, I stopped in January, sir, when I started to work for Mr. Behar. My compensation ended in January.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Because you were no longer considered disabled or because you-

Mr. FRIEDBERG. I was no longer disabled. They stopped my payments in December.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Oh. And you didn't contest that?
Chairman FRIEDBERG. No, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. You are unusual. I used to do workman's compensation work, and very few went off voluntarily.

You said that you were not asked for any identification whatsoever when you were in California on Wilshire Boulevard?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. That is correct.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. While operating, did you restrict yourself to the greater Miami area for your purchase of cashiers checks?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. I did. I had approximately 8 to 12 bank accounts under my own name. That's another thing. Not realizing I was committing any crime, I opened bank accounts in my own name. Every time I went into a bank, it was in the name of Herbert Friedberg. I didn't go in there looking to-

Chairman ST GERMAIN. So you identified yourself as Herbert Friedberg?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. That's correct.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. And then you would purchase a cashiers check?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. That's correct.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. You would then put the phony names on, for both the remitter and the payee?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Yes, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Now, you worked with eight or nine different banks?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Almost 12 banks.
Chairman ST GERMAIN. Twelve banks; is that it?
Mr. FRIEDBERG. Yes, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Which means you were going in on a regular basis?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Continuously.

Chairman St GERMAIN. Were you using the same tellers, pretty much the same tellers in those banks?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. They got to know me on a first-name basis.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. And they never questioned you and said, Mr. Friedberg, what kind of business are you in that you have so much cash?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. It never was questioned, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Would you say that one teller in a period of 2 weeks might have seen you come in five or six times with $5,000?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Not quite that much frequency. I would say at least two to th times.

If I might voice an opinion, sir, again having listened to Mr. Pickle and the members of the committee and the questioning, I realize the direction you were going.

The banks are obligated to report a transaction over $10,000 and the tellers are told that any transaction over $10,000 they should be aware of. When you walk in with $9,000, even though they might suspect that you are a money launderer or where the money has come from, their obligation is not to report it.

Because they are not obligated, they feel they are within their rights not to say anything.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. You see what you are referring to is the fact that they were looking the other way on aggregation.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Correct, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Did they ever say to you, "Mr. Friedberg, where is all this cash coming from?"

Mr. FRIEDBERG. No, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. They never asked you what kind of business you were in?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. It was not within their realm to ask that question.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Wait a second. That is your opinion.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. No, sir. They felt that it was not within their realm.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. You say that they felt it wasn't within their realm. Let's face it. If you were a bank teller and this fellow, Mr. Bandstra, came in to see you twice a week or once every 2 weeks with $9,000 on a regular basis, wouldn't you say to yourself, "I wonder where that guy is getting all this cash?”

Mr. FRIEDBERG. I certainly would.
Chairman ST GERMAIN. You would?
Mr. FRIEDBERG. Absolutely.
Chairman ST GERMAIN. That is our point.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Yes, sir. I would be very curious. Again, your question

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Did you not at some point in time feel a little queasy that they might ask you, some of these tellers that you would see more than one time?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Yes, sir

Chairman ST GERMAIN. But you figured as long as they didn't, you could keep going; right?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. I am losing the question.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. In other words, if you felt that perhaps they might put the finger on you and start asking you questions, where is this cash coming from, how come, A, B, C, D, that then you would have said to yourself, "I better not hit that bank again for a month or so?” Did that ever happen?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. No, sir. I just again-

Chairman ST GERMAIN. So you felt perfectly free to go back into the bank?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. The problem again, sir, never arose.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. It never occurred to you that there would be a problem?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. No, sir.

Chairman ST GERMAIN. They were very friendly and cordial and happy to get the fee you were paying them for the cashier's check?

Chairman ST GERMAIN. Hallelujah! My time has expired. Mr. Annunzio.

Mr. ANNUNZIO. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I listened to the witness. When you walk into a bank and you have $9,000 and you ask for a cashier's check or a money order, you are not violating any law?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. That is correct, sir.
Mr. ANNUNZIO. You can repeat that 50 times per day?
Mr. FRIEDBERG. Yes, sir.

Mr. ANNUNZIO. And you are still not in violation of any law. I want to get this record straight. The chairman asked the question about the employees of the bank asking you about the money, but it is none of their business. They are working there and you pay x number of dollars for a cashier's check and they are making money. A bank is in the business of making money. You are in the business of not knowing you are laundering money. I don't think there are many people in the country that know that $10,000 has to be reported. Do you agree with that statement?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Yes, absolutely. I was going to inject that there is an education process. I was educated by the Miami Herald.

Mr. ANNUNZIO. You have been through this process. How would you advise the members of this committee. I voted for the $10,000 in the Bank Secrecy Act and it is a good thing that we had the Bank Secrecy Act on the statute books because when this thing came up, it was the only tool that Federal law enforcement officials have for going after the money launderers and the people who were in the drug business. What would you suggest? How do we overcome it?

Mr. FRIEDBERG. I found some roadblocks in the Miami area that I would like to pass on to you.


Mr. FRIEDBERG. We had one bank that when you walked in with a large amount of cash, first, all banks in Miami right now in order to purchase a cashier's check or money order, you must have an account with the bank. They will not sell you money orders or cashier's checks unless you have an account.

Mr. ANNUNZIO. That is a step in the right direction.

Mr. FRIEDBERG. Correct. Barnett Bank, if I am not mistaken, requires that you first deposit the money in your account and then write a check on it so that they can show the transaction there.

Most people are a little reticent to deposit the money in their own account if you are in the laundering business.

Also, the currency reporting system and certainly $10,000 is a good figure, I think there should be something about unusual cash transactions. Don't you consider it unusual for me to come into your bank three times per week with $9,000 on each occasion?

You do have to report it if it is $10,000 but by law, you don't have to report the $9,000 I think three times in the same week with $9,000 is an unusual currency transaction which should be brought to somebody's attention.

Mr. ANNUNZIO. Maybe so, but they are in the banking business to make money. We are a Banking Committee and we have just been through a great deal of bank deregulation because there are too many regulations. There is too much oversight on the part of the Government, people complain.

Our President is one of the most popular Presidents in the history of this country because he wants the Government out of everybody's business.

Now you are here this morning telling me that we have to put the Government in the business of all people. If you need a cashier's check, you have to have an account or you can't get the check. Maybe we could say something like if the person presenting the cash wants a money order of an amount over $5,000 they at least have some sort of identification to identify themselves. But then you are putting the onus on the person who is asking for the check because he might be a legitimate person, and if he goes to one of these lawyers and his civil rights have been violated, then we are back to square one again. That is why we can't get liability insurance, you see. So it is quite a puzzle.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »