Money Laundering: Bank Vice President Busted in Undercover Sting
26 Feb 2019

A California court sentenced a vice president of East West Bank to two years in prison for conspiring to launder more than $25,000 in suspicious funds through cashier’s checks, the U.S. Justice Department said.

A federal jury convicted Vivian Tat for coordinating with bank client Ruimin Zhao and her husband, Raymond Tan, to convert cash provided by a federal informant into the checks.

The informant recorded Tat, Zhao and Tan acknowledging the illegality of the transactions and discussing how to hide their criminal and regulatory violations from federal officials, the department said.

Tat, who served as the manager of the bank’s San Gabriel branch, was also convicted of two counts of causing false statements to be entered into bank records, according to a February 2019 statement by the Justice Department.

In addition to facilitating the illegal transactions, Tat “provided the knowledge necessary to ensure that this transaction would occur undetected by regulators or law enforcement,” federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum, which also noted that Tat was responsible for training bank employees on anti-money laundering compliance.

Federal courts separately convicted Zhao and Tan in multiple money laundering cases last year.

The convictions stem from Operation Phantom Bank, a joint investigation conducted by the FBI, IRS and the Office of Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Since 2015, the operation has resulted in six indictments of 25 defendants purportedly linked to organized crime, narcotics trafficking and international money laundering in the United States, China, Cambodia, Liechtenstein, Mexico and Switzerland.

A spokesperson for East West Bank did not reply to a request to comment by press time.

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