By: Richard L. Smith
U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today that a New Jersey-based employee of an international financial institution has been taken into custody for allegedly accepting bribes to facilitate money laundering activities totaling millions of dollars.
Federal officials said Mr. Oscar Marcelo Nunez-Flores, 32, hailing from North Plainfield stands charged with one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of accepting bribes in his capacity as a financial institution employee.
The arrest unfolded with his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court. Subsequently, he was released on a $150,000 unsecured bond.
As per the allegations, Nunez exploited his position within the bank to aid money laundering endeavors in exchange for substantial bribes. These transactions involved millions of dollars in illicit drug money and were conducted under the radar.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger emphasized, "Nunez corruptly exploited his position inside a bank to help launder millions of dollars in drug money in exchange for bribes. Today’s arrest shows that my office will expose and prosecute those who abuse positions of trust and seek to corrupt our financial institutions."
Special Agent in Charge for the DEA Caribbean Division, Denise Foster, added, "Money launderers help drug trafficking organizations flourish and poison our communities. We will continue to allocate all our law enforcement resources to make a greater impact in vulnerable areas where criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking are causing greater damage."
Tammy Tomlins, Special Agent in Charge of IRS - Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office, reaffirmed the commitment to tackle financial crimes, saying, "We are committed to protecting the integrity of our financial institutions by investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in financial crimes."
According to the court documents and statements, Nunez, employed at a Scotch Plains branch of an international financial institution, began his involvement in early 2022.
He leveraged his position to open bank accounts under the names of shell companies with nominee owners. These accounts were then utilized to launder proceeds from narcotics sales, with funds being funneled to Colombia.
Nunez provided online access and issued numerous debit cards for these accounts to the individuals who had bribed him. These cards were subsequently used to withdraw cash from ATMs in Colombia.
Nunez allegedly received thousands of dollars in bribes for each account he created. The ongoing investigation has uncovered that since early 2022, millions of dollars have been laundered to Colombia through accounts facilitated by Nunez.
If convicted, Nunez faces severe penalties, including up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or double the amount involved in the offense for money laundering conspiracy.