WV State Police received $1 million in civil forfeiture - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

WV State Police received $1 million in civil forfeiture

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Federal officials said the West Virginia State Police have received more than $1 million in forfeiture proceeds from a money laundering case involving the First National Bank of Williamson.

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation made the announcement on Monday. The bank was ordered to forfeit more than $1.3 million in March 2017 for violating the Bank Secrecy Act. The WVSP received a total of $1,087,285.15.

According to Stuart, from April 2006 to November 2008, Arthur White, Jr. and "other individuals" were involved a tax evasion scheme. The bank allowed "White to pay cash for cashiers’ checks made payable to himself, without first depositing the money into any account." Each check would be for exactly $10,000 because any cash transaction over that amount would have required the bank to file a Cash Transaction Report.

"In every instance where we identify a federal institution intentionally aiding and abetting illegal activities, we will use every tool possible, including forfeiture, to ensure the institution pays a very heavy price," said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart. 

White owned several companies that held accounts with the First National Bank of Williamson. He entered guilty pleas to tax evasion and structuring in March 2013. 

See the full news release below:

CHARLESTON, W.VA. – United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced today the West Virginia State Police received $1,087,285.15 as a result of a civil forfeiture action relating to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act by First National Bank of Williamson.  The Bank Secrecy Act requires financial institutions to maintain programs that detect and report suspicious activity that may signify money laundering. Under this law, banks must prepare and file Cash Transaction Reports for all cash transactions over $10,000. The Bank Secrecy Act also makes structuring a federal crime that involves the breaking down of cash banking transactions in amounts of $10,000 or less to avoid triggering a bank’s reporting requirement.  First National Bank agreed to forfeit $1,360,000 to the United States, which represents the sum of transactions uncovered. 

Stuart commended the efforts of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“The scheme set up by White and others to deceive federal authorities should never have been permitted by the bank,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “In every instance where we identify a federal institution intentionally aiding and abetting illegal activities, we will use every tool possible, including forfeiture, to ensure the institution pays a very heavy price.  I am happy that over $1 million forfeited by the bank in this case can now be used by WV State Police to further its missions and good work for the citizens of our great state.”

Between April 2006 and November 2008, Arthur White, Jr., and other individuals, structured $1.36 million in cash withdrawals in increments of exactly $10,000 from First National Bank of Williamson in order to avoid triggering the mandatory reports. In March 2013, Arthur White pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to tax evasion and structuring. White admitted that he cashed checks made payable to his companies that held accounts at First National Bank of Williamson. According to the complaint, First National Bank permitted White to pay cash for cashiers’ checks made payable to himself, without first depositing the money into any account.

As part of the scheme, White and other individuals would receive exactly $10,000 in cash each time they cashed a check. They would then purchase a new cashier’s check without depositing any of the money, repeating the process until the entire check had been converted to cash. The cash obtained through this structuring was used to pay wages for some of White’s employees. White, and others at his direction, intentionally conducted these transactions to avoid triggering the bank’s reporting requirements and to evade taxes.

As set forth in the complaint, despite First National Bank's knowledge of these transactions, it permitted this structuring and failed to report these transactions as required by law.

"The dismantlement is a result of the investigation and successful prosecution which enables and triggers asset forfeiture," said FBI Pittsburgh Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nick Boshears. "The funding provides for things like new vehicles, bulletproof vests, opioid overdose reversal kits and better training for our law enforcement partners."

“We are pleased to join our law enforcement partners in recognizing the successful results of this case,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Francis L. Mace.  “Today’s sharing of forfeiture proceeds will provide the members of the West Virginia State Police with funds that can be used to further their important mission of serving the citizens of West Virginia.”

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