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The U.S. wants attorney Andrew Bennett for Money Laundering Print E-mail
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Thursday, 04 January 2018 00:00

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received the first ever extradition request from the US Government for a Belizean Attorney. According to the Attorney General’s Ministry, they are processing the request for the lawyer who they want to face grand jury charges for money laundering, 46 year-old Andrew Bennett. The US Government says that it allegedly has surveillance video of Bennett reportedly taking 250 thousand US dollars from an agent, in a surveillance operation.

Official documents say that there is a warrant for Bennett’s arrest from the District of Puerto Rico grand jury dated July 2015, and there is also an indictment from a Puerto Rico Grand Jury for 7 counts of money laundering.

The extradition request was sent from the US State Department to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in late December 2017.

The evidence provided to support the formal request says that in 2013, a confidential informant in Belize informed a DEA agent that high level bankers and politically connected individuals have been running money laundering services for drug trafficking organizations through 2 international banks in Belize.

The extradition request says that this informant sent an undercover agent to meet with Bennett as the attorney who supposedly could launder drug proceeds. The agent reportedly told Bennett that he was representing a Colombian and a Puerto Rican drug trafficking organization that needed the money laundered.

The extradition documents say that at this meeting, Bennett allegedly told the undercover agent that he could set up some International Business Companies or shell companies to hide the laundering of drug proceeds. He allegedly then asked for a retainer, and checked in with the agent to find out when the funds would be arriving.

The request says that these funds did arrive in May of 2015, and that’s allegedly when the undercover agent reportedly took the 250 thousand US dollars in a backpack to a meeting with Bennett at the Riverside Tavern.

That agent allegedly then handed over the money to Bennett, who was reportedly under surveillance by the Anti-Drug Unit, a US funded police unit. Bennett then allegedly went to an advertising agency with the bag of cash. It is explained in the request that this business played a role because Bennett reportedly told the agent that he will use the company to launder the money. The owner, has told the press that he knows nothing of any money laundering operation using his business. He reportedly added that his business had been up for sale for a while and that Bennett did express interest but no sale happened.

But, according to the extradition request, Bennett walked into the business with the knapsack of cash, and when he returned, it was empty. The evidence in the request says that Bennett followed his instructions carefully about how to wire the money. He allegedly took his 20% commission of $50 thousand US dollars.

Bennett has denied all allegations to the press, and he has said that he will have to meet with his legal team about the extradition request, which he learned about in local media reports.