The alleged theft of US$1.5 million of chicken wings by a former director of food services of a school district in Chicago may be linked to a major money laundering ring that was apparently disabled four years ago.
Vera Liddell is alleged to have stolen the wings over two years, beginning during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools were closed, albeit that families could pick up take-away meals from the kitchens.
The alleged thefts were discovered during an audit that found that the Harvey School District was thousands of dollars over budget. But how and where the stolen chicken-wings were disposed of has not been revealed.
Vast money laundering network
In 2019, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers arrested 17 individuals involved in a vast international money laundering network. This major investigation targeted an organised international criminal network with operations in Montreal and Toronto, which the RCMP is reportedly still investigating.
The investigation was led by Canada’s Integrated Proceeds of Crime initiative alongside RCMP investigators and the Canada Revenue Agency. It was triggered in 2016 when a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Administration provided information regarding the involvement of a Canadian national in the network.
IVTS and TBML
The network used an informal value transfer system (IVTS) with connections in Lebanon, the UAE, Iran, China and the US. Funds were ultimately channelled to drug exporting countries, such as Colombia and Mexico.
The network’s members collected cash from Montreal-based criminal groups before laundering these illicit proceeds. The network offered an IVTS service to drug exporting countries and used trade-based money laundering (TBML) schemes.
Low-value, high volume
Network members created businesses that purported to be bona fide import-export companies legitimately trading in chicken wings.
As a low-value, high-volume product that allows for an extended supply chain, chicken wings would be an attractive option for exploitation in TBML schemes.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News