Treasury Targets Major Money Laundering Network Operating Out of Colombia
By Dialogo July 12, 2013
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on July 9 the designation of Colombian nationals Isaac Perez Guberek Ravinovicz and his son, Henry Guberek Grimberg, as well as 29 other individuals and entities, including companies located in Colombia, Panama, and Israel, as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs).
These 31 individuals and entities together form a money laundering network responsible for laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money connected to drug trafficking organizations, including Ayman Saied Joumaa and Linares Castillo who were both previously designated by the Treasury Department. In a separate action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Miami Field Division announced the filing of criminal charges against four defendants, including Isaac Perez Guberek Ravinovicz, Henry Guberek Grimberg, and Johanna Patricia Ceballos-Bueno — designated by the Treasury on July 9 — all Colombian nationals, for their participation in an international money laundering conspiracy in which they laundered millions of dollars for transnational drug trafficking organizations.
This action builds upon the U.S. government’s continued campaign to target global narcotics networks, including that run by Joumaa whose global narcotics enterprises have stretched from South America to Africa and have benefited terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. By designating the individuals and entities behind this money laundering organization, the Treasury Department is taking another step to protect the international financing system from abuse by narcotics traffickers, money launderers, and terrorists.
“Money laundering is the lifeblood of the narcotics trafficking world,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “Our action against this major money laundering network strikes a powerful blow at the illicit profits flows of criminals like Ayman Joumaa and Linares Castillo.”
Several family members and associates of Guberek Ravinovicz and Guberek Grimberg were also designated for materially supporting the principals’ money laundering activities and/or for helping to manage their companies. The family members include Henry Guberek Grimberg’s two brothers, Felipe Guberek Grimberg, a businessman currently residing in Israel, and Arieh Guberek Grimberg, a licensed soccer agent. The business associates include Johanna Patricia Ceballos Bueno, the secretary of Guberek Ravinovicz and Guberek Grimberg, who manages the day-to-day operations of the network from their offices in Bogota.
Guberek Ravinovicz and Guberek Grimberg primarily rely upon the use of ostensibly legitimate textile companies within Colombia to engage in trade-based money laundering. Using bank accounts for these companies, as well as accounts belonging to a series of shell companies in Panama, Guberek Ravinovicz and Guberek Grimberg provide a means for traffickers to transfer narcotics proceeds back to Colombia from locations all over the world, with drug money transiting additional accounts in Spain, Hong Kong, the United States, Mexico, China, Israel, the Cayman Islands, and Venezuela, as well as other locations in Europe and Central America.