Five New York City diamond and jewelry dealers were charged Sept. 7 with processing more than $600 million in illegal money transfers, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Raj Vaidya, Rakesh Vaidya, Shrey Vaidya, Neel Patel, and Youssef Janfar (also known as “Joe Rodeo”) were each hit with one count of operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business.
Since 2019, the three Vaidyas and Patel have run numerous jewelry companies in New York City’s Diamond District, including Arya Diamond Jewellery, which does business as Karats & Carats; Diamspark Lab-Grown Diamonds; Royal Diamonds; Royal Arya Jewellery; and Raj Gold and Diamond. Janfar has owned Rodeo of NY, which does business as Sarah Jewels.
According to a criminal complaint posted on the Justice Department’s website, the defendants used these businesses and others as fronts to conduct hundreds of millions in illegal financial transactions—including converting cash into checks or wire transfers. Sometimes, the defendants moved millions in one day, and garnered substantial fees for their efforts, the complaint charged.
None of their companies was registered as a money-transmitting business with New York, New Jersey, or the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), it said.
The “cash deposits were nearly always large, round-dollar figures, and the funds were usually quickly moved out of the [companies’] accounts after deposit,” according to an affidavit submitted with the complaint. “[The businesses] engaged in a significant number of related-party transactions, where money was moved between accounts controlled by the Vaidyas and Patel, which bore hallmarks of ‘layering.’”
The affidavit included purported WhatsApp communications between the defendants. In one, Raj and Rakesh Vaidya allegedly told an unnamed individual that they’d charge 2% to convert $500,000 cash into checks. The individual responded that the check should be made out to Janfar’s company, according to the complaint.
The defendants have been released on unsecured bond. Neither they nor their attorneys could be reached for comment. Inquires to the two of the companies were not returned by press time.
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