L.A. Jewelry District Trader Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

On Feb. 11, a Los Angeles precious metal trader pleaded guilty to a charge of money laundering after allegedly agreeing to provide an undercover agent with help in laundering more than $200,000 in drug trafficking proceeds, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. Attorney of the Central District of California.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Saeed Elyahouzadeh, of Westwood, Calif., admitted in federal court that he took part in four financial transactions with the intent to launder illicit drug proceeds through the use of his jewelry business. Court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office said that undercover agents told Elyahouzadeh that the proceeds being laundered were the result of drug trafficking.

Elyahouzadeh is the owner and operator of R.S.D. Trading Co. According to California state records, R.S.D. Trading is located on Hill Street, in the heart of the Los Angeles jewelry district. He will be sentenced on Jan. 15 and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

According to the plea agreement, on April 22, 2015, Elyahouzadeh met with an undercover law enforcement agent who asked him to “clean” $18,000 that had been generated by cocaine sales. Elyahouzadeh subsequently agreed to launder the money in exchange for a $1,000 fee.

On three subsequent occasions, spanning from June 2015 to December 2017, Elyahouzadeh agreed to launder a total of $200,000 from the undercover agent in exchange for 5 percent and 6 percent of the given amount, according to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s office. Following the meetings, Elyahouzadeh arranged for multiple checks to be deposited into the bank account that the undercover agent provided, the plea agreement said.

Elyahouzadeh could not be reached for comment.

In recent years, federal agents have stepped up their probes of money laundering in the jewelry industry, as well as compliance with existing anti-money laundering rules. The Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s anti-money laundering resources can be seen here.

The Los Angeles jewelry district (image via: Wikipedia)

JCK News Director