HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ) — More than $80 million allegedly hidden from the law made its way to war-torn Yemen, and now a man from Hamtramck and his business partners are facing serious charges in federal court. Prosecutors allege the men tried to keep secret an operation to send money overseas to Yemen.
“There is no ill will here. It’s not terrorism related," said Attorney Nabih Ayad who represents one of three men facing charges. "The money was simply intended to be used for friends and family. As you know the country of Yemen is experiencing a civil war.”
Ayad insists the money sent overseas between 2013 and 2015, was designed to help people in need.
More specifically, the money helped friends and relatives of people living here in Southeast Michigan.
“The means of getting money over there are very difficult," Ayad said. "So in the olden days we’d hand money to someone traveling there. Nowadays, they are wiring it.”
Federal prosecutors allege 38-year-old Omar Alhalmi sent more than $20 million by using phony addresses from vacant store fronts and numerous bank accounts.
“This is a victim-less crime," Ayad said. "Government isn’t out of money. No victims. Just simply failing to follow federal regulations. He had a state license but not federal.”
According to two indictments, those who wanted money to be wired paid a service fee. The three defendants face charges of causing the filing of a false currency transaction report, and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
All are free on bond. They face up to five years behind bars.
“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime," Ayad said. "You look at serious consequences and many years in jail and no victims here.”
Ayad said he is hopeful he can resolve these matters with prosecutors. If necessary, he says he’s prepared to go to trial.
Read court documents below:
Samaha & Alsabahi Indic... by on Scribd