A Montreal-area resident is in custody in the United States and his brother is being sought after a federal grand jury recently indicted both on charges alleging they operated an Internet-based money service to launder money from illegal activity.
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of Ferhan Patel, 37, who was picked up in Detroit and detained pending a transfer to the District of Columbia where he and his brother Firoz, 43, are charged with conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. They are also charged with one count of conspiring to launder money. Authorities are still trying to locate the elder brother.
During a brief hearing held on Monday at a U.S. District Court in Michigan, Ferhan Patel waived his right to challenge the allegation that he is the person referred to in the indictment filed against him. He also waived his right to a bail hearing but asked a judge that the option for the same type of hearing remain a possibility once he and his case are transferred to D.C.
If convicted, he and his brother each face maximum sentences of 25 years.
According to a statement issued by the Department of Justice, the Patel brothers are the founders and operators of Payza.com, AlertPay.com and Egopay.com and used them in “an Internet-based unlicensed money service business that processed more than $250 million in transactions.
“According to the indictment, Payza’s customers included Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and a child pornography site. The Patels opened bank accounts in the United States and laundered their illegal proceeds through those accounts.” The alleged conspiracies began in 2012.
A company named MH Pillas Ltd. is also charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in the same case. Firoz Patel is listed as the company’s president on the Quebec business registry. Its primary shareholder is listed as a holding company based in Belize and its only address based in Montreal appears to be a UPS Store in Town of Mont Royal. The company was incorporated in the United Kingdom.