A federal jury returned guilty verdicts against an East West Bank branch manager and a bank customer who conspired to launder more than $25,000 in cash by converting the currency into cashier’s checks.
Vivian Tat, 54, of Hacienda Heights, who is a vice president at Pasadena-based East West Bank, as well as the manager of the San Gabriel branch, and Ruimin Zhao, 48, of Temple City, each were convicted Sept. 28 of one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced on Oct. 2.
Additionally, Tat was convicted of two counts of causing a false statement in a bank record.
Emily Wang, senior vice president in charge of marketing with East West Bank, declined to comment on specifics of the probe.
“We are well aware of the process and outcome of the verdict from the jury,” Wang said. “This case did take place at an East West branch in 2009, but the bank was not involved. The case is still unfinished.”
The guilty verdicts were the result of a conspiracy in which Tat, Zhao and Zhao’s husband – Raymond Tan, 62, of Temple City – laundered cash through East West Bank’s San Gabriel branch.
Tat and Zhao are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright in February 2019, at which time each defendant will face up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering conspiracy. Additionally, Tat will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each of the false statement charges.
Tan previously pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and money laundering in this case and in two other cases brought as part of a federal investigation known as Operation Phantom Bank.
Six separate indictments arose out of Operation Phantom Bank. With the recent convictions of Tat and Zhao, a total of nine defendants have been convicted, and 16 defendants are pending trial.
In 2015, federal authorities charged 20 defendants in a racketeering indictment that alleged a series of money laundering schemes that revolved around the former head of the Westminster-based Saigon National Bank.
Saigon National was at the center of the main indictment in Operation Phantom Bank, according to a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Zhao and Tat were among the original defendants in the case.
Finance reporter Pat Maio can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 556-8329.
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