A major money laundering network operating through ostensibly legitimate textile companies in Colombia has been targeted by federal authorities in the US.

31 individuals and entities have been charged with laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money, the US Treasury Department said yesterday (9 July), adding that it has imposed sanctions on two people behind the network.

In a separate action, criminal charges have been filed against four Colombian nationals.

Isaac Perez Guberek Ravinovicz and Henry Guberek Grimberg used bank accounts set up for the textile companies, as well as accounts belonging to a series of shell companies in Panama, to allow traffickers to transfer drugs proceeds to Colombia from locations all over the world.

Drug money transited additional accounts in Spain, Hong Kong, the US, Mexico, China, Israel, the Cayman Islands, and Venezuela, as well as locations in Europe and Central America.

Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), any assets these entities and individuals have are frozen.

Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to US$1.08m per violation to more severe criminal punishments.

Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5m, while criminal fines for corporations may reach $10m. Other individuals face up to ten years in prison and fines listed under the Kingpin Act.

Several family members and associates of Ravinovicz and Grimberg were also targeted for supporting the money laundering activities and/or for helping to manage their companies, including Grimberg's two brothers Felipe and Arieh.