Schenectady County

Police say money sent illegally

A city man is facing multiple felonies, accused of helping move $1.2 million illegally to Sudan, aut

A city man is facing multiple felonies, accused of helping move $1.2 million illegally to Sudan, authorities said Friday.

Osman Osman, 52, is accused of transmitting the money secretly outside the banking system to avoid scrutiny.

His wife, Hanan Saeed, was also charged, accused of knowing about her husband’s transactions and signing for some, state police said.

State police identified Osman as an unlicensed money transmitter, which is also called a hawala. He allegedly moved the cash over a 21-month period.

“He was known in the community as a mover of money overseas,” said Chuck Sullivan, a senior investigator with the state police’s Special Investigations Unit. “They would drop money off to him, and he would transfer it for them to Sudan.”

Money transactions to Sudan are particularly regulated because of U.S. sanctions against the war-torn country, officials said.

Hawalas are defined as a system of sending money, primarily in Islamic societies, according to Money is sent through a third party. They are often based on trust, with no record of the transaction being made.

The state police described hawala systems in general as a network of brokers who are targeted because they can often help criminal and terrorist organizations move money undetected. State police, however, said there is no evidence of a terrorism link in Osman’s case.

Osman was arraigned and ordered held at the Albany County Jail on $100,000 bail. Osman faces four counts of unlicensed money transmission and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies.

Saeed was indicted on three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. She was released on her own recognizance.

Saeed’s attorney did not return a call for comment Friday. Osman’s attorney, Andrew Safranko, said his client did nothing illegal. He helped send money to people’s families there, but he did so legally through a licensed company in Minnesota, Safranko said.

“He is adamant that he didn’t do anything illegal,” Safranko said.

Osman came to the United States 11 to 12 years ago from Sudan in eastern Africa. He worked as a driver for a pharmaceutical company, Safranko said.

He is a permanent resident, not a U.S. citizen. Safranko was unsure what effect the arrest would have on that status.

The current charges are also not the first money-related counts filed against Osman.

Osman faces two counts of misdemeanor bad check charges. He is accused of writing two bad $5,000 checks to a man in Connecticut in July 2006, Schenectady City Court records show. Those charges remain pending.

Osman’s initial arrest on the current charges happened Dec. 5, officials said. He was indicted Jan. 2. Officials delayed the announcement to coordinate among agencies.

The state police Special Investigations Unit worked on the case in conjunction with the Albany Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI, the state Office of Tax Enforcement Criminal Investigations Division and the state Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force.

Categories: Schenectady County

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