The Department of Justice announced today that more than $1.2 million in forfeited funds from an international tax fraud and money laundering case will be returned to the government of Romania. The funds are the proceeds of the sale of property located in the State of Washington that were owned by a Romanian couple who were extradited back to Romania at the request of the Romanian government.
According to records filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, in 2012, Romanian authorities asked the United States to extradite Radu and Diana Nemes to Romania to face charges of tax evasion and participating in an organized criminal group. The charges alleged that the Nemeses executed a scheme to avoid Romanian taxes on imported diesel fuel by claiming the fuel was a lower grade of industrial and maritime fuel. The untaxed income from the sale of the higher value diesel was laundered through a number of bank accounts and shell companies controlled by the Nemeses.
Arrest warrants for the couple were issued in Romania in July 2012. Sometime before those warrants, the Nemeses had left Romania and resided near Yelm, Washington, on a large piece of property with an elaborate bunker system. Following their arrest in the United States, the couple waived extradition and agreed to be returned to Romania in early 2014.
The couple’s assets in the United States were forfeited, including Yelm properties which were sold as part of the forfeiture process. The proceeds of that sale, $1,225,465, are being returned through a petition for remission to the government of Romania as a recovery on the tax fraud. The overall tax fraud scheme resulted in a $58.677 million loss to the Romanian government.
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jehiel Baer of the Western District of Washington, in cooperation with the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS).