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Ex-US visa officer receives money via conspirators

Thursday, May 30, 2013, 10:03 GMT+7
Ex-US visa officer receives money via conspirators
Michael T. Sestak, former head of the non-immigrant visa department of the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnamese people who bribed Michael T. Sestak, former head of non-immigrant visa department of the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, into approving visas for them transferred the bribes to him through his co-conspirators’ bank accounts, US investigators said. 

>> Sestak approves visas for associates of co-conspirators >> Visa seller Sestak once regarded as ‘devoted and professional’ >> Clues from IP addresses in Sestak’s visa scam>> Investigative leads in Sestak’s visa-for-money scam >> Visa bribery case: how did ex-US officer make money? In his visa fraudulent scheme, which lasted from March to September 2012, Sestak charged US$50,000 – 70,000 per visa, and total amount of the “fees” amounted to nearly US$4 million, with which he later bought properties in Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand. According to the result of an investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) of the US Department of State, a $35,000 wire transfer was made on May 21, 2012 from the Sun Trust Bank account of Person 1 to a Wells Fargo checking account opened by Co-conspirator 2 (“Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Checking Account”). The same day, a visa application was submitted for Person 2 through the CEAC. Person 2 was one of the individuals identified in the original letter sent to the Consulate on or about July 9, 2012, that initiated this investigation. Person 2’s NIV application listed Person 1 as the U.S. point of contact. On May 22, 2012, Sestak issued Person 2 a visa. Additionally, this applicant’s biographical data was located in a shell email account used by members of the conspiracy. On May 22, 2012, a visa application for Person 3 was submitted through the CEAC from IP Address A. Person 3 listed the same parental information as Person 2. The NIV application also listed Person 1 as the U.S. point of contact. The following day Sestak issued Person 3 a visa. DSS review of financial records also revealed that on May 22, 2012, a $20,000 wire transfer was made from the Bank of Hawaii account of Person 4, of an address in Hawaii (“First Hawaii Address”), to the Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Checking Account. Review of Consular records revealed that on May 30, 2012, an NIV application was submitted for Person 5 from IP Address B; Person 4 was listed as U.S. point of contact on the application. On May 31, 2012, Sestak issued Person 5 a NIV. On May 21, 2012, an NIV application for Person 6 was submitted from IP address A. On May 22, 2012, Sestak approved the visa application. On May 23, 2012, an NIV application for Person 7 was submitted from IP Address A and Sestak approved the visa application the same day. Both applicants listed an address in Hawaii (“Second Hawaii Address”) as their destination address on their visa applications. On May 21 and May 22, 2012, three people connected to the Second Hawaii Address transferred funds to the Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Account.Sestak’s transfer of funds to Thai bank account DSS investigation revealed that Sestak opened at least one bank account at the Siam Commercial Bank PLC located in Bangkok, Thailand (“SESTAK Thailand Bank Account”), in May 2012. Between June 20, 2012, and September 11, 2012, 35 transfers totaling approximately $3,238,991, were made to the SESTAK Thailand Bank Account. The majority of the transfers came from the Bank of China in Beijing, China. The investigation has revealed evidence that Co-conspirator 2’s father, and Person 11, aided the conspirators in moving money out of Vietnam to Thailand and to the United States. On June 28, 2012, Co-conspirator 2’s father sent Co-conspirator 2 an email forwarding the transaction details for a $150,000 USD transfer to the SESTAK Thailand Bank Account, that was made on June 25, 2012, from a Bank of China account. The body of the email contained forwarding information that indicated that it was originally sent to Co-conspirator 2’s father by Person 11. A total of 4 emails were sent from Co-conspirator 2’s father to Co-conspirator 2 containing transaction details of a total of $600,000 in transfers to the SESTAK Thailand Bank Account, and a $100,000 transfer to the Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Checking Account. All four emails appeared to have originated from Person 11. Additionally, a total of three emails were sent from Person 11 to Co-conspirator 2 containing transaction details of a total of approximately $1.46 million in transfers to the SESTAK Thailand Bank Account, and $200,000 in transfers to the Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Checking Account. Over the calendar year before September 2012, Sestak earned approximately $7,500 per month after taxes from both his position as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, and as a reservist with the U.S. Navy.Transfer of funds to co-conspirator 3’s account DSS investigation revealed that between June 25, 2012, and September 6, 2012, thirty-nine international transfers totaling $2,999,400.18 were made into the Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Checking Account. Thirty-six of the transfers came from the Bank of China in Beijing, China. At least one of the transfers appeared to originate from the same Bank of China account that had transferred some of the funds to the SESTAK Thailand Bank Account. DSS review of records from the Co-conspirator 2 Wells Fargo Checking Account from January 18, 201 1, through May 20, 2012, revealed that the main source of income into the account were direct deposits from Company A. Company A is a real estate company. From January 31, 2011, to February 29, 2012, Co-conspirator 2 received approximately $60,114.34 from Company A.(To be continued – Next issue: Sestak buys properties in Thailand)

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