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Maryland Lawyer Charged in Scheme to Obtain Over $12.5 Million in Somali Government Funds

pexels-pixabay-164527-300x200A Maryland lawyer faces charges for his alleged role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $12.5 million in Somali government assets.

Jeremy Wyeth Schulman, 47, of Bethesda, Maryland, was indicted Wednesday on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud; three counts of wire fraud; one count of mail fraud; one count of bank fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and four counts of money laundering. It is unclear if he has acquired an attorney.

According to the indictment, the defendant allegedly conspired with others to fraudulently obtain control of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of financial assets belonging to the Central Bank of Somalia that had been frozen due to the east African country’s years of political instability and civil war.

When the Somali Democratic Republic collapsed in the early 1990s amid a civil war, the Central Bank of Somalia asked financial institutions around the world to freeze assets belonging to the state to prevent withdrawals until peace and stability were restored.

The indictment accuses the Maryland lawyer of exploiting his connections to the Somali government and pretending to officially represent the country’s interests in order to enrich himself and his co-conspirators by taking a portion of the frozen assets in fees and expenses.

The defendant, an unnamed former leader of the Central Bank of Somalia, and other co-conspirators presented banks with falsified and forged documents regarding their authority to recover assets on behalf of the Somali government between 2010 to 2014, the indictment claims. The defendant allegedly made material misrepresentations and concealed material information from the banks regarding the former Somali bank official’s position and authority to act on behalf of the Somali government.

As a result of the alleged scheme, the defendant, his co-conspirators, and the law firm where he is a shareholder obtained control of approximately $12.5 million in frozen funds. The law firm purportedly retained more than $3.3 million of the funds, while remitting the rest to the Somali government. The indictment claims the defendant personally received more than $800,000 in compensation from the law firm. He allegedly engaged in further fraud and money laundering by wiring a portion of the money retained by the law firm to his co-conspirators’ bank accounts.

While the indictment does not name the law firm that retained the money, sources indicate that the lawyer-defendant is a founding partner of Bethesda-based Schulman Bhattacharya and chairs the firm’s commercial litigation and arbitration group. The firm’s website reportedly says the Maryland lawyer has represented the Federal Republic of Somalia in “various matters, including conducting an investigation of financial corruption allegations asserted by the United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea.”

The Department of Justice press release announcing the defendant’s charges noted that an indictment is merely an allegation, and that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Attorneys involved in the case expect a three-week jury trial, according to the press.

South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney

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Source: 12.3.20 Maryland lawyer charged with defrauding financial institutions over $12.5 million of somali assets.pdf 

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