May 8, 2021

Guyana Guardian

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Guyanese woman in New-York arrested for reportedly robbing bank $1.7 million



U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Gangadai Azim betrayed her position as a trusted bank employee to defraud the bank and misappropriate client funds for more than a dozen years.  She allegedly stole more than $1.7 million and concealed the scheme until an absence from work led to its discovery.  Now Azim faces the prospect of a much longer absence from work.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Azim’s alleged $1.7 million fraud scheme not only victimized her employer, but also risked the financial standing of the customers whose accounts she manipulated.  In the long run, defrauding a financial institution with the hope of making an easy profit only resulted in federal charges and the potential for time behind bars.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

Between August 2008 and January 2021, AZIM, a long-time employee of a New York, New York-based bank (“Bank-1”) stole approximately $1.7 million from her employer.  Over the course of approximately 12 years, AZIM executed hundreds of wire transfers of Bank-1 funds to co-conspirators and related companies, who then sent portions of the ill-gotten funds to AZIM’s personal bank account.

In furtherance of her scheme to defraud Bank-1, AZIM repeatedly made false entries in Bank-1’s systems, misappropriating funds paid to Bank-1 by its clients to satisfy outstanding loan obligations and then extending the maturity dates of those loan obligations, making it appear as though the loan obligations had not yet been paid.  When even the fraudulently extended maturity dates came due, AZIM originated new, fraudulent loans.  AZIM utilized the proceeds of those fraudulent loans to satisfy the loans for which she had previously stolen the client payments.  In doing so, AZIM abused her position at Bank-1 and enriched herself at the expense of her employer.

AZIM’s fraud was discovered by Bank-1 when AZIM took a leave from her position at Bank-1 as a result of illness earlier this year.  In January 2021, Bank-1 debited the account of a client of Bank-1 (“Client-1”) in order to pay off an outstanding loan obligation Client-1 had coming due.  Client-1 then alerted Bank-1 that the debit was improper, as Client-1 had, in fact, paid off that obligation in 2019.  Upon further investigation, Bank-1 discovered that while the funds had been withdrawn from Client-1’s account in or about 2019, AZIM had misappropriated those funds, using them for purposes other than satisfying Client-1’s obligation.

As a result of identifying this discrepancy, Bank-1 officials discovered approximately 14 loan obligations (the “Fraudulent Loan Obligations”), worth more than approximately $1 million, for which no underlying documents existed.  AZIM appears to have entered each of the Fraudulent Loan Obligations in Bank-1’s systems so that the proceeds could be used, in significant part, to pay off outstanding loan obligations coming to maturity; those loan obligations had, in fact, already been satisfied by clients, but AZIM had misappropriated the payments.  In addition, Bank-1 officials discovered approximately five outstanding loan obligations, worth more than approximately $706,000, for which AZIM appears to have extended the maturity dates, despite the relevant clients having paid off the loan obligations.

The approximately $1.7 million of loan proceeds resulting from the Fraudulent Loan Obligations and the improperly extended maturity dates appear to have been misappropriated by AZIM.  Over the course of approximately 12 years, between 2008 and 2020, AZIM caused approximately 200 wire transfers of Bank-1’s funds, each for an amount under $10,000, to be sent to third party accounts, including those of co-conspirators and related companies, which then returned portions of those funds to AZIM.

*                *                *

AZIM, 58, of Richmond Hill, New York, is charged in the Complaint with (1) conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; (2) bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison ; (3) wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; (4) bank theft, embezzlement, or misapplication, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; (5) conspiring to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and (6) money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI in this case.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Reilly is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

(US Department of Justice release)

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