Three men wired $88 million overseas, say federal prosecutors, who accuse them of essentially running an unlicensed international cash-delivery business in Metro Detroit and charging customers a fee for their services, Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free Press reports.
Detroit attorney Nabih Ayad, who represents one Omar Alhalmi, 38, tells the Freep the money had nothing to do with terrorism. The men were collecting money from people in the Metro Detroit Yemeni community to send to their relatives in Yemen and other countries, he says.
"They are just creating an opportunity for their loved ones to receive money ... In the olden days, they used to just pass it off by hand. Here, they are doing it through a wiring service," said Ayad, who believes the government is acting overzealous in the case.
"I think it's a little bit too aggressive to bring federal charges against them," Ayad said. "In my client's case, the government had already visited his business in 2013 and never told him to stop doing it."
"Not everyone has a bank account in the old country," Ayad said. "You're talking about a large Yemeni community (in metro Detroit). That's how they get money back home."
The government has accused the men of creating phony businesses to move the money overseas.
The defendants' hometown are not disclosed.