New York, June 1, 2023- An Indo-Canadian entrepreneur, Firoz Patel, has been ordered to be detained by a US district court after being indicted on charges of laundering 450 Bitcoin (BTC), worth over $24 million at the time of the transaction. This recent order follows a previous conviction related to operating an unlicensed money service business. Read on to learn more about the case and the background of the entrepreneur.
A US district court has ordered the detention of Firoz Patel, an Indo-Canadian entrepreneur, following his indictment on charges of laundering 450 Bitcoin (BTC), with a value of $24,020,699.83 at the time of the transaction, as reported on June 1. The detention order was issued shortly before Firoz reported to prison in another case from 2021.
The indictment, consisting of two counts, was unsealed on May 17. Firoz faces charges of money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions using property derived from specified unlawful activity. Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the US District Court of Columbia ordered Firoz’s detention pending trial, according to a release by the Department of Justice.
Previously, Firoz, along with his brother Ferhan and their company MH Pillars (doing business as Payza), faced prosecution in the District Court of Columbia for operating an Internet-based unlicensed money service business. The business processed over $250 million in transactions. Through Payza.com, an internet-based payment service, the defendants conducted a money transmitting business without the necessary state licenses and knowingly transmitted funds derived from illegal activity.
Both brothers pled guilty to conspiracy charges related to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering. Firoz, as part of his plea agreement, was required to disclose all known assets to the US government. In November 2020, he was sentenced to 36 months in prison with a designated reporting date.
During the period between his sentencing and reporting dates, court documents reveal that Firoz transferred 450 BTC, which could be traced back to Payza.com, to an account at a virtual currency exchange in the US. This Bitcoin would have been subject to forfeiture in Firoz’s previous criminal case. The virtual currency exchange account was opened using the personal information of Firoz’s father, but controlled by Firoz himself through an email address and phone number. When the exchange requested additional information, a response was received in the name of an employee from an affiliated Indian company. Ultimately, the account containing the 450 Bitcoin was frozen.
Firoz’s entrepreneurial journey began by working at his father’s Indian grocery store in Canada. After obtaining a degree in Business Administration from Champlain College in Montreal, he founded AlertPay, an online payment solution later renamed Payza. (Agency)