An Edmonds businessman and Ukrainian citizen has pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money exchange that acted as a go-between for the illegal movement of at least $150 million between 2007 and 2012.
Pavel Rombakh appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he pleaded guilty to a single count of conducting an unlicensed money transmittal business, a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Rombakh, who was allowed to remain free on bond, will appear Aug. 18 for sentencing before U.S. District Judge James Robart.
As part of the plea, Rombakh, 54, has agreed to surrender more than $515,000 in cash and real estate he purchased with fees he collected for the money transfers.
According to a plea agreement, Rombakh, a Ukrainian citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1992, would collect a small percentage of every transfer he facilitated. Court documents said money would be wired from one country into his bank account, and he would immediately send it on after taking his fee.
Most of the money came from Russia and Cyprus, according to the documents. The money was sent to recipients in several foreign countries, including England, Latvia, the United Arab Emirates and China.
Federal prosecutors allege Rombakh set up a shell company, Nedwood Finance LLC, to facilitate the illegal money transfers.
Rombakh’s attorney, Darek Jarski, declined to discuss the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it would have no additional comment beyond the court documents.