International money laundering expert arrested for money laundering

19 November 2019, 15:56 | Updated: 19 November 2019, 17:25

A university professor seen as an expert on organised crime and the drugs trade has been arrested for allegedly laundering millions of dollars.

Bruce Bagley, professor of international relations at the University of Miami, is accused of helping to launder $3m (£2.3m) in dirty money from Venezuela while skimming about $300,000 (£270,000) for himself.

Other reports say the total involved is $2.5m (£1.93m), which he is accused of receiving from bank accounts in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and which were the proceeds of bribery and embezzlement in Venezuela.

The US attorney said in a statement that Bagley, who was held on Monday, retained about 10% as a commission.

He is charged with two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Bagley, 73, considered one of the foremost experts in his field, wrote the 2015 book Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today.

The academic has previously worked as a consultant for the FBI, as well as the US State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal agencies, according to his official biography.

He has repeatedly been invited to give evidence to Congress, served as an expert witness in high-profile trials and lent his expertise on topics including money laundering to the governments of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama and Mexico.

Bagley told a CBS Miami reporter: "I'm feeling just fine. Not guilty. That's how I'm feeling. They've got it all wrong."

The University of Miami said in a statement that Bagley, who was due to teach a class on drug trafficking, has been placed on administrative leave.

William F Sweeney Jr, head of the FBI's New York Field Office, said in a statement: "About the only lesson to be learned from Professor Bagley today is that involving oneself in public corruption, bribery, and embezzlement schemes is going to lead to an indictment."

Bagley could be jailed for up to 20 years if convicted.