Benelli Motorcycles, a North Carolina motorcycle company, is facing allegations of running a massive money laundering scheme that netted it nearly $3 million in illegal profits.
According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, Benelli, which was incorporated in 2015 and based in St. Louis, Missouri, employed a company known as Vectis Holdings LLC as an intermediary to distribute illegal cash to employees and customers.
The company then made the illegal payments to customers using counterfeit Benelli money.
The money allegedly came from illegal drug sales and bribes paid to a number of high-ranking officials at Benelli and other motorcycle dealers.
The defendants, who were arrested Thursday, allegedly pocketed the money through a complex network of companies and individuals.
The scheme was first uncovered by investigators working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.K.’s National Crime Agency.
Vectis and Benelli employees, who also were indicted on money laundering charges, allegedly engaged in an elaborate scheme to conceal the identities of customers and employees, while also funneling cash to illegal drug trafficking organizations.
Benelli admitted that the scheme was a success.
In an affidavit, federal prosecutors detailed how Vects, which the company operates under the Benelli brand, allegedly paid more than $3,700 to customers in the United States and overseas for counterfeit Benellis.
Vectes employees allegedly used forged IDs to gain access to customer accounts and obtain payment records.
The employees then sold counterfeit counterfeit Benells in an attempt to make more money, prosecutors alleged.
According the affidavit, a confidential informant working for the FBI obtained information from the confidential informant that identified Vect’s alleged financial transactions as part of the scheme.
Benellys employees then purchased counterfeit Benels at inflated prices, then distributed them to customers, authorities said.
Benellerys employees were also allegedly involved in the laundering of more than a dozen illegal drug transactions, authorities allege.
Benelli was also charged with conspiring to engage in the smuggling of counterfeit Benelis to countries where they were not authorized.
The government alleges that some of the money was used to purchase fake drugs and weapons.
Benellys is accused of conspiring to evade the U,S.
Securities and Exchange Commission by providing false or fraudulent information in a form that would be required for registration as a broker-dealer.
Benelleys has been ordered to forfeit $4.9 million and pay $2.7 to each of the 18 people arrested and $250,000 to the Securities and Futures Trading Commission.