Three Edmond men indicted in alleged contraband cigarette scheme

Three Edmond men have been named in a 59-count federal indictment that accuses them of illegally profiting from the sale of more than $3 million in untaxed cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

Three Edmond men have been named in a 59-count federal indictment that accuses them of illegally profiting from the sale of more than $3 million in untaxed cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

Khawer Saeed Ghill, 40, Ahsan Ullah, 41, and Asmat Ullah, 60, all were charged with conspiracy, money laundering and trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in the indictment that was unsealed Wednesday in Oklahoma City federal court.

Two of the men, Ghill and Ahsan Ullah, also were accused of defrauding financial institutions and credit card issuers out of nearly $500,000 by taking out loans and engaging in credit card transactions they allegedly had no intention to repay.

Some of the profits were transferred to Pakistan, the indictment claims.

More than two years

Operating through an Oklahoma City wholesaler called Prime Time Distribution, LLC, the three men are accused of selling at least 103,700 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 265,310 cans of contraband smokeless tobacco on which no taxes were paid, the indictment said. The transactions reportedly took place from February 2007 through July 2009.

$1.4 million loss

That would have resulted in a tax loss to the state of more than $1.4 million, according to Paula Ross, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Special agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allegedly learned Prime officials were buying contraband tobacco products from a Kentucky company in early 2007 and set up a sting operation in which federal agents sold contraband tobacco products to the local officials for nearly two years.

Company officials allegedly attempted to hide their tobacco purchases from Oklahoma Tax Commission auditors by having the undercover ATF agents either not issue invoices or issue false invoices indicating the purchases were for products such as soft drinks or energy drinks, the indictment said.

Multiple counts filed

Ghill was indicted on 16 counts of trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, one count of conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, nine counts of bank fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting bank fraud, four counts of money laundering and one count of aiding and abetting money laundering.

Ahsan Ullah was indicted on 39 counts of trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, one count of conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting bank fraud, four counts of money laundering, and one count of aiding and abetting money laundering.

Asmat Ullah was indicted on eight counts of trafficking in contraband cigarettes and tobacco products, four counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy.

Asmat Ullah was identified in the indictment as Ahsan Ullah’s uncle.

source: www.newsok.com

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