When several Colombian men were indicted in January 2010 on money-laundering charges, the case in Brooklyn federal court drew little attention. It looked like a bust of another nexus of drug traffickers and money launderers, with mainly small-time operatives paying the price for their crimes. One of the men was Julio Chaparro, a 48-year-old father of four who owned three factories that made children's clothing in Colombia.
But to U.S. authorities the case was anything but ordinary. Chaparro, prosecutors alleged, helped run a money-laundering ring for drug traffickers that took advantage of lax controls at UK-based international banking group HSBC Holdings Plc. It was one of the most important leads for U.S. investigators pursuing a case against the bank that eventually led to a $1.9 billion settlement on December 11.
Chaparro was "basically putting the orchestra together" and investigators saw "him as a major player in terms of cleaning a lot of money," said James Hayes, special agent
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