Former NFL Team Owner Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Providing ‘Shadow Bank’ Services to Crypto Exchanges

The former owner of a National Football League (NFL) team has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for acting as a “shadow bank” and illegally processing more than $700 million worth of transactions for crypto exchanges.

Reginald Fowler, who previously co-owned the Minnesota Vikings, established a company called Global Trading Solutions LLC in 2018.

Using that company, he worked with Israeli nationals who operated a number of crypto firms, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The Israeli crypto companies worked with exchanges to trade crypto for fiat currencies, but the companies wouldn’t have been able to access banks if they were open about their digital asset business, so they lied to financial institutions instead.

Fowler opened accounts with banks on behalf of Israeli crypto companies and didn’t tell them that he was using the accounts to process crypto transactions. None of the associated companies were licensed as money transmitters.

Fowler also defrauded the now-defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF), a football minor league that lasted less than one season in 2019.

The former Vikings co-owner acquired an ownership stake in the football league by lying and saying he owned the funds that his company held on behalf of clients he was conducting illegal payment processing services for.

Fowler also claimed the money came from real estate rather than crypto, and he didn’t tell the league that the US government had closed his accounts and seized his funds in the month leading up to his “investment” in the league.

The AAF declared bankruptcy in 2019, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office attributes “in part” to Fowler’s lies. The former Vikings co-owner was charged with violating anti-money laundering laws, defrauding the AAF, and lying to US banks.

In addition to his 75-month prison sentence, he was also ordered to forfeit more than $740 million and pay restitution of more than $53 million to the AAF.

Says Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,

“Reginald Fowler evaded federal law by processing hundreds of millions of dollars of unregulated transactions on behalf of cryptocurrency exchanges as a shadow bank. He did so by lying to legitimate U.S. financial institutions, which exposed the U.S. financial system to serious risk. He then victimized a professional football league by lying about his net worth in exchange for a substantial portion of the league.

Let it be clear: this Office is committed to prosecuting people who lie to banks and skirt the law as a means to conduct their business.”

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