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U.S. Accuses Colombian Businessman

November 8, 2002

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MIAMI (AP) _ Federal prosecutors accused a Colombian businessman of laundering more than $1 million a month for a terrorist group in his homeland.

Libardo Florez-Gomez has been held without bond since he was stopped on Oct. 22 with $178,000 in euros, the European currency, at Miami International Airport and charged with lacking a proper license to transfer money.

``He is a supporter and lifeblood of (a) designated terrorist organization,″ Assistant U.S. Attorney John Schlesinger said during a bond hearing.

Schlesinger said Florez-Gomez laundered $1.3 million a month. He didn’t identify the terrorist organization.

Drug money has fueled Colombia’s 38-year civil war, which kills 3,500 people every year, mostly civilians. The violence has forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes for safer areas.

Customs agent Norman Bright testified that Florez-Gomez initially said the euros belonged to him and his computer company, Atlantic Importaciones of Bucaramanga, Colombia. But Florez-Gomez later said he was going to transfer the money for somebody else, according to Bright.

Florez-Gomez’s attorney, Joaquin Perez, said his client was innocent and that the government had no evidence of money laundering.

``This guy has nothing to do with terrorism,″ he said.

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