LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The former manager of East West Bank's San Gabriel branch was sentenced today to two years behind bars for conspiring with a customer to launder $25,500 believed to be the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
Vivian Tat of Hacienda Heights, 54, who was also a vice president at East West, and Ruimin Zhao of Temple City, 48, were each convicted of one count of conspiring to commit money laundering. Additionally, Tat was convicted of two counts of lying in a bank record.
The October guilty verdicts in Los Angeles federal court were the result of a conspiracy in which Tat, Zhao and Zhao's husband -- Jian Sheng “Raymond” Tan, 62-- laundered cash through the bank.
Evidence presented during a weeklong trial showed that Tat, Zhao and Tan led an informant into the bank's conference room, where the informant provided $25,500 in cash that was then laundered into three “clean” cashier's checks issued off of the account of a bank client.
However, what Tat, Zhao and Tan did not know was that the informant, working as part of a long-running money laundering investigation dubbed operation “Phantom Bank,” was wearing a recording device. Throughout the transaction, Tat, Zhao and Tan made clear they knew that money laundering was illegal, but they nevertheless completed the transaction.
To cover their tracks, Tat made false entries in East West Bank's records.
Zhao is scheduled to be sentenced by Wright next week. Tan previously pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and money laundering in the East West case and in two other cases brought as part of the operation. He is expected to be sentenced in March in downtown Los Angeles.