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39 defendants appear in international money laundering case

39 defendants were charged in an international money laundering case that includes one person accused of concealing terrorist financing.

The investigation resulted in charges of money laundering, conspiracy to bribe a public official, and operating unlicensed money transmission businesses, according to a news release from the federal prosecutor's office.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein declined to comment. Rosenstein scheduled a news conference for later Thursday to discuss the case.

According to court documents, cooperating witnesses posed as drug smugglers, cigarette smugglers and other criminals, and in one case as a terrorist, and asked the defendants to help transfer money between Maryland, New York, Spain and Australia using an informal system known as "hawala," according to court documents.

One transaction in Barcelona involved the transfer of 333,830 Euros, or more than $450,000 (320,741 EUR), according to the indictment.

Many of the defendants are listed as having been born in Pakistan, according to indictment.

One of the defendants, identified in the indictment as Abdul Rehman, was the primary point of contact for cooperating witnesses and controlled all aspects of the hawala transactions, from receipt of the money from cooperating witnesses in Maryland and New York, to its delivery to the cooperating witnesses or their designated representative overseas, according to authorities.

Raids related to the case were conducted Thursday at two gas station convenience stores and a home in Snow Hill, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, said Sgt. Ed Schreier, a spokesman for the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, which assisted in the raids.

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