A former contract employee for a government immigration application processing agency was indicted this week on a charge that she helped a multimillion-dollar money laundering suspect look up his immigration status while he was under investigation for a money laundering ring between Utah and Russia.
Irena Mikhael Kapriyelova was charged with one count of fraud and related activity in connection with computers. According to the indictment, Kapriyelova, a former Salt Lake County employee, worked as a contract employee with Legacy INS, Citizenship and Immigration Services, which was responsible for processing applications for people seeking residency status in the United States.
As part of the application process, CIS obtained documentation about petitioners, including local law enforcement and national security checks. As a contract employee, Kapriyelova had access to the agency's computer system but was only allowed to look up applicant information on a "need to know" basis.
According to the indictment, in early 2004, Kapriyelova was contacted several times by Garri Grigorian, a Russian immigrant, who was being investigated at the time for running an international money laundering operation.
Grigorian had reportedly asked about his immigration status and pending application for residency and had asked Kapriyelova to "find out what she could for him about his application," the indictment states. At the time, Kapriyelova was not officially assigned to Grigorian's file.
Grigorian, a deli owner from Sandy, was sentenced in 2005 to serve more than four years in federal prison for allegedly laundering $133 million on behalf of customers of Intellect Bank in Moscow over a three-year period beginning in 1998.
In addition to being sentenced to more than four years in prison, Grigorian was ordered to pay $17 million in restitution to Russia for taxes and customs duties.
U.S. Attorney for Utah spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch said Thursday that her office is not saying why Kapriyelova looked up information for Grigorian, but added that information may come out in the course of future hearings.