Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati Money Laundering Alleged, Suspect at Large

Posted on: December 1, 2021, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: December 1, 2021, 12:28h.

A foreign national remains on the loose after he allegedly laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars through Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati between May and August. Ismail Shalash, 36, cashed in $464,796 at the gaming property, and later redeemed $789,541 worth of chips, WLWT, a Ohio TV station, reported.

Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati
Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, pictured above. The gaming property was the site of alleged money laundering. (Image: The Business Journal)

Under a related plot, Shalash allegedly swindled $1.77 million from five victims in four states, court documents quoted by the Cincinnati Enquirer revealed. He also allegedly tried to defraud $3.48 million from eight victims in five states.

The FBI claims he sold luxury cars to dealerships through an online scheme, but never came up with the cars. Instead, money was redirected into the casino, and funds were later cashed out in casino credits.

Beyond that, the FBI claims money was deposited by a player at the casino for future gambling.

... Shalash was redeeming chips totaling significantly more than the amount of deposit,” a court affidavit quoted by the Enquirer adds. “Shalash’s casino account was used as a conduit to transfer significant amounts of funds he received from victims through financial transaction channels.”

Shalash later fled the US after withdrawing some $500,000 in cashier’s checks from an account, the FBI claims.

Shalash Reportedly Living in Morocco

He was last known to be living in Morocco. Feds issued a warrant for Shalash’s arrest in September. Shalash is wanted for wire fraud and laundering of monetary instruments. He was identified by the FBI as a dual citizen of Jordan and the Palestinian territory.

In recent days, a woman described by the FBI as his new wife allegedly used some of the ill-gotten money to purchase luxury goods. She was identified as Abir Mulawwah of Houston.

Mulawwah allegedly opened a safe deposit box at PNC Bank in Houston. It held Shalash’s illicit cash, Feds claim. She arrived in Houston on Nov. 19 to apparently pick up the money.

Wife Takes Part in Spending Spree

She also took part in what authorities describe as a “shopping spree” at clothing stores and other retailers.

On Nov. 23, FBI agents found some $300,000 in the safe deposit box. After that discovery, Mulawwah was apprehended at Houston’s George Bush International Airport. She is charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, making false statements, and laundering of money instruments, the Enquirer reported.

She further claimed to the FBI that she and Shalash are no longer married. She alleges she did not know his current whereabouts.