An infamous Peruvian gold trader at the center of a multibillion-dollar money laundering case in Miami has died of COVID-19 in his homeland, according to authorities and news accounts.
Pedro David Pérez Miranda, 60, died Saturday at a hospital in Lima, Peru, after struggling with the coronavirus respiratory disease since late August.
His alias was “Peter Ferrari,” dubbed with that nickname by the news media because of his love for flashy cars, beautiful women and the yellow precious metal, gold.
Ferrari, who had been in custody in Peru before his hospitalization, was accused in a 2017 indictment of trading tons of gold illegally mined in the country’s rainforest and selling it to three Miami brokers at NTR Metals. They pleaded guilty to a $3.6 billion money laundering conspiracy were sentenced to several years in prison.
Ferrari, changed along with his two sons and a former bodyguard, had earned a notorious reputation as a suspected smuggler of “dirty gold” who used shell companies, straw owners, false paperwork and cash bribes to move the precious metal to lucrative markets in Miami and other parts of the United States.
Federal proseutors alleged that South American drug traffickers washed their illicit proceeds from cocaine through the unlawful gold mining industry in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, where Ferrari was suspected of acquiring most of his precious metal for export to the United States.
Once the U.S. government receives formal confirmation of his death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami is expected to dimiss the single-count indictment aganst Ferrari. But his twin sons, Gian Piere Pérez Gutierrez and Peter Davis Pérez Gutierrez, and former body guard, Jose Estuardo Morales Diaz, could still be extradited for prosecution in Miami.
“When a defendant dies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dismisses charges against that person,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Marlene Rodriguez. “Charges remain pending against the three associates.”
In their plea deals, NTR Metals three brokers, Samer Barrage, Renato Rodriguez and Juan Granda, admitted dealing with Ferrari as part of their smuggling of tainted gold between January 2013 and March 2017 for NTR, which was owned by Dallas-based parent company, Elemetal.
Prosecutors said the three brokers circumvented Elemetal’s anti-money-laundering compliance program by buying gold from Ferrari. An Elemetal compliance officer warned them about buying gold from the Peruvian, but they ignored the warnings and set up accounts at Elemetal for a series of “front companies” so they could buy and import $400 million worth of gold.
In total, the NTR brokers purchased $1 billion worth of gold from “collectors” of the precious metal in Peru during 2013, before Peruvian authorities began cracking down on the illegal mining and smuggling trade. Authorities there confiscated some of Ferrari’s shipments destined for NTR and other gold businesses in Miami.
In 2018, NTR’s parent company, Elemetal, pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and paid a $15 million fine — $10 million in gold that was seized by the Peruvian authorities and $5 million to the U.S. government.