Minnesota Vikings ex-investor jailed for illegal crypto trading

A former minority-holding owner of the Minnesota Vikings football team has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for illegally processing more than $700 million in cryptocurrency transactions.

Reginald Fowler, 64, who was a co-owner of the Minneapolis-based American football team, lied to banks to make “shadow” transactions on behalf of cryptocurrency exchanges that violated federal laws against money laundering.

Fowler used third-party cryptocurrency companies, who lied to traditional banking institutions in the US that otherwise would have been reluctant to grant Fowler’s own company, Global Trading Solutions (GTS), permission to process crypto transactions.

This ruse allowed Fowler to rack up around $750 million in illegal crypto transactions in the space of ten months in 2018 before his assets were frozen by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) the following year.

“The crypto companies marketed themselves as providing a seamless way for individuals to exchange standard currency for cryptocurrency,” said the DoJ. “A number of cryptocurrency exchanges began using the crypto companies to process their fiat-to-cryptocurrency transactions.”

The DoJ added: “Because banks were reluctant to handle cryptocurrency transactions, in reality, the crypto companies could not access legitimate financial institutions. Instead, the crypto companies lied to banks in order to open accounts that were used to process cryptocurrency transactions without the banks’ knowledge.”

The DoJ claims this “exposed the US financial system to serious risk.”

Additionally, Fowler defrauded the Alliance of American Football (AAF) league, which collapsed after he claimed a sizable stake in the company by fraudulently claiming ownership of GTS funds to inflate his financial standing.

In actual fact, the funds he claimed as being personal assets belonged to clients of Fowler’s illicit money transmission service.

As well as being sentenced to 75 months in prison, Fowler has been ordered by a federal court in the Southern District of New York to pay back all the money he earned illegally plus $53 million in restitution to the now defunct AAF.

Before taking on partial or minority ownership of the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, Fowler played briefly for the Arizona Wranglers in 1983.