Southern Utah man sent to prison for illegally bringing Chinese money into the US

A southern Utah man has been sentenced to federal prison after he was accused of taking kickbacks from a Chinese company and illegally bringing money into the United States.

A southern Utah man has been sentenced to federal prison after he was accused of taking kickbacks from a Chinese company and illegally bringing money into the United States. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A southern Utah man has been sentenced to federal prison after he was accused of taking kickbacks from a Chinese company and illegally bringing money into the United States.

Nan Ma, 39, of Washington, Washington County, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to failing to file financial reports to the U.S. Department of the Treasury after he brought over $47,000 in Chinese yuan to the United States in September 2019, according to a news release from the Utah U.S. Attorney's Office. It is a federal law that anyone who brings over $10,000 in foreign currency to the United States must file a report with the treasury department.

Ma was initially charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering from 2014 to 2019, though, those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, according to court records.

In September 2020, federal prosecutors accused Ma of using his position at Sound Vision Technology, a Hurricane-based business that makes speakers, to receive kickbacks from Chinese companies. In return, Ma would award contracts to the Chinese companies to produce and sell audio components and products to Sound Vision Technology, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In all, Ma had the company overpay for products by roughly $2.5 million.

Initial charging documents alleged that Ma used his newfound wealth to buy property around St. George. When he purchased a home for $450,000, Sound Vision's CEO asked Ma how he was going to be able to pay for the home, charging documents state. Ma told his boss that he had received money from his father in China who was ill and trying to move money out of the country so the Chinese government couldn't take it when he died, according to charging documents. Prosecutors say, however, that was false.

Court records allege that Ma purchased numerous townhomes and real estate properties around the St. George area, including six pieces of property in Washington County that prosecutors wanted to seize, in addition to a Honda minivan and a Ford pickup truck.

Once he is released from prison, Ma will be placed on supervised probation for three years. Ma was also ordered to pay over $2.5 million in restitution to Sound Vision and over $777,000 in restitution to the IRS for outstanding federal taxes.

Ma was given his sentence during a hearing on May 10. He will be transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to serve that sentence.

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Jacob Scholl joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. He covers northern Utah communities, federal courts and technology.

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