Legal Issues

Ex-Minnesota Vikings Owner Sentenced to Over 6 Years In Prison For Shadow Banking

Ex-Minnesota Vikings Owner Sentenced to Over 6 Years In Prison For Shadow Banking

The former co-owner of the Minnesota Vikings NFL franchise is headed to federal prison for financial crimes. 

Businessman Reginald Fowler -- who was part of the Vikings' ownership group between 2005 and 2014, when his involvement with the team ended -- has been sentenced to 75 months in federal prison for operating a scheme to process over $700 million of unregulated transactions on behalf of cryptocurrency exchanges. This criminal activity violated federal anti-money laundering laws, involved lying to U.S. bank officials, and resulted in defrauding the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

Credit: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Fowler attempted to acquire a major ownership stake in the short-lived league using illicit funds. 

Fowler originally pled guilty to fraud charges in April 2022. According to one report about the case, prosecutors allege that Fowler's "shadow banking" scheme involved funds in excess of $850 million. The prosecution also states that the ex-football owner spent the time leading up to his sentencing "blowing" over $200,000 while he was out on bond. 

An official release from the IRS shares details of Fowlers' financial misdeeds. In February 2018, Reginald Fowler established Global Trading Solutions LLC (GTS). At that time, he began working with Crypto Capital and other similar companies, which were operated by Israeli nationals. These crypto companies marketed themselves as an easy, frictionless way for individuals to exchange standard currency for cryptocurrency. It is worth noting that GTS was among multiple firms that used these sorts of companies.

At the time Fowler began his company, crypto currency was new technology and banks were reticent to deal with the industry. Due to this, companies like Crypto Capital were unable to access legitimate financial institutions. To circumvent this, the companies in questions opened fraudulent accounts to process cryptocurrency transactions without being transparent with bank officials. Fowler personally opened dozens of these illegal accounts both domestically and abroad. 

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Furthermore, according to the IRS, Fowler engaged in additional criminal activity in 2018 when he defrauded the AAF. During negotiations for an ownership stake, Fowler falsely claimed that he personally owned GTS funds that actually belonged to the exchange's clients. He also knowingly misled AAF executives, stating that the funds in GTS's fraudulent bank accounts were income from real estate investments and various government contracts.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams spoke out about the sentence, saying:

"Reginald Fowler evaded federal law by processing hundreds of millions of dollars of unregulated transactions on behalf of cryptocurrency exchanges as a shadow bank. He did so by lying to legitimate U.S. financial institutions, which exposed the U.S. financial system to serious risk. He then victimized a professional football league by lying about his net worth in exchange for a substantial portion of the league. Let it be clear: this Office is committed to prosecuting people who lie to banks and skirt the law as a means to conduct their business."


What do you think about Fowler's shadow banking scam?

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Feature Image Credit: Mark Brettingen/Getty Images

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Rebekah Barton

Rebekah Barton

Rebekah's search engine optimization career began completely by accident as a college student. Over the course of her career so far, she has "grown up" with the SEO industry, from writing content while juggling classes to managing her own teams of writers and overseeing SEO strategy in subsequent roles. She is excited to bring her passion for high-quality content to CountingWorks, Inc.

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