DC-area restaurant accused of involvement in international money laundering scheme

A Northern Virginia restaurant finds itself at the center of allegations of involvement in an international money laundering operation, according to a complaint first reported by Reston Now.

Vapiano, a global fast-casual restaurant chain with a location in Reston Town Center, is involved in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California in May and obtained by Reston Now. The complaint alleges a group of people, including Jurg Widmer Probst, conspired to launder money through a restaurant location in Doral, Fla.

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Plutos Sama Holdings Inc., a Delaware-based company that bought shares of Vapiano’s parent company earlier in 2019, claims Widmer made a fortune through corrupt shipping deals in Guatemala, moving to Switzerland amid allegations he was involved in a bribery scheme, and created a shell company to hide the proceeds from criminal activity.

When the franchiser would not grant Widmer a license to operate the Doral restaurant, Widmer and his conspirators launched a campaign to encourage restaurant employees to quit, strike or refuse to cooperate with new management, the complaint claims.

Reston Now reports that one of Widmer’s partners removed a manager from the Reston location without notice, leading to a “management vacuum.” Reston Vapiano employees report that in recent weeks their paychecks have been missing or delayed.

Widmer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.