Jailed dealership owner was told to shut down 3 years ago - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Jailed dealership owner was told to shut down 3 years ago

2013 Audit of DFI 2013 Audit of DFI
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Federal authorities say the owners of a Valley luxury car dealership took bags of cash from undercover agents posing as drug dealers. Authorities say Hamid and Saeid Salari agreed to money laundering through unreported car sales.

Court documents show Hamid Salari agreed to cease and desist all operations at Luxor Auto Group in October of 2011. The Arizona Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) said it relied on that agreement but without a follow-up, Salari and Luxor remained in operation for another three years.

DFI gives banks, lenders and other financial institutions the green light to operate in the Grand Canyon State but in 2013, they received a glaring report from the Auditor General.

The audit said the department had a backlog of nearly 200 cases and many complaints were not addressed for over a year.

State Representative Martin Quezada is part of the department's legislative audit committee. He said the 2013 audit echoed similar concerns from other state departments like Child Protective Services.

"There were several investigations that were not completed, complaints that were not looked into." Quezada says, "that was the biggest concern."

On Thursday, a six-month follow-up to that audit showed the department was still behind on several auditor recommendations including an updated follow-up policy.

The same morning, federal authorities raided Luxor Auto Group, the Scottsdale dealership DFI said should have closed its doors in 2011.

While auditors suggest Luxor could've been shut-down sooner with an effective follow-up policy, a DFI chief told CBS 5 the department does not track business activity without an application process or complaint.

No word if a complaint about Luxor Auto Group was ever filed with DFI since 2011.

DFI said the backlogs were in part, a result of the recession and state budget cutbacks.

Since the original audit, DFI claims it has drastically cut its backlog of investigations and has updated some of its policies however only 13 of the auditor's 40 recommendations have been implemented.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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