Archive for the ‘Money Laundering cases’ Category

Football Star accused of Tax Evasion through offshore companies

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Lionel Messi, a 28-year-old 5-time World Player of the Year, and his father Jorge Messi were accused of using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay in order to avoid over EUR 4 million in tax.

In his and his father’s trial over tax evasion, Messi insisited that he did not make attempts to avoid paying taxes on EUR 4.16 million of his income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-2009

When giving testimony in the court in Barcelona, the Argentina skipper said: “I didn’t know anything, all I know about is playing football and winning.” He also said: “I only knew that sponsors would pay X amount of money, that I had to do adverts, photos and things like that.” He declared that he had never read anything but I would sign where the lawyers said.

Tax authorities are asking that both Leo and his father serve about 2 years in jail for the offence, but the public prosecutor is only pursuing Messi Sr.

Jorge Messi, Leo’s father and co-defendant, had earlier claimed that he didn’t realise the Belize company that managed image rights deals didn’t pay taxes in Spain, and that he never informed his son of the details of sponsorship deals. “Since the start of Leo’s career I only tried to make his life easier,” he said.

US regulator tells Scotiabank to fix AML Deficiencies

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

US regulators are compelling Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada’s third-largest bank by assets, to overhaul its anti-money- laundering (AML) controls to correct “deficiencies” in the lender’s compliance program.

Toronto-based Scotiabank has entered into a written agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York State Department of Financial Services to fix problems ranging from oversight to the monitoring of suspicious activity.

The written agreement released by the New York Fed did not include any monetary penalties against the bank.

It should be noted that the enforcement action comes at a time when Canadian banks are facing increased pressure from global regulators to root out potential sources of money laundering and terrorist financing from their operations.

Scotiabank spokesman Andrew Chornenky said that the bank has a strong risk-management culture. He added: “Scotiabank is firmly committed to global Anti-Money-Laundering standards and serious about fixing the issues identified by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

As part of its agreement with the New York Fed, Scotiabank has agreed to start a review of its New York agency’s wire- transfer activity over a period spanning July 1, 2014, to December 31, 2014. The purpose of the review is to “determine whether suspicious activity involving high risk customers and transactions at, by, or through the Agency was properly identified and reported in accordance with applicable suspicious activity reporting regulations,” the agreement stated.

UK fraud office looking at potential Money Laundering in World Cup bids

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Officials are investigating potential offenses relating to 2018, 2022 World Cup bids.

David Green said the SFO had no jurisdiction to go after FIFA under bribery laws but that there may have been potential money-laundering offenses. One of these involved a £270,000 payment (USD 414,000) payment by the Australia 2022 bid committee to Jack Warner which may have gone through London.

He also said that the SFO had no powers to act against FIFA officials who had solicited money or favors from England’s 2018 World Cup bid from the evidence obtained so far – but that attempts to procure a copy of the Garcia report into World Cup bidding had been unsuccessful.

Green said: “We are still examining issues around possible money laundering and I won’t be able to go into detail as new information has come to us quite recently.” As to the Australia payment, he said: “I cannot confirm the assertion that money went through London – it certainly started off in Sydney and appears to have ended up in Trinidad. It could be money-laundering yes. Whether the money came through London is important. “

Swiss banks to harden AML measures

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

According to the Swiss banking association, Switzerland’s banks will beef up anti-money laundering measures. This was announced weeks after a report by a government-appointed group found the Alpine nation was still vulnerable to financial crime.

More transparent rules are to come into force in 2016 to make it harder for criminals to hide their money in companies or schemes with obscure ownership structures.

The measures were announced as Switzerland investigates alleged corruption at Zurich-based FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, in connection with World Cup bids. United States’ prosecutors are also investigating alleged money laundering schemes by soccer officials.

The Swiss Bankers Association said in a statement that fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing are central issues for the Swiss financial centre. It announced that from 2016, bank would face a new requirement to identify the controlling owner of legal entities and private companies. This would mean any individual with a stake of more than 25% or exercising effective control. If no one who meets these criteria, banks must instead identify the highest-ranking employee.

The announcement follows a report this month from a Swiss interdepartmental group on combating money laundering and terrorism financing, in which it recommended measures to improve rules tackling financial crime.

Ex-Guatemala President sentenced in US for Money Laundering

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo has been sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison for money laundering.

Besides the prison sentence, Portillo will have to return the USD 2.5 million he accepted as a bribe from the Government of Taiwan so that Guatemala would maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei. Also, he will have to pay a fine of up to USD 500,000.

Portillo was extradited to New York in May 2013 from Guatemala to face charges of conspiring to launder money he obtained illegally during his 2000-2004 mandate.

Portillo laundered the bribe money through U.S. and European banks.

Having initially denied the accusations, he entered a guilty plea in March after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. This agreement allowed him to avoid a 20-year prison term.

Portillo, 62, had received the money from Taiwan between December 1999 and August 2002. The USD 2.5 million was paid to him through 5 cheques.

Of the money, USD 1.5 million were deposited in accounts that he, his wife and daughter had in Spain’s BBVA bank in Paris. Part of that money was later laundered through banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg and other offshore jurisdictions.

Vatican says bank needs ‘corrective measures’

Monday, May 19th, 2014

The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said that “corrective measures” were necessary at the Holy See’s troubled bank to continue the path toward financial transparency and compliance with international anti-money laundering norms.

According to Financial Intelligence Authority Director Rene Bruelhart, a long-awaited investigation of the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, included looking into its practice of not disclosing the names of the true account holders in its transactions with Italian banks. He said that the main problems identified in the inspection concerned the bank’s procedures for identifying high-risk activities, and that more detail was necessary.

He said over the coming weeks, he would discuss a proposed action plan with bank managers “to take certain corrective measures to have a full implementation (of the Vatican’s anti-money-laundering law) in the IOR.”

The majority of the 202 new cases stemmed from transactions at the Vatican bank, which is reviewing each of its accounts to make sure it is clean and that the bank has complete information on the client.

Lebanese Bank accused of terrorism financing

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

A Lebanese bank accused of laundering drug money through United States banks and routing it to the terrorist group Hezbollah will pay USD 102 million to settle a lawsuit brought in 2011 by the US government.

The government of the United States accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank of a “widespread international scheme” to use the US banking system for laundering the proceeds from drug trafficking through West Africa and back to Lebanese financial institutions with ties to Hebollah.

Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said that drug trafficking profits and terror financing often grow and flow together.

Evan Barr, an attorney for the bank, said in a statement that the bank is pleased to have reached a settlement with the Government of the United States, ending months of legal dispute.

According to prosecutors, the bank transferred at least USD 329 million by wire to the USA to purchase used cars that were then shipped to West Africa. It was said in the court documents that the money from the sale of the cars and proceeds from drug trafficking were funneled to Lebanon through Hezbollah-controlled money laundering operations. So, the bank played a key role in these money laundering channels and conducted business with a number of Hezbollah-related entities.

The government of the USA considers Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization and bars US businesses from doing business with the group. In 2011, the Treasury Department designated the bank a money launderer. The government said that the bank was used routinely by drug traffickers to launder money from Central and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. A Lebanese branch of France’s Societe Generale bank acquired most of the bank’s assets after the Treasury designation. Another Lebanese money exchange, Hassan Ayash Exchange Company, forfeited USD 720 000 to the government of the United States last week in order to settle claims that it participated in the money laundering scheme.

Swiss authorities report 1,500 money-laundering cases in 2012

Friday, May 24th, 2013

According to the annual report presented at the conference in Bern, Switzerland on May 14, Swiss authorities investigated several reports of terrorist financing among a high number of suspected money-laundering cases connected to banks last year.

The number involving terrorist financing rose to 15 in 2012, which is 5 more than in 2011, due to a single complex case of almost USD 8 million, according to an annual report issued by Swiss Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS).

They were 1,585 suspected money-laundering cases that Swiss authorities disrupted in 2012, including 15 linked to terrorist financing. The past two years have seen an almost 50% increase in the number of cases compared with previous years.

Two-thirds of the cases were linked to banking, and more than 200 cases involved more than 100,000 Swiss francs (USD 104,000). The rest were mainly tied to payment services, fiduciary and asset managers.

Most of the cases were reported by a financial intermediary such as banks, credit card companies, casinos, and currency exchanges, or were based on newspaper reports or information from other third parties such as financial compliance databases.

HK investigates ex-chief of Corruption watchdog

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Hong Kong’s anticorruption agency called the Independent Commission Against Corruption is launching a criminal investigation of its former chief. Tong spent tens of thousands of USD on gifts for mainland Chinese officials.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Department of Justice said that there were significant reason to start this investigation into allegations of possible bribery and misconduct by Timothy Tong.

Tong was a commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption from 2007 to 2012. He came under fire after reports emerged he spent about HK$ 218,500 on gifts ranging from pens to crystal models of the agency’s headquarters.

Biggest bank forfeiture ever: HSBC to pay USD 1.9 Billion to settle money-laundering case

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

HSBC will pay USD 1.9 billion to settle a US. money-laundering probe to avoid a protracted legal battle that would have further embarrassed the British banking giant.

The probe of Europe’s largest bank by market value focused on the transfer of funds through the US financial system from Mexican drug cartels and on behalf of nations such as Iran that are under international sanctions.

HSBC said in a statement that its anti-money laundering measures were inadequate and it had since made strides in beefing up its controls. The bank also said it has reached agreements over investigations by other United States’ government agencies. Also, it expects to sign an agreement with British regulators soon.

“We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again,” HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said in a statement.