Archive for the ‘Money Laundering cases’ Category

OECD says Switzerland must do more to tackle bribery and protect whistleblowers

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Switzerland must urgently do more to protect whistleblowers and stop money laundering and bribery.

After a year-long investigation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) said that companies, lawyers and trustees operating in Switzerland must face tougher penalties for perpetrating or facilitating bribery taking place abroad.

The OECD said Switzerland “presents a specific risk of corruption” because of a large number of public international organisations and an outsized financial sector providing services for overseas clients. Despite hosting international industries which have significant potential for corruption, such as commodities trading, Switzerland has no legal framework to protect whistleblowers.

The organisation also found out that not a single case of foreign bribery has been brought to local Swiss law enforcement agencies in any of its cantons by a whistleblower. Internationally, company insiders who alert authorities to wrongdoing are seen as vital in the battle against corruption. They have been instrumental in a number of recent high-profile data leaks that have shone a light into the sometimes shady world of offshore finance.

Long famed for its secretive banks and as a hub for clandestine financial activity, Switzerland has been attempting to clear up its image in recent years after a string of scandals, but the latest report found an “almost universal mistrust” of whistleblowers in the country, stemming from “extremely entrenched opinions on this matter that point to strong, deep-rooted cultural resistance to people who support suspicions of wrongdoing”.

mes.

UK to crackdown on century-old loophole being used for money laundering

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

According to the government of the United Kingdom, Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs) are being exploited by overseas criminal gangs. Initially, SLPs were introduced in 1907 to help Scottish farmers.

The government research revealed that one laundering scheme used 100 different SLPs to shift USD 80bn in Russian money in just 4 years.

The proposals are the latest in ministers’ attempts to crack down on dirty money as part of a wide-ranging response to Russia in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

The plans are aimed to ensure that SLPs are being used only by legitimate businesses, users will have to prove they have a genuine connection to the UK and are running a company or maintaining an address in Scotland. Under the current rules, anyone in the world is able to register an SLP. The proposed changes will mean that anyone setting up a limited partnership will have to pass anti-money laundering checks.

While many SLPs are owned by legitimate businesses, government research suggests others have been part of complex attempts to launder the proceeds of criminal activities.

US politicians question Trump ties to Panama real estate project

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The United States politicians question Trump ties to scandal-struck Panama real estate project. The Panama City project is said to have earned the President between USD 30-50 million.

Two members of Congress have asked the Trump Organisation to reveal if it knew about allegations that real estate agents and investors linked to a project bearing the President’s name in Panama, had ties to money laundering and drugs. Democratic congresswoman Norma Torres and congressman Eliot Engel asked if the company, founded by Donald Trump and run by his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr since their father entered the White House, was aware of the claims relating to the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. They asked what due diligence was done on investors and agents involved in the project, which has earned Mr Trump between USD 30 and 50 million for lending his name to it.

The Trump Organisation have not responded to enquiries immediately.

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.