Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Thursday, April 27, 2017

UNREPORTED BOMBING OF HEZBOLLAH MUNITIONS FACILITY INSIDE LEBANON RAISES CONCERNS



While world media attention was focused on an air attack, upon what has been described as an arms shipment, located near the Damascus airport, of advanced weapons said to be destined for Hezbollah, another operation received no media coverage, probably due to the sensitivity of the location; inside Lebanon, to the probable dismay of the Beirut banking community, if word got out.

Actually, details of the earlier arrival, at the Damascus Airport, of two IL-76 cargo planes, one Syrian and one Iranian, which may have ferried the advanced weaponry destroyed, as it was destined for Hezbollah, appear to further focused attention on the Damascus attack, said to have come from Israel. Was this an effort at news management, to insure that the Damascus attack capture the exclusive attention of the media ?

Information received, from a totally reliable source, indicated that there was a second attack, at a location inside the Lebanese Republic, at a site controlled by Hezbollah, and that a facility that stored munitions and weapons, was destroyed. Obviously, coming on the heels of statements, from Lebanese leaders, that they control their country, and its borders, after a Hezbollah "guided tour," of the frontier with Israel, Lebanon does not want to admit that an attack even took place, let alone that munitions were located, targeted and eliminated.

If the attacks upon Iranian-supplied weapons that Israel does not want Hezbollah to possess will now be conducted against Lebanese targets, and not exclusively within Syria, then the risk of armed conflict increases, as does Country Risk, for Lebanon's most precious resource, its Beirut financial center, is a prominent potential "infrastructure target," of Israeli warplanes and missiles, as repeatedly promised by senior military officers, if Hezbollah starts yet another war.

  





 

GRAND COURT OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS BANS COPYING OF COURT FILES




The Chief Justice of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands has issued an order, prohibiting the public from making photocopies of court pleadings. You can just make out the notice, prominently posted on the door at the clerk's office, according to witnesses.  Of course, the public can review the court files, and take notes, but no method of copying or photographing shall be permitted hereafter.



One wonders whether the recent high-profile fraud cases, originating in the Cayman Islands, have directed more negative attention towards the offshore financial center than the government desires, hence the effort to keep the original court documents, some of which could be interpreted as a "head in the sand" approach, by local regulators and law enforcement, off the Internet.

In any event, reporting on major financial crime in the Cayman Islands, just became for difficult for the foreign press, who often rely upon court filings when covering the news of the Cayman Islands. Also, as the democracies of the Caribbean seem to be slipping further and further into authoritarianism, and rule by strong men, who seem more like banana republic despots, rather than the elected democratic leaders they are supposed to be, risk levels for foreign investment keep climbing upward.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

IS THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN DOMINICA SPYING ON THE UNITED STATES ?


 This is the Embassy of the Peoples' Republic of China in Dominica. According to local sources, this structure has a very high degree of security. It is located in an exclusive residential area, Morne Daniel, and it is protected by a special paramilitary unit of the Dominican Police Force, the Special Service Unit, or SSU. Locals, who are unable to see past the solid wall, report that they are intimidated by the sinage, as well as the SSU palace guard outside, discouraging visitors.


Considering that, outside of the rare Dominican university student, attending school in China, the embassy serves no practical function. The amount of international trade between the two countries is negligible, and outside of Dominican Prime Minister's trips to the Peoples' Republic, there's little or no international commerce, tourism or exchange. it is far too large for its official function, as an embassy, and to provide consulate services. So why is it there ?

When Dominica's left-leaning, and often declared anti-American, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, unilaterally withdrew his country's recognition of Taiwan, and established diplomatic relations with China, the two countries embarked upon a relationship which appears to be only at the highest level.  Dominica is actively pursuing high net-worth Chinese, for the country's Citizenship by Investment (CBI) economic passport program, as well as "investors, " though national agriculture took a severe hit during a 2015 tropical storm, and there is no other established industry; even tourism is a small factor.

Taken in the embassy courtyard; note the walls

The obvious conclusion is that the Government of China is using the embassy as a protected  listening post, under diplomatic cover, focused upon the East Caribbean region, as well as the United States, to gather intelligence, whether electronically, or through use of human assets. considering that the United States has one embassy in Barbados, serving no less than six East Caribbean nations, China's footprint in Dominica is large, indeed.

The embassy also exists to exercise, and expand Chinese influence, for an emerging China is seeking to acquire a global reach. Whether its power, and opaque goals, will adversely affect the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, we cannot say, but this curious embassy bears watching. Does anyone out there remember the Grenada invasion ? 

ZARRAB'S ATTORNEY-POLITICANS ATTEMPT TO MINIMIZE HIS CRIMES, BUT INDICTMENT SAYS OTHERWISE


The unsucessful political efforts, on behalf of the indicted Iranian oil sanctions violator, Reza Zarrab, reportedly conducted with senior government officials in Turkey by Rudolph Giuliani, whose co-counsel are said to have minimized their client's role in the $400m international sanctions evasion scheme, by labeling Zarrab's acts as only involving "consumer goods," which flies in the face of the superseding indictment, alleging Zarrab's support for both Hezbollah and the IRGC, specially designated global terrorist organizations. The US Attorney's Office in New York has, according to published reports, disputed this effort to portray Zarrab in a lesser light.

One report says that Rudolph Giuliani's strategy is to enlist Turkey in a cooperative campaign against ISIS, and argue to senior US officials (NOT Department of Justice) that the release of Zarrab to Turkey, as part of an omnibus agreement between it and America, would be in our best national security interests. In essence, he wants to give Zarrab a "Get out of Jail Card," in an arrangement through which US interests are better served in the Middle East, by Turkish military action.

Whether you agree that this maneuver smells of backroom dirty politics, it doesn't appear to have worked, the US Attorney in Manhattan is moving forward with its case, and since we have seen no evidence of plea negotiations, we must assume that the case will, ultimately, go to trial. Of course, inasmuch as Zarrab is looking at 75 years, or more, of imprisonment, he may still decide to cooperate, and in that event, all the other conspirators in his organization, Zanjani, Monfared, and others, may find themselves as co-defendants sooner, rather than later.

INVESTIGATORS FIND MANY COSTA RICANS IN PANAMA PAPERS ARE PEPS


 As each country delves deeply into the Panama Papers, they are finding, by and large, that many individuals investigators discover within the incriminating documents are their nation's Politically Exposed Persons, also known as PEPs, which raises the question about how such government officials came to possess large amount of money that greatly exceed their salaries, and known wealth & other assets.

Over in neighboring Costa Rica,  local media are referring to the scandal as the "Costa Rica Papers," due to the fact that 37, of the 137 Costa Ricans whose names show up in the Panama Papers, are PEPs. This information has spurred local authorities to launch multiple investigations into the possibility that these corporations formed, and accounts opened, by Mossack and Fonseca were created solely for the purposes of illegal tax evasion.

Among those located in the Papers were:
Two Vice Presidents
Four Deputies
Fourteen Ministers
Three directors of public institutions
One former diplomat who was assigned to the United States
Several individuals linked to the country's major political parties

Most of the offshore entities formed by the Mossack firm were incorporated in Panama, the British Virgin Islands, and  the Bahamas. Details of the MF branch in Costa Rica were also made public. Form the tone of the publicity surrounding the release of this information, it must be assumed that criminal tax evasion charges will ultimately be filed in San José.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ARE THE MONEY LAUNDERING LAWYERS THE NEXT TARGETS FOR PANAMA'S ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTORS ?


I note that a prominent Panama City attorney, who represented the two sons of former (and fugitive) President Ricardo Martinelli is in hot water with prosecutors. Is this a sign that money launderers, who just happen to be attorneys, are now to be charged in Panama ?

The lawyer formed a corporation, and then purchased a multi-million dollar property in Spain, even flying to the closing, rather than expose her client, who was a Martinelli son. The Spanish Government has now seized the luxury building, in the same way that the Swiss Government froze $22m of Odebrecht bribe money, in Martinelli accounts, where again, a lawyer fronted for her Martinelli clients. Can this be really happening ?

When Panama actually shuts down the money laundering lawyers, for criminal elements, both local, and foreign, the country has a slim chance of true reform. President Varela, please continue the crusade being waged by your anti-corruption divisions ; jail, and prosecute, the offenders. 


Monday, April 24, 2017

A NEW DICTATORSHIP EMERGES IN THE EAST CARIBBEAN



The right of peaceable assembly may be one of the cherished rights of the English-speaking countries, but this week it was abolished in a country that must now be regarded as a former democracy, now rapidly becoming a dictatorship. The population of the Commonwealth of Dominica has now, by decree, lost the right to assemble, and discuss their grievances.

Today, April 24, 2017, the Minister of Justice, Immigration, and National Security enacted a regulation that enables him to ban any public meeting, assembly or demonstration. He then used this new & absolute power to forbid an assembly, to be conducted by Opposition parties. It is all displayed above and below.



Democracy fades out, in Dominica, and dictatorship becomes the order of the day. if you have been reading any of the articles that I have been posting of late, you have seen the deterioration of the rule of law in Dominica, and the rise of autocratic rule. This one act, which has codified the acts of the local government in 2017, is the beginning of the end for democracy in Dominica.

For  foreign investors, eco-tourists, yachtsmen, and other travelers, the risk levels have flown off the chart, given the rampant corruption, vote buying, sales of passports to all comers, and general fear and loathing. For international bankers, Country Risk has risen so high as to make it a jurisdiction to avoid, leaving the population high and dry, while the corrupt national leadership rakes in their lucre.
Dominica; the newest police state.

Welcome to Dominica; for risk management purposes, it is the new Haiti; a kleptocracy.