Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Thursday, July 9, 2020

WILL THE US ATTORNEY IN MIAMI USE THE PORTMANN CAPITAL CASE TO TAKE DOWN MALTA'S CESSPOOL OF MONEY LAUNDERING CRIME ?

Miami to Malta: 5,430 Miles
While we have little hope that Malta's do-nothing law enforcement and regulatory agencies will ever change, and arrest the individuals who engaged in money laundering at Pilatus Bank and Satabank, the case presently pending agaisnt Portmann Capital in US District Court in Miami could provide relief. US courts have interpreted the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 as having extraterritorial jurisdiction. This means Maltese money launderers, never having set foot in the United States, can still be charged with money laundering, provided US Dollars, or US banks, were involved in any signficant way.

It is conservatively estimated that Portmann moved $511m out of the total $1.2bn stolen or diverted from Petroleos de Venezuelan (PDVSA), the state-owned oil and natural gas company, through Malta's financial institutions primarily Pilatius, though others are implicated. Certanly, the opportunity exists to expand the scope of the current Miami-based Federal investigation, so that the Pilatus bad actors, and their corrupt circle of enablers and facilitators, are named in superseding indictments. Go ahead, name all of the players.

Mr. prosecutor, let the jury sort it out. You certainly have sufficient evidence to take such a case to trial. The principal cooperating witness, Matthias Krull, who received a 10-year sentence back in October, 2018, is still out on bail, and not scheduled to begin his prison sentence until Septmber, must surely have implicated most, if not all, of the Pilatus directors, among others. We imagine Ali Sadr will also be assisting with the prosecution.




Unless the United States takes the proverbial "Bite out of Crime" and charges the Pilatus defendants, including their facilitators, who happen to be formerly (or presently) in government, and shakes up the corrupt money laundering establishment in Malta, there will never be any real reform issued from the top, just more of the current posturing about increasing indicments and enacting new regulations. Only when Maltese start going to US prisons will anyone ever clean up Malta.






Wednesday, July 8, 2020

JUDGE IN ALI SADR CASE ORDERS BOTH SIDES TO BRIEF DISMISSAL AND BAD FAITH ISSUES



The trial judge in the Ali Sadr Hasheminejad case is not yet ready to rule on the two outstanding issues facing the Court, and has ordered the parties to submit briefs, setting forth their respective positions :

(1) The proper procedural mechanism for dismissal of the Ali Sadr case; The defense wants a New Trial granted, and then an order of dismissal with prejudice. The Government wants simply an order of dismissal. Neither party has submitted legal authorites for their argument, and the Court has ordered briefs to be filed this month on a specific schedule,

(2) Was there Bad Faith ? There are factual disputes among the parties as to whether any Government lawyers acted in Bad Faith in the case.The Court did note that "it may be necessary to hold an evidentiary hearing in order to independently assess whether the issues that have arisen were the product of bad faith, knowing misrepresentation, or an intentional failure to comply with discovery obligations."

Again the Court stated that the Government conceded that the Court retained jurisdiction, after any dismissal of the case, to determine whether any Government lawyers engaged in ethical violations or prosecutorial misconduct. Whether any punishment will be meted out to government attorneys cannot be estimated at this time, but there are specific factual disputes, between individual AUSAs attorneys, possible errors of judgment, and even credibility determinations which will ultimately need to be made, and as there have been, or are, other SDNY cases where discovery issues have been raised.

The complete text of the Order appears below.




I COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF

From a superb opinion piece, published today in The Shift News by AndrĂ© Delicata:

"There's a reason why people commit crimes. Most of the time, it's money. And when it's a big crime, it's usually big money.

But for criminals to enjoy money they have acquired illicitly, it must be made to appear as though it was generated through legitimate means. Otherwise, the crimes committed can be traced back to them from the 'money trail.'

Criminality depend and thrives upon money laundering. Where money laundering is rife, crime flourishes."

Wise words.

READ THE LIST OF SANCTIONED VESSELS LINKED TO IRAN




The link to Treasury's  OFAC SDN List of vessels subject to sanctions due to their afiliation with the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN SHIPPING LINES can be found here.

WILL MALTA CHARGE ALI SADR HASHEMINEJAD AND THE OTHER PILATUS BANKS DIRECTORS WITH MONEY LAUNDERING TO AVOID THE MONEYVAL GREYLIST ?



The October MONEYVAL deadline is fast approaching, and Malta has not enacted any significant legal reforms, nor have any new money laundering cases been filed, nor have any dodgy shell companies been shut down. In short, the necessary actions needed to avoid the regulator's "Grey List" have not occurred. What will Malta's leaders do now ? They cannot ask for another six-month extension, as is rumored; they already received a 3-month delay, due to COVID-19.

If Malta makes the Grey List, foreign lawyers, financial advisors and wealthy clients may choose a less "controversial" offshore financial center/tax haven to do their business, meaning that revenue from such business could seriously decline. Malta's leaders do not want that to happen.

The solution: bring money laundering charges against the CEO and owner of money laundering Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, and all other former directors of the bank. Such an action will demonstrate the willingness of the country's leaders to hold money launderers to account, and may be sufficient to ward off MONEYVAL, so long as there is an actual trial of the offenders, and justice is served.

Such an action would probably have the support of Malta's business community, for it fears pushback from entry into the Grey List, except those government officials who fast-tracked the Pilatus banking license application, for they may have concerns about being named by Ali Sadr at his trial in Malta.

This may be a true Hobson's choice, meaning that to indict, or not to indict, will have serious ramifications for a number of Malta's present or former leaders, but if real reform is to take place in 2020, charging Pilatus Bank directors is the obvious way to start.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

REALITY TELEVISION STAR CHARGED WITH USING PPP LOAN TO FUND PONZI SCHEME



Reality TV star MAURICE FAYNE, of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta has been indicted in US DIsitrict Court in Atlanta on multiple fraud charges. It is alleged that he used a multi-million dollar COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to perpetuate a Ponzi scheme he was operating at his trucking firm. Investors thought the defendant was operating a profitable trucking business, when he was using new investors' money to pay old investors, rent a Rolls Royce, and fund an extravagant life style. Federal agents have seized substantial personal assets of the defendant, including his trucking fleet and equipment.



Fayne  was charged with:

(1) Bank Fraud.
(2) Money Laundering.
(3) Making a False Statement to a Federally-insured Financial Institution.

  

NIGERIAN CYBER-FRAUDSTER EXTRADITED TO CHICAGO TO FACE JUSTICE



OLALEKAN JACOB PONLE a/k/a Mr. Woodbery, a Nigerian national, was extradited to Chicago from his residence in the UAE, from where he was expelled by the authorities. The defendant was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud. his victims included companies located in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York and California.

The scam, known as Business Email Compromise Scheme (BEC), involved gaining access to corporate email accounts, and sending fraudulent emails to unwitting employees, who were instructed to wire funds to a bank acccount set up by the defendant. Access to corporat email was accomplished usig computer instrusion or social engineering techniques. Associates then converted the money to Bitcoin, which was sent to Poole's virtual wallet.

The exact amount of loss is not specified in the Criminal Complaint, but appears to be in the tens of millions of dollars. One company lost $15.2m. The text messages and correspondence between the defendant and his co-conspirators appears in the Criminal Complaint, which may be accessed here.

COURT SETS TRIAL DATE IN HALKBANK CASE




In the pending SDNY case against Halkbank (Turkiye Halk Bansasi AS), the Court has announced dates and deadlines regarding the upcoming trial:

(1) Jury selection will begin on February 23, 2021.
(2) Trial shall commence March 1, 2021.
(3) Motions are due December 14, 2020.
(4) Final Pretrial Conference on January 14, 2021.

US ATTORNEY RESPONDS TO ALI SADR'S ACCUSATIONS OF BAD FAITH AND DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATIONS

John McEnany, the Associate United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York has responded to the reply filed by the defense team of Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, regarding the Bad Faith and Deliberate Misrepresentations issues they originlly raised. He goes on record to state that the disclosure problems admitted by the prosecution were due to Bad Faith, nor did the prosecutors make Deliberate Misrepresentations to the Court.

If you have been following the post-verdict Discovery controversy, and wish to know the specific violations, and the Government's explanations, please read the leter below.

Unfortunately, nobody is discussing the other issue: whether these disclosure violations were intentional, in order to have the case dismissed, due to Ali Sadr's steller assistance, which is reportedly being rendered to the Government, so that it may now charge many other individuals.


Monday, July 6, 2020

HOW CAN MALTA EVER REFORM ITSELF WHEN ITS NOMINEE DIRECTORS OPENLY HAWK THEIR WARES ?



Malta is literally on the brink of being "Greylisted" by MONEYVAL, but amidst all the talk of reform and change, its prominent residents openly advertise their availability to act as nominee directors for the jurisdictions dodgy shell (letterbox) companies. If you doubt the truth of this statement, access this link:  https://bennetti.mt/services/directorship/  which is a typical ad soliciting clients for offshore business.

So long as white collar criminals, tax evaders, terrorist financiers, and all the other usual suspects can form a shell company in Malta, and pay locals to front for them, the abuse of the system will continue. Nominee directors tarnish the reputation of Malta, and the MFSA should take action, instead of providing legitimacy for their status.

As the financial landscape in the EU regarding what it will not put up with from its Members changes, Malta simply must change with the times, or be left in the dust, while international businessmen move to move reputable jurisdictions.

READ THE GHISLAINE MAXWELL INDICTMENT IN THE JEFFREY EPSTEIN SCANDAL



Readers who wish to review the (formerly) Sealed Indictment in the case of United States vs. Ghislaine Maxwell, Case No.: 20-Cr-330 (SDNY)  may access the complete text here.

MALTA'S BUDDING RELATIONSHIP WITH TURKEY COMES WITH TERRORIST BAGGAGE


Meeting between Maltese officials and Turkey's Defense Minister and his staff


If you are following the civil war in Libya, you know that the Republic of Turkey has been using its support for one of the warring factions to increase its influence, and military footprint, in North Africa. Turkey also has other foreign policy goals, and it appears to be using increased contacts with Malta in furtherance of those goals, including preventing rivals of its sponsored faction in Libya from prevailing.

The  recent visits of the Foreign Minister of Turkey (who is also the EU Affairs Minister), as well as its Minister of Defense, to Malta, while connected to the Libya situation, has brought Turkey and Malta closer together. While public pronouncements regarding a number of matters of joint interest have been in the Maltese press, there are dangers that will arise should Malta choose to more closely ally itself with Turkey.



Turkey provides an operational base for the sanctioned global Palestinian terrorist group, HAMAS. it allows Hamas to target the West Bank (Judea & Samaria) and Israel for terrorist attacks, and despite repeated promises, has refused to shut down the safe haven that Hamas enjoys in Turkey. If Malta forges an intimate relationship with Turkey, how does it stop Hamas from coming along for the ride ?



There already is an influential Palestinian expat colony in Malta, and Malta's government has a long history of being overwhelmingly pro-Palestine and anti-Israel in its foreign policy. Given Malta's complete lack of control over its dodgy financial sector, it will be unable to identify, yet interdict, any terrorist financing conducted by Hamas within its banking system, especially its lucrative money laundering offshore sector.

It is time for government officials in Malta to take steps to identify, on a real-time basis, any new terrorist financing operations, before they morph into an integral component of the financial system; while Hamas is my first choice for bad actor, due to Turkish sponsorship, other Middle Eastern terrorist groups may also see an opening, and take steps to utilize Malta's extensive money laundering infrastructure. whether Malta acts before its too late is its choice.

 

  

Sunday, July 5, 2020

MASTER NIGERIAN CYBER-CRIMINAL "RAY HUSHPUPPI" EXTRADITED to UNITED STATES TO FACE CHARGES OF MONEY LAUNDERING

Ray Hushpuppi and his toys

The Nigernian supercyber-criminal, RAMON OLORUNWA ABBAS, a/k/a Ray Hushpuppi, who is accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars taken in Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud, from victims that include a foreign bank, a US law firm, and a British premier league football club, was extradited to the US on Thursday, after his expulsion for the UAE. The defendant faces a charge of Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in Federal Prison.

A colorful high-flying jetsetter, complete with private jet, Rolls and Bentley, Abbas, using a fraudulent wire transfer & money laundering scheme, and stole close to a million dollars from an American law firm, stole €13m from a foreign financial institution, in a cyber-heist scheme.

The number of cyber-crimes alleged are extensive. Readers who wish more details can access the complete text of the Criminal Complaint, 28 pages, here. 

ALI SADR'S ATTORNEYS "SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED" BY GOVERNMENT'S POSITION




Counsel for convicted Iran sanctions evader Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, in their letter response to the Govrnment's answers to the Court's questions about discovery errors and possible Brady violations, boldly accused the US Attorney's Office Criminal Discovery and Professional Responsibility Officer of taking positions "to minimize, deflect, and deny, avoiding any acknowledgement or acceotance of responsibility for the government's obvious, repeated failures and its notable lack of candor."They again request an order granting a new trial, vacating the verdict, and a dismissal of the case, with prejudice, meaning that it cannot be refiled against Ali Sadr.

The seven-page letter contains some serious accusations:

(1)  An intentional effort to conceal a known Rule 16 Discovery, or even Brady, violation.
(2)  Attempts to slide disclosure violations past the defense.
(3)  A "Textbook example" of Bad Faith.
(4)  Making statements that the prosecution knows to be untrue.
(5)   Denying that the prosecutors believed that certain discovery had any exculpatory value.
(6)   Knowledge that certain statement had not been disclosed to the defense.
(7)   Failure to disclose Brady material. Active suppression of material exculpatory evidence.
(8)   Misrepresentations about search warants for emails.

We await the Court's take on both the Government's representations, and the defense response. Most likely, the Court will grant the defense requests, and dismiss the case; whether there will be sanctions visited upon those in the US Attorney's Office who were reponsible for the disclosure violations and their supervistors. It remains an open question. The Court has previously been critical of the US Attorney's Office's Discovery failures, which resulted in additional in-house training. Will there now be more remedial action ordered, or something more punitive ?

PANAMA'S ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR ACCUSES THE EX-PRESIDENTS, MARTINELLI AND VARELA, OF MONEY LAUNDERING

Varela & Martinelli
Panama's Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office & the Superior Prosecutor's Office against Organized Crime have jointly announced criminal charges against  RICARDO MARTINELLI BERROCAL and JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRIGUEZ, the previous two Presidents of the Repuiblic.

They have been charged with Crimes against the Economic Order, or Money Laundering. Whether they actually ever stand trial is another matter, for Panama's totally corrupt judicial system allows parties to indefinitely delay the proceeedings, through the payment of bribes and illegal gratuities, to members of the judiciary, government prosecutors, court clerks, judges' staff, and court clerical personnel. Complete files are frequently stolen, and are purchased for cash from clerks and judge's secretaries. The rampant corruption reaches up to the Supreme Court of Justice, which can, for a price delay a criminal case for many years. The Rule of Law is seldom observed, and there are a number of lawyers in Panama City who are known to be full-time facilitators or "Fixers" of cases through bribery and other corrupt methods.

To illustrate my point, the "Panamna Papers" offshore law firm partners JURGEN MOSSACK and RAMON FONSECA MORA were arrested years ago, but their case has never been permitted to progress to the point where it is ready for trial.

CAPE VERDE: VENEZUELA OFFERING $10m REWARD FOR SAAB, "DEAD OR ALIVE"




Major media outlets in Cape Verde have reported that Venezuelan interests speaking for President Nicolas Maduro have offered a $10m reward to any party who can recover the imprisoned Colombian money launderer, ALEX NAIN SAAB MORAN, now wanted in both the US AND COLOMBIA, dead or alive. Apparently there are well-founded fears that there will be attempts to conduct a rescue of Saab before he can be extradited to the United States.

According to reports, Saab who has been moved to a more secure prison on the Island of Sal, is a target of armed mercenary groups, one of which has arrived in Guinea-Bisau, bringing weapons. Security and surveillance have been increased where Saab is confined.

One report states that the Cape Verde government has agreed to extradite Saab to the United States.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

WANTED : TERRORIST FROM SBARRO PIZZA BOMBING


TWO YEARS AFTER HIS SENTENCING THE SWISS MONEY LAUNDERER MATTHIAS KRULL REMAINS OUT ON BOND




I recently went on the Bureau of Prisons website, to locate where the former Swiss banker/money launderer Matthias Krull is serving his ten-year sentence. Failing to find any record of his incarceration, I checked the court file and learned that, two years after his sentencing, Krull, a former Julius Baer Panama banker, remains out on bond. His reporting date for Federal Prison has been postponed several times.

 Although it is generally true that valuable criminal defendants who engage in post-conviction cooperation do it from prison, in the hopes that they will receive a F.R. Crim P. 35(b) motion to reduce their sentence, in cases where there is extraordinary cooperation, the convicted defendant is allowed to remain at home, under supervision, until his cooperation is substantially completed. I am sure that attorneys representing potential money laundering defendants in Venezuela and Malta are on alert for any new indictments.

I extracted this from one of the filings:

"4. Mr. Krull has been assisting the government with its ongoing investigation and other ancilary matters since his sentencing. To that end, several additional meetings are anticipated in the coming months, and at least two foreign law enforcement agencies are interested in meeting with Mr. Krull in...."

We are wondering which "two foreign law enforcement agencies" are being referred to.






SDNY RESPONDS TO THE COURT'S INQUIRIES IN THE ALI SADR HASHEMINEJAD CASE

                                           

The US Attorney's Office in Manhatten has filed a detailed 19-page reply to the trial judge's order in the Ali Sadr case, responding to each and every question from the Court on Discovery violations, Brady issues, and identifying all the AUSAs, and their direct supervisors, who worked on the case. The judge was clearly angry at prosecutors for their conduct, judging from the questions which are now being answered. The letter was signed by John McEnany who is the Associate United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is the third position in the office in terms of rank, after the USA and Deputy US Attorney.

The letter affirmatively states that the prosecutors did not act in bad faith, nor intentionally withheld exculpatory information, which must be disclosed to the defense under Brady. The details furnished to the Court do confirm that significant Discovery was either furnished late, or not until after the trial, or not furnished at all. Whether that rises to the level of dismissing all criminal charges in a very complex case, after a guilty verdict has ben handed down, is the issue. Admittedly, there were a number of disconnects, including involving the delivery of evidence from the FBI agents assigned to the investigation, but bad faith ?

You may recall that the Court noted that there were major Brady violations from the SDNY, in a case known as United States vs. Pizarro,  which was filed in 2017, and the judge had then required that significant new training on disclosure issues be conducted. Unfortunately, the letter notes that a SAUSA, a Special Assistant United States Attorney, appointed from the New York District Attorney's Office, did not receive such training.

Courts do not easily drop criminal charges in a major case, especially after a jury has decided guilt or inncence, unless the Brady violations are significant, and would have been material to either guilt, or punishment. The evidence at trial does appear to be significant; did the failure to deliver the evidence not timely provided exonerate Ali Sadr ? We cannot say, as it has not been made public.

There's another issue; obviously Ali Sadr has become a cooperating individual; has his cooperation risen to the level where the Government desires to reward him with a dismissal of all criminal charges ? Though rare, such actions do occur, though they are generally not the subject of media attention, as law enforcement does not openly acknowledge it, lest the public ask hard questions about accountability. Look at Reza Zarrab, one of the primary Iran sanctions evaders, who appears to be a cooperator, was quietly released, and has been seen in New York City enjoying dinner at a local restaurant, with a date.

So the question becomes, did the Government choose to let Discovery violations, which obviously did occur, serve as a convenient reason to give Ali Sadr his Get-out-of-Jail-Free card, and is that why the judge asked the SDNY those tough questions ? is that a mjaor favor being granted to Ali Sadr ? Until we have a better understanding of the evidence not provided to defense counsel, we will not be able to answer that question, but we shall be looking into it.







MALTA, UNDER FIRE BY REGULATORS, TRIES TO CLEAN UP ITS CBI PROGRAM: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE ?




Malta's anouncement of a new CBI regulation requiring all applicants to physically live there for a period of one year before being allowed to apply for citizenship, which appears to be a response to the threats of blacklisting by MONEYVAL, may be too little and too late. According to the government announcement, it does not come into effect under September. This means that CBI consultants have the rest of the Summer to push through an infinite number of applications from clients from high-risk countries, including countries that are state supporters of terrorism. This delay in implementation signals that it is merely a belated effort to appear to be cleaning up Malta's dodgy CBI program, and not a good faith fix to existing problems.While there has been a requirement to maintain a residence for five years, actual physical presence was never necessary.

Any true reform would be effective forthwith, and disqualify all pending applications that had not been fully processed. It also would have a system to review all issued passports to determine whether any applicant who had previously been granted a CBI passport should have it revoked for material misstatements of fact, or subsequent criminal conduct that makes them unacceptable risks. The new regulations do not affect the huge number of existing CBI passports issued to nationals of high-risk jurisdictions, and those passport holders who are financial criminals or terrorist financiers will contne to have visa-free access to the Eueopean Union. What is to be done to close that door ?



As the MONEYVAL October deadline approaches for the enactment of meaningful reform, we may see more of what are clearly desperate measures, designed to impress regulators, rather than to truly clean up what is correctly perceived as a fertile playground for financial crime, especially money laundering, involving players from Iran, Russia and Venezuela. We need to see major new money laundering cases filed, the deportation of foreign nationals who are known financial criminals, cooperation with US and EU law enforcement investigations, and government officials who resist corruption, rather than take bribes and kickbacks. Whether that will ever happen in our lifetimes remains an open question.


  

Friday, July 3, 2020

COURTROOM CLOSED DURING HEARING IN CASE AGAINST DOMINICA CBI UNIT CHIEF EMMANUEL NANTHAN



Justice is best served in broad daylight, and not in the shadows. This appears to be a civil suit pending in Dominica High Court, against Citizanship by Investment Unit (CBI/CIU) chief EMMANUEL NANTHAN. The plaintiff is MOHAMMED RAAAD AL-QAISI. Given the defendant's occupation, we must assume that the action is related to the CBI passport program, but
not only are we unable to secure a copy of the complaint, the judge actually closed the courtroom to the press and public during the June 15 hearing. We therefore cannot tell you the details. The court file is liekwise unavailable.

As we know, democracy dies in darkness. As Dominica descends into true Police State status, with its paramilitary police in camouflage, brandishing assault weapons, and driving Chinse armored cars, keeping the hard truth from the public by closing the courtroom should be expected. Nevetheless, I do not like it one bit, and imagine that the legion of Dominica expats doesn't like it either.

What's this case about, Mr. Nanthan ?

WATCH FOR BANKS AND INDIVIDUALS SANCTIONED UNDER THE HONG KONG AUTONOMY ACT




The United States Senate has passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which allows the government to impose sanctions upon banks that do business with Chinese officials who have implemented China's  new Draconian National Security Law. The US President is expeced to sign the bill into law.

The crimes listed:
(1) Secession
(2) Subversion
(3) Terrorism
(4) Collusion with Foreign Forces.



It allows Chinese security agencies to extradite Hong Kongers to the Mainland for trial, for the first time. You should expect that a number of Chinese leaders will be named, and you may already be banking one or more of them. If your client base includes Chinese PEPs, you will watn to follow the progress of the law closely. Banks that assist the PEPs will also be subject to sanctions.

A HORNET'S NEST OF DANGEROUS, UNREGULATED CRYPTO COMPANIES OPERATING OUT OF THE SAME ADDRESS IN DOMINICA

Tax Emption for Offshore Companies



One of Dominica's major reform websites, Mas in the Cemetary, has exposed what it says is a group of totally unregulated companies, all registered at the same virtual address in Domnica, 8 Copthall, Roseau Valley, and conducting "questionable operations" there, which represent a threat to the unsuspecting investing public.

These offshore companies are reportedly engaged in Cryptocurrency, Forex, Bimary Options, and other shady fields, and have already been slammed by a number of reputable reporting websites. Those named are:

(1) OPTIONS TECH LIMITED.
(2) CRYPTEX MARKET.
(3) UNITED MARKETS 4U.
(4) GAMMA INVESTMENT CORPORATION.
(5) BUX.TO.
(6) CRYPTOFOREX BROKERS.
(7) COINBULL.
(8) COINS 247.

A number of offshore virtual unversities have also been identified at that same address. According to the article, the property was formerly owned by a Russian national, recently deceased, who was a seller of Citizenship by Investment (CBI/CIP) passports issued by Dominica. Other Russian businessmen have also been linked to that individual, and to never-finished CBI real estate projects in Dominica, one of which allegedly involved the distribution of 500 CBI passports to the developers. Identified as the owner of ten Dominica companies is the Russian national ALEXANDER V. BERENSTAIN.

We are in the process of following up on the above information, and verifying additional details regarding other companies that may also be resident at this virtual toxic stew of scammer companies, and will reports back to our reders on more data shortly. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS FOR MALTA'S ARMIN ECKERMANN, FORMER PILATUS BANK DIRECTOR


Is this a practice photo for his eventual mug shot ?

We have some pointed questions for Mr. Armin Eckermann, the "Teflon" businessman who seems to shake off the threats of criminal prosecution for money laundering and corruption, and move on to one financial entity after another. Perhaps could he please furnish us with some straight answers ?

(1) Why are you reportedly so nervous about the potential favorable outcome in the American case against Ali Sadr Hasheminejad ?

(2) Why were you never interrogated by the authorities ?

(3) Why does the MFSA still protect you even though Banister has left ?

(4) Why did such a major case as Portmann Capital not have consequences ?

(5) Do you hold the key to all the money laundering that was committed at Pilatus Bank, and only Ali Sadr alone knows that you have that key ?

(6) Who really owns EGRANT ? Stock certificates of the bearer share company in the kitchen safe of Pilatus Bank. Why were they there ?

(7) Who approved bank accounts for the three trusts/Panama companies of a Member of Parliament ?

(8) Why did nobody ever check you or the papers in your home office ?

(9) Are you passing information abut Malta to the German BND ? Your relationship with the German Embassy is no secret.

As the saying goes, Armin Eckermann has me thinking.




REWARD $10m FOR HEZBOLLAH FINANCIERS


WILL FINCEN ISSUE AN ADVISORY ON MALTA'S RAMPANT MONEY LAUNDERING ?




Back when I served as World-Check's Financial Crime Consultant, I found that senior government leaders in the Republic of Malta contacted senior management to complain about me every time I published an article about money laundering that occurred in their country. Maltese officials pushed back when those stories appeared. At the same time, I noticed that money laundering prosecutions there were few and far in between.

Malta is now at a crossraods; whether it finally institutes meaningful AML/CFT enforcement, or further deteriorates into true banana republic status is up to its people, but unless major presure is brought to bear, it is feared that it will continue to be a nation where rampant money laundering is considered business as usual, where senior government officials never get charged, and where it is well known that there is a culture of corruption that poses a danger for any international bank that consents to transact business with Maltese financial institutions. You only need to cite the two most recent money laundering offenders, PILATUS BANK and SATABANK to get your point across, and add in PORTMANN CAPITAL for good measure. In Malta, money laundering = good business is an unofficial national motto.

Under the circumstances, it is believed that the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) must now issue an Advisory, so that compliance officers at American banks and non-bank financial institutions are aware of the clear and present danger of money laundering through Malta's financial structure. Additionally, due to the country's close relationship wth its Palestinian expats, and open sympathy towards what are designated terrorist organizations, there are serious concerns about terrorist financing.

If FinCEN does not take a leadership role now, we should expect to see additional instances of dirty or sanctioned Iranian,Venezuelan, Russian, or organized crime, money transiting American banks, courtesy of Maltese bankers/money launderers working for their masters and clients. I do not ever want to read about the next Portmann Capital case in the Miami and Maltese press.
  

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

HALKBANK SEEKS A 2022 TRIAL DATE; COURT TO HEAR MOTIONS THIS FALL



Attorneys for the Turkish government-owned Halkbank have estimated that trial preparation time, and the current prohibition on travel to Turkey to meet with their client, will push the trial to the year 2022, given the amount of anticipated discovery ( said to be 1 Terrabyte), massive translation issues, MLAT testimony, and the usual Coronavirus delays in 2020. The Government advised that it believed a 2021 trial date is feasible.

The defense responded that there will be Classified Information Procedures Act issues, meaning a secure facility for viewing will be required.The Court declined to set a trial date, but did set deadline dates for any motion to dismiss that the defense wishes to file, including a Motion for Recusal of Judge Berman.

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK STRIPS LICENSE FROM MALTA'S SATABANK



The European Central Bank (ECB) has today withdrawn the banking license of SATABANK PLC, effective June 30, 2020, according to a public announcement made by the Malta Financial Services Authority. This action took place based upon a MFSA recommendation. The bank remains under the jurisdiction of Ernest & Young, as the designated Competent Person, after a joint MFSA-FIAU  investigation determined that there were serious anti-money laundering deficiencies, for which the bank was fined €3m in July, 2019 by the FIAU.

Legal observers have noted that there have not been any criminal charges filed against bank officers, employees and directors, notwithstanding a finding that there were €130m in suspicious transactions at the bank. While the identity of one owner, a Bulgarian national, is known, there are allegedly other owners who were never identified or vetted before a banking license was issued, leading to suspicions that illegal compensation (bribes) was received by government officials in Malta, to insure that a license would be approved.



The total lack of any real investigation, by Maltese law enforcement, of the money laundering issues at Satabank, in light of the losses suffered by Maltese nationals, has been noted by the European Central Bank, and which will certainly be a topic over at MONEYVAL, which will issue its next report in October. Unless major criminal indictments are brought, in both the SATABANK and PILATUS BANK cases by then, one should fully expect that a Grey List designation for Malta will occur shortly thereafter. What that will do to Malta's status as an offshore financial center is not known, but it could result in financial advisers terminating their use of Malta for tax haven purposes.

ALEX SAAB MORAN GRAPHIC : GOLD FOR FOOD

                                         Credit: Center for a Secure Free Society 

POST-CONVICTION PROGRESS IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE AGAINST DONVILLE INNISS OF BARBADOS IS PAUSED



DONVILLE INNISS, whom you may recall was convicted of several counts of money laundering after a jury trial back in January, still has not been sentenced, because his counsel filed a Motion for Acquittal, asserting that there was insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. The US Attorney has filed an exensive response, in letter form, detailing specifically what the evidence introduced at trial proved, and a fair reading indicates that there was an overwhelming level of proof adduced at trial.

The only apparent reason that the Court has not ruled upon the motion, and set sentencing is the interruption posed by the Coronavirus.  We shall continue to monitor the case, and report back on all developments when they occur.




Tuesday, June 30, 2020

US SUPREME COURT DENIES CERTIORARI TO NG LAP SENG IN UN BRIBERY CASE




The US Supreme Court petition of Dominica's most notorious diplomat, the convicted Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng, has been denied, closing the final chapter in Seng's efforts to avoid serving the rest of his Federal Prison sentence for bribing United Nations officials, so that they would approve his plans to build a conference center in Macau, for annual UN events.

Seng's District Court conviction and sentence was affirmed on appeal to the Second Circuit, and his Certiorari petition was his last chance to obtain a reversal or new trial. Any subsequent actions that he may file in the future are in the nature of prisoner's petitions, and  acceptance of the case is totally discretionary with the court where he chooses to file them, In essence, his bribery conviction is final, with little or no chance of a favorable outcome in any future legal effort.

Seng's case raised compliance officer awareness of an underground, sordid diplomatic passport pay-to-play industry in the East Caribbean States, whereby white collar criminals can purchase, for what is generally a huge sum, a Dominica diplomatic passport. Seng, who has become the Poster Boy for Caribbean corruption, due to this case, must now serve the balance of his sentence, after which he will be deported to China. The reputation damage to Dominica will, however, be permanent.

TO AVOID ENDING UP ON THE MONEYVAL "GREY LIST," MALTA MUST ABOLISH ITS SHELL COMPANIES



With all the rumors percolating throughout Malta, concerning whether MONEYVAL will soon place the Republic on its money laundering "Grey List," perhaps the country's leaders should consider a reform that might get favorable regulatory attention: abolishing Malta's tax haven shell company laws.

The shell (offshore) companies formed in Malta have attracted the wrong kind of crowd, such as the cryptocurrency and online gambling industries, which bring with them their share of money laundering and corruption exposure. Legitimate EU businessmen flock to Valletta due to the irresistible lure of only a five (5% ) effective income tax rate, after rebates, and remember that sharp operators can desgnate the cash flow as royalties, interest and dividends, and pair it up with a non-resident founder, resulting in a 0% rate.



Resident nominee directors of shell companies, who are supposed to possess spotless backgrounds, often have dark or unacceptable work histories, including termination of directorships for cause, as well as participation in prior company misconduct, can usually be found still on the job, with such character flaws, as the regulators rarely if ever  are known to complain, let alone intervene, on the grounds of reputation shortcomings. Fit and Proper Person qualification passed ? Doubtful.

The requirement that detailed time records be kept, and maintained, by directors, also seems to be generally ignored. Time dedication is not only an MFSA requirement for directors, it is also mandated by the European Central Bank (ECB). We want to know how a director holding a portfolio of one hundred companies can truthfully and accurately keep time records. There aren't enough hours in a day to justify the time records recorded by many Maltese directors of shell companies, but nobody seems to be calling them out on it. Read the MFSA Personal Questionaire template form for specific information here.

Perhaps an illustration might make it easier to understand: Director ARMIN ECKERMANN, who was reportedly fired from Fimbank; worked at and was a director at Pilatus Bank, which was closed by regulators, and previously worked at West LB, which was liquidated with debts listed at €65bn. How Herr Eckermann is able to hold any position in the financial services industry at this time. simply cannot be explained, given MFSA regulations.  Consider him as a representative sample of many of the other Maltese directors of shell companies. Finally, he appears to be the only staff member at €2bn Banco Finantia. Exactly what are his duties there, other than signing checks ?



Now do you see why the EU is so critical of Malta's shell companies.