The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

UNITED STATES SANCTIONS MALTA-BASED ENERGY COMPANY LINKED TO VENEZUELA'S LAUNDRYMAN EXTRAORDINAIRE ALEX SAAB MORAN

 

As promised, things are starting to move forward on the various Malta money laundering investigations, and we expect them to continue until the Head of the Octopus [Maltese Government Mafia] is arrested and taken into custody by American law enforcement agencies. This week, US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC,  designated a Malta-based energy company, ELEMENTO, for purchasing oil from Venezuela's national oil company, PdVSA, and reselling it to third-party customers, on behalf of its reputed owner, ALESSANDRO BAZZONI, who was also sanctioned. Actual beneficial ownership of Elemento seems to be unverified. it is alleged that some of the illicit oil ended up in Asia.

                                         Diagram courtesy Alek Boyd

Several variations on the Elemento corporate name exist, which is typical tradecraft for criminal organizations. The Malta incorporated companies are ELEMENTO LIMITED, and ELEMENTO OIL & GAS LTD./ELEMENTO OIL AND GAS LTD. There is also a sanctioned UK company, ELEMENTO SOLUTIONS LTD., and Treasury has also named a Panama-based BVI company, ELEMENTO CAPITAL ADVISORS LTD.. We have found a number of other similarly-named companies abroad, including one in Norway, but it is unknown which are pat of Bazzoni's network, and which are unrelated legitimate enterprises. Criminal organizations often choose corporate names that are widely used in the marketplace, knowing that this makes identification of bad actors more difficult and often confuses investigators.

                                       
 

Notable among the other companies sanctioned by OFAC is SWISSOIL TRADING SA of Geneva, also believed to be under the control of Bazzoni. Significantly, the Colombian money launderer, ALEX NAIN SAAB MORAN, who is known to work for President NICOLAS MADURO of Venezuela, and his inner circle, is also linked to Elemento and the other sanctioned entities. Saab Moran is currently in custody in Cape Verde, fight extradition to the US, where he faces massive money laundering and other charges in Miami; the fact that he is involved may in part account for the amount of attention investigators have paid to Malta in recent months, as he is a primary target of American law enforcement.

                                           President Nicolás Maduro and Alex Saab Moran

Bazzoni also shows up as a defendant in a civil case in US District Court in New York, regarding an unpaid $27m promissory note, with a co-defendant corporation formed in Malta, whose debt he later assigns to Elemento, and later transfers to another company, in a complex maneuver that appears to be designed to avoid repayment of the debt.the original name of the Malta company is CT ENERGIA LTD.

While the OFAC sanctions are purely civil in nature, we must assume that there is a parallel criminal investigation, and that citizens or residents of Malta who have been working on the operation with Bazzoni are targets. There is an FBI investigation in progress. We will be making inquiries and will report back on our findings. 

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