Parking assets offshore in one jurisdiction and then exercising control over them through another, sometimes indicates money laundering. One example of how multiple jurisdictions may have been used to facilitate money laundering, is the case of United States v. Proceeds of Crime Transferred to Certain Domestic Financial Accounts, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Index # 07-CV-21791. As mentioned by a July 16, 2007 press release, the Government commenced a forfeiture case in order to interdict $110 million thought to have been part of a tainted $400 million court award in Italy. According to both the foregoing press release and Reuters, the $400 million was believed to be tainted because it was awarded by the Italian court after an interested party, (Mr. Angelo “Nino” Rovelli), had supposedly bribed judges.
A forfeiture complaint alleged that Mr. Rovelli’s wife Primarosa Battistella, had used Swiss bank accounts and three prominent lawyers, (Attilio Pacifico, Giovanni Acampora and Cesare Previti), to pay the bribes. After Mr. Rovelli died in 1990, Ms. Battistella finally inherited the supposed tainted $400 million in January 1994. According to the forfeiture complaint, Ms. Battistella then had accountant Pierfrancesco Munari, launder a substantial amount of it. Mr. Munari had allegedly placed the tainted money in financial institutions and /or business entities which acted as laundering links in: the United States; the British Virgin Islands; the Cayman Islands; Guernsey; Jersey; Switzerland; Luxembourg; Liechtenstein; Singapore; the Cook Islands and Costa Rica.
Some of the money thought to be laundered by Mr. Munari, had allegedly been hidden in Florida via nineteen financial accounts. The government therefore asserted that forfeiture was appropriate pursuant to the following:
- 18 U.S.C. §981 (a) (1) (A), (B) & (C)– Asset forfeiture because of money laundering;
- 18 U.S.C. §984– Asset forfeiture of identical property within one year of a laundering offense, etc;
- 18 U.S.C. §1956– Money Laundering;
- 18 U.S.C. §1957– Money Laundering of property from specified unlawful activity;
- 18 U.S.C. §2314– Interstate or foreign transfer of property obtained by fraud;
- 28 U.S.C. §1345– U.S. District Court jurisdiction where the Government is plaintiff;
- 28 U.S.C. §1355 (a)– U.S. District Court jurisdiction over forfeiture proceedings;
- Italian Criminal Code Articles 319ter and 321, Bribery in judicial acts.
After the court froze / restrained numerous financial accounts in July 2007, Ms. Battistella and other Rovelli family members executed a settlement agreement consenting to the forfeiture of thirteen accounts. As Mr. Munari’s own settlement agreement demonstrates, he too consented to forfeit four accounts. Although on November 21, 2007 the Court issued a Final Judgment of Forfeiture regarding a total of seventeen financial accounts, there may still be some unresolved issues. According to Forbes.Com, a grand jury has been convened in Florida to examine whether Mr. Munari’s suspected money laundering scheme criminally involved: Wachovia; Citigroup; Merrill Lynch; Morgan Stanley; Lazard and others.
(Last Edited May 28, 2012)
Copyright 2007-2012 Fred L. Abrams