In USA v Dan Horsky prosecutors claimed Mr. Horsky had hidden money in Zurich, Switzerland at Credit Suisse and at other offshore banks. The gravamen of the allegations at Mr. Horsky’s criminal complaint was that Mr. Horsky concealed $200 million from the IRS in a tax fraud scheme. Two years ago Mr. Horsky was sentenced to seven months of prison for his scheme. Mr. Horsky also paid a $100 million fine for failing to report his offshore bank accounts/failing to file FBAR 114 Forms with the U.S. Government. Meanwhile, Mr. Horsky’s scheme seems to have been replete with money laundering indicators. These money laundering indicators were Mr. Horsky’s suspected use of:

  1. multiple jurisdictions;
  2. offshore bank accounts;
  3. shell companies;
  4. nominees (intermediaries/strawpersons);
  5. valuable art;
  6. & an offshore credit card.

By transferring money through multiple jurisdictions; offshore bank accounts; etc., one can disguise the beneficial ownership of money. An individual or corporation might use just one of these elements or a combination of them to secretly transfer money.  The elements can be used as laundering links to wash hidden money in a money laundering circuit.  Mr. Horsky is thought to have hidden money by transferring it through multiple jurisdictions at banks in the United States and Zurich, Switzerland. Mr. Horsky is believed to have titled his offshore bank accounts in the names of offshore shell companies he had established.

At his shell companies, Mr. Horsky allegedly used a nominee director who lived in Zurich. Mr. Horsky reportedly hid valuable stock certificates he owned in an online auction company, by physically depositing them into a Swiss stock custody account.  In addition, Mr. Horsky purchased fine art from auction houses across the globe and apparently paid for the art with monies from his offshore bank account(s). Mr. Horsky was also accused of having an offshore credit card which he only used in Europe. At the “Position Of The United States With Respect To Sentencing,” you can read more about how Mr. Horsky supposedly hid his money.

Copyright 2019 Fred L. Abrams

Private Investigator Searching For Assets

I)  WEBSITES THAT CAN HELP YOUR ASSET SEARCHES

This is my 12th post covering what private investigators can and can not legally do when conducting asset searches. One thing most private investigators do during asset searches is look for publicly available information a.k.a. Open Source Intelligence (“OSINT”). Websites that can help private investigators collect OSINT, are listed at the  OSINT Framework. It has links to websites like Spydialer which identifies phone numbers & FotoForensics the digital photo forensics tool. Additional OSINT tools are featured at the blog article OSINT Reasearchers-Human vs Machines.

II)  HOW OSINT CHANGED THE COURSE OF A MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION

Law enforcement officials also use OSINT.  This is demonstrated by prosecutors in Poland who were searching for assets allegedly laundered by a shell company. The prosecutors researched the shell company by using CorporationWiki’s website, which harvests OSINT. This research revealed the shell company had addresses in London, the U.K. & in Delaware, U.S.A. Based on the Delaware address, the prosecutors drafted a letter rogatory which was eventually filed with the Court in Delaware.  The letter rogatory basically asked the Court for permission to subpoena witnesses in Delaware who knew about the shell company.

III) WHERE OSINT COMES FROM

CorporationWiki reportedly gathers OSINT from data brokers &/or from data mining on the Internet. Computer browsers and mobile devices allow data brokers to track us by our clickstream.  The Federal Trade Commission’s video Sharing Information: A Day in Your Life explained that our: location, interests, prescriptions & medical histories may all be “shared or sold.” Furthermore, there are a large number of companies that sell data mining applications. Just one of them is Sintelix.  Its video displayed below says “with the harvester feature you can extract text from websites, social media sites, chats and e-mails.”

Image: Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com

Copyright 2019 Fred L. Abrams

HIDDEN MONEY & CRIMES

When one spouse uses different ways to hide money from the other spouse, criminal laws are sometimes violated. The spouse who has hidden money because of a divorce could conceivably commit one or more of these crimes:

  1. 26 U.S. Code § 7201 (tax fraud);
  2. 18 U.S. Code § 1341 (mail fraud);
  3. 18 U.S. Code § 1343 (wire fraud);
  4. 18 U.S. Code § 1956 (money laundering).

Mr. Benjamin’s Divorce & His White Collar Crimes and my post mentioning Dr. Michael Brandner, are about divorcing husbands thought to have hidden money from their wives and the IRS.  Mr. Benjamin apparently hid money domestically & Dr. Brandner reportedly hid money offshore.  Although Mr. Benjamin & Dr. Brandner are believed to have used different ways to hide money, both were convicted of tax fraud (26 U.S. Code § 7201) & wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343).

SOME WAYS TO HIDE MONEY

Prosecutors claimed Mr. Benjamin had hidden money by: failing to file tax returns; pocketing cash payments from customers; paying personal expenses from a business bank account; and cashing customers’ checks instead of depositing them into his bank account. Meanwhile, prosecutors in USA v. Brandner alleged Dr. Brandner hid money by driving across international borders with cash &/or checks &/or gold.  Prosecutors also alleged at their superseding indictment or trial brief that Dr. Brandner hid money via: a safe deposit box in Costa Rica; bank accounts in Costa Rica & Panama; & a Panamanian shell company which had a nominee president who was Dr. Brandner’s intermediary.

AN ISLE OF JERSEY TRUST

Last month prosecutors in USA v. Kozel similarly claimed millionaire Todd Kozel hid money from his ex-wife by going offshore. From 2004 to 2014 Mr. Kozel was the CEO of Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd. While CEO, Mr. Kozel reportedly had an average annual income of about $10 million.  Mr. Kozel’s December 14, 2018 criminal complaint basically alleged that with the help of a Swiss lawyer/gatekeeper, Mr. Kozol formed a sham offshore trust on the Isle of Jersey.  Mr. Kozol apparently used the trust to conceal his true beneficial ownership of millions of Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd. stock share certificates. Additionally, Mr. Kozol is thought to have concealed his beneficial ownership of a NYC condominium which Mr. Kozol claimed he only rented. Mr. Kozol is alleged to have secretly purchased the condominium through a NYC shell company supposedly controlled by Mr. Kozol’s trust.  Mr. Kozol’s December 14th criminal complaint is reproduced below.

Copyright 2019 Fred L. Abrams

Asset Recovery Workshop October 8-11, 2018
Photo from the asset recovery workshop held October 8-11, 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Fifteen West African countries sent judges; &/or prosecutors; &/or law enforcement agents to attend the asset recovery workshop I recently lectured at in Abuja, Nigeria. I was one of four resource persons at the workshop which was a joint project of the European Union and the Inter Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering In West Africa. At the work shop, I talked about government officials, (i.e “politically exposed persons“), who launder large bribe payments offshore. I explained that others hiding vast sums of money also usually launder their money offshore. Therefore, if you are going to conduct asset searches to detect hidden money, you should learn to spot the money laundering indicators.

I) MONEY LAUNDERING INDICATORS

The indicators include: employing strawpersons to act as bank signatories; abusing trusts; hoarding cash/engaging in bulk cash smuggling; etc. I made a list of the indicators at my post “Red Flags For An Asset Search.” The money laundering case involving  Mr. Vladimir Kuznetsov has some of these indicators. As I mentioned in a lecture I gave during the asset recovery workshop, Mr. Kuznetsov was a Russian diplomat working at the United Nations in New York City. Prosecutors in the United States accused Mr. Kuznetsov of washing bribe payments through Nikal, Ltd. which was a suspected offshore shell company Mr. Kuznetsov had formed. Mr. Kuznetsov used Nikal, Ltd. to open an offshore bank account in Antigua & Mr. Kuznetsov titled the offshore bank account in the name of Nikal, Ltd.

Mr. Kuznetsov’s associate, (who took bribe payments from companies seeking contracts at the United Nations), transferred bribe payments to Mr. Kuznetsov’s offshore bank account. Mr. Kuznetsov then reportedly wire transferred the bribe payments in his offshore account to financial accounts in New York City at Chase Manhattan Bank &/or the United Nations Federal Credit Union. On March 2, 2007, Mr. Kuznetsov was convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On October 12, 2007, Mr. Kuznetsov was  sentenced to fifty one months’ imprisonment. Money laundering indicators or red flags that Mr. Kuznetsov had hidden money were Mr. Kuznetsov’s use of a  suspected shell company, Nikal, Ltd. &  Mr. Kuznetsov’s use of the offshore bank account.

II) ASSET SEARCHES & THE MONEY LAUNDERING STAGES

Besides recognizing money laundering indicators, understanding the way money laundering works can help you succeed at your asset searches. Money laundering occurs in three stages: placement, layering & integration. These stages are thought to have been present in Mr. Kuznetsov’s case. Mr. Kuznetsov’s associate placed bribe payments into Mr. Kuznetsov’s money laundering circuit. This placement occurred when the associate wire transferred bribe payments to Mr. Kuznetsov’s offshore bank account. Mr. Kuznetsov layered by washing the bribe payments through his offshore bank account titled in the name of Nikal, Ltd. This layering disguised Mr. Kuznetsov’s beneficial ownership of the offshore account & the bribe payments. Integration would have happened if Mr. Kuznetsov introduced the washed bribe payments into the economy.  Mr. Kuznetsov could have integrated the bribe payments reportedly at the New York financial accounts, by using the bribe payments to buy things. Placement, layering & integration are described at this Egmont Group Money Laundering Video:¹

¹Video Courtesy of The Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.

Copyright 2018 Fred L. Abrams

On October 8th & 9th in Abuja, Nigeria I will lecture about asset recovery & tracking assets.  I will present 2 lectures to law enforcement agents who work in West Africa. The lectures are called “Whistleblowers, Secret Bank Accounts & Recovering Hidden Assets” & “Asset Recovery Case Studies & Discussion.” I am presenting the lectures during an asset recovery workshop held by The Inter Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering In West Africa (GIABA).

I. Whistleblowers, Secret Bank Accounts & Recovering Hidden Assets

At this lecture I analyze how vast sums of money can be hidden in a wide variety of cases.  I talk about cases as diverse as narcotrafficking; terrorist financing; public corruption; tax fraud; securities fraud; & divorce.  I also discuss the tools for finding assets hidden offshore.  During the lecture I emphasize how law enforcement agents can employ whistleblowers to try to detect hidden assets. I additionally cover:

II. Asset Recovery Case Studies & Discussion

At “Case Studies & Discussion” I go over how criminals hide their illicit assets offshore.  I also talk about how law enforcement agents try to track illicit assets through: (1) mutual legal assistance treaty (“MLAT”) requests & (2) asset forfeiture laws.

III. My Coursebooks For The Lectures

To review the coursebooks I am giving to those attending my October 8th & 9th lectures, click on these images:

 

 

Image: Lucian3D/Shutterstock.com

Copyright 2018 Fred L. Abrams

Following a money trail as part of your asset searchI. DURING YOUR ASSET SEARCH LOOK FOR A MONEY TRAIL

There is always a money trail you can follow during your asset search. This is true no matter how your adversary hides assets.  Even if your adversary maintains a secret offshore bank account there is a money trail. The money trail at the offshore bank would consist of: account opening documents; monthly account statements; and bank signature cards.  Therefore, as part of your asset search you would seek these documents from the offshore bank.  You might do this by employing a letter rogatory or a compelled consent form.

II. MONEY TRAILS WITH MANY ELEMENTS

Perhaps most important to remember is that a money trail can involve many elements. The suspected money trail in the criminal case of USA v. Tully Lovisa et. al., is thought to include: nominees (i.e. intermediaries/straw persons); shell companies; and post office boxes in New York and the Netherlands. Prosecutors may claim Mr. Tully Lovisa &/or his co-conspirators used these elements to launder the illicit profits of an advance fee scheme.  The July 10, 2018 indictment in the case alleges Mr. Lovisa &/or his co-conspirators mailed phony prize notices to hundreds of thousands of victims.

The notices supposedly indicated the victims won cash prizes ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.  The notices allegedly said the victims could collect the prizes by mailing a $20 or $25 processing fee to the post office boxes in New York or the Netherlands.  According to the indictment, Mr. Lovisa &/or his co-conspirators never paid valuable prizes to the victims and the supposed scheme generated  more than $30 million in illicit profits from the processing fees paid by the victims.

III. THE 2010 LAWSUIT AGAINST MR. LOVISA

In 2010 the Federal Trade Commission sued Mr. Lovisa for an alleged advance fee scam similar to the alleged advance fee scam described at Mr. Lovisa’s July 10, 2018 indictment. The 2010 lawsuit was settled via a stipulation filed with the Court on 4/19/12.  A review of the 2010 lawsuit reveals the suspected money trail in that case could have consisted of shell companies and post office boxes. The 2010 lawsuit claimed Mr. Lovisa had sent personalized mailers in violation of 15 U.S.C. §45 (a), which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts. One of these alleged mailers mentioned by the 2010 lawsuit, is reproduced below.

First image: pickbiz/Shutterstock.com

Copyright 2018 Fred L. Abrams

An Asset Search For Tax FraudA scheme to hide assets may start out with the primary goal of placing assets beyond your reach. The scheme may then develop the secondary goal of hiding assets from tax authorities/committing a tax fraud. To increase your chances of a successful asset search, you should therefore look for indicators of tax fraud. A good list of the indicators is published by the IRS at IRM 25.1.2.3, Fraud Handbook – Indicators of Fraud.

Just one indicator listed at the Fraud Handbook is “deposits into bank accounts under nominee names.” This means secretly depositing money into bank accounts titled in the names of  intermediaries (i.e. nominees).  “Red Flags & The IRS Search For Attorney Memmott’s Assets” analyzes the tax fraud case against the now-disbarred California attorney Orion Memmott. Prosecutors accused Mr. Memmott of hiding assets from the IRS by titling real estate & bank accounts in the names of nominees.

In USA v. Beverely, Docket No 17−cr−60093, prosecutors similarly accused Timothy J. Beverley of hiding assets from the IRS.  Prosecutors claimed Mr. Beverley of Pompano Beach, Florida failed to report to the IRS $2.2 million he allegedly stole from his employer.  Page 4 ¶14 (b) of Mr. Beverley’s superseding indictment said Mr. Beverley hid his stolen money in bank accounts titled in the names of nominees. Mr. Beverley supposedly committed the theft & alleged tax fraud while on supervised release from his earlier money laundering case.  In the laundering case, prosecutors accused Mr. Beverley of hiding the illicit proceeds of a bank fraud. Mr. Beverley apparently hid the proceeds of the bank fraud by washing them through bank accounts belonging to the NASCAR team Mr. Beverley once owned—Tyler Jet Motorsports.

Copyright 2018 Fred L. Abrams

In the criminal case against Robert Bandfield, the IRS & SEC searched for assets laundered offshore. These assets were the proceeds of stock pump & dump schemes.  The illicit proceeds of the pump & dump schemes were more than $250 million. The $250 million was believed to be hidden by money laundering carried out by Mr. Robert Bandfield & his co-conspirators.

According to a 2/6/17 press release, Mr. Bandfield was the “architect of [an] offshore fraud haven.” Mr. Bandfield seems to have owned 2 nominee incorporation services, which established & sold shell companies. The 2 nominee incorporation services formed offshore shell companies believed to have helped launder the $250 million.

Red flags Mr. Bandfield & his co-conspirators allegedly hid the $250 million included their suspected misuse of:

After Mr. Bandfield’s 9/5/14 indictment by a grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Bandfiled was arrested on 9/9/14 at the airport in Miami, Florida. The indictment charged Mr. Bandfield & others with conspiracy to commit securities fraud; conspiracy to defraud the U.S. via tax fraud; & money laundering conspiracy. On 2/6/17 Mr. Bandfield was sentenced to 72 months imprisonment.  The sentence was based on Mr. Bandfield’s guilty plea to the money laundering conspiracy charged by his second superseding indictment available here.

Image: Olga Sabarova/Shutterstock.com

Copyright 2017-2018 Fred L. Abrams

A person hiding assets from you could park their money in an offshore bank account & hire an intermediary to be the account’s bank signatory. One website offers this “Bank Nominee Signatories Service” for a cost of about $1000 per year.  This person could additionally title their real estate in the name of shell companies. A person can also hide assets by converting cash into portable valuable commodities like diamonds and smuggle the diamonds offshore.

This kind of scheme is outlined by “Detecting Hidden Assets By Following A Money Trail.”  “Searching For Assets Hidden By Lawyers” examines another way to hide assets.  It explains a person might hide their cash by laundering it through a lawyer. In these kinds of schemes the person hides his/her true beneficial ownership of assets. You may be able to detect  true beneficial ownership & search for assets 3 ways:

I. Collecting human intelligence/informants’ tips is sometimes the only practical way to detect a sophisticated scheme to hide assets.  If there is an informant with knowledge of the hidden assets, the informant might be willing to tip you about the assets.  This informant may be a disgruntled: employee; family member; paramour; etc.

II. Private investigators may help you identify informants & gather leads about hidden assets through surveillance or other surreptitious means. Some investigators however, search for assets illegally or provide spurious information. Ex-Toronto private investigator Elaine White & ex-police detective Cullen Johnson for example, ran an “asset locator” business. They supplied their clients with bogus bank account information.

III. Legal tools can be critically important in searching for assets.  “How Does A Divorcing Spouse Recover Assets Concealed In A Swiss Bank Account?” gives a glimpse of the kinds of tools generally available in many countries across the globe. Among other things, the tools can include serving letters rogatory upon foreign bank witnesses & tipping prosecutors or other governmental authorities.

Image: Farizum Amrod Saad/Shutterstock.com

 Copyright 2017 Fred L. Abrams

Like the IRS & SEC you can sometimes search for assets by using whistleblower tips, my October 3rd program explains.

A) PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

At the New York County Lawyers’ Association on October 3, 2017 from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM, I will be the program chair of “Whistleblowers, Secret Swiss Bank Accounts & Recovering Hidden Assets.” Attendee registration is available at the website available here or by calling the New York County Lawyers’ Association at (212) 267-6646. During the October 3rd program, I highlight the use of whistleblower tips to recover hidden assets.  I show how to search for assets which can be hidden by high net worth divorcing spouses; corporations; Ponzi schemers; tax fraudsters; etc.  I talk about tools you can use to recover assets hidden in Switzerland and other places across the globe. The October 3rd program also focuses on the Internal Revenue Service & Securities Exchange Commission whistleblower programs which can provide qualifying tipsters with the largest payouts compared to any other reward programs in the world.

Jack BlumWashington, D.C. attorney Jack Blum is well-known internationally for his representation of whistleblowers. In addition to others he has represented,  Mr. Blum will talk about Mr. Hervé Falciani, the whistleblower the media dubbed “the [Edward] Snowden of Swiss banking.”  Mr. Falciani allegedly stole Swiss bank account information from HSBC in Geneva and as a whistleblower turned the information over to French authorities. This alleged HSBC bank account information eventually fell into the hands of the International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists, which published part of it at their webpages known as the Swiss Leaks project.  Furthermore, Mr. Blum appeared on the CBS/60 Minutes television show to discuss the foregoing.  He will similarly discuss these matters at the October 3rd program and analyze: the IRS whistleblower program; problems whistleblowers face in the real world; and the difficulty lawyers may encounter in dealing with whistleblowers either as clients or tipsters.

ThomasLabaton & Sucharow partner Jordan A. Thomas will also speak at the October 3rd program.  Mr. Thomas will discuss the Securities Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program, as he is one of the world’s leading experts on it. He will review the advantages and disadvantages of the different whistleblower programs; and the ethical concerns gatekeepers like attorneys, accountants, officers and directors have, in reporting illegal behavior in both the civil and criminal contexts.  As more fully set forth below, Mr. Thomas: is a former assistant director in the Commission’s Enforcement Division; had a leadership role in developing the Commission’s whistleblower program; and was assigned to many of the Commission’s highest-profile matters such as those involving Enron, Fannie Mae, UBS & Citigroup.

Photo Charles Bott

Charles Bott QC, Head of Carmelite Chambers in the United Kingdom, is a recognized authority on financial crime and its regulation.  Subject to his availability, Mr. Bott may travel to New York to speak at the October 3rd program. He has appeared in more than 80 serious fraud trials including some of the leading cases of recent years and advised many other clients under investigation.  Mr. Bott specializes in cases of serious fraud, money laundering and revenue evasion; and in the United Kingdom, he is regularly instructed in serious criminal cases and regulatory cases of all kinds.

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