At Carmelite Chambers International Fraud & Assert Recovery Conference, I met Advocate & English Barrister Stephen Baker of Baker & Partners from St. Helier, Jersey.  During the Conference, Mr. Baker presented his slideshow with case studies about recovering suspected corruption proceeds or other assets.

Some of Mr. Baker’s slides reveal how foreign bank accounts; multiple jurisdictions and nominees, (i.e. intermediaries), could be used as elements in suspected laundering schemes:

 

One topic Mr. Baker’s slideshow covers is the investigation of the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha.  As Baker & Partners’ webpage explains: “Baker & Partners were central to the successful Jersey investigation into the alleged laundering of the proceeds of the corrupt Nigerian Dictator General Abacha’s crimes through Jersey. This investigation has already resulted in over USD $160,000,000 being returned to Nigeria.”

Continue Reading Searching For Corruption Proceeds & Other Assets On The Island Of Jersey

Leonard Glenn Francis is a Malaysian national who is the CEO and owner of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a general contractor to the United States Navy.   He is suspected of using Glenn Defense Marine Asia to defraud the Navy out of an estimated $20 million.  At a November 22, 2013 court filing, prosecutors argued that Mr. Francis “ has built a business empire based on defrauding the United States.”

Mr. Francis is accused of  fraudulently billing the Navy while supplying its ships with marine husbanding services (i.e. fuel, tugboats, food etc.).  Mr. Francis supposedly also bribed senior Naval officials with cash, lavish travel and the service of prostitutes.  These Naval officials are thought to have provided Mr. Francis with secret information about criminal investigations into him; and / or they allegedly disclosed confidential defense procurement information.

The Washington Post reported that the possible involvement of two admirals in the alleged public corruption scheme, “makes the crisis the worst to tar the Navy since the 1991 Tailhook scandal, when a convention of naval aviators sexually assaulted scores of women.”  A September 12, 2013 complaint filed in one of three criminal cases pending against Mr. Francis, included purported e-mails.  They were allegedly sent from April 27 to May 21, 2012, between Mr. Francis and a codefendant, Mr. John Bertrand Beliveau, Jr.  Mr. Beliveau has been employed as a Special Agent by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service since about 2002 and his purported e-mails are set forth below.

Continue Reading Mr. Francis Supposedly Built A Business Empire By Defrauding The US

Hiding assets via jewelry or other portable valuable commodities and former Turks & Caicos premier Michael Misick:

  1. On the trail of Michael Mastro: how to flee the law when you are 87” is about Michael & Linda Mastro.  These two might have secretly transferred bankruptcy estate assets by shipping a Range Rover full of jewelry, (i.e. portable valuable commodities), to Lisbon.  The post “Secreting Assets Without A Border Trace” similarly describes the fact pattern of a Ponzi schemer who had conceivably concealed diamonds by traveling as an airline passenger from the U.S. to Zurich, Switzerland.
  2. The April 21, 2012 Asset Search News Roundup states that former Turks & Caicos premier Michael Misick was the subject of an arrest warrant, reportedly over alleged corruption and supposed money laundering.  This past June 30th, the Turks & Caicos Weekly News published “Mike Misick Fighting Extradition.”   It discusses Misick’s April 13, 2013 re-arrest in Brazil and the effort to extradite him to the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Copyright 2013 Fred L. Abrams

U.S. prosecutors issued a press release yesterday announcing the extradition of former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo.  Mr. Portillo’s extradition to the United States was based on his alleged money laundering.

Yesterday, Mr. Portillo was also arraigned in federal court in Manhattan.  Although Mr. Portillo was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal, the Court’s docket reveals that Mr. Portillo will be applying for bail within the next two weeks.

As outlined by a 12/1/2009 indictment, prosecutors accuse Mr. Portillo of participating in a public corruption scheme.  The Forfeiture Bill of Particulars filed by prosecutors, lists Mr. Portillo’s alleged illicit assets reportedly laundered during the scheme.

These assets consisted of funds supposedly washed through bank accounts in multiple jurisdictions, including New York, Miami, Paris, Luxembourg and Switzerland.  Pages 8-9 of an IRS Special Agent’s August 9, 2012 declaration, chart the suspected movement of the funds:

(Click Below To Read The Entire Declaration)

This Asset Search News Roundup discusses the Secrecy for Sale Project and the indictment of a NY attorney along with a Swiss banker:

I)  The US-based  International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, (“ICIJ”), analyzed more than 2.5 million documents in its Secrecy for Sale Project.  The Project began after the ICIJ received a computer hard drive in the mail, which contained the so-called leaked documents.  The Project’s goal was to uncover money launderers, tax cheats, kleptocrats and anyone else with assets hidden offshore.

The Project detected secret foreign bank accounts or other assets allegedly maintained by individuals ranging from American doctors and dentists to Bayartsogt Sangajav, the deputy speaker of Mongolia’s Parliament.  Among other things, the Project investigated a nominee incorporation service known as the Portcullis TrustNet Group.  According to the Project’s webpages, the overall investigation was carried out through link charts generated by NUIX computer software, data mining and “old fashioned shoe leather reporting“.

II)  Hiding Assets Through Gatekeepers With Accounts Across The Globe highlighted the problem of lawyers, accountants, etc., who orchestrated asset concealment schemes.  One such case may involve New York attorney Edgar Paltzer and Swiss banker Stefan Buck.  A press release asserts that the two supposedly employed Swiss bank accounts as part of a conspiracy to hide millions from the IRS.  They were indicted on April 16th in U.S.A. v. Paltzer, et  al., U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y., Index No. 13-cr-00282.

Copyright 2013 Fred L. Abrams

The ACAMS / MoneyLaundering.com article “FATF’s Focus on Asset Forfeiture Could Challenge Some Nations”, especially raises the issue of recovering corruption proceeds.  Near the end of this article, I am mentioned as saying that as part of their effort to crack down on corruption, Financial Action Task Force examiners may expect jurisdictions to track bribes paid by local companies to foreign governments:

FATF’s Focus on Asset Forfeitures Could Challenge Some Nations¹

October 31, 2012, By Brian Monroe

An intergovernmental group’s revised expectations of how countries should seize looted assets may prove difficult to meet, and could lower the mutual evaluation scores nations receive for their anti-money laundering controls.

Earlier this month, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) outlined in guidance how jurisdictions should best assist one another with asset forfeitures, calling for the implementation of formal and informal mutual legal assistance arrangements and the creation of specialized units to expedite responses to intergovernmental inquiries.

How willingly nations cooperate with one another will be an important factor in how FATF evaluates their anti-money laundering (AML) and counterterrorism financing regimes going forward, according to an individual familiar with high-level discussions within the intergovernmental group.

“Asset confiscation and recovery is a very important objective and an indicator of the success of the overall regime,” said the person, who asked not to be named. The issue is linked to FATF’s increased focus on fighting corruption, the individual said.

In February, individuals involved in FATF talks told ACAMS MoneyLaundering.com that the group was revising how it scored regimes to emphasize efficacy, and would consider forfeiture sizes, conviction rates and other factors. The shift follows FATF’s decision to streamline its AML and counterterrorism financing standards earlier this year.

As part of that effort, the group plans to grade countries on both technical compliance and how effectively they implement financial crime controls, including asset forfeitures, sources said this month. The two separate grades will be combined in an overall score included as part of each mutual evaluation.

But meeting FATF’s asset forfeiture standard, as outlined in its Oct. 19 best practices, will be challenging for nations of all stripes, according to Tom Lasich, a former head of training at the Switzerland-based International Centre for Asset Recovery and a former Internal Revenue Service criminal investigator.

Continue Reading Recovering Assets By Cracking Down On Corruption Proceeds

Recovering corruption proceeds and related issues:

  1. At a news release, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development notes that in twelve years, French authorities had just five convictions in cases arising out of the bribery of foreign officials.  The news release claims that French authorities have a “lacklustre response” to cases involving actual or alleged foreign bribery.
  2. The Role of Financial Intelligence Units in Fighting Corruption and Recovering Stolen Assets is a white paper provided by The Egmont Group of financial intelligence units.  It mentions how government authorities may detect corruption proceeds because  of tips / suspicious activity reports, supplied by financial institutions.  Page 13 of the paper reveals how illicit assets from a politician’s extortion scheme were uncovered as a result of suspicious activity reports, (i.e “SARs”), generated by three  banks:

 

Copyright 2012 Fred L. Abrams

The name of a whistleblower is reportedly leaked and concealing assets in Luxembourg:

  • press release and “Ex-IRS examiner charged with naming whistleblower ” refer to the criminal complaint against Dennis Lerner of Edgewater, N.J.  Mr. Lerner is accused of violating 26 U.S.C. § 7213 (Unauthorized disclosure of information), 18 U.S.C. §§ 207 (Restrictions on former officers, employees, etc.) & 208 (Acts affecting a personal financial interest).  The Court’s docket report reveals that Mr. Lerner was arrested and would be released from custody by way of a $300,000 personal recognizance bond.
  • As a haven for concealing assets, Luxembourg has few rivals.  Some of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme proceeds or other assets were hidden in Luxembourg.  The ex-president of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, is thought to have similarly laundered corruption proceeds through offshore accounts in Luxembourg and elsewhere.  Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau also mentioned Luxembourg at his  May 5, 2012 op-ed piece.  At the piece, Mr. Morgenthau too stated: “When I was the Manhattan district attorney, we learned of offshore accounts only through whistle-blowers, cooperators and serendipity.”

Copyright 2012 Fred L. Abrams

  1. Transparency International’s April 17th post “Who owns what? Trying to clean dirty money in the EU”,  highlights the importance of identifying the beneficial ownership of assets.  Among other things, it mentions Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who is a suspected kleptocrat.  A Wall Street Journal blog post meanwhile, describes the French arrest warrant concerning Nguema.
  2. Former Turks & Caicos Premier Michael Misick is another suspected kleptocrat who is the subject of a fresh arrest warrant.  Like Nguema, Mr. Misick’s warrant is reportedly over supposed corruption and alleged money laundering.  Asset Search Blog posts regarding Mr. Misick include:

Target Of Corruption Probe Sues Hip-Hoppers For Supposed Fraud

Could Former Premier Misick Face U.S. Forced Collection Proceedings?

New Jersey Lawsuit Involving Former Premier Misick Settles

The Former Premier’s Nexus To Hip Hop Weekly Magazine

The Actress, An Ex-Premier & Hip Hop Weekly Magazine

Copyright 2012 Fred L Abrams