Two Goldman Sachs bankers charged in multibillion-dollar Malaysian money-laundering scam

In 2015, the Malaysian government collapsed after a scandal involving embezzlement from the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund; the scandal shows no sign of slowing down, with fresh accusations against the country's business and political leadership surfacing regularly and one prime suspect, the financier and "tabloid party boy" Jho Low going on the run, a fugitive believed to be in China. Read the rest

Denmark's largest bank laundered €200B through its Estonian branch, ignoring glaring warning signs

Before Thomas Borgen was CEO of Danske Bank, he ran the bank's Estonian branch from 2009-2013, presiding over years of neglect of basic, commonsense money-laundering controls, allowing more than €200B to flow through the bank from well-known financial secrecy jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands, as well as Russia. Read the rest

Britain is a money-launderer's paradise, Part LXII

Paul Manafort's money-laundering conviction makes a convenient peg to hang Buzzfeed's investigation into shell companies in the UK off of; and what their excellent reporting reveals is a playground for money-launderers who operate in the most brazen way, using a complex system of shell companies all over the world, but using the UK as the the lynchpin for their schemes. Read the rest

Homeland Security sting nets dark net drug dealers

Welp, the United States Department of Justice just finished off their first major initiative to take on drug dealers and other shifty types plying their trade on the dark net. So far as stings go, it went pretty well!

After seizing the reigns of an online money-laundering operation, Homeland Security Investigations just kept on for a year, offering to clean the currency for a number of criminal operations, swapping out their dirty cash in exchange for slightly less dirty cryptocurrency.

Homeland Security offered their fake money laundering services to users of a number of different dark net market places, including Wall Street, AlphaBay and Dream Market. Given the yen of the Feds to take down whole marketplaces in the past, the sting marks the shift to a new strategy that makes a whole lot more sense: go after the criminals that use a given market instead of the market itself. There’s no sense in shutting down a Silk Road when everyone that was pulling nefarious shit will just move their business to Silk Road 2.0 or another market. You’ve gotta go after the vendors themselves.

From The Verge:

So far, prosecutions have been launched across 19 states as a result of the operation, seizing more than $3.6 million in cash. The same raids seized large quantities of Schedule IV pharmaceuticals — including 100,000 tramadol pills and over 24 kilograms of Xanax — as is typical of trade on dark net markets. Agents also recovered more than 300 models of liquid synthetic opioids and roughly 100 grams of fentanyl.

Read the rest

Mining the Panama Papers and other leaks to reveal the hidden looting of West Africa by its corrupt elite

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists teamed up with the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism (Cenozo) to delve deep into 27.5 million files from the Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers to investigate how the super-rich in 15 West African countries have looted their countries' wealth and then smuggled it offshore through a network of tax-havens, even as their countries starve. Read the rest

New York surpasses Brexit London as the world's second-hottest luxury property market

If you are an oligarch or criminal looking to exfiltrate and launder your money, London property markets have been your go-to asset class: London lux is real-estate that behaves like cash, thanks to the long line of oligarchs and criminals who'll pay cash for your safe-deposit box in the sky on a few hours' notice, should you need to liquidate ahead of a purge or an indictment. Read the rest

Bipartisan amendment forces UK government to impose transparency on its offshore tax havens

One cute side-effect of Brexit is that it got the UK out of pending EU rules limiting financial secrecy as part of a crackdown on money laundering by looting dictators, one percenters, and criminals; the Tories had put a process in train to come up with a made-in-Britain version, which was always going to be weaksauce thanks to the outsize influence of the City of London and its finance bosses on UK politics, but even that was killed by Theresa May's disastrous snap elections last year. Read the rest

Scottish Tories defeat anti-money-laundering measure aimed at shutting down the Russian oligarch-Scotland pipeline

The Scottish Limited Partnership is a notorious financial secrecy vehicle that's been used to launder at least $80 billion, mostly from oligarchs and organised crime figures from the former USSR, in only four years. Read the rest

Man discovers he has been impersonated on Amazon by a money-launderer selling $555 "books" full of computer-generated word salad

Amazon reported to the IRS that Patrick Reames had made $24,000 selling books on its Createspace self-publishing platform, but Patrick Reames never got a dime of that money; it appears that a money-launderer who had Reames's Social Security Number used a fake book to cash out money from stolen credit cards by buying the garbage book repeatedly and pocketing the 70% from each sale. Read the rest

The world's worst money launderers are the UK, Switzerland and the USA

The USA has moved up in the Tax Justice Network's Financial Secrecy Index to number two, behind Switzerland; in reality, though, the UK is the world's worst money-laundry, but because its laundering activities are spread out over its overseas territories -- taken as a whole, the UK leads the world in helping criminals and looters hide their fortunes. Read the rest

Scottish police confirm requests from world governments to find money laundered through "the UK's homegrown secrecy vehicle"

Scottish Limited Partnerships (previously) are notorious corporate entities whose true owners are easily disguised, making them perfect vehicles for money laundry. Read the rest

Scotland is still a financial secrecy exporter, laundering billions for Russia's crime-bosses and oligarchs

If you're an oligarch in the former Soviet Union, chances are you owe your billions to corruption and even overt criminal activity, and your ability to hang onto that money is entirely contingent on the sufferance of the even-more-corrupt strongmen at the top, like Vladimir Putin -- one wrong move and you may find yourself stripped of your assets (or even assassinated in broad daylight). Read the rest

Anatomy of how crooks use financial secrecy in the UK and New Zealand to rip off international investors with impunity

The financial secrecy regimes in New Zealand and the UK create many opportunities for "jurisdictional regulatory arbitrage," playing each system's weaknesses off against the other to operate in near-perfect secrecy, creating companies whose owners are anonymized but still able to cash out the firms' profits -- an enormous boon to fraudsters who run Ponzi schemes and other dodgy enterprises that rely on the UK and New Zealands' reputation as places of good governance and financial uprightness. Read the rest

Treasure Islands: EU publishes a blacklist of 17 tax-havens and a long-list of runner-up tax avoidance jurisdictions

The EU's new blacklist of 17 money-laundering financial secrecy states includes South Korea, Mongolia, Namibia, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and also includes a long-list of places like Guam, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Read the rest

Europol warns us not top be suckered into serving as "money mules"

It's one thing to pull off a successful fraud online, it's another thing to get away with it -- when crooks order merchandise with stolen credit cards or make withdrawals with stolen bank details, they risk leaving a trail back to themselves. Read the rest

Leaked documents expose links between Trump’s commerce secretary and Putin’s son-in-law

Breaking news from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): "A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser and the offshore interests of the queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world."

Of note is the revelation that Wilbur Ross, Trump's commerce secretary, has massive financial ties to Russians under US sanctions.

In the United States, the files reveal foreign business ties and personal wealth practices of key Trump associates who are charged with helping to put “America First.”

The Appleby files show how Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary, has used a chain of Cayman Islands entities to maintain a financial stake in Navigator Holdings, a shipping company whose top clients include the Kremlin-linked energy firm Sibur. Among Sibur’s key owners are Kirill Shamalov, Russian President Putin’s son-in-law, and Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire the U.S. government sanctioned in 2014 because of his links to Putin. Sibur is a major customer of Navigator, paying the company more than $23 million in 2016.

When he joined Trump’s Cabinet, Ross divested his interests in 80 companies. But he kept stakes in nine companies, including the four that connect him to Navigator and its Russian clients.

These revelations come against a backdrop of growing concerns about hidden Russian involvement in U.S. political affairs.

Sibur is “a company with crony connections,” said Daniel Fried, a Russia expert who has served in senior State Department posts in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Read the rest

Pharma giant Allergan pays Mohawk tribe to serve as human shields against patent challenges

Allergan has disclosed that it transferred title to six of its contested eye drug patents to the St Regis Mohawk band in upstate New York, in a bid to use the band's sovereign immunity to prevent generic pharma companies from dragging the company into court to show that its patents are invalid. Read the rest

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