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Council of Europe Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Committee visits Georgia

Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) carried out an onsite visit to Georgia from 4 to 15 November 2019.

The delegation was composed of MONEYVAL experts with a legal, law enforcement and financial background and supported by members of the MONEYVAL Secretariat. The delegation has been received by the Deputy Head of the Georgian Financial Intelligence Unit and by the First Deputy of the General Prosecutor’s Office. The delegation met with the authorities responsible for the Georgian anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system (i.e. competent ministries, criminal justice and operational agencies, financial sector bodies and supervisors of businesses and professions with AML/CFT obligations). The delegation also held meetings with a great number of private stakeholders (e.g. financial institutions, notaries, lawyers, real estate agents, and casinos) and representatives from non-profit organizations.

The delegation is tasked with analyzing – in the form of a mutual evaluation report – Georgia’s level of compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 40 Recommendations and the level of effectiveness of Georgia’s AML/CFT system, and with providing recommendations on how the system could be strengthened.

The report will be scheduled for discussion and adoption at MONEYVAL’s 60th Plenary meeting: 29 June – 3 July 2020.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/moneyval/-/council-of-europe-anti-money-laundering-and-counter-terrorist-financing-committee-visits-georgia

4 American Airlines Flight Attendants Arrested on Money Laundering Charges After Trip From Chile

By Paulina Dedaj

Four Chilean nationals working as American Airlines flight attendants were arrested this week on money laundering charges after federal agents say they were found with more than $22,000 in cash.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent was performing a routine check at Miami International Airport on Monday when he came across one of the flight attendants, identified as Carlos Alberto Munoz-Moyano.

Three other women traveling with Munoz-Moyano were also arrested after reportedly telling federal agents they were smuggling the cash on behalf of someone else. It is unclear if the suspects were working on the flight when it arrived in Miami.

The arrest report stated that 55-year-old Maria Del Pilar Roman-Strick had $7,300 and 48-year-old Maria Wilson-Ossandon had $6,371.

Maria Pasten-Cuzmar also was arrested with no cash on her, but agents say the other three named her as the director of the illicit operation, the Miami Herald reported.

A spokesperson for American Airlines told Fox News on Wednesday: “We take this matter seriously and are cooperating with law enforcement throughout their investigation.”

He also confirmed that they were all Chilean citizens and that the state would be handling the case after the U.S. attorney declined the case.

Each suspect faces charges of money laundering and transmitting unauthorized money.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/american-airlines-flight-attendants-miami-money-laundering-chile

Silk Road Seller Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering $19 Million With Bitcoin

By Danny Nelson

A former narcotics trafficker pled guilty to charges that he laundered $19 million in profit through Silk Road.

Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York announced a plea deal with Hugh Brian Haney on Thursday, adding another postscript to the infamous dark web marketplace’s history. According to a press release, Haney was accused of laundering close to $20 million using bitcoin in early 2018.

Silk Road was among the dark web’s earliest drug marketplaces and a haven for its bitcoin-accepting vendors until its operator, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested in October 2013 and the site was shut down. Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence on charges of narcotics distribution, computer hacking and conspiracy.

Haney was one of the sellers who used the marketplace. According to the prosecutors, Haney was a “high-ranking member” of a narcotics outfit known as Pharmville, and is said to have received nearly 4,000 bitcoin from Silk Road-linked accounts through February 2012. According to the complaint, he trafficked in fentanyl, oxycontin and other narcotic sales.

“Hugh Haney used Silk Road as a means to sell drugs to people all over the world,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Then he laundered more than $19 million in profits through cryptocurrency.”

He was caught after liquidating his remaining bitcoins on an exchange for $19,147,053 in January and February 2018. The unnamed company froze his account and launched an internal investigation that ultimately led to a search warrant. Haney was arrested in July 2019.

Initially, Haney claimed his bitcoin came from a mining operation. But investigators used “blockchain analysis software” to show the funds came from Silk Road, according to the July complaint.

According to his plea deal, Haney pled guilty to one count of concealing money laundering and one count of engaging in a financial transaction in criminally derived property. He is set to be sentenced in February 2020.

 

Venezuela’s Business Elite Face Scrutiny in $1.2 Billion Money Laundering Case

As Venezuela’s oil-based economy continues to crumble, a politically connected class of businessmen with financial ties to Miami has grown fabulously wealthy from energy deals with the socialist government. Among the Venezuelan upper crust who have made fortunes during the Bolivarian revolution: Alejandro Betancourt.

Without any experience in the energy industry, Betancourt co-founded a power company called Derwick Associates a decade ago that has reaped billions of dollars in government contracts for a string of new plants in Venezuela — drawing barbs about being overpaid for the projects and having cozy relationships with top politicians.

With his windfall, Betancourt not only expanded his business into the United States but also bought a penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Olympic Tower, along with a castle estate and other luxury properties in Spain, according to court documents.

In Miami, Betancourt has surfaced in a massive money laundering case that charges his cousin and several of the so-called Boliburgueses — young , well-educated entrepreneurs close to the Venezuelan regime — with conspiring to bribe government officials to approve a loan scheme to embezzle $1.2 billion from the country’s national oil company during the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

Although Betancourt is not identified by name in the federal case filed in Miami, several sources familiar with the widening investigation say that he is “Conspirator 2” among the dozen unnamed Venezuelan conspirators and officials listed in a criminal complaint that details the alleged international racket.

Betancourt, 39, and some of the other unidentified conspirators and officials could be added as defendants to an indictment, according to sources familiar with the federal case. So far, nine defendants have been charged in the Miami case, with two pleading guilty and one awaiting trial. The remaining six defendants, including Betancourt’s cousin, Francisco Convit Guruceaga, are considered fugitives by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.

Betancourt’s attorney, prominent Miami lawyer Jon Sale, issued a statement Friday denying his involvement. “My client denies any wrongdoing,” Sale said.

In Miami, Houston and New York, several corruption cases have been pursued by the Justice Department alleging bribery, embezzlement and money laundering activities in Venezuela and the United States that have taken a devastating toll on Venezuela’s economy. The country has suffered the loss of billions of dollars embezzled from its state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A, or PDVSA, mainly because of green-palming between government officials and the country’s elite business class, federal authorities say.

Russell Dallen, a lawyer and investment manager, spoke about foreign corruption at the Latin America Summit on Friday in Miami, spotlighting the prosecution of the PDVSA money-laundering case and others. Dallen, head of Caracas Capital in Miami, said Venezuela’s rampant corruption has caused dramatic declines in oil production and income over the past two decades, fueling hyperinflation, widespread poverty and the exodus of more than four million people.

“Instead of reinvesting the money and rebuilding the country, it was all stolen through these currency-exchange and loan schemes,” said Dallen, pointing out that Venezuela was once among the biggest oil producers in the world.

“The Venezuelan people are starving,” he added. “The [minimum wage] is $5 a month, up from $2. That’s all they make — it’s less than Haiti, less than Cuba. That’s why people are voting with their feet and leaving the country.”

In the Miami case, federal court records say that “Conspirator 2” was among the ring of Boliburgueses and government officials who received hundreds of million of dollars in late 2014 from PDVSA as payment for a loan that they made to the state-owned oil company. A criminal affidavit alleges the ring used a shell company to loan $42 million worth of bolivars and then got repaid in euros at the government’s favorable exchange rate. That currency exchange transaction instantly multiplied the loan repayment to the equivalent of $600 million.

Betancourt’s cousin, Convit, who also sits on the board of directors of Derwick’s Oil and Gas Corp., is the lead defendant mentioned with Conspirator 2 in the introduction to the complaint affidavit.

Betancourt’s chief financial officer at Derwick, Orlando Alvarado, is listed as “Conspirator 4” in the Miami case and also as an associate of his cousin, Convit. According to the affidavit, Conspirator 4 discussed a plan in 2016 with one of the ring’s leaders to create “fake” foreign currency exchange contracts to make the embezzlement of the national oil company’s funds look legitimate so the proceeds could be transferred to Convit and several others, including Conspirator 2 and Venezuelan officials accused of accepting bribes.

“Conspirator 4 [Alvarado] suggested a meeting with everyone who has ‘an interest’ to sort things out and fix ‘the papers’ before things get bad when it is too late,” the affidavit says.

The close relationship between Convit, Betancourt and Alvarado raises questions about what Betancourt knew of the alleged loan scheme at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and the flow of laundered money. The detailed affidavit, however, does not provide evidence of Betancourt’s knowledge of the illicit PDVSA loan scheme. Nor does it provide proof, such as a bank record or wire transfer, showing he was aware of the source of the laundered money he allegedly received.

According to the affidavit filed in July of last year, PDVSA repaid the ring’s loan to a shell company called Rantor Capital, transferring the $600 million to Portmann Capital Management in Malta. The oil company’s loan repayment was eventually turned over to another shell company, Eaton Global Services Limited, set up in Hong Kong, which was controlled by the Venezuelan leaders of the money-laundering conspiracy, federal prosecutors say.

The $600 million windfall was then divided up among the group of wealthy Venezuelan businessmen, the three stepsons of Maduro and PDVSA officials, according to an email obtained by agents with Homeland Security Investigations and sources familiar with the criminal case. The president and his stepsons — Yosser Gavídia Flores, Walter Gavídia Flores and Yoswal Gavídia Flores — are under investigation in the Miami case, sources said.

According to the affidavit, here is how the government funds were distributed in in late 2014 and early 2015:

▪ $272.5 million went to Raul Gorrín, the Venezuelan tycoon who owns a Caracas TV network, insurance company and other businesses. He has not been charged in the Miami case, but is considered a main suspect in the federal investigation. In turn, Gorrín kept about $72.5 million for himself — wiring some money to pay for aviation, yacht and brokerage services in Miami — and gave the balance, $200 million, to Portmann Capital Management for the benefit of Maduro’s three grown stepsons from his marriage to Cilia Flores.

▪ That account was set up for the stepsons in the name of a “straw” representative, Mario Enrique Bonilla Vallera, a Venezuelan businessman who owns a handful of Florida companies with addresses linked to four multimillion-dollar homes in the exclusive Cocoplum neighborhood of Coral Gables. Bonilla has been charged in the money-laundering indictment, but remains at large.

▪ $272.5 million also went to Convit and Conspirator 2. Of that total, $94 million was distributed to Pedro Binaggia, an attorney and businessman who was tasked to launder millions of dollars from Venezuela to Europe and the United States. (In 2016, Binaggia became a confidential source for Homeland Security Investigations out of fear that he would get caught laundering funds.)

▪ Binaggia, using Deltec Bank in the Bahamas, redistributed about $20 million to: Carmelo Urdaneta Aqui, former legal counsel for the Venezuelan Ministry of Oil and Mining; Abraham Edgardo Ortega, a former director of finance at PDVSA; Jose Vicente Amparan Croquer, described as a professional money launderer, and three other unnamed Venezuelan conspirators with ties to the state-owned oil company.

Those three are Victor Eduardo Aular Blanco, a former PDVSA vice president of finance who authorized the state-owned oil company’s loan with the ring; Alvaro Ledo Nass, a former PDVSA general counsel, and his lawyer-brother, Adolfo Ledo Nass, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The remaining funds were absorbed by the cost of the initial loan to the oil company and Portmann Capital’s charges related to the transaction.

Significantly, some of Venezuela’s embezzled money was funneled through shell companies into fabricated investment funds, U.S. banks and South Florida luxury real estate, forming the foundation for the federal money-laundering case in Miami. Gorrin, who was close to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well as Maduro, invested tens of millions of dollars in Cocoplum and in luxury condominiums in Miami and Manhattan.

The news media in Venezuela and the United States have focused on Gorrin because of his high profile in business and political circles. Although he has not been charged in the Maduro-era money laundering case, Gorrin has been indicted in a similar $1 billion bribery and embezzlement scheme involving the former Venezuelan treasurer, Alejandro Andrade, in the Chavez administration. Andrade, who cooperated with federal authorities, has already pleaded and begun a 10-year prison sentence..

Betancourt, though less well known, exerts tremendous influence in Venezuela as well. A graduate of Suffolk University in Boston, Betancourt founded Derwick a decade ago with Pedro Trebbau Lopez, the energy company’s vice president. (Trebbau has not been implicated in the ongoing Venezuelan kleptocracy case in Miami.) Betancourt and Trebbau made immediate inroads with the Chavez administration as it looked for private partners in the oil and energy industries.

Ever since, Derwick has been surrounded by controversy. At times, the company has been accused of corruption for obtaining huge energy construction contracts from the Venezuelan government without having the required know-how. The company has also been accused of overcharging for the installation of used and inadequate equipment.

According to a 128-page report on the energy sector written by ONG Transparencia Venezuela, the local chapter of Transparency International, Derwick was awarded 11 construction contracts worth $2.9 billion, which was overpriced by an average of 162 percent.

José Aguilar, an engineer who was tasked with investigating Derwick for the Wall Street Journal, said the company records he reviewed suggests that it charged the Venezuelan government between $2 billion and $2.2 billion for the 11 projects — work that could have been done for between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion.

“There was at least $800 million in overbilling,” Aguilar told el Nuevo Herald, noting the company hired inexpensive contractors to do much of its work.

But a study written by a professor at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas commended Derwick’s work, saying it was one of the few government energy contractors that actually completed their plants within budgets.

But not all of Derwick’s plants came online, and at least one never produced electricity, Aguilar said. “The output of all these plants has been traditionally poor,” he said.

Derwick’s rapid rise led to confrontations with a leading financial institution, Banco Venezolano de Credito, which adopted an anti-Chavez stand and accused the energy company of being in league with the president. The rivals’ accusations sparked defamation lawsuits, with Derwick firing the first salvo with a libel suit in Miami.

Then, Otto J. Reich, a former ambassador to Venezuela and diplomat in three Republican administrations, was hired by the Venezuelan bank to take on Derwick in a public relations war. Reich himself ended up suing Betancourt and other Derwick officials in a libel case filed in New York federal court, accusing them of paying bribes to Venezuelan government officials. Reich’s suit against Betancourt, Derwick’s CEO, and its vice president, Trebbau, was dismissed. After the dismissal, Reich reached a confidential settlement with a third defendant in 2016.

Derwick’s Betancourt and Alvarado have been collaborating on energy- and oil-related business deals for years.

Betancourt and Alvarado made headlines in 2015, when they became major shareholders in a Panama-based company called O’Hara that sought to take control of a Canadian oil company, Pacific Rubiales, which ran some of Colombia’s largest oil fields.

According to press reports, O’Hara joined with other investors to acquire about 20 percent of Pacific Rubiales’s shares, establishing the group as the company’s largest shareholders. But Betancourt’s investment push — along with his becoming a member of Pacific Rubiales’ board — led to strained relations with the company’s original shareholders.

Facing imminent bankruptcy amid falling oil prices, the Canadian oil company was sold to another investment group in an emergency transaction — but Betancourt, Alvarado and other investors lost millions in the end.

Betancourt and Alvarado continue to face potential trouble as they come under scrutiny in the Miami money-laundering case. It is moving along, despite the absence of six defendants who are at large in Venezuela and possibly elsewhere.

Matthias Krull, an international banker who catered to mega-rich Venezuelans including Gorrin, pleaded guilty soon after his arrest in July of last year and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Krull admitted that he was retained by Gorrin to help launder some of the Venezuelan ring’s $600 million from Europe to the United States in 2016, including efforts to move $200 million through straw representatives for Maduro’s three stepsons..

But Krull has been allowed to remain free on a bond in Miami because of the value of his cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to his lawyer, Oscar S. Rodriguez.

Krull, the German-born son of a Lutheran pastor who was raised in Venezuela and educated in Switzerland, was based in Panama as a banker for the Swiss bank Julius Baer before his arrest. According to court records, he has helped investigators understand the complex web of relationships between the defendants and other suspects in the huge money laundering case.

“Mr. Krull’s value actually comes from the fact that he has been a banker in Venezuela … for a long time,” prosecutor Michael Nadler said in September while alerting a federal judge that he would be recommending a sentence reduction for Krull when he surrenders in March. “The amount of people that he has put us in contact with … is large.”

Abraham Edgardo Ortega, a former executive director of financial planning at PDVSA, also pleaded guilty a year ago to accepting millions of dollars in bribes that were secretly wired to U.S. and other financial institutions with the assistance of a Miami investment manager and others.

Ortega, who worked at PDVSA for more than a decade, admitted he used his official role to give “priority” status to Venezuelan companies that did business with the government so they could tap into its vast oil income to make overnight fortunes through loan and currency exchange schemes. He has been free on bond while cooperating with authorities and still awaits sentencing.

In February, Miami investment manager Gustavo Hernandez Frieri faces trial on charges of helping launder at least $12 million in bribery payments to Ortega. Hernandez’s alleged role was to put that money into a fake mutual fund so that it looked legitimate and then launder it into U.S. banks for a fee.

Hernandez, who lives in the exclusive Bay Point neighborhood of Miami and ran his business from a Brickell Avenue office, remains free on bond. Nadler, the prosecutor, indicated in court that Hernandez may not go to trial because he and his attorney Michael Pasano, are “in discussions about pleas” and that “the terms are still being worked out.”

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article236793383.html

Capital One Bank Fined $100 Million Over Money-Laundering Controls

Capital One Financial Corp. COF -1.69% has paid a $100 million fine over regulatory deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering program, federal regulators said Tuesday.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency levied the fine, saying the bank had several weaknesses in its compliance programs and risk assessment and failed to file some suspicious activity reports flagging potentially problematic transactions. The civil penalty came after the OCC initially cited deficiencies at Capital One in July 2015.

The bank has paid the fine to the U.S. Treasury, according to the OCC.

A Capital One spokeswoman said that the issue resulting in the fine was related to “prior banking relationships with certain check cashing service providers.” The bank said it left the business in 2014. The fine is part of resolving the consent order, she said.

“Since that time, we have worked diligently with our bank regulators to strengthen our processes and internal controls to ensure we address any concerns” regarding compliance with federal anti-money-laundering laws, the Capital One spokeswoman said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/capital-one-fined-100-million-over-anti-money-laundering-program-1540318983

Federal Indictments In ICE Raid Reveals $8 Million Money Laundering Scheme

By: Michelle Bandfur

Investigators said a group of undocumented residents and U.S. citizens exploited illegal aliens working at plants.

The U.S. Attorney’s office began laying out its case against 17 defendants charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Most of the 17 suspects accused in the exploitation of undocumented workers appeared in federal court in Lincoln Thursday.

Federal prosecutors said they played a part in an elaborate plot to defraud the government and take money from undocumented workers.

  • Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, aka “Pablo,”
  • Antonio De Jesus Castro, aka “Tony,”
  • Magdalena Castro Benitez, aka ”Nena,”
  • Alma Hernandez Moreno, aka “Aunt,”
  • Anayancy Castro Hernandez, aka “Anay,”
  • Fabian Castro, aka “Fabi,”
  • Suni Sarahi Sanchez Delgado
  • Osvaldo Sanchez Delgado, aka “Lalo,” aka “Lalito,”
  • John Christopher Good,
  • *Aracely Heredia Martinez, aka “Donita,”
  • Eric Beringer,
  • Christopher Thurlow,
  • Mayra P. Jimenez Castellon,
  • Asiyadeth Jimenez Castellon,
  • John Glidden,
  • Jaime Garcia Cota, aka “David,” and
  • Lillian Ajin.

Court records show as part of the conspiracy, Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, an alien, Magdalena Castro Benitz, an alien previously removed and deported from the United States to Mexico, and Antonio De Jesus Castro, a son of Magdalena Castro Benitez, who was born in the United States set up two companies. “JP and Sons” and “J Green Vally” for the “purpose of providing unlawful employment to aliens in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Nevada.”

The indictment also shows Delgado would advertise his phone number and available jobs over Facebook.

It also reveals Delgado had contracts with Elkhorn River Farms and O’Neill Ventures, which owns a tomato plant where ice agents converged Wednesday. Delgado would allegedly work with supervisors, Eric Beringer and Christopher Thurlow to employ workers, who are not in the country legally.

The investigation reveals from January 1, 2015 to July 17, 2018, Delgado controlled $8 million worth of transactions at the Great Western Bank in O’Neill. DACA recipient Anayancy Castro Hernandez works at the branch and is accused of helping Delgado cash the paychecks.

The indictment also shows Delgado required his employees to cash their paychecks at his O’Neill grocery store, El Mercadito.

It says he would withhold money from those checks telling undocumented workers it was for federal taxes, but he kept the money.

The court records said the group also used part of the millions to buy property in Nebraska and Las Vegas to house undocumented workers.

The group would also tip each other off, if there was any ICE activity in O’Neill or by the plants.

If convicted, the suspects could be sentenced to 10-30 years in federal prison and/or a fine of $500,000 or double the amount of what was laundered.

https://www.ketv.com/article/federal-indictments-in-ice-raid-reveals-dollar8-million-money-laundering-scheme/22691654

Will the U.S. Ever See a “Panama Papers” Situation?

The “Panama Papers” is a phrase used to describe at a minimum, an on going problem with shell companies, offshore accounts, and a clouded global tax reform for big money companies and single entities. This phrase and its true meaning may not only become familiar world wide, but possibly in the U.S.A. as well.

With the astronomical amounts of wealth being hidden in such accounts, most can agree that surely in the hands of some, these massive amounts of money can become without a question down right dangerous. One of the questions not only lies upon where these funds came from, but where these funds will end up once these accounts were emptied prior to being investigated.

Who benefits from the billions of dollars that were lost and liquidated within the “Panama Papers”? What steps can we take to hold large offshore account holders accountable, and are we at risk on our home front to the same types of money laundering?

To sum it up, the “Panama Papers” were obtained from an anonymous source and published in a German newspaper known as Süddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper exposed the Mossack Fonseca law firm that has sold more than 214,000 letter-box companies worldwide. While the creation of offshore accounts through holding companies is not illegal for more common purposes, such as the protection of inheritance and estate planning, and the protection of assets from currencies restrictions, one must consider the detrimental possibilities of these accounts in the wrong hands on a larger scale.

At the beginning of the “Panama Papers” investigation over 140 politicians from more than 50 countries and their families, associates, heads of state, ministers, and elected officials have been connected to offshore companies that have resulted in approximately 21 unregulated tax havens. The countries that have utilized shell companies and offshore accounts for money laundering to conceal assets and to avoid taxes and other money frauds span across the globe.

For one to speculate and consider the intentions of each and every country, along with its subsidiaries, would merely be impossible. At this point to put it bluntly, we know that large amounts of money come into the hands of an offshore account holder from virtually anywhere. That money is then held in, and filtered through, accounts that are not regulated, monitored or investigated properly due to a lack of legal regulation or due diligence. It would appear to be obvious that specific laws by country, and or state, have plenty of loopholes. If not loopholes, than plenty of under qualified and unregulated officials involved in making this whole scheme work.

So where does that leave the U.S.A. within the “Panama Papers”?

There are roughly 3,100 shell companies operating in the U.S.A. That number compared to the amount of tax evaders in the U.S.A. may be low because of the lack of trust in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is a common tax reporting standard that shares tax data in order to combat global tax evasion and crimes. Though Washington and the U.S.A. has yet to firmly plant its feet in joining in this effort to make big money accounts transparent, several other countries are on board to work within this effort to reduce money laundering through shell companies and offshore accounts.

Until we make the tax data of large holders and their accounts truly transparent and obtainable for all, our country may turn into one of the largest tax havens of all time. It would not be wise for any country to allow these loopholes to go untied in this day and age for many reasons. Our security and safety, economic financial health, and well being relies on the transparency and ongoing task of keeping large money holders and their clients in check and regulated.

 Sources:

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – www.panamapapers.icij.org

Rishi Iyengar,  Apr 04, 2016, What to Know About the ‘Panama Papers’ Leak, From www.time.com

MMM Nigeria: Notorious “Ponzi Scheme” Enables Bitcoin for Payments

MMM Nigeria – a prominent multi-marketing Ponzi scheme – has recently announced that it is making a comeback enabling Bitcoin as a form of payment. MMM was founded by Sergei Mavrodi in Russia in the 1990s, the original scheme has collapsed resulting in participants losing billions of dollars.

However, it has blossomed again with one simple model: participants committed to sending money to other participants and after a month, they got their ‘investments’ back plus 30 percent interest from other participants of the pyramid.

There is a high risk that this lending money chain will eventually collapse and millions of people will lose their money… again. However, the number of participants keeps growing, even despite the questionable logic of the whole enterprise and recent daunting events.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/mmm-nigeria-notorious-ponzi-scheme-enables-bitcoin-for-payments

 

Jihadists Crush Syria Rebel Group

Source: Reuters World News

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-group-idUSKBN1591AF

Jihadists crush Syria rebel group, in a blow to diplomacy

A powerful jihadist group has crushed a Free Syrian Army rebel faction in northwestern Syria, in an attack that threatens to deal a critical blow to the more moderate wing of the Syrian rebellion and derail new Russian-backed peace talks.

The Jabhat Fateh al-Sham jihadist group, formerly known as the Nusra Front, launched an attack on a number of FSA groups in northwestern Syria on Tuesday, accusing them of conspiring against it at peace talks in Kazakhstan this week.

The fighting has engulfed the rebels’ last major territorial stronghold in northwestern Syria, prompting a major Islamist insurgent faction to warn on Wednesday that it could allow President Bashar al-Assad and his allies to capture the area.

Hedge Fund Execs Charged in Multi-Million Dollar Bribery Scheme

U.S. securities regulators on Thursday accused two former executives at hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management of masterminding a far-reaching scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to African officials.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Michael Cohen, who headed Och-Ziff’s European office, and Vanja Baros, a former analyst, of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The lawsuit came after Och-Ziff agreed in September to pay $412 million to resolve U.S. investigations relating to the hedge fund’s role in bribing officials in several African countries.

Read more: Och-Ziff Execs in Multi-Million Dollar Bribery Scheme | Anti Corruption Digest http://anticorruptiondigest.com/anti-corruption-news/2017/01/30/och-ziff-execs-in-multi-million-dollar-bribery-scheme/#ixzz4XGJkTPGK