Home Tags Posts tagged with "money laundering"

money laundering

0

Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be tried for corruption and money laundering over an alleged scheme at the state oil company, Petrobras, a judge has said.

Brazilian prosecutors say Lula da Silva accepted 3.7 million reais ($1.11 million) in bribes connected to the multi-billion dollar scheme.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 70, had already been charged in August with allegedly obstructing investigations.

The former president denies any wrongdoing and says the accusations are politically motivated.Lula da Silva appointment blocked

“I am sad,” he said.

“It is a big farce, a big lie, a big pyrotechnic show.

“What’s happening isn’t getting me down, but just motivates me to go out and talk more.”

Judge Sergio Moro, who is overseeing Operation Car Wash, the investigation into corruption allegations at Petrobras, said there was “sufficient evidence of [Lula’s] responsibility”.

The money that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva allegedly received was laundered through the purchase and renovation of a beach apartment, prosecutors say.

The flat was built by a construction company implicated in the scandal.

Lula’s wife, Marisa Leticia, and six others have also been indicted.


The former leader was accused by prosecutors of being the “boss” of the scheme, estimated to have cost Petrobras more than $2 billion.

Several politicians and Petrobras executives have been arrested and sentenced as a result of the two-year inquiry.

Investigators believe overpriced contracts with Petrobras were given in return for bribes.

Some of the illicitly-obtained money was used to finance the electoral campaign of top Brazilian politicians, they allege.

Luiz Inacio Lula da SIlva, who served as president between 2003 and 2011, was one of Brazil’s most popular leaders and is seen as a possible candidate for the 2018 presidential elections.

However, the popularity of his Workers’ Party plummeted this year and his chosen successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached last month.

A criminal conviction would bar Lula da Silva from running in 2018.

0

If you work in the world of business, you need to know all about the most common kinds of financial crimes. When you know about them, you can ensure that you never become either a victim or a perpetrator. Here are seven of the most common financial crimes in the business world.

  1. Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud is something that happens in the real estate industry from time to time. And it can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. A company that does this can extract money from the transaction to increase profits. It’s illegal and can lead to real estate companies getting shut down. This can affect ordinary homebuyers, but it can also affect companies that rent commercial properties.

  1. Forgery

Forgery is when a company is involved in faking documents. It could be as simple as faking signatures to make it appear that they have authorisation for something when they don’t. The reasons for doing this are varied. But it usually links back to money and companies wanting to get their hands on more of it. It can be used to facilitate other kinds of fraud too.

  1. Tax Evasion

When a company does not pay the amount of money in taxes that it’s obliged to, it’s a crime. It’s a serious crime, and many companies have been exposed as tax evaders in recent times. It is very difficult to distinguish between aggressive avoidance and evasion though. For example, there are some very dodgy schemes that are frowned upon but are technically legal.

  1. Money Laundering

Money laundering happens when illegal money is channelled into legitimate companies. This is done so that the money can enter circulation naturally and appear legal and legitimate. This money has often been used for illegal activities such as selling drugs. On other occasions, it’s simply used as a way to avoid paying tax on some money.

  1. Fraud

Fraud can encompass many different kinds of activity. At its core, fraud refers to a company or individual trying to extract money from elsewhere through illegal means. Fraudulent activity is commonly conducted via things like insurance policies. Sometimes, people take advantage of policies illegally to trigger a payout from the insurance company. But that’s just one example of fraud.

Image Source

  1. Bribery

Bribery is one of the most common and widespread forms of financial crime in the business world. Bribes are used to get an unfair advantage over the competition, and it’s a key sign of corruption. It occasionally happens that honest payments are mistaken as bribes though. The best criminal defense attorney you can find if you think you’ve been wrongly accused. There is a fine line between the two and a grey area.

  1. Racketeering

Racketeering is when organised groups operate an illegal business. These businesses can take many different forms. Some of them are used to simply embezzle funds. And others focus on other particular illegal activities, such as drug and trafficking offence. These organisations obviously have to be kept covert, so they can be difficult for the authorities to uncover them and take action.

0

Ex-FIFA Vice-President Jeffrey Webb has pleaded not guilty in the US in connection with a massive corruption scandal in the world soccer governing body.

Jeffrey Webb, from the Cayman Islands, was placed under house arrest on $10 million bail by a New York judge.

He is accused of accepting bribes worth millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights.

Jeffrey Webb was detained in Switzerland in May, along with six football officials, and was this week extradited to the US.

He was the only one not to contest his extradition from Switzerland and the first to appear in an American court.Jeffrey Webb FIFA corruption scandal

Jeffrey Webb must remain at home within a 20-mile radius of the court, his movements will be monitored via an electronic tag and he has already relinquished his three passports, two of which are UK passports.

His lawyer has declined to comment.

Jeffrey Webb, 50, has been provisionally banned as FIFA vice-president. He is also the former president of the Central and North American football federation (CONCACAF).

The other six people arrested are fighting their extradition to the US, where the charges were laid.

The men were held at the request of the Department of Justice, which has indicted a total of 14 current and former FIFA officials and associates on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption following a major inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The investigation was initially sparked by the bidding process for the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups, but was widened to look back at the dealings of world football’s governing body over the past 20 years.

The Department of Justice’s indictment says that the corruption was planned in the US, and that American banks were used to transfer money.

0

Swiss banks have reported suspicions of money laundering by soccer’s governing body FIFA.

Local prosecutors are investigating 53 cases of possible money laundering in their inquiry into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said the incidents had been reported by Swiss banks.

He said his office was analyzing a “huge amount” of seized FIFA data in its inquiry.

The Swiss investigation is running in parallel to one being carried out by the US.

The 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. But leading FIFA official Domenico Scala has said the awards could be cancelled if evidence emerges of bribery.

Russia and Qatar deny any wrongdoing.

FIFA is facing claims of widespread corruption after Swiss police raided a hotel in Zurich – where the soccer’s governing body is based – and arrested seven of its top executives last month.Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber FIFA probe news conference

The seven were held at the request of the US DoJ which has charged 14 current and former FIFA officials and associates on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption.

The charges follow a three-year inquiry by the FBI.

Also in May, Swiss prosecutors opened separate criminal proceedings “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” in connection with the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

However, until now, much less has been revealed about the Swiss investigation than the inquiry being led by the FBI.

Michael Lauber told a news conference that the investigation was “huge and complex on many levels” and would take a long time.

“We note positively that banks in Switzerland did fulfill their duties to file suspicious activity reports. Partly in addition to 104 banking relations already known to the authorities, banks announced 53 suspicious banking relations via the anti-money-laundering framework of Switzerland,” he said.

Michael Lauber said he did not rule out interviews with FIFA president Sepp Blatter as part of his investigation.

Sepp Blatter has denied any wrongdoing and announced earlier this month that he will resign.

The attorney said his investigation was separate from that being carried out by the FBI and that documents and data would not be shared automatically with the US.

Michael Lauber added: “The world of football needs to be patient. By its nature, this investigation will take more than the legendary 90 minutes.”

0

Cristiano Ronaldo’s mom, Dolores Aveiro, was stopped last month at Madrid airport with €55,000 ($61,000) in her handbag, El Mundo newspaper reports.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, 30, is the world’s highest-paid soccer player.

According to El Mundo, Dolores Aveiro, 61, was stopped by the civil guard while waiting for a flight home to Portugal.

Dolores Aveiro could not explain to officials why she needed so much cash, the publication said.

It said that the money will be held by officials until she pays a fine and fills in the correct documentation.Cristiano Ronaldo mom Dolores Aveiro

Spanish rules drawn up to prevent money laundering stipulate that the maximum amount travelers are permitted to take out of Spain without declaring the transfer is €10,000.

Anyone who breaks this rule is not guilty of a crime, El Mundo said, but an administrative offence.

Dolores Aveiro is reported to spend long periods of time with her multimillionaire son in his luxury mansion near Madrid.

She was reported to have been briefly held by border police at Barajas airport in the middle of last month and must now pay a €600 fine in order to get the cash back.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract at Real Madrid earns him around €350,000 each week.

Pakistani supermodel Ayyan Ali has been jailed in Adiala prison in Rawalpindi.

On March 14, Ayyan Ali, 23, was detained at Islamabad airport on charges of money laundering.

The $500,000 in the supermodel’s suitcase exceeded the legal limit of cash that can be carried out of the country, which is $10,000.

Ayyan Ali denies the charge and says the money was acquired legitimately from the proceeds of property sales and that she was unaware of these customs rules.

Prosecutors have said that if convicted of smuggling the money out of Pakistan, Ayyan Ali could be forced to pay a heavy fine and face a 14-year jail term.Ayyan Ali jailed for money laundering

Two weeks of legal wrangling went by and finally at the end of March her application for bail was dismissed – so she faces yet more time in Adiala.

Known simply as Ayyan, she began her career on the catwalk at 16 and quickly rose to become Pakistan’s most successful and high-profile model. There was even speculation she would represent Pakistan in the Miss Universe pageant.

Ayyan Ali also has a singing career and videos of this part of her career can be found on Youtube.

Pakistani media have speculated about the conditions under which Ayyan Ali is being held, whether or not she is being given special treatment, and whether the jail has fallen victim to Pakistan’s notorious “VIP culture”.

One newspaper report suggested Ayyan Ali was given a well-furnished room with a TV set, refrigerator, wore a new dress daily and was allowed a special kind of mobile phone that could bypass the prison’s jammers.

According to the prison’s rules, there is no dress code for accused prisoners in the jail so Ayyan Ali can wear any dress of her choice. It is only convicts who wear jail uniform.

Jail authorities also said Ayyan Ali had requested B-class jail facilities on the basis of her degree and that the home secretary had the authority to shift prisoners to Category B conditions.

According to Pakistan’s criminal code, if you have completed 14 years of education you are entitled to Category B conditions where you get a servant and better cell facilities, but this is only permitted in criminal cases so would probably not be permissible for her.

[youtube yUxST1ijkzI 650]

Offices of the Geneva subsidiary of HSBC bank are being raided by Swiss police in an inquiry into alleged money-laundering.

Prosecutors said they were investigating HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) and “persons unknown for suspected aggravated money laundering”.

The investigation could be extended to people suspected of committing or participating in money laundering.

HSBC said it was “co-operating with the Swiss authorities.”

The police raid comes more than a week after allegations first emerged that HSBC’s Swiss private bank may have helped wealthy clients evade tax.

HSBC published a full-page advert in several weekend papers containing an apology over the claims.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

The chief executive of HSBC’s Swiss private bank, Franco Morra, said last week it had shut down accounts from clients who “did not meet our high standards”.

Franco Morra added the revelations about “historical business practices” were a reminder that the old business model of Swiss private banking was no longer acceptable.

HM Revenue & Customs was given the leaked data in 2010 and has identified 1,100 people who had not paid their taxes.

Last week, HSBC admitted that it was “accountable for past control failures”, but said it had now “fundamentally changed”.

“We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today,” it added.

HSBC faces criminal investigations in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina, but not in the UK, where the bank is based.

The bank said it was “co-operating with relevant authorities”.

Offshore accounts are not illegal, but many people use them to hide cash from the tax authorities.

While tax avoidance is perfectly legal, deliberately hiding money to evade tax is not.

0

HSBC Private Bank’s Brussels branch is being accused of helping wealthy Belgians to avoid taxes.

Belgian prosecutors allege that hundreds of clients – including diamond dealers in Antwerp – moved money to offshore tax havens with the help of the bank.

They said it resulted in hundreds of millions of euros in lost tax revenue.

In August, HSBC warned that the penalties in relation to such allegations “could be significant”.

In a statement, Belgian authorities accused HSBC of “having knowingly eased and promoted fiscal fraud by making offshore companies available to certain privileged clients”.

These companies, which are based in Panama and the Virgin Islands, exist for the sole purpose of tax evasion, they added.

Over 1,000 taxpayers are alleged to have been involved in the fraud, which saw funds amounting to several billion dollars transferred out of Belgium since 2003.

Responding to the announcement by Belgian authorities, HSBC said it had been notified of the investigation, and of a similar investigation by French authorities, and that the bank would “continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible”.

Banks operating in Switzerland are bound by the European Union Savings Directive to counter cross-border tax evasion, by collecting information on the savings income foreign residents receive outside their resident state.

Belgian authorities also published emails and other correspondence between HSBC and Belgian clients, which appear to show the bank offering tax evasion services.

Prosecutor Michel Claise accused HSBC of “fraud, money laundering, criminal association and illegal exercise of the profession of financial intermediary”.

In October, Belgian police raided the homes of approximately 20 people with private bank accounts at HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary, to gather evidence against the lender.

HSBC has been subject to a series of fines for misconduct in recent years, most recently in relation the manipulation of foreign currency exchange rates.

Former US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is being investigated for alleged money-laundering through his wife’s bank account in Vienna, reports from Austria say.

Zalmay Khalilzad is accused of transferring $1.4 million to his wife’s account, Profil magazine reported.

The money is said to be linked to activities involving companies in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Zalmay Khalilzad was US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007.

Zalmay Khalilzad was US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007

Zalmay Khalilzad was US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007

According to court documents from May 2013 obtained by Profil magazine, Austrian authorities froze several Vienna-based accounts of his American-Austrian wife, the social scientist and author Cheryl Benard.

Cheryl Benard’s lawyer, Holger Bielesz, says the US authorities have yet to produce any “concrete evidence” against his client.

A decision on Cheryl Bernard’s appeal for her account to be unfrozen is expected soon.

Edson Cholbi Nascimento, usually known as Edinho and the son of the Brazilian football legend Pele, has been sentenced to 33 years in jail for laundering money raised from drug trafficking.

Edinho, 43, is a retired footballer who played goalkeeper for Pele’s old club, Santos, in the 1990s.

He was first arrested in 2005 and has served a sentence for drug trafficking offences and links with a notorious drug dealer in the city of Santos.

He says he is a drug addict but denies the trafficking charges.

The ruling was issued by a judge in the nearby coastal city of Praia Grande, in Sao Paulo state.

Edinho has been sentenced to 33 years in jail for laundering money raised from drug trafficking.

Edinho has been sentenced to 33 years in jail for laundering money raised from drug trafficking.

Brazilian media have not been able to contact Edinho, but they say he is expected to appeal.

Edinho works as a goalkeeping coach at Santos.

Pele, or Edson Arantes do Nascimento, played all his professional career in Brazil for Santos.

Playing for Brazil, Pele won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and was acclaimed as the greatest footballer of his generation.

He retired in 1974, but made a comeback a year later for New York Cosmos.

Edinho is Pele’s third son from his first marriage. He was five when the family moved to New York to play for Cosmos.

When he returned to Brazil he decided to pursue a career in professional football – as a goalkeeper, much to his father’s surprise.

He was Santos’ goalkeeper in 1995 when the team reached the Brazilian league final, losing the title to Botafogo.

His detention and alleged involvement with drug gangs took most people in Brazil by surprise.

Pele, now 73, went to visit his son several times in jail.

Edinho said that his father was his idol.

Four other people have also been convicted for many laundering, including a man accused of controlling much of the drug trafficking in the region – Ronaldo Duarte Barsotti, known as Naldinho.

0

Swiss prosecutors have opened a money laundering investigation into Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov.

The public prosecutor said in a statement that Gulnara Karimova is now part of an inquiry already looking at alleged wrongdoing involving four Uzbeks linked to her.

The investigation involves the business activities of a Swedish telecoms firm.

Gulnara Karimova, 41, had her diplomatic immunity lifted last year when she lost her post as Uzbek envoy to the UN.

A flamboyant businesswoman as well as a pop star in her home country, Gulnara Karimova is believed to have broad commercial interests in the Central Asian republic, ruled by her father for more than two decades.

Swiss prosecutors have opened a money laundering investigation into Gulnara Karimova

Swiss prosecutors have opened a money laundering investigation into Gulnara Karimova (photo ITAR-TASS)

The public prosecutor revealed on Wednesday that Gulnara Karimova had been under investigation since September 2013 and that her villa in Cologny, just outside Geneva, had been searched by police the previous month, a few weeks after her immunity was lifted.

Gulnara Karimova is believed to have left Geneva after her role as permanent UN ambassador there came to an end.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told Geneva daily Le Temps that Gulnara Karimova’s diplomatic immunity had previously prevented any action from taking place.

A sum of 800 million Swiss francs ($910 million) has been frozen as part of the inquiry, although the origin of the money is not yet clear, officials say. Several searches have also taken place in France.

Four Uzbek nationals have been under investigation since the summer of 2012. Two were held in custody but released a few months later.

Swedish-Finnish company TeliaSonera, which is partly state-owned, was accused in a 2012 Swedish TV report of paying an intermediary company, Takilant, $300 million for 3G mobile phone rights in Uzbekistan.

Although TeliaSonera strongly denied any wrongdoing, the case was taken up by Swedish prosecutors.

The Swiss authorities did not name TeliaSonera in their statement but said their Swedish colleagues were involved in a corruption inquiry linked to various acquisitions made by a “Swedish enterprise” in the Uzbek telecoms market.

A few months ago, Gulnara Karimova denied any involvement in the TeliaSonera case.

0

Jeri Wright, the daughter of Barack Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright, was convicted on Friday of laundering thousands of dollars from a state grant for a Chicago-area job-training program, federal prosecutors said.

A federal jury found Jeri Wright, 48, guilty on all counts for her part in a fraud scheme led by a former suburban police chief and the chief’s husband, according to the US Attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois in Springfield.

The $1.25 million state grant was for a not-for-profit work and education program called We Are Our Brother’s Keeper, owned by Regina Evans, former police chief of Country Club Hills, and her husband, Ronald Evans Jr.

Jeri Wright, a close friend of the couple, took as much as $11,000 from checks worth more than $30,000 that were supposed to be for work related to the grant, prosecutors said. About $20,000 was deposited back into accounts controlled by Regina and Ronald Evans.

Jeri Wright is the daughter of Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright

Jeri Wright is the daughter of Barack Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright

Regina and Ronald Evans has pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme.

The grant agreement was supposed to provide bricklaying and electrical pre-apprenticeship training and GED preparation at the Regal Theater, another entity owned by the couple. Little, if any, of the training provided in the grant agreement was ever completed, according to prosecutors.

Jeremiah Wright was the Chicago pastor whose inflammatory church sermons, which often condemned US attitudes on race, poverty and other issues, became a focus during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Jeri Wright also was convicted of making false statements to law enforcement officers and giving false testimony to a grand jury.

The maximum penalty for money laundering is up to 20 years in prison, and five years in prison on the other counts.

Jeri Wright told reporters outside the Springfield federal court house that she will appeal. Sentencing is scheduled for July 7.

In an apparent clampdown on the use of Bitcoin in Russia, the Russian prosecutor general’s office said it was tightening up regulations surrounding the use of virtual currencies as they could be used for money laundering or financing terrorism.

The Russian prosecutor general’s office said that the rouble was the only official currency in Russia and introducing others was illegal.

“Systems for anonymous payments and cyber-currencies that have gained considerable circulation – including the most well-known, Bitcoin – are money substitutes and cannot be used by individuals or legal entities,” it said in a statement to Reuters.

The use of Bitcoin for alleged money laundering led to the arrests of two men in the US last week.

The Russian prosecutor general's office said that the rouble was the only official currency in Russia and introducing others was illegal

The Russian prosecutor general’s office said that the rouble was the only official currency in Russia and introducing others was illegal

The Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told Bloomberg in a statement that the “arrests may be the first state prosecutions involving the use of Bitcoins in money laundering operations”.

“Bitcoins are neither good nor bad. Buying bitcoins allows money to be anonymously moved around the world with a click of a computer mouse. Improperly used, Bitcoins are often seen as a perfect means of laundering dirty money or for buying and selling illegal goods, such as drugs or stolen credit card information,” she added.

Federal charges have already been brought against the operators of two exchanges for money laundering in the US.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano has been charged with laundering millions through the Vatican bank, police say.

The former Vatican accountant is already on trial and under house arrest on separate charges of plotting to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano and two other people were served with arrest warrants on Tuesday, police said.

Last year, Pope Francis set up a commission to review the bank’s activities after a series of scandals.

Traditionally the Vatican has opposed the right of the Italian judiciary to investigate alleged crimes committed by its officials on the grounds of diplomatic immunity and privilege.

Under Pope Francis, increased cooperation between the Vatican and Italian authorities led to the arrest of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano last summer.

On Tuesday, police seized some 6.5 million euros in bank accounts and real estate, including Monsignor Nunzio Scarano’s luxury apartment in the southern city of Salerno.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano has been charged with laundering millions through the Vatican bank

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano has been charged with laundering millions through the Vatican bank

Authorities said the latest charges against the senior cleric related to “false donations”, which he allegedly recycled from offshore accounts through the Vatican bank.

Prosecutors allege that Monsignor Nunzio Scarano got dozens of people to make contributions to a home for the terminally ill in Salerno, and used the money to pay off a mortgage on one of his properties.

Another Catholic priest has also been arrested on charges of laundering and making false statements, officials say.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano worked for two decades as a senior accountant in a Vatican department known as APSA (the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See).

The division manages the Vatican’s real estate holdings and stock portfolios.

The cleric was suspended from his position last year, after he was accused of conspiring to smuggle millions from Switzerland into Italy with the help of a secret service agent and a financial broker.

The trio’s high-profile trial began in early December in Rome.

Officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican bank is one of the world’s most secretive. It has 114 employees and 5.4 billion euros of assets.

The Vatican bank is undergoing a major restructuring on the orders of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has hired an American financial services company to examine all 19,000 accounts to ensure that international rules against money laundering are being correctly observed.

[youtube YZXkW95Qz0I 650]

The Vatican’s bank has unveiled its first annual report in its 125-year history as part of an attempt to become more financially transparent.

The Institute for Religious Works (IOR) has been dogged by accusations of corruption.

The report shows 2012 was a successful year for the bank, with net profits more than quadrupling to 86.6 million euros.

The bank said this jump was mainly due to favorable trading results and an increase in the value of bonds it held.

A majority of this profit – 54.7 million euros – was given to the Pope to carry out the Church’s mission around the world.

Its balance sheet shows a total of 4.98 billion euros in assets and 769 million euros in equity funds.

The assets were primarily held in bonds and money market accounts.

The Vatican's bank has unveiled its first annual report in its 125-year history

The Vatican’s bank has unveiled its first annual report in its 125-year history

But the report also reveals the IOR had 41.3 million euros in gold, coins and other precious metals, a stake in an Italian real estate company, and received two inheritance properties worth around two million euros in 2012.

In the report, President Ernst Von Freyberg, said the IOR needed to be a well-respected member of the global financial community.

“The annual report seeks to contribute to the transparency which the Catholic Church, our customers, our correspondent banks, our authorities and the public rightfully expect,” he said.

Ernst Von Freyberg added that the bank had been “been engaged in a process of far-reaching reform” to improve its organization, compliance and transparency.

The IOR has been accused of money laundering and lack of due diligence in allowing non-religious businessmen to hold accounts in what amounts to an international offshore tax haven.

In August Pope Francis stepped up the fight against corruption at the Vatican by strengthening supervision of financial transactions at the bank.

He issued a decree designed to combat money-laundering and prevent any financing of terrorism.

Pope Francis also recently set up a commission to investigate the bank and report back to him personally.

In July the Vatican froze the account of a senior cleric, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, suspected of involvement in money-laundering.

Nunzio Scarano and two others were arrested by Italian police in June on suspicion of trying to move 20 million euros ($26 million) illegally.

At the time the bank said it would have “zero tolerance for any activity, whether conducted by laity or clergy, that is illegal or outside the Statutes of the Institute”.

As of the end of 2012, the IOR had around 18,900 customers, most of which were institutional investors.

This was down from 21,000 the previous year, which the bank said was due mostly to it closing inactive accounts.

It handles the payroll for some 5,000 Vatican employees and funds for the central administration of the Catholic Church.

The IOR also holds the accounts of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns and religious orders around the world.

[youtube iahl9DMl-Do]

0

HSBC, which was hit with a $1.9 billion US fine for money laundering last year, is facing fresh accusations of illegal activity in Argentina.

Argentina has alleged that HSBC used “fake receipts” to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion, and launder 392 million pesos ($77 million).

The country’s tax authority said it had filed criminal charges against HSBC.

HSBC said that it would cooperate with the investigation, adding that the allegations were “of great concern”.

“We are committed to working cooperatively with authorities to ensure a thorough review and appropriate resolution of the matter,” said Lyssette Bravo, a spokeswoman for HSBC.

Last year, HSBC agreed to pay US authorities $1.9 billion in a settlement over money laundering, the largest paid in such a case.

Argentina laid out its case against HSBC late on Monday.

“On the basis of what’s been investigated so far, in six months we’ve recorded 392 million pesos in fraudulent transactions, generated by evasion and money laundering,” said Ricardo Echegaray, head of Argentina’s tax agency.

Ricardo Echegaray added that HSBC also helped clients evade taxes on an additional 224 million pesos.

“We hope to recover what is due and see the courts apply an appropriate penalty,” he said.

HSBC is facing fresh accusations of illegal activity in Argentina

HSBC is facing fresh accusations of illegal activity in Argentina

Money laundering is the process of disguising the proceeds of crime so that the money cannot be linked to the wrongdoing.HSBC, which has previously admitted to having poor money laundering controls, has been taking steps to tighten its operations.

Last year, the banking giant said that it had spent $290 million on improving its systems to prevent money laundering.

At the same time, HSBC also appointed a former US official, Bob Werner, to work as its head of financial crime compliance, a new position the bank has created.

The bank said that he will be responsible for beefing up its anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance systems.

Bob Werner was previously the head of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the agency responsible for enforcing the US sanctions on countries, including Iran.

[youtube SY1LKUb-NfU]

HSBC is to pay US authorities $1.9 billion in a settlement over money laundering, the largest paid in such a case, the bank has confirmed.

A US Senate investigation said the UK-based bank had been a conduit for “drug kingpins and rogue nations”.

Money laundering is the process of disguising the proceeds of crime so that the money cannot be linked to the wrongdoing.

HSBC admitted having poor money laundering controls and apologized.

“We accept responsibility for our past mistakes,” said HSBC group chief executive Stuart Gulliver in a statement.

“We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again.”

The bank said it had spent $290 million on improving its systems to prevent money laundering and clawed back some bonuses paid to senior executives in the past.

It also said it expected to reach an agreement with the UK’s Financial Services Authority shortly.

Last month it announced it had set aside $1.5 billion to cover the costs of any settlement or fines.

HSBC is to pay US authorities $1.9 billion in a settlement over money laundering

HSBC is to pay US authorities $1.9 billion in a settlement over money laundering

The news followed the announcement of a similar but much smaller settlement with UK-based Standard Chartered bank, which will pay $300 million in fines for violating US sanctions.

The cases are seen as part of a crackdown on money laundering and sanctions violations being led by federal government agencies and New York state authorities.

The settlement had been widely expected following a report by the US Senate, published earlier this year, that was heavily critical of HSBC’s money laundering controls.

The report alleged that:

  • HSBC      in the US had not treated its Mexican affiliate as high risk, despite the      country’s money laundering and drug trafficking challenges
  • The      Mexican bank had transported $7 billion in US bank notes to HSBC in the      US, more than any other Mexican bank, but had not considered that to be      suspicious
  • It      had circumvented US safeguards designed to block transactions involving      terrorists drug lords and rogue states, including allowing 25,000      transactions over seven years without disclosing their links to Iran
  • Providing      US dollars and banking services to some banks in Saudi Arabia despite      their links to terrorist financing
  • In      less than four years it had cleared $290 million in “obviously      suspicious” US travellers’ cheques for a Japanese bank, benefiting      Russians who claimed to be in the used car business

The report suggested HSBC accounts in Mexico and the US were being used by drug barons to launder money.

“The banks became very overextended, not just in lending on property, which we all know about, but in this case, for example, buying businesses in Mexico about which, it turned out, they knew too little,” said Sir John Gieve, former deputy governor of the Bank of England.

The Senate report also said HSBC regularly circumvented restrictions on dealings with Iran, North Korea, and other states subject to US sanctions.

HSBC has announced it has appointed a former US official to work as its head of financial crime compliance, which is a new position.

Bob Werner was previously the head of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – the agency responsible for enforcing the US sanctions on countries including Iran.

He will be responsible for beefing up HSBC’s anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance systems.

It is unclear what impact the case will have on HSBC’s business. The bank is the biggest in Europe by market capitalization, and made pre-tax profits of $12.7 billion for the first six months of 2012.

[youtube uh2-SG7_1tw]

South African politician Julius Malema has appeared in court to face money laundering charges.

A large crowd of his supporters has gathered outside the court in Polokwane, capital of his home state of Limpopo.

There is a heavy police presence and long stretches of barbed wire fencing have been put in place.

Julius Malema says the charges against him are politically motivated.

South African politician Julius Malema has appeared in court to face money laundering charges

South African politician Julius Malema has appeared in court to face money laundering charges

He is accused of abusing his former position as head of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League.

Chanting and dancing outside the court, many members of the ANC Youth League are holding up placards saying “Hands off our leader”.

Julius Malema is well-known in South Africa for his fiery populist rhetoric and lavish lifestyle, describing himself as an economic freedom fighter.

The 31-year-old politician was thrown out of the ANC in April, accused of sowing divisions in the party.

Julius Malema is a fierce critic of his former ally, Jacob Zuma, recently attacking the president over his handling of the Marikana miners’ strikes.

Some in South Africa believe he is being rushed to trial – less than a week after a warrant for his arrest was issued – in order to strengthen Jacob Zuma’s political position.

It is likely to be a long court battle that may offer insights into the corruption that many people believe blights South Africa.

Julius Malema is also the subject of a separate tax investigation.

 [youtube Cp0adOARWBg]

British bank Standard Chartered has agreed a $340 million settlement with New York regulators that accused it of hiding $250 billion of transactions with Iran.

The hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday has now been adjourned.

Standard Chartered’s chief executive Peter Sands has been in New York negotiating with the regulators.

It had admitted that some of its transactions did break US sanctions, but said that the amount totaled just $14 million.

“The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Standard Chartered Bank have reached an agreement to settle the matter raised in the DFS order dated August 6, 2012,” a statement from the regulator’s superintendent said.

“The parties have agreed that the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion.”

Standard Chartered has agreed a $340 million settlement with New York regulators that accused it of hiding $250 billion of transactions with Iran

Standard Chartered has agreed a $340 million settlement with New York regulators that accused it of hiding $250 billion of transactions with Iran

A short statement from Standard Chartered simply confirmed a settlement of $340 million had been reached.

“A formal agreement containing the detailed terms of the settlement is expected to be concluded shortly,” it added.

The bank also said it continued to “engage constructively” with other US authorities.

According to the terms of the settlement, Standard Chartered will pay a “civil penalty” of $340 million to the DFS.

It will also install a monitor for at least two years who will evaluate money-laundering controls at the bank’s New York branch and report directly to the regulator.

“In addition, DFS examiners shall be placed on site at the bank,” the statement said.

Finally, the settlement provided for permanent staff at the bank’s New York office to audit any money-laundering controls.

The $340 million was a “hefty penalty, but nothing like as hefty as it could have been” if the two parties had not negotiated a settlement. The DFS had, for example, talked of revoking Standard Chartered’s New York banking licence.

Last week, New York’s DFS alleged that the US unit of the bank had illegally hidden 60,000 transactions with Iran worth $250 billion over nearly a decade.

It accused the London-based bank of being a “rogue institution” for breaking US sanctions against Iran.

Peter Sands said at the time that he was “completely surprised” by the ferocity of the DFS’s attack, which he described as “disproportionate”.

He did, however, admit that 300 transactions did break US sanctions.

“This was clearly wrong and we are sorry that they happened,” Peter Sands said.

 

Standard Chartered bank illegally “schemed” with Iran to launder as much as $250 billion for nearly a decade, a US regulator says.

The New York State Department of Financial Services said that the bank hid 60,000 secret transactions for “Iranian financial institutions” that were subject to US economic sanctions.

Standard Chartered bank illegally "schemed" with Iran to launder as much as $250 billion for nearly a decade

Standard Chartered bank illegally "schemed" with Iran to launder as much as $250 billion for nearly a decade

Standard Chartered then covered up its transgressions, it said.

HSBC was recently accused by the US Senate of allowing money laundering.

HSBC has set aside $700 million to deal with those allegations.

 

Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, the founder of file-sharing website Megaupload has appeared in a New Zealand court seeking bail.

German national Kim Dotcom was arrested with three others in Auckland on Friday in a raid requested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Kim Schmitz has been accused of internet piracy and money laundering.

Prosecutors say he is a flight risk. The court later delayed a decision on bail.

“Given the breadth of issues covered in this bail application and the seriousness of the issues, I am going to reserve my decision,” said Judge David McNaughton.

Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, the founder of file-sharing website Megaupload has appeared in a New Zealand court seeking bail

Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, the founder of file-sharing website Megaupload has appeared in a New Zealand court seeking bail

US authorities want to extradite Kim Dotcom. Federal prosecutors have accused Megaupload – one of the internet’s largest file-sharing sites – of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue.

Megaupload, on the other hand, said it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.

Kim Dotcom holds German and Finnish passports, and is a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand.

“Mr. Dotcom emphatically denies any criminal misconduct or wrongdoing,” Kim Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison, said.

Prosecutor Anne Toohey, however, said that Kim Dotcom was a significant flight risk, citing his multiple passports, financial resources and previous criminal convictions for hacking and insider trading.