Congo President’s Daughter Charged With Corruption in France

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Investigators have widened a corruption probe into the French assets of three African ruling families, charging the daughter and son-in-law of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, judicial sources told AFP on Sunday. Julienne Sassou Nguesso, 50, and her 53-year-old husband Guy Johnson were placed under investigation this week for “money laundering and misuse of public funds”, the sources said.

Investigators are trying to determine how the couple in 2006 were able to purchase a mansion valued at 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in the swanky Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine just north of the ritzy 16th arrondissement, according to a judicial source.

The tentacles of the case also reach out to ruling families in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Julienne Sassou Nguesso is an insurance agent by profession and her husband is a lawyer…..Congo Presidents Daughter Charged with Corruption

The Malta Files: How The Smallest EU Country Became A Haven For Global Tax Avoidance

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The Mediterranean republic of Malta operates a tax system where companies pay the lowest tax on profits in the EU – only five per cent.

Over the last three months, journalistic network European Investigative Collaborations EIC dug into over 150,000 documents that show how international companies take advantage of this system, using Malta as a pirate base for tax avoidance in the EU.

Although benefiting from the advantages of EU membership, Malta also welcomes large companies and wealthy private clients looking to dodge taxes in their home countries. This has made Malta a target for firms linked to the Italian mafia, Russian loan sharks and the highest echelons of the Turkish elite.

This damages the budgets of other EU countries, and reveals a weakness in the union, which allows member states sovereign rights over their taxation. The research was undertaken by the EIC, which has brought together 12 media and over 40 journalists in 16 countries.

This is how the scheme works:
A company in Geneva, London or Paris can open a parent firm in Malta, where it is taxed at 35 per cent, the highest income tax band.

However if the shareholders of the company are not based in Malta, and the bulk of the firm’s business does not take place in Malta, the Maltese Inland Revenue can refund up to 6/7 of this amount to the company.

De facto, this makes corporate tax in Malta only five per cent.
This compares to an EU average of around 22 per cent. In 2015, this scheme saw a shortfall of almost four billion Euro in taxes, according to a study by newspaper Malta Today. This figure has been steadily rising year on year. This is money “lost” to both the Maltese exchequer and to the tax base of European countries where the companies are headquartered.

Even if this situation appears legal, it seems Malta has not met all the requirements to control possible fraud cases associated with the fiscal status of the islands state. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and holds the EU Presidency between January and June 2017 – during a climate where the fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering is top of the EU agenda.

Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna says that due to Malta’s location and lack of natural resources, the country must be attractive for international companies.

Malta itself is the smallest country in the EU, with only 450,000 people. Its leaders have complained that controlling tax policy is the only tool left for small EU countries to remain competitive.

Using leaked documents and the Maltese company registry, The Black Sea reveals how companies have planned and operated these schemes to deprive countries across the world of valuable revenues…The Blacksea.EU/Malta-Files

Mark Scicluna
www.markscicluna.com

The Dubious Friends Of Donald Trump Part Two: King Of Diamonds

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Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

In the second part of our programme about Donald Trump’s controversial friends, we will set our sights on the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is controversial because he is suspected of trading in blood diamonds. He is one of the world’s biggest diamond traders and owns prestigious stores in New York and Moscow, but he is also the owner of Siebel, the Netherlands’ biggest jewellery chain. Leviev has ties with Russian president Putin, US president Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Trump, however, claims he hardly knows this “King of Diamonds” . Zembla investigates Lev Leviev’s business empire.  The dubious friends of Donald Trump part two: King of Diamonds

Watch the first part of the dubious friends of Donald Trump: ‘the Russians’ here.

Blood Diamond/  Cartoon Movement

 

 

The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians

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Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

For months, the FBI have been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections. ZEMBLA is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? ZEMBLA meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator among others…The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians
The Curious World / James S. Henry
Donald Trumps Private Russian Connections

Trump’s Organized Crime Ties Bring Blackmail to the White House
Trump business partner accused of involvement in Dutch-based money laundering scheme
What American Television Should Tell You About Donald Trump’s ties to Russia

How Corruption Affects Climate Change

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Climate change, like corruption, is a matter of life or death.

The evidence is hard and clear. 2016 was the hottest year ever on record, extreme “once in a generation” weather events are becoming more regular, and fragile ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef are dying. Climate change is no longer a future threat; it is here.

As part of the negotiations leading to the Paris Agreement, world leaders agreed to mobilise US $100 billion in climate finance by 2020, and the same amount each year thereafter. How these funds are spent could save the lives of millions now, and ensure billions in the future are set on a safe path.

The Paris Agreement has come too late to stop the early impact of climate change. Even now the world’s ability to meet the Agreement’s targets depend on a real surge of political will, which is shockingly absent from the current US Administration.

Transparency International’s role in this to help ensure that the billions of dollars already pledged go where they’re needed. This requires transparency.

“Climate change and corruption share many symptoms. They hit the poorest first and worst. They are caused by powerful individuals or entities seeking short term gain. In the long term, they put livelihoods at risk and threaten entire economies. They thrive on the flaws of national governments: you need strong global cooperation to stop them.” – Vania Montalvo, Transparencia Mexicana “….How Corruption Affects Climate Change

Corruption Perceptions-Index-2016/

Museum of Natural Science

Teresa Habild
www.h-bild.de
A global climate catastrophe once led to extinction

«Laundromat» Money Laundering Switzerland as a Hub

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An anonymous tip to Dutch authorities on thousands of suspicious accounts at Credit Suisse could hardly have come at a worse time for Switzerland and its banks.

Joshua Franklin reports: The information that triggered raids in five countries raises new doubts about the effectiveness of Switzerland’s efforts to shed its decades-old reputation as one of the world’s major tax havens.

“It’s a wake-up call not only for the banking community but also for authorities,” said Mark Pieth, an anti-corruption expert and criminal law professor at the University of Basel.

“Instead of really just being angry at others they should ask, have we really been zealous enough?”

Switzerland is among the countries that signed up to a global data-sharing program led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, known as the Automatic Exchange of Information, which was designed to root out tax dodgers.

Swiss banks, having paid more than $5 billion to settle allegations of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes, have trumpeted their reformed ways, publicly encouraging clients to sign up to government programs allowing them to declare untaxed assets.

But last week’s raids of Credit Suisse’s offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam as part of a coordinated investigation in five countries show Switzerland still has a way to go to break with its past.

It is a wake-up call for financial markets as well.
“People really thought that, with the upcoming Automatic Exchange of Information and the cleanup of the European client portfolio completed, this stuff shouldn’t be an issue anymore,” Andreas Venditti, banking analyst at Vontobel, said. “Now the market seems to be confused about what to think.”

Another sign that Switzerland has to work harder to improve its reputation was the apparently deliberate efforts by Eurojust, the European Union judicial agency which helped coordinate last week’s raids, to keep Swiss prosecutors out of the loop on enforcement actions.

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General on Friday demanded a written explanation for the snub.

In the new investigation, raids began on Thursday in the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, France and Australia, with visits also made at three of Credit Suisse’s offices. This followed a tip-off to Dutch prosecutors about 55,000 “suspect accounts”.

One of the big questions is how many of the accounts represent existing client relationships at Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, and how many are legacy accounts from when Swiss banking secrecy shielded customers’ money from tax authorities.

Iqbal Khan, the head of Credit Suisse’s International Wealth Management division, said in an interview he did not know where the 55,000 figure referred to by the Dutch office for financial crimes prosecution had come from as the bank had fewer accounts than that for all of Europe.
OCCRP
Credit Suisse Taxevasion
Laundromat/ Schweiz als Drehscheibe

OCCRP

Laundered Russian Cash Went Through Big Banks

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British banks handled vast sums of laundered Russian money. Billions of dollars were moved out of Russia in ‘Global Laundromat’ operation, with anonymously owned UK companies playing major role.

Britain’s high street banks processed nearly $740m from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the KGB, the Guardian can reveal.

HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts are among 17 banks based in the UK, or with branches here, that are facing questions over what they knew about the international scheme and why they did not turn away suspicious money transfers…..theguardian.com

The Global Laundromat: where the money went

OCCRP/Laundromat

Italy: Online Poker Chiefs Lose Big: 52 years

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An Italian court sentenced on Wednesday
two generations of a Ndrangheta-linked family to a total of more than 52 years in prison for running an illegal on-line gambling empire worth over US$ 65 million.

At the end of a three year-long trial, the Bologna Court sent Nicola Femia, 56, behind bars for 26 years and 10 months for running the mafia-type gambling business. His son Nicola Rocco, 26, received a 15-year jail term, while his daughter Guendalina, 32, was handed a 10-year and three months sentence.

The family controlled poker and casino websites that were hosted in Romania and the United Kingdom but operated in Italy without national license.The groups’ counterfeit slot machines in bars and shops provided access to the virtual casinos, according to the investigators….OCCRP report

New Insights Into The Offshore World

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In October 2016, Andreas Frank*, an expert on money laundering, visited the Bahamas to take a look behind the scenes of the offshore world. Mr Frank was kind enough to share his field report with us, which you can scroll through below and download here.

Some introductory words on the report by Mr Frank:

“When it comes to offshore companies, the novel aspect we see here is that banks created these companies with the purpose of letting third parties use them to disguise financial transactions. The point here is that these banks do not simply facilitate tax evasion and money laundering – they actively initiate, promote and support the criminal activities of their clients.

In our case here a bank in the Bahamas established an International Business Company (IBC). The ICB’s directors were directors of a Swiss bank in Geneva, which in turn was the mother of the bank in the Bahamas.

An IBC has no employees, offices, telephones, or e-mail. An IBC has no bookkeeping nor is it required to produce an annual report, nor is it being audited. An ICB does not have to pay any taxes. With a nominal capital of below $ 50 000 only an annual government fee of $ 350 has to be paid. An IBC is not subject to any minimum capital requirements. $ 100, as in the case of Ms Kroes, suffices.

The IBC we are concerned with here, controlled by a Swiss bank, was ordered by a third party, a Swiss wealth manager from Geneva, to transfer several million euros to a Swiss fiduciary. Following the order, the Swiss bank transferred the requested amount to the account of the fiduciary. From there, the fiduciary had the money transferred, via a German bank, to a company in Cologne, Germany.”   New insights into the offshore world

*Andreas Frank:  Former banker with Goldman Sachs and HSBC,with in-depth knowledge of the financial sector. Internationally recognized independent expert in the field of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Currently serving as an advisor to the Bundestag and the Council of Europe.


2017-02-Report-Government-of-The-Bahamas

See also: Frauen und Kinder leiden unter Korruption/ Woher stammt das Geld?

Deutsche Bank fined $630m over Russia money laundering claims

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Deutsche Bank has been fined $630m (£504m) by US and UK regulators in connection with a Russian money laundering plan. Authorities in US and UK issue fine after saying bank used offices in Moscow and London to move $10bn out of country.

Under the scheme, clients illegally moved $10bn out of Russia via shares bought and sold through the bank’s Moscow, London and New York offices.

Authorities said Deutsche had missed “numerous opportunities” to detect, investigate and stop the scheme. Deutsche Bank said it was co-operating with regulators. It also said it had put aside money to cover the cost of the settlement.

During the investigation, New York authorities and Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that so called “mirror” trades had been carried out through the bank between 2011 and 2015. Clients would purchase stocks in roubles in Moscow before their counterparts sold the same stock at the same price through the bank’s London branch.

The Financial Conduct Authority imposed its largest ever fine – £163m – for potential money laundering offences on Germany’s biggest bank, which it said had missed several opportunities to clamp down on the activities of its Russian operations as a result of weak systems to detect financial crime between 2012 and 2015.

The US regulator, the New York Department of Financial Services, also fined the bank $425m as it listed problems at Deutsche including one senior compliance officer stating he had to “beg, borrow, and steal” to receive appropriate resources to combat money laundering. It has imposed a monitor inside the bank for two years.

Harm Bengen
www.w-t-w.org/en/harm-bengen
www.harmbengen.de