Tagged: money laundering

Oldest Swiss bank closing down after tax evasion fine

Switzerland’s oldest bank is to close permanently after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping Americans evade their taxes. Wegelin, which was established in 1741, has also agreed to pay $57.8 million in fines to US authorities. It said that once this was completed, it “will cease to operate as a bank”.

The bank had admitted to allowing more than 100 American citizens to hide $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service for almost 10 years.

Wegelin, based in the small Swiss town of St Gallen, started in business 35 years before the US declaration of independence. It becomes the first foreign bank to plead guilty to tax evasion charges in the US…

US Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The bank wilfully and aggressively jumped in to fill a void that was left when other Swiss banks abandoned the practice due to pressure from US law enforcement.”

He added that it was a “watershed moment in our efforts to hold to account both the individuals and the banks – wherever they may be in the world – who are engaging in unlawful conduct that deprives the US Treasury of billions of dollars of tax revenue”…

Mr Burderer’s further admission that assisting tax evasion was common practice in Switzerland has caused huge concern among the Swiss banking community, according to the BBC’s Switzerland correspondent, Imogen Foulkes.

“Some Swiss financial analysts are already speculating that Wegelin’s $58m fine, which many had expected to be higher, was kept low by the US authorities in return for Wegelin clearly implicating the rest of the Swiss banking community in tax evasion,” she said.

No one’s publishing anything more than speculation about which banks – and which bank officers – are next in line to be prosecuted. The obvious reason for the comparatively light fine and delay of indictments of Wegelin’s officers leads easily to the conclusion that cooperation and leads are being offered. It’s called turning state’s evidence to save your buns!

Governor benefited from untraceable $1.5 million donation

At a campaign stop near Philadelphia early in his 2010 bid for governor, Republican Tom Corbett announced “we’ve got to raise money,” that it was the “number-one” priority. In an answer to his prayers, that same July day, a $1.5 million contribution arrived from — Wisconsin?

Officially, the donation was from the Wisconsin affiliate of a D.C.-based political organization called the Republican Governors Association.

The $1.5 million could not travel directly from the RGA to Corbett. Pennsylvania law bans candidates from accepting corporate money and the RGA accepts millions of dollars from some of the nation’s largest businesses.

Also, state law requires all non-individuals to establish PACs in Pennsylvania.

In a single day, the $1.5 million gift traveled from the D.C.-based parent organization to the RGA Wisconsin PAC, to the RGA Pennsylvania PAC and finally to Corbett’s campaign account.

By the time the donation reached Corbett, it was impossible to identify the original source of the cash or whether the donation was permissible under state law…

The RGA’s funding played a central role in Corbett’s victory. By Election Day he had received a total of $6 million from the RGA — 21 percent of his total fundraising, easily the top donor to the campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics…

The RGA spending spree did not stop in Pennsylvania.

Our Supreme Court – and especially money-pimps like Scalia – think this is a perfectly legitimate exercise of free speech. I think they would have had a tough time convincing most folks interested in a constitutional democracy – even in the 18th Century.

Not that it matters to them or the people who supply money by the pallet-load.

RTFA for details on case after case of the scum managing the framework of our elections.

Will this Congressman be running his re-election campaign from jail?

Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, a self-made Florida millionaire, is only in his third term in Congress, but he already is in charge of fundraising for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, and he sits on the powerful House Ways and Means committee…

CNN has confirmed there are no fewer than four congressional and federal investigations into Buchanan’s business practices, his campaign finances and his alleged attempt to try to stop a witness from talking…

Now that witness is stepping forward in an exclusive interview with CNN. Buchanan’s former business partner says the congressman schemed to launder money from his car dealerships into his campaign coffers, and then tried to get others to cover it up…

Sam Kazran took his detailed allegations to the Federal Elections Commission, which was already looking into Buchanan’s campaign finances. Investigators there wanted to know not only about how the cash-swap scheme was set up, but if the congressman knew about it…Kazran says there is no question the congressman knew all about it…

During the FEC probe, Buchanan pushed to settle a lawsuit Kazran had brought against him. At the last minute, with a $2.9 million settlement offer from Buchanan dangling in front of him, Kazran says he was given an affidavit to sign…

Kazran says Buchanan and his team were trying to force him to lie about Buchanan’s role in the campaign cash scheme in exchange for the nearly $3 million cash settlement, money which Kazran says he desperately needed, as his finances were in trouble and his wife was suffering from cancer and was undergoing expensive medical treatments…

Now a full House ethics committee is looking into it. CNN has also learned that the FBI is conducting its own investigation.

In addition, the Office of Congressional Ethics also found “substantial reason to believe” that Buchanan failed to disclose unearned income on his financial disclosure forms from 2007 to 2010…

On Friday, lawyers for Buchanan filed a legal motion in Sarasota, Florida, to seal all documents in the Kazran case and to stop Kazran and his lawyers from speaking publicly about it.

So – Will this Congressman be running his re-election campaign from jail? We can only hope.

While I think today’s Republicans have a definite edge in the hypocrisy competition – by virtue of their holiest of Christian crusades and loyalty to the epoch of ignorance extending backwards from the 19th Century to the 14th Century – they haven’t a market corner on corruption.

This story could have been written about a Congress-thug from either wing of the TweedleDeeDum Party. And given our bought-and-paid-for Supreme Court, the questions may become irrelevant as they continue their dedication to the open purchase of elections.

Toy company busted for laundering drug cartel money

They were sellers of pastel-toned huggable plush toys with names like “Baby Frenz Forever” and “Jungle Pals.” At the same time, authorities say, they were receiving bricks of U.S. dollars wrapped in cellophane that were drug proceeds to be laundered into clean pesos for drug lords in Mexico and Colombia.

On Monday, authorities announced charges against the City of Industry-based Woody Toys and seven owners, employees and customers in what marks the second case in two years involving toy exporters allegedly acting as conduits for the drug trade.

Woody Toys was a key player in a sophisticated international financial scheme that converted more than $1 million into pesos each year, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations…

In all, the company is accused of laundering about $6 million in suspected drug profits since 2005, according to the indictment…

According to investigators, the company received suspected drug proceeds either through in-person deliveries — a hand-off at a McDonald’s parking lot and drop-offs at warehouses — or through anonymous bank deposits. Employees “structured” deposits into the company’s bank accounts, keeping sums under $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements…

The sums were then credited to accounts of toy dealers in Mexico or Colombia, who in turn made payments through the black market peso exchange to drug trafficking groups. The foreign toy dealers got a discounted exchange rate, the company received a boost in its business and drug traffickers got laundered proceeds that appear to be generated from a legitimate trade…

The money laundering charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to ICE.

Such a kind, thoughtful business culture. Toys for the kiddies. Millions for the owners. Clean pesos for the drug cartel.

Cross-border commerce at its inventive best.

Swiss bankers classified as fugitives after skipping federal court

Wegelin & Co, corporate headquarters, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Wegelin & Co., the 270-year-old Swiss bank facing criminal charges in a U.S. crackdown on firms suspected of aiding tax evasion, failed to appear at a court hearing as prosecutors called the bank a “fugitive.”

Prosecutors said after the hearing…in Manhattan federal court that three Wegelin client managers charged in the case also failed to appear and were considered fugitives.

When no defendants or defense attorneys showed up in court, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff asked prosecutors for a proposal on how to proceed. Prosecutors said they will confer with the Justice Department and advise Rakoff on their proposals. “Unlike an individual, arresting a company is somewhat difficult,” Rakoff said…

Wegelin is the first overseas bank to be indicted by the U.S. for aiding tax fraud, federal prosecutors in New York said this month. The three Wegelin client managers at the Zurich branch, Michael Berlinka, Urs Frei and Roger Keller, were also indicted.

The managers serviced “undeclared accounts” for U.S. taxpayers, meaning the income derived from them wasn’t reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, according to the superseding indictment filed this month.

Nothing new about international bankers considering themselves above the law. Especially when an historic function of their services is aiding their clients in defrauding the tax departments of one or another government.

For the first time in modern history we have a Department of Justice that actively seeks to repatriate the funds hidden abroad – instead of just relying on the crooks for fundraising.

Woman sues banks for laundering money from her son’s frauds

An Australian woman is suing the nation’s top four banks for their alleged role in laundering money from her teenage son’s $200,000 eBay scam that afforded him a $6,000-a-day playboy lifestyle.

Australian media reported that in 2007, the then 14 year old boy was making so much money selling non-existent laptops, mobile phones and watches on eBay he could afford to book a $4300-a-night penthouses overlooking Sydney Harbour, fly friends interstate for lavish parties and hire limousines to take him to the beach…

Reports said she was seeking an apology from the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac and NAB for ”unconscionable conduct” after allegedly allowing her son to open numerous bank accounts with debit cards “without reasonable scrutiny”.

She claims the banks ignored her or refused to discuss the matter for privacy reasons when she warned them they had issued accounts that were being used by a minor to bank illegal funds, reports said.

”He was an intelligent boy who worked out how to cheat the system and play it for all it was worth,” she told Australia’s Sun Herald newspaper. ”As his parent and legal guardian, I begged the banks to stop giving him accounts and debit cards but each time I got nowhere because of the Privacy Act…”

Police eventually arrested the boy at school after many of the frauds were linked to an IP address attached to a classroom computer.

Reports said that during the past four years, she had reluctantly handed her son to the police 15 times.

Sounds like banks in Oz would have been happy to help out Bernie Madoff given half a chance.

Go for it, Mom. Make them own up for their scandalous lack of standards.

Geriatric con man – and his even older mark

Stole from his “father figure”

Medicare and Social Security didn’t seem to be enough for one 76-year-old New Yorker: He confessed he swindled nearly $400,000 from his 98-year-old victim.

New York businessman Harry Abrams was ordered Thursday to pay $388,063.75 in restitution and sentenced to weekends in jail for a year after being caught forging checks and transferring thousands of dollars from accounts held by a man who Abrams said was “like a father” to him, said district attorney’s office spokeswoman Joan Vollero.

His victim was a 98-year-old, semi-retired lawyer, Emanuel Baetich, according to law enforcement sources.

Abrams pleaded guilty to all charges, which included grand larceny, forgery and money laundering, Vollero said. He carried out his complex scheme to fleece his friend while Baetich was hospitalized during 2009 and 2010, said Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Loewy, who heads the office’s Elder Abuse Unit. Abrams allowed Baetich to work from his office in Midtown Manhattan free of charge, she added, since the two had been friends for years.

Abrams used the stolen money to fund his failing companies, a vacation to Puerto Rico and other expenses such as shopping sprees at Costco, Lands’ End and trips to Jenny Craig, according to a statement released by the district attorney’s office after Abrams was arrested in November.

You trust your friends; but, you cut the cards.

Minister/faith healer/mortgage crook charged in $5.5M fraud

A Mesa minister with a worldwide following has been arrested on charges that he orchestrated a $5.5 million mortgage-fraud scheme involving nearly a dozen Valley homes.

Clint Rogers and his wife, Angela Faith Rogers, were indicted this month by a federal grand jury that accused them of conspiring with three others to inflate the value of homes, obtain loans on the bloated price and then pocket the difference.

They are the leaders,” said Patrick Cunningham, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona. “They got $2.5 million in alleged cash back. That is a tremendously high number.”

The couple’s home purchases were detailed in a 2009 investigation by The Arizona Republic, which found that they bought 26 homes in less than two years and that nearly all of them went into foreclosure…

Clint Rogers, head of Mesa-based Clint Rogers Ministries, conducts faith-healing events and other services at churches throughout the U.S., Africa, Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

According to the indictment, the ministry was used to launder money from the bogus real-estate transactions…

They obtained a total of $5.5 million in financing and in five months directed about $2.5 million of it into their own accounts, according to the indictment.

Good thing they’re Christian crooks. They’re guaranteed forgiveness and salvation. Right?

Meanwhile, they’ll find lots to keep them busy with faith healing in the slammer.

Send the Hammer to the Slammer!

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Former House of Representatives Republican Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday after a jury found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy.

Senior Judge Pat Priest sentenced DeLay, 63, to a five-year sentence for money laundering and three years for conspiracy for a scheme to illegally funnel money to Republican Texas candidates in 2002.

The judge allowed DeLay to serve 10 years probation in lieu of the five-year term, but ordered him to serve the three-year term with no probation.

Due to a potentially lengthy appeals process, it could be years before DeLay serves time, prosecutor Gary Cobb said.

Golly. There’s a surprise. The judicial system helping keep a pol out of prison.

DeLay, dubbed “The Hammer” for his hard-driving style, was found guilty on November 24 of conspiring to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate campaign donations to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in the 2002 elections…

Corporate contributions are illegal in Texas, and you can’t give them to candidates directly and you can’t give them to candidates indirectly,” Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said.

Republican hacks and their Supreme Court flunkies are working hard to change that, nationwide.

Vatican bank has new rule to combat money laundering

The Vatican will announce new rules to combat financial crime on Thursday as it continues to deal with a money-laundering probe that has seen 23 million euros frozen from its banking institution.

The Vatican said in a statement on Wednesday that Pope Benedict would issue a so-called apostolic letter on combating financial crime, money laundering and the funding of terrorism. The Holy See would create a financial information authority.

The Vatican bank, formally known as the Institution for Religious Works (IOR), has been under investigation for suspected violations of European Union money laundering rules since September. It denies any wrongdoing…

Finance police have frozen 23 million euros of the IOR’s funds held in an account in an Italian bank in Rome after authorities deemed that two transactions were suspicious.

Oh – the rule?

Thou shalt not hire crooks to run the bank!