Reports & analysis by award-winning investigative journalist Lucy Komisar “”

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Exclusive: Florida banking agency helped Stanford set up unregulated office to sell his phony CDs

State aided suspect in huge swindle

Miami Herald, July 5, 2009 –

Winner of second place for Business News, the National Headliner Awards

Years before his banking empire was shut down in a massive fraud case, Allen Stanford swept into Florida with a bold plan: entice Latin Americans to pour millions into his ventures — in secrecy.

From a bayfront office in Miami in 1998, he planned to sell investments to customers and send their money to Antigua.

But to pull it off, he needed unprecedented help from an unlikely ally: The state of Florida would have to grant him the right to move vast amounts of money offshore — without reporting a penny to regulators. He got it.

Geithner – Treasury Nominee Failed to Halt Bond Scam

Inter Press Service (IPS), Jan 19, 2009 –

U.S. Senators at Timothy Geithner’s confirmation hearing for Treasury Secretary Wednesday may want to ask him about a failure to act that is costing the U.S. a lot more than the amount he evaded on taxes.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which he has led since 2003, conducts the operations on Wall Street of the Federal Reserve in Washington, the country’s central bank.

The New York Fed under Geithner’s presidency has failed to stop massive naked short selling of U.S. Treasury bonds that threatens the stability of the market and sale of the bonds.

Ironically, the scam, enabled by a lack of regulation at the behest of Wall Street brokerage houses, makes it more expensive for the U.S. to bail out those same financial institutions.

Swiss bank’s crafty strategy shows how difficult it is to clamp down on tax havens

Evening Standard (London), Jan 6, 2009

Gordon Brown and Barack Obama are both promising to crack down on the use of offshore tax havens. But putting those tough words into practice is another matter.

One of the world’s biggest private wealth management groups circulates funds via offices in the Cayman Islands, claiming they take major investment decisions — when the main work is apparently carried out in London.

With offices in London and across the globe, Swiss-based Julius Baer banking group invests over $300 billion (£208 billion) in assets on behalf of institutions and wealthy individuals. Profits in 2007 were more than $1.1 billion.

In London, one of its units was known as Julius Baer Investors or Julius Baer Investment Management (JBIM) until a management buyout in 2007. It was renamed Augustus Asset Managers, is based in Bevis Marks in the City, and is still 10% owned by Julius Baer.

From London, Augustus controls assets of $12 billion but claims its profits are generated elsewhere, offshore at a Cayman Islands Baer subsidiary called Baer Select Management.

Why? Simple, really. “If you would generate all the income in London, you would pay much more taxes,” acknowledged Max Obrist, a Cayman Islands executive of Julius Baer.

Exclusive: Confessions of a Citibanker

Is Citibank Spain a tax cheat?
New Internationalist, Aug 2006
Citigroup

With help from a whistleblower, I followed the money trail through the offshore operations of Citigroup, the world’s biggest bank, and discovered that Spanish bankers handling their client’s offshore accounts were getting commissions via an internal accounting system instead of on the regular books.

It is the same internal system that Citigroup used in the 1970s to compensate currency traders in Paris, London, Frankfurt and elsewhere who “booked” trades in the tax haven Nassau, the Bahamas. They were exposed by an insider, were investigated by the SEC and Congress, and had to pay millions in back taxes. Is this happening again?

Saddam’s secret money laundering trail

United Press International (UPI), June 2, 2004

A detailed analysis of Saddam Hussein’s secret money-laundering techniques shows here for the first time how he used the same offshore money launderers as Osama bin Laden. That covert money network, based in the tax havens of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Panama and Nassau, helped bankroll the war machines of both Iraq and al-Qaida.

More than 1,000 pages of confidential corporate, bank and legal documents show how the network functioned. The papers come from court cases filed in several European countries, from corporate records, from investigations by Italian police, from a report of the Kroll international investigative agency, and from private sources. The documents are the basis of further investigations coordinated in Europe by the prosecutor of Milan.

Dealing with Dictators: Bell Helicopters skirted U.N. embargo to sell to Serbia

In These Times, Sept 13, 2002

At a time when Americans are concerned about corporate fraud and corruption, another sort of corporate lawbreaking has been revealed in a report prepared for The Hague war crimes trial of former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic: the violation of an international U.N. arms embargo.

According to U.N. investigators, on June 5, 1998, Serbia paid $154,785 to Bell Helicopter Textron, a Texas company, for spare parts for the maintenance of Bell helicopters. At the time, Serbia was under a U.N. arms embargo—in February, more than a year before NATO bombing began, it had commenced attacks against Kosovo—but it was in dire need of helicopters and other war supplies.

Clearstream: Explosive Revelation$

In These Times, March 15, 2002

The world’s biggest banks and multinational corporations have set up a shadowy system to secretly move trillions of dollars—a system that can be exploited by tax evaders, drug runners and even terrorists.

In the tax haven of Luxembourg, a little-known outfit called Clearstream handles billions of dollars a year in stock and bond transfers for banks, investment companies and multinational corporations. But a former top official of this “clearinghouse” says Clearstream operates a secret bookkeeping system that allows its clients to hide the money that moves through their accounts.