Take The Money And Run Offshore

AlterNet, Dec 22, 2004

How insurance companies are aiding tax evasion by over-charging in America and shipping the money to offshore firms.

Terry Mills was working in Wilmington, DE, for J. Montgomery, one of the largest insurance agencies in the region, when in 1993 he was called in to get to the bottom of a messy insurance problem. Little did he know that he would uncover a story – as yet unreported – about tax evasion through offshore firms, but with a twist. The scheme Mills came across seemed to be taking place with the aid of AIG, a major U.S. insurance giant.

Cooking the Insurance Books: A Decade of Lax Regulation Lays Groundwork for Scandal

CorpWatch, Nov 17, 2004

In October, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed suit against the world‘s largest insurance broker, Marsh, accusing it of rigging bids and receiving kickbacks in order to defraud clients such as other corporations, city governments, school districts and individuals of billions of dollars through inflated premiums.

“Greedy trial lawyers were the usual excuse for premium increases. Now we know that greedy corporations also have a starring role, Spitzer said, accusing several insurance companies as co-conspirators in making phony or inflated bids and paying kickbacks to the brokerage to get business.

Cooking the Insurance Books

Cooking the Insurance Books

Nov 2004 – Insurance giant AIG, run by powerful international financial player Maurice Hank Greenberg, has used offshore structures in Barbados and Bermuda to circumvent or violate U.S. state laws regarding reinsurance in a way that based on evidence about one crooked client, allows them to evade taxes.

The Case That Kerry Cracked

AlterNet, Oct 22, 2004

As a senator, John Kerry was a tenacious investigator and exposed BCCI, an international criminal bank, and its murderous clients. The experience should serve him well in dealing with the international threats we face today.

One gets an eerie sense of déjà vu watching John Kerry battle the Bush clan. He’s done it once before, against the old man, President Bush’s father, though many voters have probably forgotten. That battle involved the first Bush administration’s attempt to put the lid on an investigation that connected a worldwide criminal bank to narco-traffickers, terrorists, and to Middle East money men who helped the Bush family make piles of cash. Those links connect to people now on the U.S. post-9/11 terrorist list.

Banking on Elections: Finance sector invests heavily in candidates

Corpwatch, Oct 6, 2004

When Phil Gramm came out of the Tavern on the Green one recent August morning, his disposition turned edgy. The former Texas Senator the long-time banking committee chair is now a vice chairman of the Swiss financial corporation UBS. He’d just passed some pleasant hours hobnobbing with comrades in the money trade, all lured to New York by the chance to make profitable connections during the Republican Convention. But Gramm wasn’t keen on talking to waiting journalists, certainly not to the CorpWatch team.

Robert Rubin seemed quite at ease sitting next to Teresa Heinz Kerry at the Fleet Center in Boston, home to the Democratic Convention in July. The Clinton Treasury Secretary, former senior partner at the investment company Goldman Sachs, is now chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup. There was no chance of journalists bearding him in the candidate’s box – at least none who would ask uncomfortable questions.

Rich Dodge Taxes Says Bush – A Flash of Honesty or Another Slip of the Tongue?

Pacific News Service, Sept 9, 2004

When none other than President George W. Bush announces that the real rich dodge taxes, is that an inadvertent flash of honesty about the shady secrets of offshore shell companies and tax shelters? The administration is tying itself up in knots to dodge the significance of his statement.

The real rich dodge taxes and small business owners pay the burden. Does that sound like a radical-liberal denunciation of privilege by candidate John Kerry?

Guess again. It‘s a pronouncement by President Bush.

Study: “Russia loses $9 billion through phony import – export priced trade with the United States”

The Russia Journal, July 1, 2004

Three U.S professors, analyzing import and export transactions between Russia and the U.S., have found that phony prices led to as much as $8.92 billion in capital flight from Russia to the U.S. in 1995-1999.

Even with calculations providing the most conservative estimate, at least $1.86 billion illegally left Russia during that period. Assuming a 25 percent average tax rate, the lower figure would mean nearly half a billion dollars in illegal tax evasion, and the higher one more than $2 billion in taxes lost, just in trade involving the U.S.

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.

How Big Business Evades Taxes

Pacific News Service, April 9, 2004

As states and municipalities reel from service cutbacks caused by lower tax earnings, big corporations pay virtually no taxes on huge profits. They do it though elaborate “shell” games.

Were you stunned by the revelation, days before your taxes are due, that nearly two-thirds of companies operating in America reported owing no taxes from 1996 through 2000? That over 90 percent of large corporations — with at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in gross receipts — reported owing taxes of only under 5 percent?

Offshore Banking: The Secret Threat To America

Hound-Dogs, March 2004
(Same title but not same article as in Dissent 2003)

This is a story about a massive money-laundering operation run by the world‘s biggest banks. It hides behind the “eyes-glazing over” technicalities of the international financial system. But it could be one of the biggest illicit money-moving operations anyone has ever seen. And it‘s allowed to exist by the financial regulators who answer to Western governments.

In these days of global markets, individuals and companies may be buying stocks, bonds or derivatives from a seller who is Clearstreamhalfway across the world. Clearstream, based in Luxembourg, is one of two international clearinghouses that keep track of the “paperwork” for the transactions.

Legal problems for Alexei Golubovich in Switzerland

Legal problems for Alexei Golubovich in Switzerland

Dec 2003

Alexei Golubovich, longtime partner of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is the target of legal action in Switzerland by his former associate Yelena Collongues-Popova and is being investigated by a Geneva judge on her charge of forgery.

Golubovich has not been indicted by Russian prosecutors, though they are interested in talking to the former Yukos finance director who has reportedly fled to London. However, he could be indicted by the Swiss.

Collongues-Popova, who for half a dozen years ran some 30 offshore companies for Golubovich, got a court order in Switzerland that froze $4.2 million she says represents loans he owes a company she owns. Swiss investigative magistrate, Claude Wenger, is looking into her criminal complaint that Golubovich forged her signature to avoid paying the loans.

Criminal complaint filed against Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, and Golubovich in Switzerland

Criminal complaint filed against Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, and Golubovich in Switzerland

The Russia Journal, Nov 28, 2003

Two ex-bankers on Wednesday, Nov. 26, filed a criminal complaint with the Swiss attorney general against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev, and Alexei Golubovich, accusing them of money laundering and support for a criminal organization.

The Russia Journal has obtained a copy of the report. The Journal asked Yukos press office to comment on the charge but no comments were received.

The former bankers have requested the federal officials in Switzerland to open an investigation into the charges and to search the records of the Swiss offices of Menatep SA, Menatep Finances SA and Valmet (in liquidation) and of Bank Leu related to investigate claims of fraud against the Russian company Avisma and money laundering by Menatep in Switzerland.

Menatep paper trail

Menatep paper trail

The Russia Journal, Nov 5, 2003

The charges against key shareholders in Yukos are enormous and very varied in scope. The Yukos tale is a long, complex and controversial one, requiring lengthy and painstaking substantiation. Public interest in the Yukos controversy is very high.

However charges and counter charges, mostly of a political nature, are being flung so wildly about in the media that The Russia Journal believes it essential at this stage to focus on the evidence in the accusations against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partners. His innocence of the charges that have been filed against him must be presumed until a competent trial is held.

Those who support his innocence of the charges are invited to review and comment on this, the first in a Russia Journal series on the case against him and others in Menatep Group.

The richest crook in Russia

The richest crook in Russia

Nov 2003

A business group headed by Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was arrested in October for allegedly defrauding the state of $1 billion, stashed money in offshore centers, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, the Seychelles, Panama and the Bahamas, according to Yelena Collongues-Popova, who worked for one of Khodorkovsky‘s associates. Lucy Komisar, a New York investigative reporter, interviewed Collongues- Popova. This is her story.

PARIS — A French woman of Russian origin, with thousands of papers related to the Menatep business group and its offshore banking and dealings over the past decade, has been providing information to Russian prosecutors who are building a case against oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia, who was arrested in October for tax evasion.

She says she set up numerous offshore companies and bank accounts in the Caribbean and Europe to help the Menatep group cheat Russian company shareholders and tax authorities. Her registered agent in the Caribbean was Icaza Gonzalez Ruiz and Aleman in the British Virgin Islands and Bahamas, against which she now has a legal action. She says she used Bank Leu (Bahamas), a subsidiary of Bank Leu, Geneva, to deposit funds in fiduciary accounts to have the benefit of withholding tax exemptions.

Rumsfeld Queried on Offshore Banking Reform

The American Reporter, May 27, 2003

It hasn‘t been reported in the U.S. press – until here, now – but Milan, Italy’s chief prosecutor has obtained thousands of documents that show how for more than 20 years Saddam Hussein used the Western bank and corporate secrecy system to launder bribes skimmed from oil revenues to pay his security forces and buy Western arms during international embargoes.

The key countries – whose governments openly allow these money-laundering systems to exist – were Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Panama and Nassau. Corporate registrations and bank accounts there use straw men and secrecy rules to cover up true owners of companies and accounts.

Offshore Banking: The Secret Threat to America

Dissent Magazine, Spring 2003

In November 1932, deputy Fabien Albertin took the floor of the National Assembly in Paris to denounce tax evasion by eminent French personalities-politicians, judges, industrialists, church dignitaries, and directors of newspapers-who were hiding their money in Switzerland.

The minister of finance knows very well that for ten years, the concern of all his predecessors has been to track down this fraud . . . he declared. However, till now, the information one has gotten has been extremely vague. When documents arrive, they are formless notebooks in which holders of accounts are represented only as numbers. Employees of the banks don’t know the names of account holders. These names are known only to the director of the bank, who the clients forbid to correspond with them, so anxious are they to preserve anonymity.

KPMG and the Marcos Money Trail

Multinational Monitor, March 2003

AT A TIME WHEN THE INTEGRITY of global accounting firms is being questioned, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Justice Department are looking into charges that KPMG Zurich, a division of the international audit company, helped Credit Suisse hide hundreds of millions of dollars looted by the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

A KPMG spokesperson confirmed the investigation.

Are criminals in Russia sending missiles to Iraq?

Sacramento Bee, Feb 23, 2003

American officials fear that Belarus is the middleman for Russian weapons sales to Iraq, according to last week’s Newsweek. The magazine noted that Leonid Kozik, a Belarus official who visited Iraq last fall, is on the board of a Russian-Belarussian company that markets weapons from those countries.

Iraq is subject to a U.N. arms embargo. If Iraq is getting Russian weapons through Belarus — either with the approval of Russian officials or via corrupt private firms — it refocuses attention on the destabilizing impact of the criminalization of the Russian state and the uncontrolled expansion of the world’s arms bazaar. Both developments have been largely ignored by Washington, with failure to confront Russian corruption a legacy of the Clinton administration and refusal to deal with weapons sales a result of the longtime political influence of arms-makers.

Taking Stock: Unions join fight against offshore corporations

In These Times, Jan 17, 2003

Trade unions, workers‘ pension funds and state officials are taking the lead in a campaign to prevent companies from reincorporating in Bermuda and other tax havens”and to bring back those who‘ve already gone.

Arguing that offshore registrations allow corporations to evade taxes, reduce shareholder rights and threaten the security of investments, the AFL-CIO, individual unions and pension funds such as California‘s Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) are filing shareholder resolutions and going to court against companies that move their paper headquarters offshore, where corrupt corporate executives have an easier time cooking the books.

US on the Trail of the Marcos millions

Asia Times, Jan 8, 2003

At a time when the integrity of global accounting firms is being questioned, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Justice Department are looking into charges that KPMG Zurich, a division of the international audit company, helped Credit Suisse hide hundreds of millions of dollars looted by the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. A KPMG spokesperson confirmed the investigation.

Dan Burton, a conservative Republican congressman, wrote the SEC that he had been informed that the agency has been presented with evidence against KMPG concerning money-laundering and subversion of a joint Philippine and Swiss freeze order for a series of accounts containing millions of US dollars. Burton, a member of the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee, requested prompt action by the SEC in seeking out the truth. The SEC passed on its information to the Justice Department.

Funding Terror: Investigating the role of Saudi banks

In These Times, Dec 20, 2002

Having a quarter of the world‘s oil reserves may mean never having to say you‘re sorry to Washington. Instead, when Newsweek reported in December that checks from the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the United States had been sent to associates of two of the September 11 hijackers, Saudi and Washington officials revved up their spin machines.

When the reports surfaced, Haifa bint Faisal, wife of Saudi ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, acknowledged that she sent nearly $150,000 to the wife of a Saudi living in San Diego. The recipient, Majeda Ibrahin Dweikat, signed over some of the checks to a friend whose husband, Omar al-Bayoumi (with Dweikat‘s husband), helped hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi find housing in San Diego, open bank accounts, get Social Security cards, pay expenses and arrange flying lessons in Florida.

Behind the faces of Annan’s finance and development gurus

Earth Times News Service, Dec 19, 2002.

There is no little irony in United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appointing Robert Rubin (shown here), Robert Rubina chairman of Citibank, to serve on an advisory panel that will propose how to help poor countries where over a billion people suffer abject poverty. He might have some interesting conversations with another panel member, David Bryer, director of Oxfam. Oxfam recently condemned practices of banks such as Citibank as a major part of developing countries’ problems.

Police spoke to U.S. terror suspect

MSNBC.COM, Sept 16, 2002

MSNBC exclusive: Document shows Tunisian with alleged al-Qaida links gave information to Italians two years ago

A Tunisian-born terrorism suspect placed two weeks ago on Washington‘s list of most-wanted militants confessed two years before to Italian police that he helped run an elaborate arms smuggling ring that aided Islamic militants, but it‘s not clear whether Italian and U.S. officials acted on the information. The case, revealed in a confidential document obtained by MSNBC.com, raises new questions about intelligence gathering in the war on al-Qaida.

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.

Serbia’s Deadly Choppers – U.S. Firm Sold Parts to Milosevic

Pacific News Service, Aug 16, 2002

Bell Helicopters of Texas sold parts to Serbia during a U.N. arms embargo, a report to the war crimes trial of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic shows. The Milosevic regime, writes PNS investigative reporter Lucy Komisar, paid through a secret offshore financial network that included a byzantine web of global tax havens.

At a time when Americans are concerned about U.S. corporate corruption, a tribunal in The Hague has revealed another shadowy deal with international reverberations. Bell Helicopters of Texas sold parts to Serbia during a U.N. arms embargo, when Serbia was involved in a genocidal war using helicopters. The regime of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic paid through a complex, secret offshore financial network.