Posts Tagged ‘Money-laundering’

Noriega Testimony Opening Statement on Hezbollah in the Americas before House Terrorism Subcommittee

| March 20th, 2013 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives

TESTIMONY OF AMBASSADOR ROGER F. NORIEGA

BEFORE THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NON-PROLIFERATION AND TRADE

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

March 20, 2013, Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman, I applaud you and other members of the Subcommittee for focusing attention on the global threat posed by Hezbollah, and I thank you for inviting me to share insights on that terrorist organization’s growing network in the Americas that carries this threat to our doorstep.

This past weekend marked the 21st anniversary of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which murdered 29 people.  Two years later, a car bomb leveled the Jewish Community Center in the heart of Argentina’s capital, leaving 85 persons murdered.

Mr. Chairman, this is Hezbollah’s despicable legacy in the Americas.  And that terrorist group – along with its sponsor, Iran – has returned to the scene of the crime.

During the last decade, Hezbollah has extended its reach quickly and ... Read More

Mexico Man on US Kingpin List for Money Laundering

| February 6th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

The U.S. Treasury Department says it is levying financial sanctions against a Mexican businessman who allegedly launders money for the Zetas drug cartel.

The department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control says in a statement Tuesday that it is acting against Filemon Garcia Ayala under the U.S. Kingpin Act. A listing bars U.S. citizens from having business transactions with the person and allows authorities to freeze their assets in the United States.

The department says it is also acting against two of Garcia Ayala’s companies in Zacatecas, Mexico, Prodira Casa de Cambio S.A. de C.V. and Trastreva S.A. de C.V. It has also blocked three of his companies in the United States.

It says Mexican authorities tried to arrest Garcia Ayala in June on money laundering charges, but he fled and remains a fugitive.

Click here for original ... Read More

Germany Check Bust Stirs Questions in Venezuela

| February 5th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Venezuela’s opposition is demanding that the government explain how a former Iranian official ended up with a check in Venezuelan currency worth about $70 million.

Venezuela’s opposition coalition said in a statement on Monday that the government should clear up why the Iranian had a check for 300 million Venezuelan bolivars that was found by German customs authorities.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported in its Sunday edition that the man who was trying to enter Germany with the check was Tahmasb Mazaheri, Iran’s former central bank chief.

The weekly reported that customs officials at Duesseldorf airport found the check in his luggage on Jan. 21 upon his arrival from Turkey, and that Mazaheri told authorities the money was to be used for the construction of 10,000 apartments funded by the Venezuelan government.

President Hugo Chavez’s government has built close ties with Iran’s government in recent years, and Iran has helped build public ... Read More

Iran: A Regional Threat Beyond the Middle East

| January 14th, 2013 | No Comments »
Sun Sentinel

In the past year the international community has taken unprecedented action to pressure the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions. For example, the U.S. and European Union have adopted comprehensive new sanctions measures aimed at tightening the economic noose around the regime, while a number of other nations have finally taken steps to curtail Iranian oil imports – striking at the economic heart of the regime. These actions are having a tangible effect on Iran’s economy as evidenced most demonstrably by the crash of Iran’s currency, the rial, which has plummeting to historic lows in recent weeks.

Against this backdrop of increasingly effective and broad economic pressure, however, is a curious anomaly. Several countries in one region of the world are working to undermine international sanctions against Iran and some are even helping the Iranian regime engage in illegal activities such as money laundering and narco-terrorism. Surprisingly, these countries are ... Read More

Corruption in Brazil: A healthier menu

| December 20th, 2012 | No Comments »
The Economist

SO RARELY has political corruption led to punishment in Brazil that there is an expression for the way scandals peter out. They “end in pizza”, with roughly the same convivial implication as settling differences over a drink. But a particularly brazen scandal has just drawn to a surprisingly disagreeable close for some prominent wrongdoers. The supreme-court trial of the mensalão (big monthly stipend), a scheme for buying votes in Brazil’s Congress that came to light in 2005, ended on December 17th. Of the 38 defendants, 25 were found guilty of charges including corruption, money-laundering and misuse of public funds. Many received stiff sentences and large fines.

The supreme court must still write its report on the trial, and hear appeals—though it is unlikely to change its mind. So in 2013 Brazilians should be treated to an unprecedented sight: well-connected politicos behind bars. José Dirceu, who served as chief of staff to the former ... Read More

Judge’s Arrest Ordered in Widening Bolivia Scandal

| December 20th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY CARLOS VALDEZ & IAN JAMES

Bolivian authorities ordered the arrest of a judge in a widening scandal triggered by an American businessman’s report of being fleeced and extorted by corrupt prosecutors.

Prosecutors issued an order for the arrest of magistrate Ariel Rocha after he failed to appear before an investigating commission, making him the highest judicial official implicated in the scandal.

The accusations against the judge were announced a day after New York businessman Jacob Ostreicher was granted house arrest. He was jailed in a money laundering case in June 2011 but was never charged with any crime and said that tens of millions of dollars in rice, cattle and farm equipment were stolen from him by corrupt officials.

“I almost feel like I’m in a dream,” Ostreicher told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home in the city of Santa Cruz on Wednesday. He said it will take time ... Read More

Judge grants American house arrest in Bolivia

| December 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

LA PAZ, Bolivia — A Bolivian judge on Tuesday released a New York businessman and granted him house arrest after he was jailed for 18 months without charge despite strong evidence that he was fleeced and extorted by corrupt prosecutors.

Jacob Ostreicher hugged his wife and his lawyers after hearing the judge’s ruling. The 53-year-old American had been in a medical clinic for more than a month since being weakened by a liquids-only hunger strike.

He will now be under house arrest while the authorities finish investigating his money laundering case.

Ostreicher was never charged with any crime, and the people who led his prosecution, including the No. 1 legal adviser in the Interior Ministry, are now themselves in jail, accused of belonging to a shakedown ring that authorities say preyed on people deemed to have deep pockets.

“Honestly, I wish I could tell you that I feel happy,” Ostreicher told The Associated Press ... Read More

Extortion of American Stings Bolivian Officials

| December 11th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY CARLOS VALDEZ & FRANK BAJAK

LA PAZ, Bolivia — It is an unlikely tale: Orthodox Jew from New York City comes to Bolivia to rescue a rice-growing venture, gets thrown in jail on suspicion of money laundering and, aided by actor Sean Penn, winds up triggering perhaps the biggest scandal yet for the country’s president.

It all began 18 months ago when Jacob Ostreicher was arrested while trying to salvage a multimillion-dollar investment he was managing for Swiss partners. After Penn directly interceded on Ostreicher’s behalf, it could now be reaching its end.

The Oscar-winning actor, who has forged friendships with President Evo Morales and other leftist Latin American leaders, presented Morales on Oct. 30 with evidence indicating the American was unjustly jailed and being fleeced.

A high-powered corruption probe moved quickly, bringing eight arrests so far in what authorities described as a band of shakedown artists, extortionists and thieves led by the No. 1 legal adviser ... Read More

An action plan for US policy in the Americas

| December 5th, 2012 | No Comments »
AEI

BY ROGER NORIEGA & JOSE R. CARDENAS

As US policymakers struggle to overcome sluggish economic growth while confronting abiding security threats, there is a stronger argument than ever for fortifying US partnerships with countries in the Americas whose economies and security are intertwined with America’s own economy and security. While the United States has been preoccupied with other regions, most Latin American nations have continued to modernize their market economies; two nations in particular—Brazil and Mexico—are emerging as global players. Therefore, the time is right to restore a strong bipartisan consensus in the United States that promotes a constructive, free-market growth agenda in the Americas. Practical initiatives—not rhetoric—will encourage America and its neighbors to find common ground for their collective benefit.

Key points in this Outlook:

America’s economic crisis and threats to US security have undermined its traditional global-leadership role and weakened its connections to Latin American nations that continue to modernize their economies. The ... Read More

A World Full of Troubles

| November 21st, 2012 | No Comments »
The American Spectator

BY QUINN HILLYER

We’re in a heap of trouble.

I write this while sitting in Colorado, on break from a superb seminar on defense and foreign policy sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the El Pomar Foundation. The seminar is remarkably free of political finger-pointing and direct criticism — or even mention — of the Obama administration. Most of the material is descriptive and neutrally analytical, rather than politically prescriptive and hypercritical. But the picture being painted of a growingly dangerous world makes any sentient person question the administration’s performance in getting us into such a fix.

Our defense forces are being precipitously and unwisely hollowed out. Our capabilities in intelligence and diplomacy are inadequate. Our policies in several regions of the world are conducive not to American strength and peace, but to weakness and instability.

Take Syria. Patrick Clawson, director of research for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said it is ... Read More

Hezbollah linked with cartels in Latin America

| November 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
Lebanon Now

BY ANA MARIA LUCA

A new report submitted to the United States Congress links Lebanese Hezbollah to the drug cartels in Latin America. Besides warning of the usual terrorist threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah to the United States, the document also refers to criminal activities such as money laundering and drug trade.

The United States seem to have less and less friends in Latin America, while Iran’s popularity seems to be on a rise. Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which already have strong ties with Tehran, asked in June 2012 to be removed from the Inter –American Treaty for Reciprocal Assistance signed in Rio in 1947. Even Argentina and Brazil have been slightly warming up to ties with Iran.

The report presented by the United States House Committee on Homeland Security ought not to make the US intelligence agencies happy. It sees Hezbollah and Iranian agents working with drug cartels in Mexico and ... Read More

Latin America’s Adaptive Gangsters

| November 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Project Syndicate

BOGOTÁ – Many Latin American countries have made impressive gains in building state capacity and strengthening democracy in recent decades. And yet criminal networks – entrenched relationships between legal and illegal agents engaged in organized criminal activities – continue to play a large role in these countries’ formal and informal economies and political institutions, rending the social fabric and threatening further progress.

Criminal networks distort the most important sources of change: globalization, technology, open markets, regional cooperation, and democracy. In a context of weak institutions, persistent inequalities, and high levels of marginalization and exclusion, new growth opportunities for organized crime have emerged. Latin America has more (formal) democracy, higher foreign-trade turnover, a larger middle class, and more advanced technology than it had 20 years ago. It also has more organized crime.

These networks bypass formal institutions to take advantage of the changes in recent decades, exploiting lacunae in the international ... Read More

U.S. broker-dealers scrutinized for anti-laundering compliance in Venezuelan currency swaps

| November 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY BRETT WOLF

NEW YORK- Securities industry regulators are beginning to ask U.S. broker-dealers tough questions about how they are mitigating money laundering and sanctions risks associated with their involvement in a 2-year-old currency exchange system run by the Venezuelan government, sources familiar with the issue said.

“There are a lot of questions being asked by regulators and compliance officers,” said Sven Stumbauer, managing director of Veris Consulting Inc’s Miami office. “And some broker-dealers, especially small introducing brokers, cannot answer them.”

“Now people are looking at it and saying ‘Do we really understand the business and is there exposure for both money laundering and sanctions?’”

Buying large sums of U.S. dollars in Venezuela is not simple due to strict currency restrictions. The complex system that many importers in the South American country rely on to meet their need for American currency poses money-laundering and sanctions risks for the U.S. broker-dealers that facilitate it, anti-money laundering ... Read More

Mexico passes law to combat cartel money laundering

| October 12th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY TOMAS SARMIENTO & MIGUEL GUTIERREZ

MEXICO CITY- Mexico’s Congress on Thursday approved a long-awaited law to crack down on money laundering in a bid to attack the finances of the country’s powerful drug cartels.

The law, proposed two years ago by outgoing President Felipe Calderon as part of his offensive against drug gangs, was passed by the Senate on Thursday. The lower house passed it earlier this year.

The new federal law puts restrictions on cash purchases of real estate, jewelry, armored cars and other assets that criminals use to launder illicit funds.

Companies will be required to report large cash purchases under the law. Car sales of more than 200,000 pesos (about $16,000) and real estate purchases of more than 500,000 pesos (about $39,000) must be reported.

The bill carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison.

“There is an outcry from society to weaken the financial structures of organized crime and that ... Read More

US Seizes $31 Million From Peru-Based Drug Trafficking Network

| October 11th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY SAMUEL RUBENFELD

Manhattan’s U.S. attorney said Wednesday the U.S. seized more than $31 million from nine bank accounts alleged to be part of a money laundering scheme operated by a Peruvian drug-trafficking organization.

The network, operated by members of the Sanchez-Paredes family, has been the target of Peruvian law enforcement since the 1980s. A civil forfeiture complaint filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court accused the family members of using the bank accounts of shell companies and other businesses to disguise its cocaine proceeds for decades, prosecutors said.

“While this allegedly notorious drug trafficking family may be beyond our reach, the proceeds from their decade’s long money laundering scheme are not,” said Preet Bharara, the Manhattan U.S. attorney, in a statement.

The funds in the nine American bank accounts were seized pursuant to seizure warrants issued in September 2012, the statement said. Additional funds in three Peruvian bank accounts have also been frozen.

According to the ... Read More

Brazil’s Supreme Court convicts Lula aides of corruption

| October 11th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY ANTHONY BOADLE

BRASILIA – Brazil’s Supreme Court convicted three top aides of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday on charges of diverting public funds to buy political support for his leftist government when it came to power a decade ago.

In a landmark ruling, the court found Lula’s former chief of staff Jose Dirceu, co-founder of the ruling Workers’ Party, guilty of running a scheme of monthly payments to politicians in exchange for their votes in Congress.

The party’s president at the time, Jose Genoino, and its treasurer, Delubio Soares, were also convicted of corruption. The three men face prison sentences of between two and 12 years.

Two dozen others, including 10 legislators, bank executives and business intermediaries were convicted earlier on fraud, money-laundering or conspiracy charges in the largest political corruption case in Brazil’s recent history.

The Supreme Court has never convicted a politician for corruption before in Brazil. Politicians ... Read More

Regional governments must stay the course on drug war

| October 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos joined his counterparts from Mexico and Guatemala this week in issuing a joint statement to United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon calling for a global debate on the efficacy of the decades-old, U.S.-led “war on drugs” and calling on the U.N. to sponsor an international conference to examine the possibility of reforms.

This effort continues a growing regional concern — manifested most recently at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena in April 2012 — about the domestic costs that countries have borne fighting the drug scourge to feed the recreational habits of consumers in wealthier societies.

Colombia’s and others’ concerns and frustrations are completely understandable. Colombia, in particular, has paid an enormous cost in both blood and treasure over the past two decades against the criminal organizations that profit from the cultivation and trafficking of illicit narcotics.

Regional leaders have been careful in their language, but clearly they are putting on the ... Read More

Iran Creates Hizbullah Terrorist Training Base in Nicaragua

| September 6th, 2012 | No Comments »
Arutz Sheva

BY CHANA YA’AR

Iran has established a Hizbullah terrorist training base in northern Nicaragua, according to a report by local media there. Operatives are being trained at the base to attack Israeli and U.S. targets in the event of a raid on Iranian nuclear installations, according to a report quoting the media, broadcast Thursday on Israeli radio.

Some 30 members of the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization are allegedly stationed at the base, located near the border with Honduras. The base reportedly also serves as a central hub for weapons smugglers and money laundering by organized crime lords and drug cartels.

The area has been blocked off the local residents, and all supplies are reportedly being shipped in from Tehran.

Less than two weeks ago,  a group of 18 people was arraigned in a Managua courtroom after being accused of being involved in organized crime and moneylaundering. The group, posing as Mexican journalists, were detained while entering Nicaragua from Honduras following a tip-off ... Read More

Nicaragua’s Drug Trafficking Role Grows

| September 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Most days the only vehicles on Highway 15 are battered trucks shuttling grain, coffee beans and cooking oil through the lush, mountainous highlands on the Honduras-Nicaragua border.

Then one recent morning, a convoy of six vans cruised down the two-lane road. All were emblazoned with the logo of the world’s largest Spanish-language television network, Televisa, and inside were 18 Mexicans with press badges, high-definition video cameras, microphones and a satellite dish.

Nicaraguan police were waiting. Acting on an anonymous tip from Honduras, officers pulled over the vans and after two days of investigation determined the occupants were falsely posing as employees of Televisa’s news division. Hidden beneath the sound boards and screens in three of the vans, officers found black gym bags stuffed with $9.2 million in cash.

The Aug. 20 seizure has pulled back the curtain on Nicaragua’s role as a conduit between South American cocaine ... Read More

Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Criminalized States in Latin America: An Emerging Tier-One National Security Priority

| August 22nd, 2012 | No Comments »
Strategic Studies Institute

BY DOUGLAS FARAH

Brief Synopsis

The emergence of new hybrid (state and nonstate) transnational criminal/terrorist franchises in Latin America operating under broad state protection now pose a tier-one security threat for the United States. Similar hybrid franchise models are developing in other parts of the world, which makes the understanding of these new dynamics an important factor in a broader national security context. This threat goes well beyond the traditional nonstate theory of constraints activity, such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, into the potential for trafficking related to weapons of mass destruction by designated terrorist organizations and their sponsors. These activities are carried out with the support of regional and extra-regional state actors whose leadership is deeply enmeshed in criminal activity, which yields billions of dollars in illicit revenues every year. These same leaders have a publicly articulated, common doctrine of asymmetrical warfare against the United States and its ... Read More

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