Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Sunday, November 19, 2017

RANKING OF CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES THAT OFFER ECONOMIC CITIZENSHIP IS FLAWED



The ongoing controversy, and rivalry, among the half dozen nations in the East Caribbean that offer economic citizenship, totally ignores important negative aspects of these programs, which cannot be ignored, should an accurate calculation about which country's passports are superior to that of another, be made. Applicants should not rank one over the over, simply because of the number of visa-free nations that may be visited; that is hogwash, and misleading.

What about those negative, but not mentioned, aspects of these Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs:

(1) Was the country ever, or presently, a known tax haven a/k/a offshore financial center ? If so, nationals from those countries may still be under law enforcement scrutiny, by US and EU law enforcement agencies, especially regarding money laundering, and other financial crimes.

(2) Have any high-profile economic passport holders from the country been arrested abroad, for serious financial crimes ? That fact that economic citizenship holders from a country have major felony convictions attracts even more unwanted law enforcement attention elsewhere. Do applicants really want guilt by association issues ?

(3) Is the Rule of Law not observed in the country's court system ? If so, applicants should fear that they are destined to lose any commercial dispute that arises there, as aggrieved parties, against locals or the government, even though the law is on their side.

(4) Does the government have a history of cancelling an economic citizenship, when the holder gets in trouble abroad ? If so, what is to stop it from taking that same step, for political or economic reasons, against innocent CBI citizens ?

Given the long and sordid history, of criminals abusing economic citizenship for illicit financial gain, applicants should NOT rely upon industry calculations, but seek out competent legal advice, regarding accurate assessment of risk, when seeking a second passport. To do any less invites a subsequent shock, when the new passport holder realizes that he or she has merely bought into a problem, not a solution.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

WHO ARE THE BUYERS OF THE TRUMP OCEAN CLUB INTERNATIONAL HOTEL ?



Panamanians are reportedly concerned about the fact that they cannot identify the ultimate owners of the iconic Trump Ocean Club International Hotel, which was sold earlier this year for $24.5m. Financing was arranged through Canal Bank. The purchaser was reported to be Ithaca Capital Partners and/or Ithaca Capital Investments, but information on those entities is minimal, and raises more questions than it answers.

Ithaca Capital Investments Ltd., SA is a Panamanian corporation. Ithaca Capital Partners Ltd., is a corporation organized and existing pursuant to the laws of the United Kingdom.

Ithaca Capital Partners website lists as its sole US address a residential condominium apartment in downtown Miami, but real estate records indicate that it was sold last month. A social media page states that the company is located in Cyprus, but only lists the US address, though it has not qualified to conduct business in the State of Florida.



 Partners' US-based director, Orestes Fintiklis, who is also affiliated with Dolphin Capital, a Greek-based firm with major interests in Cyprus, is a lawyer who previously worked in the UK. He is not admitted to the practice of law in Florida. There is no information regarding the company's business activities, if any, within the Continental United States, and why it maintains an office in Miami.

Ithaca Capital Partners Director Orestes Fintiklis
The owners of Ithaca Capital, according to its press release, are a number of "family offices" located on several continents. A family office is a group of legal and financial professionals who manage the investments of high net-worth individuals. As these professionals are most likely employing shell companies to make their investments in Ithaca, there is no accurate way to determine who their clients, the beneficial owners of the Trump Ocean Club Hotel, are.

The fact that both companies are closely connected to Cyprus, which is a known offshore financial center for wealthy Russian nationals, may be the reason for the Panamanians' concern about who the new owners of the Trump Ocean Club may be. 




TRIAL JUDGE RULES ON PENDING MOTIONS IN ADVANCE OF TRIAL OF REZA ZARRAB'S TURKISH BANKER


After hearing oral argument from attorneys from Halkbank deputy CEO Mehmet Atilla, the Court, in the Reza Zarrab oil-for-gold Iran sanctions evasion case, denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. the trial is scheduled for November 27, and Atilla appears to be the only defendant who will actually go to trial, as the principal defendant, Reza Zarrab, is either cooperating with the authorities, or other arrangements have been made, which could mean a prisoner exchange with Iran.

Atilla's counsel also argued his Motion in Limine, which sought to exclude the introduction of what was alleged to be highly prejudicial evidence; the Court ruled upon that motion, but since the order entered was oral, only through reference to the transcript of the proceedings can one learn details of the decision, and that document is not yet available.

Jury selection has been set for November 20, and a Pretrial Conference has been scheduled for the 21st. Whether Mr. Atilla will change his plea to guilty prior to trial, given the strength of the Government's case against him, remains a question, as is the whereabouts of Reza Zarrab, who allegedly knows where Iran's missing billions of dollars in illicit oi profits is located, and which he may personally control.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

SEC FINES WELLS FARGO'S BROKER-DEALER DIVISION $3.5m FOR AML FAILURES


 The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has levied a $3.5m civil penalty upon Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, the bank's broker-dealer subsidiary, for failure to timely file Suspicious Activity Reports, and other AML issues. Readers who wish to review the complete text of the Cease & Desist Order may access it here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DC COURT SETS ORAL ARGUMENT IN WAKED OFAC APPEAL



The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has, sua sponte,* set Oral Argument in the Waked civil appeal of the District Court's adverse decision, regarding their OFAC designations. The case has generated a lot of interest, irrespective of the procedural & substantive issues, due in part to the criminal indictment, and recent change of plea to guilty, of one of the leaders of what the Government refers to as the Waked Money Laundering Organization, a group of legitimate Panamanian companies allegedly engaged in laundering narco-profits of Colombian & Mexican cartels.

Many observers were surprised when the District Court case was filed, wondering of the level of arrogance these known money launderers had, believing that they could prevail in seeking to have OFAC SDN sanctions removed, when classified, incriminating evidence against them would certainly be redacted from any response to a request for information. Moreover, case law definitely favors the Government position.

 Oral Argument has been scheduled for January 29, 2018 at 9:30 AM.   







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* On the Court's own authority, and without a motion or request from the parties.


ALERT ON ANY WEALTHY ZIMBABWEANS MOVING "FLIGHT CAPITAL"


Though the news cycle is barely covering it, due to other more relevant stories, the military has apparently initiated a coup in Zimbabwe, in response to the country's president, Robert Mugabe,  attempt to place his unqualified wife, Grace in the line of succession. Dubbed "Gucci Grace," due to her luxury spending habits, she is a former typist from the secretarial pool, and unfit for office.

Given that Zimbabwe has been wallowing in rampant corruption for decades of Mugabe rule, be alert for any Zimbabwe PEPs seeking to move large amounts of US Dollars (the country's unofficial currency), lest it be eventually seized by the next government. Grace has been seen previously at a number of international financial centers, so you may assume that her supporters, and party loyalists, are already there, moving dirty money. We note that the military in Zimbabwe has sought to control charter flights, but some of the PEPs surely got out in time.

Note that these corrupt players may have second and even third, passports (St Kitts & Dominica), so check the place of birth, to determine true nationality, please. Zimbabwe, with over 90% reported unemployment among adults, needs that stolen cash, and decline to transfer any suspicious funds, referring the matter to your bank counsel, unless you want the negative publicity which exposure of your bank's role will generate.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS REZA ZARRAB ?


 His trial is scheduled for November 27, but Reza Zarrab, the principal defendant in the pending Federal Iran "Oil-for-Gold" sanctions evasion trial in New York, is missing in action. He has been dropped from the Bureau of Prisons database, showing "released" to inquiries, though the US Attorney's Office has reportedly affirmed that he is still in custody. His attorneys have failed to file the usual pre-trial pleadings. Has he made a deal, and will eventually plead out ? Or will he be quietly sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran, to face the probable death penalty, for stealing billions, in some sort of diplomatic exchange ?

Right now, it is impossible to determine whether Zarrab is in WitSec, the witness protection program, so we must reserve judgment on the wisdom of his legal defense team, in suspending their pre-trial actions. Given the probable strength of the Government's case, pleading out would seem to the best avenue, to avoid a Draconian sentence after conviction, but we are puzzled at this point.

The most important issue is whether others will be indicted, based upon his cooperation, if it is now ongoing, and we imagine a number of potential defendants who are Iranians, Malaysians, and Dominicans share that thought as well.