Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TRIAL IN ZARRAB IRAN OIL-FOR-GOLD SANCTIONS CASE DELAYED FOR ONE WEEK UNDER MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES


What's going on in the Reza Zarrab oil-for-gold Iran sanctions case ? Trial was scheduled to begin next Monday, November 27, but the Court has postponed the start for one week. Moreover, a recent two-hour pretrial conference was reportedly not only closed to the public, with the doors locked, but the live video feed was turned off. Plea negotiation, perhaps ?

One observer noted that orders in this matter, originating from the bench, now show the style of the case as US vs. Mehmet Atilla, rather than US vs. Rezas Zarrab et al. What has become of Zarrab ?

A final note, which deepens the mystery: An additional defense attorney has now appeared, literally at the last minute, on behalf of Atilla, who is not apparently the only defendant, in custody, that is going to trail. This lawyer has extensive experience, including time as a state and Federal prosecutor. Was he brought in to craft a plea agreement ? We cannot say, but wait for next Monday, it may reveal itself as both defendants enter pleas.

PARADISE PAPERS DISCLOSURES REQUIRE INCREASE IN COUNTRY RISK FOR MALTA, FOR ITS NORTH KOREAN CONNECTIONS



The new ICIJ project, commonly known as the Paradise Papers, has revealed that North Korean nationals, closely linked to the universally sanctioned DPRK regime, have formed offshore entities, operating in Malta. One of those entities is reportedly a joint venture with a Maltese businessman. Is nobody in compliance, banking, government regulators or private business, watching who is allowed to do business in Malta ? Apparently not; greed trumps effective compliance in Malta.

If Malta is covertly allowing North Korea, the most heavily sanctioned country on earth, to do business through its financial and legal system, then we wonder what else is going on in the only EU member to openly hawk its economic passport program. It is appropriate to raise Country Risk for Malta at this time, and to exercise extreme caution in all future dealings with Malta-based, or incorporated, entities or individuals.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

ARTICLES FAIL TO NAME THE REAL POWER AT THE TRUMP OCEAN CLUB

Gary James Lundgren
 
He is a businessman known to lie, cheat and even steal, and a known sexual predator*, but the true power broker at the Trump Ocean Club (TOC) in Panama is not the Trump whom you think he is. He is the American expat, Gary James Lundgren, whom neither NBC nor Reuters, nor Global Witness identified in their recent expose' about rampant criminal activity at the TOC, and the quintessential Ugly American.

Lundgren, who left a sexual assault charge in the State of Washington years ago, and relocated to Panama City, where he resides, and where he is apparently safe from the grasp of  US law enforcement agencies, engages in fleecing unsuspecting foreign investors, and laundering Cartel narco-profits. The American securities broker regulator, FINRA, stripped him, for life, of all his US licenses to sell stock, when he refused to open his books of account to it. He has been identified several times, by victims of sexual assaults he allegedly committed in Panama, and is known there as the "Bill Cosby of Panama, " due in part to his manipulation of the criminal justice system, when charged with sex crimes.



Lundgren owns, through a number of shell companies, at least fifteen condominium units in the TOC complex, and fifteen per cent (15%) of the outstanding bonds owned by the TOC developers. His wife, a Colombian national whose family is linked to the Medellin Cartel, convinced the Association to transfer the maintenance contract to her control. The Trump companies filed a $75m damage claim against her company, before a tribunal of the international Chamber of Commerce.

As we have previously reported, Lundgren is known to operate an enterprise that provides prostitutes to guests at the TOC Hotel; some Panamanians have derisively referred to him as "The Pimp at the Trump." No story about the Trump Ocean Club is complete without understanding that Gary Lundgren is a central player who assisted members of organized crime syndicates, from several countries, including Russia, in money laundering, through purchases at the Trump Ocean Club. 
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* Steele vs. Lundgren, 982 P.2d 617 (Wash. Ct. App. 1999)

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.