Locally registered companies involved in FBI money laundering case
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October 31, 2017

Locally registered companies involved in FBI money laundering case

Two locally registered companies, alleged to be involved in the movement of US$1.4 million from St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to the United States (US), have been named in an indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The investigation involves President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s former business partner Rick Gates, with Global Endeavour Inc and Jeunet Ltd being the local companies involved.

Both men have been indicted as part of a probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential elections in the US. They face a 12-count indictment, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements.

It is alleged that Manafort and Gates funnelled millions of dollars in payments into foreign nominee companies (like Global Endeavour Inc and Jeunet Ltd) and bank accounts opened by them and their accomplices in nominee names in the United States and various foreign countries, including Cyprus, Seychelles, the United Kingdom and SVG.

The indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates hid the existence of the foreign companies and bank accounts, “falsely and repeatedly reporting to their tax preparers and to the United States that they had no foreign bank accounts.”

Documents show that Jeunet Ltd was created in 2011, but the indictment does not show any movement of money from this entity.

On the other hand, Global Endeavour Inc, founded in 2004, and described as “a relatively mature organization in the open-ended investment management companies’ industry” in Kingstown, St Vincent, moved US$1,408,195 between 2013 and 2014.

According to the indictment, transfers were made on August 29, 2013 (US$200,000), September 3, 2013 (US$81,500), September 3, 2013 (US$500,000), October 9, 2013 (US$10,000), October 15, 2013 (US$53,000), November 5, 2013 (US$73,000), November 13, 2013 (US$75,000), November 26, 2013 (US$80,000), November 26, 2013 (US$9400), November 26, 2013 (US$13,200), December 6, 2013 (US$130,000), December 12, 2013 (US$90,000), August 18, 2014 (US$34,660) and September 11, 2014 (US$58,435).

No local office could be found for Global Endeavour Inc, but the company’s local address is listed as “In care of” Loyal Agency and Trust Corp, Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with the phone number 485-6705.

Loyal Agency and Trust Corp was incorporated on March 16, 2010, under the Companies Act and up to September 2017, had as directors Linda R Bullock, Adrian P Baron and Zoltan Marton. Both Baron and Marton are from Hungary while Bullock is a Vincentian.

Bullock is also the company’s secretary, while the registered address of the company is Cedar Hill Crest, Villa VCO100, St Vincent W.I.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted Bullock on Monday, her secretary said that she was busy and could not accept the call. An inquiry as to when to call back was met with, “She is busy”.

The indictment does not reveal that any crime was committed in SVG, or any action that is a crime under SVG law.

On Monday, Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to money laundering and other charges when they appeared in federal district court in Washington, after turning themselves into authorities earlier.

The indictment alleges that the defendants served for years as political consultants and lobbyists. Between at least 2006 and 2015, they acted as unregistered agents of the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions (a Ukrainian political party whose leader Victor Yanukovych was president from 2010 to 2014), Yanukovych, and the Opposition Bloc (a successor to the Party of Regions that formed in 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia).

In February 2014, Ukraine’s Parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office, after it was argued that Yanukovych abused his powers and was unable to fulfil his duties.

The indictment also alleges that Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work and in order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.

The indictment also alleges that in furtherance of the scheme, both men concealed from the United States their work as agents of, and millions of dollars in payments from, Ukraine and its political parties and leaders. Because Manafort and Gates, among other things, directed a campaign to lobby United States officials on behalf of the Government of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine, and Ukrainian political parties, they were required by law to report to the United States their work and fees.

According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates did not do so. Instead, when the Department of Justice sent inquiries to them in 2016 about their activities, the men “responded with a series of false and misleading statements,” the indictment said.

On Monday, executive director (ED) of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) Sharda Bollers said in a statement that “Since 2013-2014 and more recently in 2017, the relevant authorities and institutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been cooperating with the US authorities in the investigation of the matter at hand and will continue to lend their assistance. The authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines have thus acted properly in every respect in relation to this matter.”