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“The Russian oligarch, including the owner of the basketball team Brooklyn Nets, stashed the money in a bank that the US Treasury accused of facilitating money laundering, arms proliferation, evasion of sanctions and the financing of a terrorist group,” Michael The Daily Beast correspondent Weiss, referring to the report, which was at the disposal of the editorial office.
“Mikhail Prokhorov, whose fortune is estimated at about $ 9 billion, ran for Russia’s presidency in 2012 as Putin’s opponent in the course of a directed company sanctioned by the Kremlin,” the article reads. As the sole owner of the Barclays Center, the home arena of Brooklyn Nets, the Russian billionaire dined with people like the Brooklyn native rapper Jay Z (who was partial owners of the basketball team) and former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, the author said. Prokhorov is a frequent guest at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York and a notable figure of New York’s secular life.
“However, the” confidential “report of 2014, written by Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC), found that a wealthy Russian is a so-called” politically vulnerable person “, as financial officials call government officials, candidates and their relatives who are presumably most at risk bribery or money laundering – had 23 accounts with FBME Bank Ltd., formerly known as the “Federal Bank of the Middle East”, the journalist said.
“According to the CBC report, all 23 Prokhorov accounts were established by” shells “, and the FBME did not comply with the Cyprus law against money laundering when making deposits,” the author said. The bank was closed in May of this year after the statement of the US Treasury that it contributed to international financial crimes, including money laundering for regimes under sanctions and non-state players. “Prokhorov is not accused of any crimes,” the author of the article explains, “and it is a common practice for rich public figures to use offshore jurisdictions and anonymous companies to hide assets and avoid tax liabilities in their country.”
The representative of Prokhorov and the Onexim group, “a company with whom he is closely connected,” said to the publication: “Numerous companies in the Onexim Group interact with many banks around the world in the course of their normal business. Mikhail Prokhorov never asked any banks to hide his assets in connection with his presidential campaign in 2012 or for any other purposes. ”
According to the CBC, Prokhorov was by no means the only powerful Russian who used the services of FBME. More than half of the bank’s customers were Russian citizens. Thus, according to the report, “Vladimir Smirnov, an old friend and business partner of Putin, whose companies were previously subject to close study in Europe for money laundering, was among the Russian depositors, and Alexander Shishkin, a member of the Putin party” United Russia “and a former member of the Council Committee Federation on Defense and Security “.
Originally based in Cyprus, FBME transferred its central office to Tanzania, but in May this year the central bank of that country revoked the license from him after years of US accusations of alleged illegal behavior of the bank, the article said.
As the author tells, some of the bank’s clients attracted media attention. So, CNN reported in June that, as the merged documents show, “FBME received stolen money from Russian taxpayers associated with the so-called” Magnitsky case “. Also among the bank’s clients, according to a notification from the Financial Intelligence Service of the US Finance Ministry (FinCen), was an unnamed person who “received a deposit of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Lebanese Hezbollah financier.”
Now the process of bank liquidation, sanctioned by the government, is being conducted, and all deposits of its clients are frozen, it is said further. The CBC report does not say how much money Prokhorov, Smirnov and Shishkin stored in FBME and what amounts are frozen.
“The CBC report says that the FBME knew that 23 accounts belonged to representatives acting on behalf of Prokhorov, but it is alleged that the bank” hid “their true owner” in view of the fact that Prokhorov was [Russian] presidential candidate, “the correspondent reports. . The report adds that in 2013, after the Russian elections that returned Putin to the presidency, the bank began to update its data and documents.
“The controlled companies of Prokhorov, with registration for the most part in the British Virgin Islands, are listed along with the opening dates of accounts and their respective representatives – the same four people whose names alternate,” the newspaper writes. – Most of the companies listed as investors have such non-talking names as Margow Holding Corp., Fitts Investment Ltd. and Fonsen Investment Inc �. The publication failed to establish what exactly belongs to these companies, how much money they put or withdrawn from FBME.
“This is the investment of Queen Elizabeth in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and the fact that Bono is a partial owner of a shopping center in Lithuania, cause little controversy in the tabloid press in the West, and politically vulnerable people from countries with hostile governments can pose an immediate threat to the United States,” writes Weiss.
“We see a scheme for using Russian dirty money with bad goals,” Daniel Fried, the former US coordinator of the sanctions policy under the Obama administration, told the publication.
Because of the “Act to Counter Opponents of America through Sanctions,” which President Trump reluctantly signed in August, giving him the force of law, the list of Russian investors in the FBME will almost certainly attract the attention of Congress, the author believes. The above-mentioned law says that “the Minister of Finance, having consulted with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, is obliged to report to Congress within 180 days of the adoption of the law on” high-ranking foreign political figures and oligarchs “from Russia, and among them” the most significant (. are determined in accordance with their proximity to the Russian regime and the size of net capital. ”
According to Frid, it seems that Prokhorov, Smirnov and Shishkin meet the requirements for inclusion in such a report, given their biographies and especially the role of the US Treasury in closing the FBME.
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