Articles Posted in Financial Fraud

IMG_0264-1-300x200Dr. Patrick Ifediba, 60, and his sister, Ngozi Ozuligbo, were convicted for health care fraud, unlawful drug distribution, and money laundering revolving around a massive scheme that garnered nearly $8 million in fraudulent funds.

According to the Department of Justice, Ifediba was operating as a doctor of internal medicine and the owner of Care Complete Medical Clinic (CCMC). Evidence presented at trial showed that Ifediba used the facility as a “pill mill”, regularly prescribing a range of highly addictive opioids with the goal of creating repeat office visits for their renewal. The trial found that Ifediba not only overprescribed the drugs intentionally but also offered dangerous combinations of the drugs. One of these combinations was referred to as “the holy trinity” and was known for creating a high similar to that of heroin. The high risk of overdose using this cocktail was well-known, yet continued to be prescribed by Ifediba routinely.

In total, 85% of Ifediba’s patients were written prescriptions for opioids, despite the fact that Ifediba was not a pain specialist and CCMC was not operating as a pain management facility.

IMG_0081-300x193In his book, Moneyland, Oliver Bullough details how wealthy individuals and large companies take advantage of a long list of loopholes to hide profits and leverage their control over the world. With a combination of geography and demography, Bullough takes readers on a journey of the corrupt practices followed by some of the most influential entities in the world.

Tax havens and lenient laws are part of what makes such an extreme level of corruption possible, and seemingly legal. Known tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Switzerland have been used by corporations and individuals around the world to hide profits and reduce tax fees for decades. With little to no taxes owed on profits in these locations, tax havens are extremely inviting to the greedy. But how does it work?

The idea is quite simple. For example, a company in the United States merely has to open a subsidiary located in a tax haven to reroute profits and enjoy the more lenient practices of that area. This practice is only made safer for the individuals involved due to the fact that most tax havens have little to no legislation preventing or criminalizing such acts.

IMG_0065-300x164According to a report by the Guardian, British American Tobacco is being accused of attempting to evade over $700 million in taxes combined from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Guyana, Brazil, Trinidad, and Tobago using a UK-based subsidiary to maneuver their profits.

British American Tobacco (BAT), based in London, is the largest tobacco company in the world. The Tax Justice Network reported that in 2016 alone BAT moved over $940 million in profit generated from overseas companies to BAT Holdings, the company’s UK subsidiary. Why? With BAT’s subsidiary based out of the UK, the company can enjoy a 19% tax fee which is significantly lower than in other countries. While this does not eliminate their taxes, it significantly reduces them.

Due to lenient tax laws, it appears that no illegal activity has occurred. However, in the report by the Tax Justice Network, it was quickly noted that BAT has been utilizing complex profit maneuvering to pull off its reduced tax fees. In total, the company appears to have over 100 offshore subsidiaries located in 19 known tax havens. The company’s finances also reveal a multitude of vague “operating charges”, interest fees, and royalties. In over 60-pages, the report by Tax Justice Network also noted additional mysterious transactions including IT charges, advisory fees, and technical fees.

IMG_0094-300x225PrivatBank, a Ukrainian based institution, is suing one of its original founders in U.S. court in an effort to gain control of the bank and prevent future fraud. The lawsuit was filed on May 21st in the state of Delaware against Ihor Kolomoyskiy and Hennadiy Boholyubov. However, executives of PrivatBank worry that Kolomoyskiy’s wealth and political connections may decrease their chances of a positive outcome in the lawsuit.

Kolomoyskiy founded PrivatBank in 1992, but has been living in exile for over two years. With connections to the newly appointed president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Kolomoyskiy has returned from exile and now seeks to regain control of PrivatBank. However, according to the lawsuit, Kolomoyskiy is responsible for numerous fraudulent acts using the bank’s funds.

Along with Boholyubov, Kolomoyskiy is accused of using PrivatBank to lend money to the various companies and entities that they controlled. These funds were then laundered through Delaware, which is known for its corporate-friendly laws, and used to acquire numerous properties in the United States.

C4D2A548-214B-41B2-8A08-026ECC3BD4F5-300x200Canada’s weak money-laundering laws, especially when it comes to real estate monitoring,  has left areas like British Columbia vulnerable as an attractive place to store ill-gotten cash. The main way this works is through buying real estate with little to no information to verify the identity of those involved in the purchasing. In 2018 alone, $5 billion was laundered through real estate in British Columbia.

Many proprietors of ill-gotten funds will often attempt to hide them by first mixing them with legitimate proceeds. This can include something like a business they operate. They then will transfer these funds into a bank, which are limited in how much information they can gather about the client’s day-to-day transactions. Finally, these funds are funneled into shell companies, or companies known to only be made for financial juggling, and then in some cases use those companies to buy up real estate in tax havens that will allow for tax breaks as well as the anonymity they require.

For these launderers, houses, condominium floors, and mansions can all act as a sort of bank account. While it may not be physically active money, they are assists in the form of bricks-and-mortars that keep their finances safe and sound. This system usually leaves a good portion of vacant properties, which naturally causes real estate prices to rise.

AdobeStock_20560702-300x201The Department of Financial Services of New York has launched an investigation into popular tax preparation services including TurboTax, which was developed by Intuit, and H&R Block. According to their investigation, these services may have purposefully hidden free tax programs from qualifying customers using deceptive coding techniques and Google Ad strategies.

A total of four tax preparation software companies received subpoenas for similar alleged offenses at the beginning of this month. Mainly, investigators demanded information regarding the programs that were marketed as ‘free’ for users who earn under $66,000 in yearly income.

News of the scheme came to light as users reported being unable to locate the free services being offered. When users signed on to utilize the tax preparation services they were often automatically directed to more costly programs. According to the investigation, many consumers requested refunds after being directed to the more expensive versions of the service but were lied to about their eligibility in an effort to disqualify them from their desired refund.

solar-fish-300x225Solar Fish was reported by FTI Consulting to have received a payment of $355 million from six different parties. While on the surface it comes off as a simple financial transaction, this payment is suspected to be for the sale of a number of Russian fishing firms that the company controlled in secrecy.

Solar Fish is a company that has previously been at the center of trade finance fraud that went above $5 billion. Now caught up in this new scandal, there is a risk of deep reprehension.

The $354.5 million the company received from the six parties was exchanged between Jan. 28, 2013 and Feb. 5, 2013, with a strong chance this was from the sales of a pollock and herring catching firm, now known as Russian Fishery Company (RFC).

money launderingDeutsche Bank is facing legal action for its involvement in a $20 billion Russian money-laundering scheme, known as the Global Laundromat. Upon the announcement of these allegations, Deutsche Bank expressed its deep concern of “significant disciplinary action” in a confidential report by The Guardian.

According to the report, Deutsche Bank was found to be involved in an extensive scheme which was linked to criminals formerly involved with the Kremlin, as well as the KGB and FSB. The money-laundering scheme took place between 2010 and 2014 when an estimated $80 million was moved into western-based accounts. In order for Russian funds to make their way into the US and Europe, shell companies were used to create and send falsified loans back and forth to each other. Eventually, the shell companies would purposely default on the loan, allowing judges involved in the scandal to authenticate the debt. The billions of dollars in illegal funds were then routed to the desired accounts using the Deutsche Bank network.

However, according to the report, Deutsche Bank was unaware of its part in the global money laundering scheme until 2017 when The Guardian published their initial report. Today, Deutsche Bank not only faces the embarrassment of its unknown involvement but also risks diminishing its overall market value as investors continue to drop their shares given the reports of the scandal.

whistleblower-stories-300x175Former whistleblower, Everett Stern, states that the crackdown on financial fraud still has a way to go before it can truly be considered a successful pursuit.

A whistleblower is considered anyone who has insider information about a fraudulent act and decides to come forward to law enforcement about such activities. Anyone can be a whistleblower, and if they decide to pursue the matter legally, they will be acting in the name of the government. The government can then choose to step in and settle the matter if they find it to be a worthy endeavor that can benefit from their direct support.

Stern was a whistleblower involved in the case of HSBC, a British bank that was accused of money laundering activities. Stern assisted in this case by providing essential insider information about the bank’s financial details to law enforcement authorities. This case eventually ended in a $1.9 billion fine in repercussions from HSBC.

tax havenA whistleblower by the name of Rudolf Elmer claimed that during his work as a private banker and internal auditor for the Swiss financial institution, Julius Baer Bank & Trust Company Ltd., he discovered actions that he found to be deceitful when relocated to the Cayman Islands. When Elmer acted as a whistleblower in this situation, instead of being supported in his efforts, he was fired, removed from the financial world, given time in prison, and even suffered a mental breakdown.

Whistleblower is a legal term that signifies anyone who chooses to report a person or organization for illicit activity. A large portion of whistleblowers are insiders and have directly interacted with the company in question as an employee.

Whistleblowers have the right to take legal action in the government’s name while the government may choose to step in at any point of the process to handle the allegations they find particularly detrimental or unlawful. The United States has a set of laws in place that are designed to protect whistleblowers known as the Whistleblower Protection Act, which has been around for over 30 years with the last major update being in 2012.