James Michaels March 7, 2019
Experienced investigators of transnational money laundering have known for years that russian money laundering networks favour an established criminal architecture that uses companies registered in UK Companies House which in turn have as corporate directors offshore companies registered in the Seychelles or Cyprus or Panama. Seychelles offshore companies are completely anonymous and not even the government knows who owns them – the offshore laws in Seychelles are designed to facilitate financial crime and money laundering and Seychelles offers itself as a haven for criminals and their dirty money. If the Seychelles government wish to find out who owns an offshore company or trust they have to risk tip-off by asking the company agent, who in Seychelles is more likely to warn the client than assist the authorities. This was the case in the Magnitsky investigation, the theft of almost a billion USD from Moldovan Banks, the Russian Laundromat, the Ukrainian corruption scandal and many other related investigations. (Mossack Fonseca’s office in Seychelles registered companies for Panama head office without any knowledge of who was behind it.) The UK front -companies are then used to conduct the dirty transactions and to hold laundered deposits in the UK. The banks are more likely to trust a UK company opening and transacting an account than a Seychelles company – thats why russian criminals favour this architecture. The same architecture has been repeatedly used to conduct breaches of international sanctions against the regimes of North Korea and Iran. Rogue jurisdictions like Seychelles should be cut off from being corporate directors in the US, UK and the EU or from being used to open bank accounts outside Seychelles.