Recent Money Laundering Case Involving Slovakia and Ecuador Puts Liberia on the Radar
MONROVIA – What is now being considered as one of the biggest money laundering cases in Liberia was unraveled after partners of the wire fraud made a huge transfer of half a million United States Dollars from Ecuador and Slovakia to Korlane’s GT Bank account in Liberia.
Ecuador in known in South America as a soft spot for money laundering owing to its weak institutions and anti-money laundering laws and its nonexistent anti‐terror financing laws as well as its porous borders with its drugs producing neighbors. This has turned Ecuador into a place where transnational criminal organizations from Latin America, Russia, China, India and Africa can conduct business, according to a report by the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC).
The report goes on to say that Ecuador is “increasingly attractive for Russian organized criminal groups, both for weapon sales to the FARC and to launder money” and that “Chinese triads, particularly those involved in smuggling human beings, have greatly increased their presence in Ecuador.” The Financial Action Task Force warned in 2007 that Ecuador had failed to comply with 48 of its 49 recommendations on money laundering and terrorist financing.
Like Ecuador Slovakia, too, is on the watchlist for illicit financial flow due to its weak institutions to detect and combat money laundering.
It was, therefore, no surprise to investigators here in Liberia that the sudden movement of US$500,000 into Korlane’s GT Bank account in Liberia were moved from these two countries.
According to the Financial Intelligence Unit in Liberia (FIU), its investigation into the saga in Liberia revealed that from October 2021 when Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company was established up to December 12, 2021, a little over $500,000.00 USD was transferred directly from Master and Visa Card holders’ members from Ecuador and Slovakia directly into the local account of Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company. These activities by Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability contravene the law and such unlawful activities cannot be countenance by the FIU.”
According to the FIU, Korlane Investments Liberia Limited Liability Company is a high-risk money laundering shell company which was set up for the sole purpose to laundering the proceeds of crimes generated through fraud, a predicated offense for Money Laundering. The FIU therefore admonished all financial, non-financial and other institutions in Liberia to disengage and or prohibit business relationships with said company that is involved into laundering proceeds of crime, contrary to the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2012.
The FIU’s designation of Korlane Investments Liberia Limited Liability Company comes after a preliminary investigation conducted by competent authorities found that Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company is a subsidiary company of Korlane Investments based in Cyprus that has not answered questions concerning its relationship with Korlane Liberia and source of funds.
Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company has no known office space in Liberia neither does it have staffers. Korlane Investments Liberia Limited Liability Company acquired funds through cards (Visa, Master and Swift) fraud from owners in Ecuador and Slovakia; concealed and laundered the said funds into its local account domiciled at commercial bank in Liberia. Fraud alerts and queries were raised by both Visa and MasterCards after these questionable transactions were made on their users’ cards.
There is no revenue from the business activities that Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company proposed to undertake as per its Article of Incorporation filed with the Liberia Business Registry (LBR). Also, there is no tax record at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) from Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company on such accumulative huge inflows which occurred during just three months after its establishment. One Patrick Herman Wahi, an Ivorian made claims to the said funds of Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company but has since disappeared upon invitation by Competent Authorities.
The company and those involved in the scheme have been indicted for theft of property, wire fraud and criminal conspiracy.
Those indicted include Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability Company through its president and corporate agents, Evgeny Nikisuik, Diega Patrick Wahi Hermann and others to be identified.
According to the indictment, Co-Defendant Korlane Investment Limited Liability Companyperpetrated fraud by instituting scant and dubious deals by using Visa and Master cards, and processing miscoded gambling and or illegal gambling transactions in which accumulated hundreds of thousands of United States Dollars transferred to Guarantee Trust Bank (Liberia) Limited through dubious transactions.
Liberia is categorised by the US State Department as a Country/Jurisdiction of Primary Concern in respect of Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.