Are Pro Golfers Committing Financial Fraud? — Medium

Friendly, but big stakes betting amongst a few PGA Tour players raises questions about the potential for financial shenanigans

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson (aka ‘Lefty’), who has won 42 tournaments and five majors on the PGA Tour, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. Mickelson has earned more than $77 million over three decades and also has “lucrative endorsement deals with Callaway, Barclays, KPMG, Exxon Mobil, Rolex and Amgen that collectively pay him more than $40 million annually,” according to Forbes.

Mickelson also seemingly has a gambling problem. It has put him in the crosshairs of a number of federal investigations related to financial fraud, be it money laundering, insider trading, or trying to send illicit funds off-shore.

As the US Open begins play today at Oakmont Country Club, Mickelson will likely be considered one of the favorites. He hopes to win the one major championship that has so far escaped him in his career, and where he has finished runner-up a frustrating six times. I suspect that when the tournament concludes on Father’s Day, Mickelson will be nowhere near the lead. In fact, I think his game and interest have faded over the past few years to the point where he is more interested in the easy gains offered by gambling on Sportsbooks than in facing the pressures, frustrations and potential embarrassments often exposed during final rounds at major championships (see Jordan Spieth at this year’s Masters Championship). And I further suspect that he’d rather make easy money by needling younger opponents foolish enough to join his infamous money games during the Tour’s Tuesday practice rounds.

Click here to read the rest of this story: Are Pro Golfers Committing Financial Fraud? — Medium

The Panama Papers and the UK’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ — Medium

From Simon Cowell to David Cameron’s father, the Panama Papers offer up a rogue’s gallery of wealthy UK citizens

Which country/region has seen its highest profile citizens, celebrities and politicians most exposed by the Panama Papers? For Western nations it is the UK, by a landslide. From Prime Minister David Cameron’s father to American Idol creator and producer Simon Cowell to Margaret Thatcher’s son, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, which released the Panama Papers) and the press in the UK have produced a rogue’s gallery of wealthy actors. Keep in mind, none of the UK’s ‘dirty dozen’ has admitted to any wrongdoing.

In the event you don’t have time to review the Panama Papers’ data, the infographic posted above that lays out the case for each member of the ‘dirty dozen’. . . To view a full size render of this graphic, please click here: The Panama Papers and the UK’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ — Medium

Do financial crimes pay off? — Medium

How much do you really know about your neighbor?

In the course of analyzing the ins and outs of financial crimes for the world’s banks, I’ve studied enough cases of money laundering to enable me to do it should I ever decide to become a criminal. In fact, what I’ve learned is that it pays to be a criminal. Rarely does the restitution in finance-related legal decisions match the amount of money originally stolen. And depending on the type of person you were before your crime spree, your punishment could be just a short vacation in a crime camp as opposed to an extended stay in prison. Regardless, the rest of your stolen loot is waiting for you upon your exit so you can go legit and eventually become a pillar of your community.

Case in point: the most famous financial criminal of all time, Frank Abagnale. He is now a recognized expert in the fight against financial fraud, has worked for the FBI and became a bestselling author by telling his story in a book called, Catch Me if You Can. You probably know Abagnale better as Leo DiCaprio’s main character in the Steven Spielberg-directed film adaptation of his book, which presented Abagnale’s style of financial fraud as a glamorous, cash-filled party. As with his crimes, he issued a laissez faire statement in response to questions raised by the press regarding the validity of the ‘stories’ in the book. . .

Click here to read the rest of this story: Do financial crimes pay off? — Medium

5 things drug cartels love about Hong Kong — Medium

The Big Buddha, the nightlife and other reasons drug kings love to stash cash in The Pearl of the Orient

Latin American drug cartels have apparently infiltrated Hong Kong with cocaine and methamphetamine, and as a result, new reports of money laundering are starting to leak out of the Asian peninsula. According to media covering this emerging story, three Columbian individuals based in Guangzhou, China have been accused of laundering more than five billion dollars for drug cartels based in Mexico and Colombia. They operate in Hong Kong, using bank accounts based there and in mainland China.

Investigations by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) show that the infamous Mexican Sinaloa cartel, run by the equally infamous El Chapo, has established a criminal and legitimate corporate presence in Hong Kong. In addition to trafficking cocaine and meth to the city, the SCMP says the “group also ran front companies and bank accounts which it used to launder drug funds, according to official Mexican documents and interviews with law enforcement sources.”

A violent Sinaloa spin-off, the Jalisco New Generation cartel, is quickly making inroads in Hong Kong too. . .  Click here to read the rest of this story: 5 things drug cartels love about Hong Kong — Medium

A chink in the prince’s armor? — Medium

Has Erik Prince fallen from a trusted provider to the U.S. government to a known bad actor?

Erik Prince’s real life reads like fiction. Son of a wealthy industrialist, he’s been a White House intern, attended the prestigious Naval Academy, is a former Navy Seal, founder and former chairman of the defunct Blackwater USA, current chairman of Frontier Services Group…and now, an accused money launderer? According to a piece published in The Intercept, Prince is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies for attempting to broker military services to foreign governments and possible money laundering.

How did an intelligent, wealthy, well-educated and well-connected Prince fall so far out of favor? After forming Blackwater’s notorious mercenary services organization in 1997, Prince either served as the American society’s hero or villain, depending upon which side of the political aisle one was standing on. The Republican Party embraced Blackwater, while the Democrats saw legal and moral issues; regardless, in 2010 the Obama administration still funded Blackwater to the tune of $220 million for State Department and CIA support. All told, the company received over two billion dollars in government security contracts between 1997–2010.

Prince resigned as Blackwater’s chairman in 2009 after he was exposed in the press as an alleged CIA asset by former CIA director Leon Panetta. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: A chink in the prince’s armor? — Medium

A rookie’s guide to money laundering – Medium

Turns out, it’s not that difficult

I frequently talk about money laundering and how financial services industries are required to guard against it, but I’m consistently asked by friends and colleagues, “just how easy is it to take questionable cash and turn it into legitimate funds?” Turns out, it’s not that difficult.

Despite the damage that the illegal flow of money inflicts on the global economy, it’s been occurring for thousands of years and people do it every day. It’s international in scope, with China holding the dubious honor of being at the head of the pack. Conservative estimates have China losing more than $1 trillion between 2002–2011, despite laws prohibiting foreign exchange. Other countries with significant problems include Russia, Mexico, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia and Brazil.

So how is it done? There are several ways a U.S. citizen with a little illegal money can launder it. . . Click here to read the rest of this story on Medium.com.

Actress Accused of Laundering El Chapo’s Cash – Medium

Did Kate del Castillo Go Gangster to Launch Tequila Brand?

Kicking off the New Year actor Sean Penn, best known for his roles in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Milk and Dead Man Walking, published a story in Rolling Stone that featured an interview he conducted with the infamous Mexican drug lord, El Chapo, entitled El Chapo Speaks. The story quickly went viral, mostly because of the fact that El Chapo was on the run from authorities at the time and considered ‘the most wanted man in the world’, but also because he has become almost a mythical figure in a society obsessed by fame, and was interviewed by someone almost as famous.

As a result, Sean Penn story nearly broke the Internet. With words.

Immediately questions were raised about how Penn could arrange a meeting that the authorities could not, even though it was revealed in the story that Mexican actress Kate del Castillo orchestrated it. Who is del Castillo? There are rumors that she is El Chapo’s mistress. . . Click here to read the rest of the article on Medium.com.

Money laundering uptick in 2016? Magic 8 Ball says, ‘signs point to yes.’ – Medium

When I was a kid, the Magic 8 Ball was a quirky toy used to tell fortunes or predict the future. The answers to yes-no questions were often vague enough to be accurate, such as “Ask Again Later” and “Don’t Count on It.” As we kick-off 2016, it might be fun to ask the Magic 8 Ball what we can expect to see as far as financial institutions and risk strategies go for coping with money laundering in the coming months.

Most Likely. We all know that we can expect to see an uptick in attempts to launder money, despite the tightened scrutiny by banks. In fact, as 2015 drew to a close, a man in Minnesota was being charged with conspiring to launder more than $2 million in a penny stock fraud scheme. It’s probably just human nature: where there are laws, there will always be people who try to figure out how to avoid them for personal gain.

Signs Point to Yes. . . Click here to read the rest of this prediction article. 

Silk Road, Bitcoin and the Secret Servicemen – Medium

Two Secret Service agents, both of whom were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force charged with breaking Silk Road’s ring of illegal online activity (primarily drug sales), have pled guilty to money laundering and other charges. Shaun Bridges was sentenced on December 7 to 71 months behind bars, and ordered to forfeit $651,000 of the $820,000 he reportedly stole and laundered. Bridges’ colleague, Carl Force, was convicted of a similar crime last October, sentenced to six and a half years in prison and ordered to pay $340,000 in compensation.

Two members of a task force ordered to bring down an online black market, become criminals themselves; how does this happen? To read the rest of this story, please click here.

Bank Fraud: More Common Than You Think – Medium

When you think of financial fraud, you might envision money laundering activities conducted by members of organized crime syndicates. Or you might think of how a stolen identity helped thieves take your money or leverage your credit cards. In truth, the laws intended to help financial institutions thwart financial fraud are broad enough to cover these acts and much more involving everyday criminals — some who are not so smart, and some who are so sophisticated that it takes time to bring them down.

Last month, a used car dealer in Florida pled guilty to bank fraud for a check kiting scheme that defrauded an unnamed financial institution of over $1 million. The crime happened in 2011, and I’m willing to bet that the bank’s Know Your Customer (KYC) policies and its internal processes for approving check drafts against uncollected funds have since been tightened.

Also this past month, a woman who embezzled money in 2014 from her employer was convicted. . . to read the rest of the article, please click here.