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
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
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
The soft underbelly of rural America provides perfect hiding places for even the most unusual schemers
If you want to find bison roaming freely on the prairie or long, dusty roads where the vistas stretch for empty miles, Oklahoma is where you want to be. Until recently, this sparsely populated landscape is also where you could have found a lucrative horse ranch that two leaders of Los Zetas, a ruthless Mexican drug cartel, used to launder more than $22 million.
Money laundering in America isn’t just happening in the more obvious places such as Atlantic City’s gambling district or Manhattan’s high-priced real estate market. Thieves are getting craftier…and thinking outside of the box when it comes to choosing a home base for illegal operations.
One wonders why federal authorities didn’t figure out in quicker fashion that the Oklahoma horse ranch was shady, since a number of the racing horses had vanity names such as “Number One Cartel” and “Morning Cartel.” But eventually, justice was served. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: Where Money Laundering Hides in America — Medium
If you believe some of today’s headlines, the answer is yes
According to a report issued by Transparency International, Canada is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. And, thanks to its FINTRAC unit, it has long been rumored to be one of the toughest enforcers of money laundering regulations at the government level unit. However, reports are now emerging in its media outlets about new money laundering opportunities and threats in Canada — proof that no country is truly immune to the evils of financial fraud. My take? Since these are just threats and not real cases, I think they may be indicators of Canada’s strength, rather than weakness.
I fear too many North American readers of news stories today only catch the headlines and fail to digest the actual content. They see a headline that says liquor stores, casinos or real estate companies in Canada could fall victim to money laundering schemes, and walk away from the article thinking that the country has somehow lost its tough grip on its regulations. In actuality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Unlike most government operations, FINTRAC is very proactive. Here are some examples. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: Is a money laundering avalanche about to smack Canada? — Medium
Is Goldman Sachs in trouble in the tropics? One of its top executives, Tim Leissner, the Singapore-based chairman of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operations, remains under investigation by the FBI for his connections to embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Razak has come under fire from the Malaysian government regarding $681 million in funds that were mysteriously transferred to his personal bank account by the Saudi Arabian government.
In addition, Leissner is being investigated for his role in striking deals worth $6.5 billion for his employer with the Malaysian financial fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), owned by Razak, for which Goldman Sachs earned an almost $600 million commission, amounting to 9.1 percent of the money raised. The average commission for an investment bank is about five percent, or less.
Leissner, 45, who was married to model and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons in 2013 (Simmons is the former wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons), reportedly was considered one of the financial firm’s ‘Golden Boys’. . . Click here to read the rest of this story on Medium.com.
Data proves some existing FATF member countries have much deeper AML issues than Israel
The worldwide Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering recently announced that Israel will join the organization as an observer starting in June 2016. Considering Israel’s tough stand on terrorists, adding it as an observer is a big step forward for the prestigious FATF, which sets global rules and standards for combating money laundering and terror financing. To date, only 34 countries make up its membership; countries that don’t meet FATF’s standards land on the task force’s blacklist.
In order for Israel to become a full member of FATF, it will have to pass comprehensive international inspection, showing that it has improved identification requirements at its financial institutions and expanded its AML regulations. The rewards for doing this work and joining the organization are that Israel will be able to participate in shaping global policy dealing with financial fraud and position itself as one of the leading countries in the worldwide fight against money laundering and terror financing.
Knowing the other 34 countries already accepted as full FATF members, I’m surprised it took this long to start the membership process for Israel. . . Click here to read the rest of this story on Medium.com.
When discussing money laundering, I rarely dig into the details of the victims. Instead, I’ve focused on the actions and possible motives of the criminals, the size of their crimes and the resulting penalties. This may have given the impression that money laundering is a largely victimless crime, but nothing could be further from the truth. Typically, the victims of money laundering are reimbursed for the financial crimes perpetrated against them, but often face little recourse in terms of getting compensated for physical pain and/or mental anguish in civil court — unless that case is focused on some aspect of terrorism.
Americans can legally sue foreign governments and the banks that support them for compensation related to terrorist attacks. By linking money laundering with terrorism, there may be some justice for these victims in the court system. Here are just two instances:
A Father’s Love Uncovers Iranian Mess
In 1995. Stephen Flatow’s 20-year old daughter Alisa was killed in a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber on the Gaza Strip. What followed is simply incredible. . . Click here to read the rest of the story on Medium.com.
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.
Thanks to technology, KYC is evolving to Know Your Country
To the average American, the acronym KYC probably sounds like a misspelling of the infamous KFC, but those of us in the financial services industry immediately recognize the acronym as referring to Know Your Customer, one of the cornerstones of today’s efforts to reduce risk and fraud in banking. The definition of KYC is about to change, however, as the acronym evolves to the risk management tool, “Know Your Country.”
It used to be understood that a successful banker would need to know his or her customers. One hundred years ago, chances are good that the home town banker would be intimately acquainted with his or her neighbors investing money, or seeking loans. Fast forward to today, and life is just not that simple anymore, particularly with national and global banks having hundreds of branch offices in multiple countries.
After 9/11, the U.S. Patriot Act in 2001 formalized the requirement for financial institutions to “know” their customers. . . Click here to read the rest of the article.