Tag corruption

Schaden durch Cyberkriminalität ist lächerlich klein

Wirtschaftskriminalität ist im IT-Zeitalter die viel größere Herausforderung als Cybercrime, sagt der auf Wirtschaftsdelikte spezialisierte Firmenberater Andrea Galli.

Foto: APA/GEORG HOCHMUTH


Foto: APA/GEORG HOCHMUTH

Unternehmen werden durch übermäßige Warnungen vor Cyberkriminalität und den damit verbundenen teuren Maßnahmen in die Irre geführt. Anstatt sicherheitstechnische Burgen zu bauen, mit denen Unternehmensgeheimnisse und Daten geschützt werden sollen, müsse der Fokus viel stärker auf dem Prüfen von Informationen liegen, so Galli im Rahmen der diesjährigen Future-Network-Technologiekonferenz in Zürich: “Der größte Schaden entsteht nicht durch entwendete Daten, sondern durch Daten, die von vornherein manipuliert wurden, um Konzerne, ja ganze Staaten zu täuschen.”

15.000 Milliarden Dollar Schaden

Galli, der sich beim Schweizer Nachrichtendienst scalaris eci ag auf die Prävention von Wirtschaftsdelikten spezialisiert hat, schätzt den durch die Manipulation von Daten entstehenden Schaden auf 15.000 Milliarden Dollar jährlich. Dazu zählt er etwa Geldwäscherei, die durch das Vorspiegeln falscher Tatsachen und das Tarnen von Identitäten oftmals ohne Wissen involvierter Unternehmen passiere, wie auch den Betrug und Börsengeschäfte durch manipulierte Informationen. Cyberkriminalität sei im Gegensatz gerade einmal für ein Prozent dieser Schadenssumme verantwortlich – und selbst organisierte Kriminalität wie Drogenhandel und Schlepperei mache nur etwa einen Zehntel des genannten Betrags aus.

Als Beispiel für die Dimension, die selbst Einzelfälle annehmen können, nannte Galli auf Nachfrage der futurezone die missglückte Übernahme der Software-Firma Autonomy durch HP. Der Computer-Konzern hatte die britische Firma noch unter dem glücklosen CEO Leo Apotheker um mehr als zehn Milliarden Dollar im Jahr 2011 gekauft, musste aber schon im darauffolgenden Jahr 8,8 Milliarden Dollar abschreiben – laut HP wurden offenbar Finanzen geschönt und so der Wert der Firma um das Zehnfache in die Höhe getrieben.

Geldwäsche über Online-Poker

Galli zufolge funktioniert die Manipulation aber auch in die andere Richtung. Geldwäsche-Organisationen würden ihr Geld als Umsatz in eigenen Online-Gambling-Firmen angeben. Diese Scheinfirmen, die ausschließlich der Geldwäsche dienen, weisen dann einen Umsatz in Milliarden-Höhe auf, obwohl sie in Wahrheit über das tatsächliche Geschäft nur wenige Millionen Dollar eingenommen haben. Staaten würden diese Mechanismen teilweise kennen, seien aber aufgrund der multinationalen und globalen Verflechtungen mit der Verfolgung derartiger Machenschaften überfordert. Oft würden die Kriminellen über Umwege auch in Wirtschaftszweige investieren, die ein hohes Ansehen genießen, wie etwa Alternative Energien oder Clean Tech, und daher weniger unter Beobachtung der Kontrollbehörden stehen.

Die von der Industrie geführte Sicherheits- und Cybercrime-Debatte hält Galli jedenfalls für verfehlt. “Der durch Cyberkriminalität verursachte Schaden ist im Vergleich zur Wirtschaftskriminalität lächerlich klein und irrelevant, auch wenn uns große Audit-Unternehmen das Gegenteil weismachen wollen”, sagt Galli. Eine Festung zu bauen, wie es viele Unternehmen derzeit machen, habe schon im Mittelalter nicht immer geholfen. Vielmehr sollten Firmen bei ihren Geschäften genau prüfen, ob sie den vorhandenen Informationen und damit dem Geschäftspartner trauen können. Mit entsprechenden Maßnahmen könne viel mehr finanzieller wie auch ein potenzieller Imageschaden abgewendet werden als sich über entsprechende Security-Lösungen in falscher Sicherheit zu wiegen.

(futurezone) Erstellt am 16.09.2013, 06:00

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After the legendary Vanagels and Gorin, a new generation of nominee directors has born.

They play a key role in maintaining the secrecy of thousands of beneficial owners and hundreds of thousands of business transactions. They do this by selling their names for use on official documents of the company, using addresses in obscure parts of the world, providing the anonymity for corrupt officials, tax evaders and organized criminals.

Opaque legal structures are one of the key ways to hide the real ownership of entities that can sometimes facilitate tax evasion, corruption and organized crimes. Using nominees is a key way of hiding the real owners. One of the problems is that legal authorities in the United States, United Kingdom and many other countries don’t hold nominee directors responsible for the conduct of the companies they front.

In addition, documents setting up offshore companies often include clauses that shield nominees from financial liability if the companies get sued. It is perfectly legal in many countries to avoid having your name appear as the director or owner of a company by employing the services of a nominee, whose name appears instead. Nominees are, in essence, renting out their name, and in doing so, providing the anonymity that corrupt officials, tax evaders and organized criminals require to move dirty money around the world. Gorin and Vanagels are far from lone players in this regulatory wilderness. They just became legendary.

The ICIJ, working with The Guardian newspaper in England and the BBC’s Panorama program, identified a group of 28 other nominee directors who have represented more than 21,000 companies between them, with individual nominees representing as many as 4,000 companies. The data went public with the offshore leak scandal of 2013.

For example, Jesse Grant Hester — a young nominee director based on the English Channel island of Sark— was the director for an Irish entity Candonly Limited, which an official inquiry later found was used by the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to cheat the United Nations’ Oil for Food Program. Until the practice was stamped out in the late 1990s, it was common for Sark residents like Hester to lend their names as directors to businesses around the world wanting anonymity. At the height of what became known as the “Sark Lark”, the 600 inhabitants of the island held 15,000 directorships between them, some of which later led to controversy.

After a crackdown by the British government, many nominee directors from Sark relocated to other jurisdictions like Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Ireland and Switzerland and, as a simple search in the company records shows, they simply resumed operations. For example, Jesse Grant Hester, born in 1976, has been listed as a director for at least 1,500 companies in the British Virgin Islands, Britain, Ireland, Mauritius, New Zealand, London, Lugano and Geneva. Listed below you can identify the new guard of the most important nominee directors among the 28 recognized in the offshore leek scandal:

  • Jesse Grant Hester (UK, DOB 1976),
  • Brenda Patricia Cocksedge (UK, DOB 1949),
  • Christina Cornelia Van Den Berg (South Africa, DOB 1964),
  • Marea Jean O’toole (Ireland, DOB 1972),
  • Stephen John Kelly (UK, DOB 1964)

They play a key role in maintaining the secrecy of thousands of beneficial owners and hundreds of thousands of business transactions. They do this by selling their names for use on official documents of the company, using addresses in obscure parts of the world. Some of the companies they represent are so evidently related to organized crime activities that even a child could find out: for example there is a company in Lugano held by Jesse Grant Hester together with the controversial trustee Rudy Chereghetti in Lugano, arrested and convicted for associations with mafia operations and fraud in Italy. Few simply queries in google will show this to you.

The respectable façade of modern shell companies

Tropical island’s and Alpine town’s offshore tax havens have more and more competion in Britain, the US and few European countries. Anonymous shell companies are behind so many crimes and misdemeanours that eliminating them should probably be “a no-brainer”, but today the OECD’s “white list” facilitates the money laundering industry to paint their facades with a new image. It is so easy to set up a company with hidden ownership in Britain and the US that even a dead man can do it: The great thing is that they look more respectable.

Criminals and corrupt politicians have found in offshore havens a tool so perfect that it has permanently changed how business is done in the region. By using offshore laws that stress secrecy over everything else including crime prevention, they have been able to set up networks of offshore companies where they can hide their assets from police, launder their money and evade taxes all at the same time. According to the Tax Justice Network, more than $250 billion is lost each year in tax revenues from wealthy individuals and criminals who hide their money in offshore accounts. That is money that by rights should be going toward better education, health care and infrastructure. On top of that, around $1 trillion — often money that corrupt leaders have stolen — flows out of developing countries into offshore accounts and wealthy banking centres.

Offshore registry firms are one-stop shops that for a fee will do everything from filing tax and annual reports to acting as the director of a client’s company. They often work with a registration firm in the offshore country with connections to local government officials. They may provide proxies to serve as directors. They will help a client issue shares and can find proxy shareholders. They might set up bank accounts. If law enforcement or journalists come sniffing around, the trail often ends with them. They will also help set up companies in other countries that will own, be owned by or work with the client’s company. In this way they set up a network of companies that are seemingly independent — but owned by the same person. This confusing arrangement more thoroughly hides ownership and thwarts accountability. They usually do this over the Internet and within a matter of hours or days and without a question. If they ask for identification, they will almost never verify the information they are given.

Offshore tax havens bring to mind tropical islands or Alpine towns. Today, England, the US and some European countries are replacing the more exotic Caribbean or Indian Ocean Islands as the tax havens of choice. On the Tax Secrecy index, the US state of Delaware is listed as the No. 1 offender by the Tax Justice Network. Delaware earns $700 million per year in company registration fees, a significant part of its budget.

Delaware is becoming the preferred location for organized crime figures and corrupt politicians worldwide. Despite complaints from federal law enforcement officials, congressional testimony, and reports from the Government Accountability Office, procedures in Delaware – and similar processes in other states – still let criminal groups infiltrate the corporate system. Professor Jason Sharman, an expert in offshore havens for the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University in Australia agrees: “The US has been pretty robust in making sure that other countries live up to these standards, but they have been lax about applying the same degree of rigor to themselves. It’s nowhere near what the US has signed on to do,” he said. Delaware requires no information on actual ownership when companies fill out incorporating documents. Federal law enforcement agencies complain that this lack of identification makes it difficult at best for investigating suspected wrong-doing.

Criminals simply do not fear a legal crackdown. Hampered by offshore secrecy law enforcement especially in Eastern Europe has no talent working across international boundaries figuring out the real owners of companies cloaked in proxies.

Governments scrutinize the offshore industry and blame it for aiding criminals, but do little about fixing the problem. Organized crime has found common cause with business organizations to squash any efforts to radically change offshore laws. Some countries only pay lip service to efforts to provide greater transparency. Some keep on promising important actions and nothing else.

Numerous companies registered in Delaware by offshore businesses controlled by persons accused of organized criminal activities. For example:

  • Serbian fugitive Stanko Subotic registered the planes in Delaware that Italian prosecutors said were used to ferry stacks of illegally earned cash to banks in Cyprus and Liechtenstein. The money was earned, prosecutors say, from tobacco smuggling between the Montenegrin government and the Italian Sacra Corona Unita mafia group.
  • Fugitive Serbian drug lord Darko Saric, who allegedly tried to move 2.1 tons of cocaine from South America to Montenegro last year, registered many of his companies in Delaware where they are still active.
  • Marian Iancu, a Romanian businessmen charged with organizing a criminal group by Romania prosecutors, used Delaware based companies in his takeover of a state oil refinery through an alleged corrupt privatization and in its eventual resale to controversial Russian businessman Mikhail Chernoy.
  • And romanian offshore consultant Laszlo Gyorgy Kiss used Delaware companies to bill Petrom Service in consulting contracts for work that was never done.

Anonymous shell companies are behind so many crimes and misdemeanours that eliminating them should probably be “a no-brainer,” as a US district attorney recently put it. International law enforcement, justice officials and academics agree that knowing who really is reaping the benefits of offshore shell firms is crucial. Jurisdictions must have a way to find out who the really owns companies and a method to close loopholes that make shells operate, such as use of proxies or bearer shares. A major selling point of offshore registry companies, in fact, it that police can’t identify owners. Authorities basically have to ask information from the very people hiding it.We’re operating in this 19th Century manner, yet the money is moving in seconds. It’s long gone. Griffith University Professor Jason Sharman, who last year used Google and $20,000 to find and pay agents to set up anonymous shell companies in 17 jurisdictions, suggested regulating those agents. Sharman recommended that the US and Britain stipulate that agents not be allowed to set up companies unless they themselves know the actual owner and they keep records of that information. Sharman also suggested that the UK and US restrict non-residents from forming shell companies in their countries. “The most acute problem is non-residents setting up ostensibly respectable companies in these jurisdictions and doing crime around the world,” he said. “The great thing about US and British companies is that they look more respectable, and they’re more secret, so you get the best of both worlds. It might raise eyebrows to have a company from any small obscure island, but New York is respectable.” In fact, urisdictions such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands require far more certified ID from anyone wanting to establish a company or bank account there than do the US states of Nevada and Wyoming, which at the time require no certified ID documents at all. Member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), an international organization that has tried to push for laws to reduce the worst abuses of offshores, should get their own houses in order before pointing fingers at other countries. The OECD’s “white list” is maybe problematic?

 

Chinesische Scheinfirmen zocken heimische Unternehmen ab

Immer mehr chinesische Scheinfirmen zocken mittelständische Unternehmen aus Deutschland und Österreich ab. Sie locken die KMU mit der Vergabe lukrativer Aufträge, lassen dann Geschäftsleute einfliegen und kassieren vor Ort ab, schreibt die “Süddeutsche Zeitung” am Montag.

Korrupte Beamte in den Provinzverwaltungen deckten die Betrüger. Die deutsche Außenhandelskammer in Shanghai warnt seit Jahren vor den Tricks. Auch die österreichische Wirtschaftskammer in Peking schlägt Alarm und hat bereits eine Liste von Scheinfirmen veröffentlicht.

In letzter Zeit würden vermehrt österreichische Unternehmen von Scheinfirmen aus China kontaktiert, “wobei es auch immer wieder zu konkreten Schadensfällen kommt”, warnte die WKÖ erst vorige Woche auf ihrer Homepage. Meist bekunden die Scheinfirmen per E-Mail eine Bestellungs- oder Kooperationsabsicht; in die Korrespondenz stecken sie “sehr viel Zeit und auch Detailarbeit” – bis hin zu technischen Skizzen. Das Angebot der österreichischen Firma wird ohne größere Nachverhandlungen angenommen.

Zur angeblichen Vertragsunterzeichnung wird die ausländische Firma dann nach China eingeladen, wo die Österreicher allerdings Kosten für Notare, Vertragsvorarbeiten und dergleichen übernehmen sollen. Oft sollen ausländische Unternehmer sogar Geldgeschenke für einen misslaunigen Beamten in der Verwaltung bezahlen, schreibt die “SZ”. Die Gelder sollen – unter einem Vorwand – jedoch auf ein privates Konto überwiesen werden. Von dort werden sie freilich sofort behoben, und die Chinesen haben plötzlich kein Interesse mehr an einer Geschäftspartnerschaft.

Myth and Reality of Development Aid versus Corruption

The corruption crimes of the establishment, in all countries, give the impression of impunity to the population and are surely not the best paradigm to induce the population to respect fundamental laws. This effect can have a deep impact to an economy, creating a clime of bribery at all population levels: for example an average budget of a family in the Balkan has to take into account 25% of the income spent to briber local state officers, medical staff, education employees… This amount of money is comparable of a very high Value Added Tax.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hedDgtvZKgI width="480" height="288"]

Some reports claim that corruption costs Africa nearly 150 billion dollars a year, compared to only 20 billion dollars donated to the continent in aid. As a hard hitting journalistic documentary, the film is presented truthfully, taking care not to make it didactic or to give it a ‘spin’, but to document the impact that a seemingly harmless bribe to a customs official ultimately has across the whole system.