Tag fraud

Offshore in central London: the curious case of 29 Harley Street

On a central London street renowned for high-class healthcare sits a property that houses 2,159 companies. Why has this prestigious address been used so many times as a centre for elaborate international fraud?


No 29 Harley Street does not look like a centre of intricate intercontinental fraud. It is a handsome stone-fronted terraced house, a couple of minutes’ walk from the shops and the tourists of Oxford Street. It is five storeys high, with a bay window on the ground floor, an intricate steel balcony at first-floor level, and a stone balustrade just under the roof. Its front door is dark wood, with brass fittings.

As soon as companies were involved in owning other companies, as well as being their directors and secretaries, it became extremely difficult to discover who really controlled them (ie who was the “beneficial owner”, the person who received any benefit from the company). In February 2004, for example, Formations House created three companies: Corporate Nominees, Legal Nominees, and Professional Nominees. The second company owns the other two, while itself being owned by the first company. The third company is secretary for the other two, while its own secretary is the first company. The second company is director of the other two, while its own director is the first company. These three companies then became directors, secretaries and shareholders of other structures, in an increasingly baffling multidimensional web of crisscrossing lines of control. If you looked for the companies’ real owners, the most you could eventually discover was that the original three all owned, controlled and managed each other.

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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: Green is the future of economic crimes

Green energy includes natural energetic processes that can be harnessed with little pollution. Especially, wind power, geothermal power, small-scale hydropower, solar energy, biomass power fall under such a category.

Green Energy

Green Energy

Promoters of green energy investments might exaggerate the prospects of their technologies because of their desires to save the world or contribute to scientific research related to alternative energy resources. Energy infrastructure is the key to meet the challenge of energy scarcity and climate change mitigation. A high humane and low carbon energy infrastructure satisfies the three principal goals of energy policy: improved economic efficiency, more environmental protection, and greater security.

Both governments and private investors are spending hundred of billions to subsidize green energy projects. Generally, the green energy sector is flush with money. The growing green energy sector is attracting an increasing number of fraudsters and organized criminal groups around the world. In this regard, green energy is in many cases a modern camouflage with the aim of laundering money directly emitted by organized criminal activities, like drug dealing, human trafficking, …. Despite receiving widespread attention only recently, fraudulent activity has been a problem for the European Union since 2008, initially in the form of Value-Added Tax (VAT) carousel fraud. In this context, the tax revenue lost due to VAT fraud from CO2 trading represents only a small fraction of the tax revenue lost due to VAT fraud in the EU. In 2009, European authorities uncovered an enormous fraud in the market for CO2 emissions permits.

Apart this anecdotic fraud, Green energy has mass appeal among consumers, investors, and manufacturers. Now fraudsters are jumping on the bandwagon and taking advantage of a market ripe with emerging technologies, lax controls, and an abundance of financial incentives to integrate green business in their fraudulent intents or their layering mechanism of money laundering. The experience of European countries that have attempted to build a green-energy economy that will create green jobs reveal that such thinking is deeply fallacious. Spain, Italy, Germany, and Denmark have all tried and failed to accomplish positive outcomes with renewable energy. In addition to this negative trend; Italy has experienced rampant corruption in the renewable sector. Rather than having numerous individuals defrauding the government. Therefore, in the EU, a high-profile case involving the alleged misappropriation subsidies for wind energy developments is unfolding in Italy. A similar phenomenon is present in the Easter European part of the continent, where the main criminal intends is not to perform a misappropriation of subsidies, but to create a perfect operational financial international structure for money laundering in very large scale, similar to the Vanagels connection.

This green camouflage effect is unfortunately not confined to the energy sector, but also imitated by other sectors with similar criminal background potential: for example the Waste Management and recycling sector in the Balkans is fully control by the local mafia, painting their activities with the green label. An other example, more oriented in the Nordic and Baltic regions is based on the promise to construct efficient and elegant electro cars, hiding behind massive financial scam, as in the case of Vladimir Antonov.

Erik Vanagels™ – the extent of a money laundering supermarket

The full extent of the money laundering international Vanagels Connection, reported in a previous story, is not known at present day. But according to our experience, Erik Vanagels – together with some colleagues such as Stan Gorin, Juri Vitman, Elmar Zallapa, Danny Banger, Lana Zamba and Inta Bilder – preside over a sprawling network of companies with Baltic bank accounts (mostly at Trasta Komercbank, Rietumu Bank, Parex Banka, Regional Investment Bank JSG) and banks in Moscow and Cyprus. They have extensive dealings with several East European countries like Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania and Russia, covering everything from illicit arms exports, internet piracy, oil/gas/electricity related corruption, financial frauds, counterfeit pharmaceutical products, massive cyber criminality, drug dealing… Some of their customers are also overseas like the Asiatic Hoa Le Duc’s Mafia or the Mexicam Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

The Vanagels Connection

The organizations operates as a full service provider of off-shore companies: Its modus operandi is systematically based on the simple concept of forging beneficial owner identity documents and signatures (for example the real Erik Vanagels, is a simple homeless in Riga) to nominate fictive directors in off-shore companies in UK, Cyprus, Panama, Hong-Kong, New Zeeland… and opening respective bank accounts in Latvia, Cyprus or Russia. Sometimes, the same forged identity is used in multiple variations: for example Erik Vanagels (the most famous one) can occur in the following aliases: Eric Vanagelom, Erik Vanahels, Erik Vanagele, Erik Vallaste, … It is already like a Trademark: a symbol of quality and price in the money laundering industry. But the same is also valid, for example, for the proxy names of Juri Vitman (alias Juri Wittmann), Stan Gorin (alias Staņislavs Gorins, in reality he is a simple insurance broker in Riga), Lana Zamba (in reality she is a yoga trainer in Limassol) or Danny Banger (alias Daniel Banger)… For more information about the identity of these mythical persons see “A Farm Of Directors” by Inga Springe and Graham Stack.

The network is organized with several hubs of off-shores supermarkets in Riga, London, Limassol, Kiev and Moscow (with some supect also in Sotschi, to stay olympic). For excample….

XXXXXX this part of the XXXXXXXXXXXX

In Cyprus at the villa near the cemetery of Limassol in KIMONOS STREET or at the suites of PTOLEMAION 55 also in Limassol. Their customers are segmented as following: oligarchs, organized criminal groups, rebels/terrorist groups, simple individuals with the need of laundering money for business purposes. The latter is the less evident, but it covers the majority of the hidden cases: it is used for systematic commercial bribery or frauds. The access to the services of this network is exclusively based on recommendations of existing customers.

The Vanagels connectio’s role is only coming to light recently as the Latvian and Ukraine local press starts digging out more and more information. The network’s activity can be traced back over a decade to the establishment in the mid-1990s. Evidence suggests this connection laundered money for an amount of 10 to 100 billion $ around the world and those media information are only the ones that have come to light so far. This will catapult the value of the Erik Vanagels™ tradmark higher than the one of Apple! The Vanagels connection has been recently quoted in the media related to the following major allegued criminal cases:

  1. The Faina vessel Case – Ukraine / Sudan – Illicit Arm Trading
  2. The Chernomoreneftegas Case – Ukraine – Gov. Corruption
  3. The flu vaccines Case – Ukraine – Gov. Corruption
  4. The Ukrspetseksport Case – Ukraine – Illicit Arm Trading
  5. The Rockford Funding Case – Latvia – Financial Fraud
  6. The Moldavian Cases – Moldavia / Romania – Gov. Corruption / Fraud
  7. The Hermitage Capital Management Case – Russia / Switzerland – Massive Money Laundering
  8. The Trade Construction Company LLC Case – Russia – Financial Fraud
  9. Hoa Le Duc’s Mafia Case – Romania / Vietnam / China – Organized Crime
  10. The EURO 2012 Case – Ukraine – Corruption
  11. The Mexicam Sinaloa Drug Cartel Case – Mexico – Organized Crime / Drug
  12. The GT Group Case – North Korea / Iran – Illicit Arm Trading / Terrorism financing
  13. The ex.ua file-exchange Case – Ukraine – Massive Internet Piracy
  14. The forextime.com Case – Russia / New Zeeland / Nigeria – Money Laundering / Financial Fraud


(Dr. Andrea Galli, Scalaris AG)

British banks facing claims risk in $1trillion Saudi fraud case

British banks facing claims risk in Saudi fraud case HSBC and Standard Chartered could be dragged into a multi–billion dollar dispute between warring Saudi factions after the banks were forced to hand over thousands of potentially incriminating documents. A court in New York ordered the two British banks together with Citi and Bank of America to disclose confidential client documents, overruling pleadings that the evidence could be used against them. The documents relate to bank accounts held by Maan Al–Sanea, a Saudi billionaire who is being pursued for billions of dollars he is alleged to have stolen. Mr Al–Sanea is facing criminal and civil proceedings relating to billions of dollars allegedly defrauded from his wife’s family, the Algosaibis. Cases against the accused are being pursued in London, Bahrain, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. The potential for claims against the four banks that handled more than $1trillion (£624bn) of Algosaibi money was revealed in a court transcript obtained by The Daily Telegraph. The four banks argued that the release of documents to the Algosaibis could be used as a “Trojan Horse” to bring cases against them. However, in the worst possible outcome for the banks, the argument was rejected by the judge who stated their potential liability. “I have never fully seen the force… of the Trojan Horse argument,” said the Honourable Jed Rakoff. “If it [the information] is genuinely relevant abroad, he [Algosaibi] gets it even if it hurts you, for lack of a better word. And if it’s not relevant abroad, he doesn’t get it.” The judge also acknowledged there could be a question mark over whether the banks had taken “reasonable steps to ascertain who their customer was”. As such, he admitted that there could be a “potential liability”. The ruling will be particularly embarrassing for HSBC which is understood to have handled the largest share of the $1trillion under question in the matter. As well as operating accounts for two of Mr Al–Sanea’s companies, the bank’s US arm loaned him millions of dollars and looked after his personal banking. Mr Al–Sanea was also a significant presence on the HSBC share register, at one point owning more than 3pc of the bank. The dispute between Al–Sanea and the Algosaibis is one of the biggest fraud cases ever to hit the courts. It concerns allegations that Mr Al–Sanea took control of the Algosaibis’ business empire AHAB and subsequently siphoned off billions of pounds. The huge losses built up under Mr Al–Sanea’s control led to the near collapse of the AHAB Group after the financial crisis hit in 2008. As well as facing criminal proceedings, Mr Al–Sanea is facing a $10bn claim brought by the Algosaibis. In turn, the family is being pursued for billions of dollars by the banks that lost out when loans failed. All four banks declined to comment. The Telegraph Maan Al–Sanea has $9bn freezing order lifted.

Daily Telegraph (UK)