Today’s Tax Haven Moment: Cook Island Trusts

Secrecy for Sale: Key Findings ~ International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

  • Government officials and their families and associates in Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.
  • The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.
  • Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Clariden and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.
  • A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.
  • Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains.

Paradise of Untouchable Assets ~ Leslie Wayne

Today’s Auditing Moment: Rental Real Estate Transactions and Money Laundering. (Part 1)

CPAs that perform audits of financial statements under the Codified Generally Accepted Auditing Standards are typically well versed in the standards and practices detailed therein but to the extent continuing education on the topic of auditing often focuses on notable audit failures such as those involving ENRON and Mississippi’s own WorldCom along with a host of others dating back to the 1920s the study of what went wrong is both natural and needed.  Out of the ENRON and WorldCom disasters came a host of new auditing standards. I particularly thought the AICPA did a good job with AU Sections 314, 316 and 317 which deal with understanding the entity in question, and the risks associated with the entity including fraud and illegal acts.

Today, the realities of the post Katrina Mississippi coast is the growth of the rental real estate in terms of sheer number of units, often built solely as a result of post Katrina taxpayer subsidies.  The number of units constructed has resulted in a market overcapacity and that in turn impacts the monthly price of the rentals.  With insurance sky high the top and bottom line squeeze on the owners of the units can lead to pressure to do some very unsavory things. Let’s begin with the National Association of Realtors Anti Money Laundering page:

The crime of money laundering continues to be a growing area of concern in the United States. Therefore, law enforcement agencies and the financial sector devote considerable time and resources to combatting these illegal financial activities. However, many non-financial businesses and professions are also vulnerable to potential money laundering schemes.

Real estate professionals are a category of the non-financial business sector that may encounter persons engaging in money laundering activities. The purpose of this fact sheet and suggested voluntary guidelines is to increase real estate professionals’ awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the potential money laundering risks surrounding real estate and enable them to identify practical measures to mitigate the risks.

It is at this point that I’ll observe that while most people understand the concept of money laundering in a general sense they do not understand the specific elements so here it the skinny:

The actual process of money laundering is a three step process that is initiated by introducing the illegal proceeds into the financial system, e.g., breaking up large amounts into small deposits or by purchasing financial instruments, such as money orders, which is referred to as placement. This is typically followed by distancing the illegal proceeds from the source of the funds through layers of financial transactions, referred to as layering, and finally by returning the illegally derived proceeds to the criminal from what appears to be a legitimate source, known as integration.

So there we have it folks, money laundering is a three step process defined by 1. Placement 2. Layering and 3. Integration but this is different from the legal definition of the crime of money laundering. Here in the US, I find the FBI primer page on the topic to be very useful because in the US the crime of money laundering is just a 2 step process: Continue reading “Today’s Auditing Moment: Rental Real Estate Transactions and Money Laundering. (Part 1)”

Jim Brown’s Weekly Column: Big Banks and Their Criminal Leaders Go Scott Free!

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

BIG BANKS AND THEIR CRIMINAL LEADERS GO SCOTT FREE!

After years of financial chicanery, federal prosecutors have decided that Wall Street manipulators are both too big to fail, and too big to jail. The most recent culprit, in what seems to be a conspiracy to “go soft” on financial shenanigans, is the British owned bank, HSBC, that was granted a criminal reprieve and monetary slap on the wrist for confecting the largest drug and terrorism money laundering scheme in U.S. history. To give the aura of being tough on crime, the Justice Department levied a fine of $1.9 billion, which amounts to about five weeks of profit for this international bank for highly suspect, if not outright criminal actions, quite possibly extending as far back as 2001.

HSBC is far from the only bank guilty of such deplorable dealings. There has been a pattern of the largest banks on Wall Street engaging in the most relentless and irresponsible behavior – and this has undermined the entire U.S. financial system. At a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington last week, Senator Elisabeth Warren from Massachusetts confronted bank regulators and ask if they could identify any example of Wall Street bankers being criminally charged and taken to trial. The regulators could only say: “We will get back to you.”

Financial columnist Matt Taibbi concluded in a recent column: “Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial–crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth – and nobody went to jail. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom has ever been convicted.”

In the case of HSBC, it was the financial lapdog for a number of Mexican drug cartels, many of whom were suspected in thousands of murders during the past decade. The bank also had ties and handled money exchanges for groups linked to Russian gangsters, Hezbollah, Iran, North Korea and Al Qaeda. This was not your friendly, local neighborhood bank. So why wasn’t the bank and key employees charged with assorted federal crimes? Continue reading………….

“Launch of CIA Cocaine Coup turned on Romney win” gives needed context to Slabbeds examination of the Sibley prosecution

Hugh Sibley’s Driver License / Mad Cow Morning News

I know some of you folks likely speculate whether or not Slabbed has limits on the topics we cover or if we’re 100% No Fear.  That exact subject has been the topic of reader feedback since my second post that re-examined the money laundering prosecution of Greensburg area lawyer Hugh Sibley.  The international drug trade is one of those tension raising subjects and for good reason IMHO.

Last week I mentioned Slabbed had received a media inquiry and it was not an ordinary one.  Before I get to that and let’s go back to that No Fear thing as it is true the drug trade has no mainstream trade journal, though I am familiar with one Spanish language blog that would be considered the Slabbed of that genre.  Amazingly it is tolerated by the drug cartels but rest assured I have no desire to raise the stakes of what Slabbed New Media does any further than the high bar we’ve already set.

So last week investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker sent me an email inquiring about Hugh Sibley as he was connected to Jorge Arévalo Kessler, one of the people that was indicted along with Sibley.  Hopsicker’s body of work includes the Barry Seal murder (Slabbed’s profile here) which in turns leads us to Seal’s Baton Rouge Defense Attorney Louis Unglesby, rumored to be one of the combatants engaged in Sal Perricone’s online rants at NOLA.com.  It just gets more complicated from there folks but the bottom line is there has been some serious perversions of our drug laws by the intelligence community and it seems as most of the smuggling routes are here across the deep south.

Some of what Hopsicker reports has multiple, credible media sources such as the US Banking connection to the money train.  Just this past Sunday 60 minutes profiled the take down of a “Super Drug Cartel” operating out of Columbia illustrating the huge expanse of the topic.  I mention this because I’m skeptical on Romney connection cited in this post’s headline, which is taken from the following story by Hopsicker that focuses mainly on Ecuador’s role in the drug trade, which leads us to Jorge Arévalo Kessler, which in turn leads us to Hugh Sibley. I highly recommend it as a companion to last week’s post on Slabbed re-examining the Sibley prosecution. Stay tuned for part three of that series.

Let’s continue to build the case: Slabbed takes a second look back at USA v Sibley as we make more connections

Last month Slabbed reintroduced William “Hugh” Sibley to the reading public and the response that post received has been fantastic. In fact it was a media inquiry that I received today that serves as the catalyst for this post.  To get started though I want to make sure everyone is on the same page so here is an except from my Sibley reintroduction:

So why do I bring up news Slabbed covered in 2009? Sweet serendipity that’s why. Sources familiar with the Sibley’s law practice indicate to Slabbed that while Sibley was Fayard’s political go to guy, Nipun “Nick” Desai was Sibley’s right hand man. Desai, a one time college exchange student from East India that graduated from LSU in 1996, reportedly parlayed the association with Sibley into a real estate empire that stretches across Louisiana and includes the now fabled Super 8 Motel on Clearview Parkway.

This is important because Desai is a bit of a mystery man.  You see folks multiple sources have indicated to Slabbed that Desai was arrested on a cocaine distribution charge somewhere between 2008 and 2010 yet we’ve been unable to uncover anything on the arrest or the case itself as it does not show in the Federal Court Database PACER nor is there a Louisiana state record that we can find.  Desai is a big mystery but we solved some of it here.

Tackling this topic entails a bit of a gut check folks, given the people and organizations involved in the Sibley affair.  For instance, the lead defendant in the Sibley prosecution was Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler.  Here is a snippet from the Hispanic News Network Blog that mentions Kessler:

Last Wednesday, Jorge Gustavo Arévalo Kessler, 43, was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face money laundering, and cocaine trafficing federal charges in Texas. Kessler originally from Heidelberg, Germany, but living in Mexico transported tons of cocaine from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and eventually ending up in the U.S.

The indictment states, Kessler between Dec. 2002 to June 2003 transported tons of cocaine by private plane and a Boeing 727, transported cash abroad, and as a high ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel, he directed where the money would be deposited to various bank accounts.

Kessler was arrested by Mexican federal authorities on April 7, 2008 in Mexico City. He worked for the criminal organization headed by Antonio Aguilar (real name Pedro Antonio Bermúdez Suazo), aka “El Arquitecto,” or “El Jefe” in Mexico.

Kessler was extradited to the U.S. on Feb. 24, 2010 by the law enforcement coordination efforts between the U.S. Marshals Service, the Ministry Federal Police, and Mexican INTERPOL with the Attorney’s General Office (PGR).

Kessler is not just your average drug kingpin though as this translated excerpt from the website Contra Linea indicates:

In his ministerial statement, Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler, 43-year-old native of Heidelberg, Germany, son of Jorge Arevalo Gardoqui, who in turn was the brother of former Secretary of National Defense Juan Arevalo Gardoqui-, confessed to participating in moving drugs from South America to Mexico, and to carry cash abroad.

Or even better as put in an email I received today: Continue reading “Let’s continue to build the case: Slabbed takes a second look back at USA v Sibley as we make more connections”

Let’s start building the case: Allow me to reintroduce William “Hugh” Sibley to the Slabbed Nation

Sibley was a lawyer in the old Castano Group, the Louisiana based trial lawyer syndicate led by the late Wendell Gauthier that handled some of the tobacco litigation back in the 1990s. Besides Gauthier, Calvin “Calhoun” Fayard was involved as was Fayard’s political operative/lawyer associate Hugh Sibley. Trout Point Lodge owner Danny Abel was also a part of that group, trying his best to inflict his boy Vaughn Perret on the rest. After Gauthier died, time has not been kind to many of the old Castano Group members as I illustrate today with Sibley:

So why do I bring up news Slabbed covered in 2009? Sweet serendipity that’s why. Sources familiar with the Sibley’s law practice indicate to Slabbed that while Sibley was Fayard’s political go to guy, Nipun “Nick” Desai was Sibley’s right hand man. Desai, a one time college exchange student from East India that graduated from LSU in 1996, reportedly parlayed the association with Sibley into a real estate empire that stretches across Louisiana and includes the now fabled Super 8 Motel on Clearview Parkway.

This is important because Desai is a bit of a mystery man.  You see folks multiple sources have indicated to Slabbed that Desai Continue reading “Let’s start building the case: Allow me to reintroduce William “Hugh” Sibley to the Slabbed Nation”

Updated and Featured: South Coast Today adds to their continuing coverage of the unfolding scandal at the resort at Trout Point

New Orleans politician Aaron Broussard’s federal prosecution for fraud took another big step forward in New Orleans last week, when the disgraced Jefferson Parish president pleaded guilty to a number of charges, which he and his lawyers had previously denied.

One of the allegations made against Broussard by his ex-wife and others is that he used his ownership in Nova Scotia vacation properties and property firms to “shake down” individuals and businesses wanting to do business with the most populous parish in New Orleans. Broussard’s connection to Trout Point Lodge and to the Trout Point region in trhe Kempt Wilderness has been a frequent issue in various lawsuits and media reports surrounding Broussard over the past two years or more.

The Lodge was built ten years ago by well-connected New Orleans lawyer Danny Abel, former New Orleans Lawyer Vaughn Perrett and wild mushroom expert Charles Leary. The lodge and neighboring properties have been a home away from home for ther creme-de-la-creme of New Orleans political royalty and has been the frequent subject of travel and food magazines the world over. Media stories describe Abel, Leary and Perret as “friends for decades”. Abel reportedly “infused” the project with funds from his successful law practice, while the couple managed Trout Point Lodge, then the Cerro Coyote property in Costa Rica and a small hotel and cooking school in Granada, Spain.

Continue Reading at the South Coast Today

Jefferson Parish Corruption Omnibus: Today Aaron Broussard put his hand on a bible and admitted he is a filthy sack of crap

Aaron Broussard’s property managers Vaughn Perret and Charles Leary of Trout Point Lodge

For true folks he did as Drew Broach reports for NOLA media group on the former Goatherder in chief’s appearance today before Judge Head. We await the factual basis.

Worth noting in Broach’s report is this tidbit that is well worth repeating now:

Besides Broussard and his attorney, Robert Jenkins, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche were also in the courtroom. Letten has credited commission with helping the investigation.

This is today. But what were the Goatherders telling a gullible Canadian public days after their SLAPP suit against me was made official by Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Hood on the Trout Point Lodge Blog (now deleted)? It is an interesting compare and contrast:

On January 6, 2010, in what appears to be a classic example of gotcha journalism, an investigative reporter for New Orleans Fox 8 TV News named Val Bracy arranged to interview Broussard on camera related to the investigations. What she did not tell Broussard was that the President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission–a state-funded Crime Stopper Organization–provided Bracy with access to a complaint letter against Broussard that the Commission was sending that day to the Louisiana State Ethics Administration, which oversees the conduct of public officials.

The complaint letter raised, among other things, an allegation from anonymous, confidential sources that Broussard owned a “lodge” in Nova Scotia that he had rented to government contractors. The complaint never mentioned Trout Point Lodge. The implication was that he had committed ethical and/or criminal violations by using his Nova Scotia property in behind-the-scenes money transactions with government contractors, ie, kick-back or “pay to play” schemes. For the news media, this was sensational. Continue reading “Jefferson Parish Corruption Omnibus: Today Aaron Broussard put his hand on a bible and admitted he is a filthy sack of crap”

Let’s chat about the media and Aaron Broussard’s relationship with First Bank and Trust and tie a few things together. Part 1

OK folks it is time to come clean, sort of anyway.  Since late July I have been publishing documents courtesy of my fictional “gabby cousin Slabb O’Leak” that really did not come from him.  😉  Actually some of y’all may have noticed some redactions that are beyond my control but suffice it to say that I have found a literal pot o’ gold of Aaron Broussard personal information, between 80,000 to 90,000 pages of information in fact, including documents like the ones between Broussard and First Bank and Trust that I posted Friday.

I’ll add indeed verily I promise I have every reasonable expectation that there is lots of Goatherder jackassery contained in Slabbed’s Pot o’ Gold and I expect soon to publish full, unredacted versions of the various ownership agreements in ventures Broussard peddled such as La Ferme D’Acadie, Cerro Coyote and perhaps even Rauda House.  Slabbed has learned in the course of its exhaustive and ongoing investigation these documents were previously unknown to the investigative community, a defect I personally cured.

Here at Slabbed the tenets of my investigation follows one rule and one rule only: Follow the money.  Following money plays to my strengths and I have 425,000 reasons to follow the trail in its entirety and frankly I’m content to let the aftermath sort itself out.  Along those lines on Friday we introduced Joe Canizaro to the Slabbed Nation.  Joe is a Biloxi native made good from doing real estate development and is likely a hecto-millionaire somewhere in Tom Benson’s zip code.  Both have papal appearances on their resumes though Benson actually got the pope to genuflect and kiss his Saints Superbowl Ring. Lest I digress because unlike Benson, Canizaro had the power to have Aaron Broussard conduct business for First Bank and Trust on Parish Letterhead.  At the time Broussard was on the Board of Directors of FBT.

But in the course of my inspection of these documents there is another story line that I began developing last month that has since come into very sharp focus and that would be the story of the media, specifically how they handed the then unfolding scandal in Jefferson Parish, the second most populous parish in Louisiana and the most populous of the 7 parish NOLA Metro area.  In particular we examine the TeeVee stations today, which cover events like the Red Dress run in NOLA for charity in-depth, but never have a reporter to spare to cover Parish council meetings. Continue reading “Let’s chat about the media and Aaron Broussard’s relationship with First Bank and Trust and tie a few things together. Part 1”

Remember that buzz I spoke of a few weeks ago? A superseding Indictment was unsealed today against Aaron Broussard and Tom Wilkinson

Here and here are a couple of places I alluded to what was coming in fact aside from the comment I left about the buzz.

Aaron Broussard took $66,000 in bribes from a Kenner communication company, feds say

I love the news media personalities that are involved with the company that allegedly paid Broussard those bribes.  Y’all can elaborate in comments on that part and I need help from my commenters to fill in those blanks as I am multi-tasking mightily today.

I’m personally following the money folks as specified in Karen Parker Broussard’s factual basis so that everyone involved in both the crimes and subsequent attempted coverup should be brought to justice. Let’s review: Continue reading “Remember that buzz I spoke of a few weeks ago? A superseding Indictment was unsealed today against Aaron Broussard and Tom Wilkinson”