HSBC suspected of drug cartel links

August 27, 2012

The Irish Times on August 27, 2012 released the following:

“US PROSECUTORS investigating the movement of money by global banks suspect HSBC of laundering money for Mexican drug cartels and transferring money through its US subsidiary for sanctioned nations, including Iran, Sudan and North Korea.

The weight of the accusations could force HSBC, which has set aside $700 million (€560 million) to cover the cost of potential fines, to pay at least $1 billion to settle the inquiry, said authorities with knowledge of the investigation. This would make it the largest such settlement in history.

It comes as UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, said its HypoVereinsbank unit was being investigated by US authorities over possible violation of economic sanctions.

HypoVereinsbank “has been co-operating with investigations by the New York county district attorney’s office, the US department of justice and the US treasury department’s office of foreign assets control involving US-sanctioned persons and companies”, the Italian bank said in a statement yesterday.

The money-laundering accusations against HSBC so far are more extensive than the potential violation of US sanctions that is the focus of the investigations against other foreign banks, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank of Germany, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole of France, and Royal Bank of Scotland, said the law enforcement authorities, who requested anonymity because the investigations are continuing.

“This case is not about HSBC complicity in money laundering,” a spokesman for HSBC said in a statement on Friday. “Rather, it’s about lax compliance standards that fell short of regulators’ expectations and our expectations, and we are absolutely committed to remedying what went wrong and learning from it.”

The other banks either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Anxious to resolve the investigation, HSBC reached out to federal prosecutors in July in hopes of securing a settlement by September, according to the law enforcement officials.

But a settlement in the next couple of weeks is highly unlikely, the officials said. – (New York Times service/Bloomberg)”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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U.S. Seizes $150 Million in Alleged Hezbollah-Linked Cash

August 21, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on August 20, 2012 released the following:

“By Samuel Rubenfeld

U.S. officials said Monday they seized $150 million connected to a scheme in which entities linked to Hezbollah allegedly used the U.S. financial system to launder money through West Africa and back to the group’s base of Lebanon.

The seizure stems from a civil lawsuit filed last year by federal prosecutors in Manhattan against defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank, or LCB, and two Lebanese exchange houses seeking more than $480 million in funds allegedly derived from drug trafficking and other criminal activity passing through the U.S. financial system.

The seizure was reported by The Wall Street Journal, and there’s more here.

Hezbollah is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The group’s leadership has denied engaging in money laundering to finance its activity.

Prosecutors said Monday they seized $150 million from a New York correspondent account of Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL, or BLF. Société Générale de Banque au Liban, which bought LCB in September 2011 for $580 million, paid for part of the transaction through BLF. The seized funds are substitutes for the money in the LCB account in escrow at BLF, prosecutors said.

The warrants to seize the funds were issued August 15, but made public Monday. Neither BLF nor Société Générale de Banque au Liban were accused of wrongdoing, prosecutors said.

“Money is the lifeblood of terrorist and narcotics organizations, and while banks which launder money for terrorists and narco-traffickers may be located abroad, today’s announcement demonstrates that those banks and their assets are not beyond our reach,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

A lawyer for LCB declined to comment to the Journal.

The U.S. Treasury Department designated LCB as a “primary money-laundering concern” under the Patriot Act in February 2011, accusing it at the time of facilitating money laundering by a network of drug traffickers spanning South America, Europe, the Middle East and West Africa.

Société Générale de Banque au Liban acquired LCB’s assets and liabilities following the Treasury’s finding.

According to the civil complaint filed last year, the alleged scheme involved cash sent from Lebanon to the U.S. between January 2007 and early 2011 to buy used cars that were later sold in West Africa for cash.

The money from from the car sales was then allegedly transferred back to Lebanon with proceeds from narcotics trafficking and other crimes, prosecutors said in the complaint.

Correction: The seized funds came from the New York correspondent account of Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL, not from a U.S. account at Société Générale de Banque au Liban.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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U.S. tags Guatemalan as a drug trafficker

April 13, 2012

The Washington Times on April 12, 2012 released the following:

“By Jerry Seper

Guatemalan national Horst Walter Overdick Mejia, described by U.S. law enforcement authorities as a “critical link” in the drug trade between Colombian producers and the violent Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, has been named by the State Department as a “specially designated narcotics trafficker.”

The designation, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, prohibits U.S. persons and corporations from conducting financial or commercial transactions with this person and freezes any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment naming Overdick Mejia on charges of narcotics trafficking and firearms violations. He was arrested April 3 in Guatemala and accused of being the head of a major drug trafficking and money laundering organization based in Guatemala.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials described Overdick Mejia as a veteran spice buyer who used his local contacts and his legitimate business acumen to smuggle thousands of kilograms of cocaine to Mexico and on into the United States.

Many authorities blame Overdick Mejia for bringing Los Zetas into Guatemala in 2008 to eliminate a competing trafficker and later becoming their most important ally in Guatemala. He also laundered millions of U.S. dollars in narcotics proceeds generated by both his own organization as well as Los Zetas, the authorities said.

“These are necessary tools we use to ensure that we put dangerous drug trafficking organizations out of business and ensure they cannot exploit the U.S. financial system,” said John Arvanitis, DEA chief of financial operations. “Overdick Mejia was a vital link between Colombian drug producers and Mexican cartels such as Los Zetas.

“This case is yet another example of the united front that law enforcement and regulators must utilize to ensure that organizations such as this one are put out of business forever,” he said.

Adam J. Szubin, Treasury’s director of the office of foreign assets control (OFAC), said Overdick Mejia’s drug trafficking activities and close ties to the Los Zetas “makes him a dangerous and critical figure in the Central American narcotics trade.

“By designating Overdick Mejia, OFAC is demonstrating its support for the Guatemalan government in its struggle against the threats and violence posed by these international drug gangs,” he said.

DEA and OFAC coordinated the Overdick Mejia designation action with federal prosecutors in New York. The action was part of ongoing efforts involving the Kingpin Act to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations worldwide. The Treasury Department has designated more than 1,000 persons and entities under the Kingpin Act since June 2000.

Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from fines of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Others face up to 10 years in prison and fines.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.