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Russian money network exposed with links to Prince Charles

Article by Claude Shannon, photo from Wikipedia and shared under the creative comms license.

One of Charles’ charities received money from an offshore company implicated in the Russian laundromat scandal.

It is believed around £3bn was funnelled into Europe and America from a Russian network of offshore companies with Lithuanian accounts. Over a million transactions have been obtained by OCCRP, one of the largest banking leaks ever.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Prince Charles or the recipients. The true source of the money may not have been clear.

The cash was then used for luxury purchases – jets, yachts, properties, and so on.

UK ministers have been pressing for some time for a crackdown on illicit Russian money, with London one of the favoured hotspots of the Russian kleptocracy.

Troika Dialog is one of the main companies listed, a Russian investment bank with a retail arm. It is believed a number of staff at the bank were involved in the money flows.

Troika was headed by Ruben Vardanyan, an American with high level ties in both Russian and Britain. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Vardanyan.

But whether the bank’s compliance measures were strong enough remains an area for further investigation.

Vardanyan made transfers totalling $200,000 to the Prince’s Charities Foundation, via Quantus Division Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands.

Vardanyan raised a further £1.5m for the Foundation from a number of Russian businessmen.

This network was described by Vardanyan as part of his investment bank, helping manage client’s money.

The leak does tie Laundromat companies to a number of major frauds.

Though there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of Vardanyan or Prince Charles, the latest leak does suggest we have so far only seen the tip of the iceberg. Major money laundering is being conducted, with many banks implicated, and many of those responsible are able to buy themselves highly sophisticated PR operations and effectively purchase political protection with laundered money.

The EU really needs to take money laundering seriously. It is not only a crime in its own right but it corrodes democratic health.

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