Canadian CIBC-Owned FirstCaribbean International Bank Indicted In 100 Money-Laundering Act Charges! Barbados News Media Hides The Story

Cowardly Nation News Pees Self Thinking About Reporting This Story

Cowardly Nation News Pees Self Thinking About Reporting This Story

Lapdog Barbados News Media Covers-Up For First Caribbean

FirstCaribbean International Bank, headquartered in Barbados, has been indicted in Belize in over 100 money laundering charges that happened between 2001 and 2005.

The bank is over 90% owned by the Canadian bank, the CIBC.

This story has been on the international news for almost two weeks, but the Barbados news media doesn’t think that the story of a Barbados-based bank indicted for over 100 counts of money-laundering is news!

Cowards! Bought-and-paid-for cowards!

Keltruth Blog broke the story in the blogs, and they have all the links and background at… Keltruth Blog: FirstCanadian Bank indicted under money-laundering laws

Advertisements

37 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Belize, Business & Banking, Corruption, Crime & Law, Freedom Of The Press, Offshore Investments, Police

37 responses to “Canadian CIBC-Owned FirstCaribbean International Bank Indicted In 100 Money-Laundering Act Charges! Barbados News Media Hides The Story

  1. Tell me Why

    BFP. I don’t believe your hypocrisy regarding the term lapdog and only find the time to focus on The Nation. What about the Advocate who now is being seen as “The Democrat”. For instance, this paper deliberately refused to publish the opposition reply after publishing the budget in full, furthermore, the said paper published in today’s Advocate an entire government meeting from the welcome address to its closing. Now BFP, don’t you think the title should be directed at The Advocate.

    *****************

    BFP says,

    To say we have not been critical of the Advocate or the CBC is untrue. Of course they are cowardly lapdogs too as even a brief examination will show.

    We focus on the Nation because 1/ We have friends there, and 2/ We think it could be saved.

    The Advocate and CBC are beyond hope.

  2. no name

    CBC did carry part of the story

    http://www.cbc.bb/index.pl/article?id=1848747

    ***************

    BFP says,

    They must have just put it up. OK. Good.

  3. The danger with all these money laundering laws is almost anyone can be charged with the offence of money laundering if you’re not careful.
    Not one bank stood up here (probably not in Barbados either) to the Know Your Customer Regulations.
    I was asked if they could copy my drivers license when going in to my Safety Deposit Box recently for some land documents.
    I showed the clerk my license but refused to allow them to copy it of course, citing the fact that they already have stacks of information on me.
    It gets more ridiculous every day and the more we allow our civil rights to be diluted, the more of it they will give us. Like now finger prints to get a passport here in The Bahamas now for example.

  4. Thomas Gresham

    Dear BFP,

    I am a client of First Caribbean and am routinely pissed off with the poor service and so have no sympathy for them. But in your zeal to somehow connect Barbados with money laundering you are in danger of giving a false impression. Amandala, one of Belize’s main news papers is covering the story well and can a recent comprehensive article can be read there and I have tried to summarise it below.

    http://aml-cft.blogspot.com/2008/06/fiu-director-says-b-q-pitts-is-now.html

    The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Belize (we have one too) has drawn up 113 charges for “failure to report suspicious transactions” for First Caribbean International Bank. These are not counts of alleged money laundering, though the Act under which reporting suspicious transactions is the Anti-Money Laundering Act or something similar.

    The transactions were suspicious because of the amount and the frequency of the transactions – in the tens of thousands of dollars and some even greater.

    The purpose of the transactions by a Belize client of First Caribbean appears to be getting round the exchange control restrictions in Belize. Simply that.

    A client (a Belize Telecoms company) withdrew amounts of local currency (113 times) from its account in a Belize bank, went to the informal money changers in the street to turn it into US dollars, and then deposited the US dollars in a First Caribbean account which it used to buy equipment from abroad.

    The client was was trying to get round the exchange control rules in a manner that had become common practice. This is a far cry from laundering drug or crime money.

    Now what does this tell us about First Caribbean in Barbados? They are may not be very good at scrutinising transactions either. (Which is kind of consistent as they are not very good at anything else.) Does that mean that their office in Barbados must therefore be laundering illicit money from drugs etc?

    I used to be a director of an international bank and as I have said before, if I were interested in laundering money, Barbados is the last place on earth I would go because while they may not be very good at effective scruntiny, they are good at random, mindless bureaucracy. I would be off to Monaco, Lichtenstein, BVI, or where other money launderers appear to go, New York, London, Zurich….

  5. zero tolerance

    Thomas… money laundering is money laundering.

    Banks that look the other way are just as guilty as anyone. You sound like a lawyer. We laypeople view the world in far simpler terms. You deal with laws. We deal with reality. No offense, old chap. That is the way I look at things.

  6. Red Lake Lassie

    1/ Barbados Headquartered Bank.
    2/ Over 100 charges under money-laundering laws.
    3/ Largest newspaper on the island doesn’t report the story.

    OK. It is easy to see what is happening. Nation newspaper “bought and paid for” fuh sure!

  7. 181

    BFP, your headline is misleading. There was no charge of money laundering against the bank.

  8. Thomas Gresham

    Money laundering is taking money earned through a criminal activity and doing something with it – like buying a house or a business, which is then sold, but in the process, the money’s illegal source has been made opaque: it has been “cleaned”. I consider Abamovich’s purchase of Chelsea football club a form of money laundering.

    The object of the anti-money laundering rules is to catch drug barons or corrupt politicians trying to clean their money.

    If you consider that people buying US dollars with local currency is as wrong as laundering drug money then that is fine, it is indeed illegal and I have no interest defending First Caribbean Belize.

    I do feel, however, that it is wrong to say that this proves that the Barbados financial centre is laundering drug money and in the process support US Congress attempts to tar our off-shore financial centre with the same brush they use to tar others because they compete with New York; where there has been far more money laundering actually discovered as opposed to a failure to report suspicions transactions.

    ***************

    BFP says,

    Respectfully we have to point out that the original source of funds does not have to be illegal for there to be money laundering.

  9. I find it kind of amazing how the newspapers operate in Barbados! Something like this would have made the front page of every single newspaper in Britain if it conerned a bank that was operating in the UK. It is news and it is of public interest, that is the bottom line!

  10. .41

    BFP’s story is a sham. Do some research and find out how foreign exchange is accessed in Belize. If you grasp this, then you would see that BTL’s action and by extension FCIB’s was neither unusual nor money laundering. Also politics has a hand in this matter.

  11. Fool me once

    Same FCIB where Owing deposited a campaign contribution to his personal account? Lookin like that is money laundering plain and simple so did bank report it as suspicious? Not likely.

    Where did the money go? Owen gets in one time 750,000 and then declares he only worth twice that much.

  12. 184

    Trying to fool us once

    the amount was for $75 000 and he said it went to the campaign. Once the source of funds being deposited is made known to the bank then it is up to FIU to determine if there is a need to investigate further.

  13. Thomas Gresham

    Dear BFP,

    With respect, I think you are wrong on that. The point of money laundering is to clean dirty money. Dirty money is money that has been acquired in illegal ways.

    I have some familiarity with this as a former director of a large financial institution based in the US.

    What do you think money laundering is?

    ******************

    BFP says,

    Thomas, you are stuck in the past my friend – but I understand. Here it is from Wikipedia and you’ll find this definition is the most accurate in current practice…

    “Money laundering is the practice of engaging in financial transactions in order to conceal the identity, source, and/or destination of money, and is a main operation of the underground economy.

    In the past, the term “money laundering” was applied only to financial transactions related to organized crime. Today its definition is often expanded by government regulators (such as the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) to encompass any financial transaction which generates an asset or a value as the result of an illegal act, which may involve actions such as tax evasion or false accounting. As a result, the illegal activity of money laundering is now recognized as potentially practiced by individuals, small and large businesses, corrupt officials, members of organized crime (such as drug dealers or the Mafia), and even corrupt states, through a complex network of shell companies and trusts based in offshore tax havens. A few examples of money laundering are smurfing or kiting.”

  14. BFP

    Look at it this way Thomas…

    If I have a legitimate business and make a legitimate profit, that money was legitimately earned.

    The fact that I now wish to commit tax fraud, and then launder the money through an offshore account doesn’t change the fact that the money was originally legitimately earned.

    Not all money that is being “laundered” originally came from drugs or other criminal enterprises.

    Your older definition is too narrow and governments and financial institutions have recognized this for some time.

  15. BFP

    Look at the $75,000 cheque that came into Owen Arthur’s hands.

    It may not have been illegally obtained (if he didn’t promise to do any specific thing for the money), but the funds did become illegal when he deposited them into his personal bank account and did not pass them on to the party until he was caught.

    Arthur was actually money-laundering.

    Not that he did it that well, but it sure matches the definition.

  16. Thomas Gresham

    But BFP, you have proved my point exactly. Read your quote more carefully:

    ……to encompass any financial transaction which generates an asset or a value as the result of an illegal act……

    Dirty money is illegal money. Money laundering is cleaning dirty money. Exactly as I said.

    The only thing this quote says is that illegal is not just organised crime, but anything illegal. I agree with that.

    ****************************

    BFP says,

    But if the illegal act is not reporting money that was legitimately earned, it only becomes “illegal” when the reporting is not done.

    Then again, if I declare the money, pay tax on it, but then try and hide it from my wife, that is money laundering also…. perhaps not criminal, but money laundering none the less.

  17. Thomas Gresham

    BFP,

    You are going a little crazy now and as a friend, I would recommend that you should stop.

    If money was given to Arthur on the basis that he passes it on to his party and the money was not illegally obtained, and he puts it in his bank account and does not pass it on, that is not money laundering. He is not turning dirty money into clean money. That is bad faith. It is a breach of trust, the breaking of a promise. But it is not money laundering and the banks have no remit to deal with something like that. They are asked to monitor money which has been derived from an illegal act. Thats where there remit lies.

    Do you really think it is the bank’s anti-money laundering responsibility to check that everyone who legally receives clean money from anyone, does with it what they promised to do with it? And how will they know?

    *****************

    BFP says,

    Now just a minute Thomas. If Arthur was given money to give to his party and he put it into his personal account instead of putting it into the party’s account, or his “election account” (which is what happened), then he is concealing the money – which is money laundering. It was only after he was caught out by Thompson that he passed on the money to the party.

    Nope, Arthur’s cheque and what happened with it very well fits the definition of money laundering.

    As to us being crazy, we’ve been told that for two and a half years – but we did help take down a corrupt government, didn’t we?

  18. Thomas Gresham

    Dear BFP,

    If I may help, I would suggest that what you and I agree on, is that payments to politicians that are not declared/banned or processed according to some new ITAL should be an illegal act in the future. Then, if a politician were to deposit money illegally, it would be the responsibility of banks, as now, to monitor payments and report them if they look suspicious.

  19. Thomas Gresham

    Dear BFP,

    You are right about ITAL, but I am afraid you are little mixed up about money laundering.

  20. Red Lake Lassie

    I agree with BFP, not Mr. Gresham. Money laundering is not only about drug money. Owen$ money laundered when he put that cheque into the wrong account and disguised what it was.

  21. Thomas Gresham

    Guys,

    There is no debate. Money laundering is about cleaning dirty money. It is about money that has been obtained illegally.

    If you obtain money legally and then do something you should not have done with it, that may be a crime depending on what you did. It aint money laundering.

    Dont confuse matters.

    We are against ITAL and money laundering. We are about making somethings that were legal in the past, illegal in the future.

  22. Thomas Gresham

    Dear BFP,

    I don’t know why you are persisting in embarrassing yourself on the definition of money laundering and now you are misleading others who are not in a position to know better.

    I hesitate to say this but I have spent 20 years in the financial sectors in the UK, New York and Singapore. I am familiar with anti-money laundering rules (AML) as a practitioner and I have published articles on the use of AML as a protectionist measure by the rich countries to stop off-shore centres developing. I was hoping to be able to explain this without mentioning this background.

    Here are some other examples for you. If I promise to sell someone my car, and he deposits clean money in my account and I do not give him my car, or the car is not what he thought, I have not committed money laundering, I may have committed fraud or some other criminal activity.

    If someone gives me dirty money, obtained illegally, and I sell him a legitimate car/product, I am engaged in money laundering. I am engaged in a process that is swapping dirty money for something that can become clean money (he will sell the car). It is a very specific criminal offense.

    The issue does not hover around concealment, though all money launders will try to conceal what they are doing because it is illegal. The issue hovers around the legality of the source of money. If I accept clean money, I have no duty to tell any private individual, be it my mother, wife or daughter where legally obtained money comes from and what I do with it. I may have some moral duties and I do have some duties to inform the authorities or bank if asked about the source of money and I may have tax obligations. I can act illegally with that clean money, and be tried and convicted for doing so, but handling clean money is not money laundering.

    ****************************

    BFP says,

    Hey… we and the FBI will just have to disagree with you Thomas. Don’t sweat it… but if your bank is going to “look the other way” and facilitate what is going on, in today’s world, the bank is as guilty as the person who is trying to hide the money.

  23. 229

    BFP, TG is right. By your definition any action that involves the fraudulent use of money would amount to money laundering. That is not so. The “laundering” is of “dirty” or “unclean” money; dirty because it was obtained from certain criminal activity…And by the way, money earned by way of tax evasion does not count as “dirty” money in Barbados. Read the Act, not Wikipedia.

    *******************

    BFP says,

    Tax evasion is “dirty money” almost anywhere else in the world. We’ll just have to disagree then, won’t we?

  24. Brutus

    Thomas Gresham,

    Your definition of money laundering is reasonable, and I don’t know why you have fought so hard to defend it.

    I however find it difficult to understand why you would defend the actions of FCIB in this matter. It is the bank’s responsibility to report suspicious transactions to the relevant authorities and it is for those authorities to determine whether there is criminal activity involved or not.

    Think about it, a large institution goes into a bank and deposits millions of dollar IN CASH, and simply says, well we bought this on the black market to avoid foreign exchange restrictions. How does the bank know that money laundering was not involved? Is it for them to make that determination?

  25. Anonymous

    Brutus, I don’t agree that TG is defending FCIB. In order for FCIB to be charged with more than failing to report a suspicious transaction, say, assisting in money laundering, it must be shown that they ought to have known that money laundering was going on. Perhaps you might think so, but the authorities in Belize did not.

  26. Brutus

    Anonymous,

    I agree with you completely that the appropriate charge is failing to report a suspicious transaction.

    I stand corrected if I misunderstood Thomas Gresham’s posts. He seemed to be saying that there was no need to report the transactions because FCIB knew what the transactions were all about and that no money laundering was involved.

    Apologies, Thomas G – I have re-read your posts and will give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. 🙂

  27. no name

    Now that we have got past that hurdle.

    I am curious to know with which bank the US$200 million wire transfer is associated? I cannot seem to find any mention of the name of the bank involved.

    http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080716/lead/lead1.html

    “The source claimed Olint’s most recent problems started two weeks ago when it sought to wire US$200 million through a prominent Jamaican bank. The bank reported the suspicious activity to the authorities and an investigation followed.”

    http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080717/lead/lead2.html

    “Yesterday, NCB distanced itself from claims that a prominent bank had reported the wiring of US$200 million through its accounts.”

  28. Anonymous

    To get US$ in Belize, one goes to dealers (who are almost literally on the street) and buy the available money. The situation is not like what obtains in B’dos. Belize is a financial and administrative mess and I would not be surprised if FCIB pulls out of Belize after this.

  29. no name

    I came across this article while searching Turks & Caicos and wonder if it is true and what steps the UN took.

    http://www.ar-africare.com/

  30. Rohan

    First Caribbean International Bank Indicted In 100 Money-Laundering Charges!

    Sorry BFP, but the title is misleading.

    While First Caribbean got charged UNDER the Money Laundering Act, it was for “failure to report suspicious transactions” and not a charge that rises to the level that this title would impute.

    It would be like a story on a University getting indicted for “failure to collect and make available educational records” under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act and then having a newspaper open with this title:

    Harvard University indicted in 100 Terrorism Charges!

    *******************

    BFP says,

    OK… readers want a more accurate title, so we’ll do it!

    Try complaining at the New York Times or Barbados Advocate and see what happens. 🙂

  31. Rohan

    BFP says,

    OK… readers want a more accurate title, so we’ll do it!

    Try complaining at the New York Times or Barbados Advocate and see what happens.
    ***********

    Good point! That’s why we’re hardly on their websites but come here every day! 😉

  32. Pingback: » Was Crime Boss Meyer Lansky the Godfather of the Caribbean Money-Laundering Shell Corporation? Keltruth Corp.: News Blog of Keltruth Corp. - Miami, Florida, USA.

  33. .76

    … so if a misleading headline is good for them, it’s fine for BFP too. So wrong! Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    As to the debate here, what’s the use, once BFP decides something is wrong, they are like a pitbull and won’t let up, even if the truth is staring them in the face that contradicts their view point.

    Keltruth is not far behind on this either.

    As usual you have read between the lines, sprinkle some salt and maybe some sugar on ALL forms of Press.

    Bottom line:
    You run the risk of becoming what you are fighting against.

  34. TheWatcher

    This type of behaviour is not uncommom among banks. Their(FC)pre-decessors were also accused of doing such and actually the British based consortium that sold it’s assetts to CIBC to form FC closed down a bank right here in Barbados some years ago which was located on Broad St in the Norman Center mall which was named in a money laundering scheme.
    BCCI was not doing anything other than cutting into the profits of the larger banks! Do not for one second believe that banking is pure and holy. It is greed based profit grabbing at any cost, even that of the consumer who by the way is just a by-product of a larger scheme. So consumers “legitimize” the real operations of the banks.
    IF this story does not live in the local press, it may be to protect the apparent “integrity” of our banking system. But please, if you want to print newsworthy stories, you will have to leave banking out. It is no better or worst than the types of activities that they get accused of consorting in.

  35. CHARGES DROPPED

    “The Belize Bank and First Caribbean will not stand trial for a string of charges under the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, following a Government-sanctioned decision by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for the charges to be abruptly dropped, allegedly under pressure from banks abroad.”

    see for the rest of the story:
    http://www.amandala.com.bz/index.php?id=7366

  36. Pingback: » Money Laundering Charges Dropped Against Belize Bank and First Caribbean International Bank Keltruth Corp.: News Blog of Keltruth Corp. - Miami, Florida, USA.

  37. I bet a lot of “entrepreneurs” (read: illegal drug dealers) have accounts in these fine institutions.