Tag Archives: Corporate Crime / Legal Actions

DNB Says Authorities Have Ended Investigations on Alleged Money Laundering | Instant News


Prosecutors suspended an investigation into the alleged involvement of Norwegian bank DNB in ​​handling payments from an Icelandic fishing company involved in the bribery investigation.


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ints kalnins / Reuters

Bank of Norway

DNB AS

A said on Friday that an investigation into his alleged involvement in handling payments from an Icelandic fishing company involved in the bribery investigation had been dropped.

The Norwegian National Authority for the Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, known as Okokrim, launched an investigation in November 2019 following the disposal of WikiLeaks data and the subsequent allegations made in the Icelandic media.

DNB said in a statement on Friday that it had been informed that the investigation had not yielded any information that provided a basis for criminal prosecution of the individual and that the public prosecutor did not think the company sentence was applicable in this case. “Because of that the case has been closed,” said DNB.

WikiLeaks published more than 30,000 documents called “Fish Files”, which show that the Icelandic fishing group Samherji hf has for years paid billions of dollars to Namibian officials for fishing quotas in the country’s waters.

Icelandic media later claimed that Samherji used DNB to funnel more than $ 70 million to a shell company in the Marshall Islands, part of the proceeds from his activities in Namibia.

Samherji said the figure was actually $ 28.9 million and related to fees for the crew but did not disclose which bank was used for the transaction.

“The dismissal of the case confirms that the allegations are pointless,” Samherji said in a statement on Friday. “Samherji is pleased with this result, because the company has always maintained that the allegations regarding Samherji’s affiliated transactions with DNB are baseless.”

Write to Dominic Cut in [email protected]

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Sinovac Covid-19 Vaccine Shown To Be Effective in Brazilian Trials | Instant News


SÃO PAULO – The Covid-19 vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., which scientists hope will help combat the pandemic in developing countries, has crossed the 50% threshold for efficacy in late-stage trials in Brazil, meaning regulators can provide a lighter green to use , say the people involved in its development.

Brazil became the first country to complete Phase 3 trials of China’s CoronaVac vaccine company, which is also being tested in Indonesia and Turkey. With Covid-19 largely under control in China, the country’s vaccine developers have had to carry out clinical trials abroad.

The people involved in the Brazilian trial, which completed Phase 3 last week, told The Wall Street Journal that the results showed CoronaVac with an effective rate above 50%, the threshold for a vaccine considered viable by international scientists. People refused to provide further information. But scientists tracking vaccine progress say they expect it to show comparable efficacy to other Covid-19 vaccines that have been shown to be 95% effective in trials.

“Everyone expects an efficacy level of above 90%,” said Domingos Alves, a professor at the Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine in São Paulo who specializes in analyzing health data. “The results from the first phase of the trial were excellent.”

Brazil’s Butantan Institute, a research center supported by the São Paulo state government that has tested CoronaVac, is set to announce the vaccine’s efficacy level on Wednesday. Butantan said on Monday that they considered the information currently being provided about the vaccine’s efficacy as “mere speculation.”

When richer countries buy vaccine doses from Western drugmakers, poorer countries put their hopes in China. Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine can also be stored in a standard refrigerator with temperatures between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, making it easier to transport and store in less developed areas.

São Paulo’s governor João Doria has spearheaded the development of a Chinese vaccine in Brazil, which is expected to be one of the first vaccines approved for use in the hard-hit Latin American country. Brazil has recorded more than 187,000 deaths from Covid-19 so far and continues to report tens of thousands of new cases every day – a grim fact that makes it an ideal testing ground for a vaccine.

Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach on Sundays.


Photo:

fabio motta / Shutterstock

About 11,000 health workers in the Brazilian capital and in seven other states are taking part in the Phase 3 trial, with half using CoronaVac and the other half receiving a placebo, the São Paulo government said.

More than 200 volunteers contracted Covid-19 during the trial, giving researchers a large enough sample to calculate the vaccine’s efficacy by counting how many infected volunteers took either CoronaVac or a placebo, Butantan’s director, Dimas Covas, said in an interview.

Mr Covas said the Phase 3 results were being reviewed by an independent committee of five scientists, which would confirm their level of efficacy. Although he refused to identify the specialists, Mr Covas said they were from countries other than Brazil or China.

The trial results will be submitted to drug regulators in Brazil and China on Wednesday. Mr Covas said there was a possibility that CoronaVac would be approved in China before Brazil.

In Brazil, vaccines have been at the center of a bitter political battle between Doria and President Jair Bolsonaro, who views the disease as nothing more than a “mild flu”.

President Jair Bolsonaro poses this month in a character made to promote the country’s vaccination efforts.


Photo:

Andressa Anholete / Getty Images

A fierce critic of China, Bolsonaro has refused to buy CoronaVac for other states, and recently suggested on social media that the vaccine could lead to disability and even death. Some doctors fear Bolsonaro could pressure state regulator Anvisa to delay his approval.

Mr Doria said he plans to launch a television campaign to persuade Brazilians to get vaccinated, and will do whatever it takes to get Anvisa to approve CoronaVac in time to start giving vaccines in São Paulo on January 25.

“If necessary, we will go to the Supreme Court to save lives,” Doria said in an interview.

Pak Doria said he plans to vaccinate the entire state, home to about a fifth of Brazil’s population, by the end of July – nearly a year earlier than the federal government promised to vaccinate the country’s entire population.

If people refuse to take the vaccine, they will be barred from entering shopping centers, cinemas, cinemas, and refused entry to planes and buses, Doria said. They will find themselves isolated.

A former television star and businessman, Doria said he had support from the private sector in the state to enact the measures.

Butantan, which started production of the Sinovac vaccine in Brazil this month, has agreed with a private Chinese company to become a distributor of CoronaVac in Latin America. In May, Butantan plans to start shipping vaccines to Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Peru and Uruguay, Covas told the Journal.

Butantan, which is funding the Phase 3 trial, will use the profits from the distribution of the vaccine to reinvest in the plant it is building to produce as many as one million doses of CoronaVac every day, Covas said.

Latin American countries have been working hard to secure enough Covid-19 vaccines for the region, which has so far recorded more than 450,000 deaths from the disease.

As rich countries buy supplies of Covid-19 vaccines from Western drugmakers that are still in development, China and Russia are offering their fast-track injections to poorer countries. This is what they expect in return. Illustration: Ksenia Shaikhutdinova

Colombia began a limited testing phase for the vaccine this week, said President Ivan Duque, with mass vaccinations starting in February when the country was scheduled to take delivery of its first major vaccine, nearly two million doses of it.

Pfizer Inc.

In Argentina, the government of President Alberto Fernandez reached an agreement with Russia to receive 10 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Last month Argentina also signed an agreement with

AstraZeneca

PLC will receive 22 million doses of the vaccine. They expect to start receiving the vaccine in the first half of next year.

Meanwhile, the Peruvian government has come under fire for its failure to get a Covid-19 vaccine, as authorities say they don’t know exactly when the first shots will arrive in the worst-hit country.

More about the Covid-19 Vaccine

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Write to Samantha Pearson at [email protected] and Luciana Magalhaes at [email protected]

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German Prosecutors Investigate Ernst & Young’s Role in Wirecard Collapse | Instant News


German prosecutors are examining Ernst & Young’s role in the humiliated collapse of payments operator Wirecard AG, increasing pressure on auditing firms.

Munich prosecutors said they were evaluating a report by the state’s accounting watchdog about the company’s collapse this summer. The supervisor, known as Apas, conducted an investigation into the work of the audit firm’s local affiliate, EY GmbH, after Wirecard admitted that more than $ 2 billion in cash it said was held in bank accounts in his name did not exist.

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US Department of Justice Ending Surveillance of Odebrecht Brazil | Instant News


An independent monitor has certified Odebrecht SA’s anti-bribery compliance program, the Brazilian construction company said.

The certification closes the 3½ year surveillance period imposed in Odebrecht as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice in December 2016. The settlement resolves allegations that the company paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to public officials in Brazil and elsewhere to win lucrative infrastructure contracts.

The monitor has stated that Odebrecht’s compliance program is designed to prevent future violations of anti-corruption laws, including the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to the company.

Odebrecht marked the end of the surveillance period as a new chapter for the company, which was last year filed for bankruptcy in Brazil and the US

“The conclusion of the monitoring and certification provided by the DoJ monitors is the most eloquent attestation that Odebrecht has learned from its own mistakes and has reached the same level as other companies operating with ethics, integrity and transparency,” Odebrecht chairman, José Mauro Carneiro da Cunha. , said last week.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Monitoring, which began in February 2017, is extended in February for nearly nine months. Prosecutors at the time said Odebrecht had failed to adopt the recommendations made by its supervisors and failed to implement an adequate anti-bribery compliance program.

Odebrecht said at the time that surveillance was temporarily hampered by the company’s financial problems.

Odebrecht’s observer is Charles Duross, a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP and former head of the Justice Department’s FCPA unit. Mr Duross did not respond to a request for comment.

More than 900 employees, including members of the board of directors, were eventually interviewed as part of the oversight, Odebrecht said. The monitoring team also traveled to seven countries, reviewed some 30,000 documents and tested more than 5,000 transactions.

Write to Dylan Tokar at [email protected]

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IRS Reels in a Whale of a Offshore Tax Cheat – and Goes for the Another | Instant News


US tax officials have thrown a historic one-two punch at wealthy Americans hiding money overseas.

On October 15, they announced that Robert Smith, 57 years of age private equity billionaire who founded Vista Equity Partners, admits he criminally evaded taxes on income of more than $ 200 million from 2000 to 2015 by using secret foreign accounts in the Caribbean and Switzerland.

Mr. Smith, best known for announcing at Morehouse College graduation that he would do it pay off student loans for 2019 class, will pay $ 139 million to the Internal Revenue Service in taxes and fines. He would also ignore claims for a $ 182 million deduction for charitable donations, which could add more than $ 65 million to his debt to the IRS. But he will not be prosecuted.

Software executive Robert Brockman pleaded not guilty to charges of hiding about $ 2 billion in capital-gains income from the IRS in secret offshore accounts.


Photo:

Dave Rossman / Associated Press

At the same time, files US officials were chargedRobert Brockman, a Houston-based billionaire and CEO of software who was the sole investor in Mr.’s first private equity fund. Smith, by hiding an estimated $ 2 billion in capital gains from the IRS in a secret account abroad from 2000 to 2018. Mr. Brockman, 79, pleaded not guilty and was released on $ 1 million bail.

Both cases are key events in the US crackdown on undeclared offshore accounts that has been ongoing since 2009. Brockman’s $ 2 billion tax evasion charge is the largest criminal tax lawsuit ever filed, according to the Department of Justice, and Mr. Smith’s $ 139 million payment was among the largest made in connection with a secret offshore account.

“This extraordinary case demonstrates the reach of the IRS and the Department of Justice in tracing hidden assets around the world. Rich people have to clean up their houses before the IRS arrives, ”said Caroline Ciraolo, a prominent former criminal tax attorney at the Justice Department who now works at Kostelanetz & Fink.

The public documents in the Smith and Brockman case offer a new window into the dark world of wealthy American tax evaders. They reveal both the amount of money involved and how long people will try to hide it – even when tax rates are relatively low.

Here’s how it works, with a focus on Mr. Smith because the facts are not disputed. A spokesman for Mr Smith and Vista Equity Partners declined to comment on the case. Mr. Brockman’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Is there a difference between tax avoidance and planning to minimize taxes?

Yes, the big one. Tax avoidance can be legal, but tax avoidance is a crime of deliberately not paying taxes, and it must be clearly intentional. For example, Mr. six page confession. Smith uses the word “on purpose” 25 times to describe his mistake.

How do offshore accounts allow tax evasion?

Confidentiality is the key. It often starts when an American puts assets into foreign trusts, companies, and other offshore accounts nominally owned by foreigners to make it appear like no taxes are owed to the IRS. In fact, these assets are controlled by America.

This offshore structure is difficult for the IRS to investigate if it is in a country without treaties or treaties that facilitate the exchange of tax information.

Mr. Smith admits that he controls entities in Belize and the Caribbean island of Nevis that are not in his name. The entity receives pre-tax benefits from its personal equity funds. He also controls undeclared bank accounts in the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland, and he withdraws millions of untaxed dollars from them to buy and upgrade luxury real estate in Sonoma, California and Switzerland.

Robert Smith, founder of Vista Equity Partners, admits that he criminally evaded income tax of more than $ 200 million between 2000 and 2015 by using secret foreign accounts in the Caribbean and Switzerland.


Photo:

Simon Dawson / Bloomberg News

How do tax evaders keep offshore accounts secret from the IRS?

They often employ intermediaries, and they often use encrypted communications and codenames to cover their tracks.

For example, Mr. Smith said he paid an unnamed Houston lawyer who was Mr. Brockman over $ 800,000 from 2000 to 2014 to set up and maintain a fake paper trail to hide his account.

Is tax avoidance using offshore accounts a new trend?

Not. It has been around for decades, but a continuing US crackdown began in 2009 after the Swiss banking giant

UBS AG

admits it encourages Americans to evade taxes and even send bankers to the US for market evasion schemes.

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What do you think would motivate a billionaire to try tax fraud? Join the conversation below.

The crackdown, which had many aspects, allowed the IRS to do so penetrate the veil of bank secrecy in Switzerland and several other countries. As a result, more than 56,000 US taxpayers are at risk of criminal prosecution for undeclared offshore accounts entering the IRS’s limited amnesty program and paying an estimated $ 11 billion to solve their problems. Foreign banks paid more than $ 6 billion.

How does the IRS detect Mr. tax evasion. Smith?

Not clear. However in late 2013 or early 2014, Mr. Swiss bank. Smith informed him that it was ready to pass information about his account to the IRS. Many Swiss banks are doing this to reduce their own penalties arising from the US crackdown.

Mr Smith then applied for the IRS’s limited amnesty program but was rejected in April 2014 – meaning that he was most likely already in the agency’s eyes.

Mr. Smith was a well-known philanthropist, even more so than paying off debts of Morehouse graduates. Are the offshore accounts benefiting a charity?

Mr. Smith’s trust has charitable recipients, but he is not required to make donations. In late 2014, he donated a large amount of offshore assets to Fund II Foundation, a US-approved charity.

While under an IRS investigation, Mr. Smith made waves as a donor. To 2016 and 2019 he was named one of the top 50 US donors by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Charitable endeavors, such as Mr. Smith manual creation to help colleges and other donors emulate its Morehouse program, can polish the defendant’s image in the eyes of prosecutors and judges. Neither he nor the government said why he gave up $ 182 million in charitable deductions as part of the settlement.

Robert F. Smith, keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony of Morehouse College, said he will pay off his 2019 college debt, approximately $ 40 million. Photo: Steve Schaefer / Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP (Originally published May 19, 2019)

Why Mr. Smith wasn’t charged if he evaded $ 200 million in taxes?

David Anderson, US Attorney for the Northern District of California, who handled the case, said Mr. Smith to cooperate with the government – perhaps in Mr Smith’s case. Brockman— “keep him away from prosecution.”

The DOJ procedure does not allow defendants to buy their way out of prosecution, but cooperation can provide a basis for leniency. However, some tax experts consider Mr. Smith is not ordinary.

Jack Townsend, a lawyer who publishes the blog Federal Tax Crimes, said, “He’s got an incredible deal, considering what he did.”

Write to Laura Saunders at [email protected]

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