Federalprosecutors charged six men Tuesday with running a complicated offshore scheme that allegedly enabled clients to manipulate stocks, avoid U.S. taxes and launder hundreds of millions of dollars.
An indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn alleged the men laundered some $500 million in proceeds from fraudulent securities transactions for more than 100 U.S. citizens and helped commit tax fraud.
A person briefed on the probe said the amount of laundered money and the number of clients could be much larger and the investigation is ongoing. The indictment didn’t name any of the U.S. clients.
The men—all of whom reside in Belize, according to the indictment—concealed their U.S. clients’ ownership in offshore shell companies over a five- year period. Some of the clients used the entities to mask transactions in order to manipulate stocks, and then launder the proceeds through the offshore accounts, prosecutors alleged.
The indictment came after a two-year undercover investigation by the FederalBureau of Investigation during which an undercover agent traveled to Belize to meet with the alleged conspirators and set up offshore entities. The agent explicitly told the defendants that he planned to use a sham company to manipulate stocks, according to the indictment.
The defendants— Robert Bandfield, Andrew Godfrey, Kelvin Leach, Rohn Knowles, Brian De Wit and Cem Can—are all charged with one count of securities fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Mssrs. Bandfield, Godfrey and Can are also charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. The corporate entities allegedly controlled by the men are also charged in the indictment. Most of the companies appear to small, offshore companies controlled by the defendants.
The defendants couldn’t be immediately reached for comment and their lawyers couldn’t immediately be identified.
Six Corporate Executives and Six Corporate Entities Indicted for Orchestrating a $500 Million Offshore Asset Protection, Securities Fraud, and Money Laundering SchemeDefendants Created Three Brokerage Firms in Belize to Assist U.S. Citizens in Fraudulent Manipulation Schemes of Publicly Traded Companies, Including Cannabis-Rx Inc. (CANA)
|U.S. Attorney’s OfficeSeptember 09, 2014|