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 Seychelles Firm Implicated In AsiaUniversalBank Money Laundering Case Is Up For Another Laundering Scandal

Following the takeover of AsiaUniversalBank (AUB) by the Kyrgyz Interim Government in April 2010 an investigation was launched into the money laundering and balance sheet fixing schemes of the bank.  

The Kyrgyz Republic's Attorney General's Office is still mulling over tons of corporate documents and payment orders of the AUB multi-billion dollar payment flow.  Some episodes already resulted in criminal convictions: Michael Nadel, the main owner of AUB, was convicted on 22nd October 2014 by Pervomaisky Court of Bishkek for embezzling millions from AUB and dressing up its accounts using offshore companies, to hide the embezzlement.

In 2011, long before the criminal sentence was given, the laundering and embezzlement episodes were subject to a public investigation by Global Witness, an NGO covering financial crime and related themes.

In its report titled «Grave Secrecy» (www.globalwitness.org/library/grave-secrecy) Global Witness revealed that many offshore companies used for dubious financial transactions in AUB in fact were administered by a small handful of offshore corporate service providers.  Among those named was a Seychelles-licensed firm, Apollo Business Solutions (Pty), Ltd., part of a large offshore services group with Russian roots - Apollo International (www.apollo-international.com).  Its main marketing and sales offices are in Kiev and Moscow.

It was reported that some of the offshore companies serviced by Apollo were supplied with nominee owners and directors who in fact had no idea their passports were used by the offshore incorporators.  One extreme case cited by Global Witness was that a corporate resolution was 'signed' in Apollo's London office by a man who died three years before that.

Being a large contributor to the Seychelles offshore industry Apollo escaped sanctions by the Seychelles regulators and continued business as usual.

This year, however, a few more criminal episodes happened involving Apollo International, showing that old habits die hard when it comes to the offshore industry.

In April 2014 the US FBI arrested a well-known Ukrainian businessman Mr. Dmitry Firtash in Vienna, Austria for allegedly paying millions of dollars in bribes to Indian officials for mineral rights.  It was then revealed (http://www.nation.sc/article.html?id=241430) that one of the firms which supplied offshore companies implicated in the FBI investigation was Apollo Business Solutions - the same company mentioned by Global Witness.

It was later revealed (http://www.seychellesweekly.com/April%204-14,%202014/soc1_r4million_seized.html) that the very same Apollo Business Solutions certified corporate documents for a bank account used by a Russian cyber-gang in the Seychelles.  The account was frozen by the Seychelles Financial Intelligence Unit.

Just very recently news emerged from the Ukraine that Apollo got yet again into a criminal scandal.  This time it was theft of shares in a Ukrainian agricultural enterprise 'Chumaki' which was accomplished by their re-registration in the name of a Seychelles firm incorporated by Apollo.  The re-registration was on the basis of fake papers where signatures of the shares owners were forged.  As it transpired from copies of papers obtained in the course of Ukrainian police investigation, the Seychelles company used for the crime had a director whom neither the Police, nor the victim's lawyers are now able to locate.  Very probably, this is another case of someone's passport used by offshore crooks to make the company truly 'anonymous'.

Ainagul Moldobaeva