By Al-gblor Toweh
MONROVIA-A new Republic Investigation has uncovered what seems to be a money laundering network in Liberia involving European and Africans. This has been busted by the Financial Intelligence Unit(FIU) in Liberia after a local bank suspected suspicious transactions of an account registered to carry out computer information technology, is diverting and withdrawing huge sums of money into gambling business. The majority shares are owned by national of Belarus.
Documents received by this paper have also supported the story.
The parent company is based in Cyprus with its subsidiary in Liberia: Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability. It was established that it has not been operating in line with the purpose for which it was established; information Technology and Computer services activities. But this is contrary to the business intent. Rather, it is involved into gambling activities.
Korlane Investment Liberia Limited Liability account was opened at a local bank. The company, since it registered few years ago, it does not have physical office in Liberia. It has been established that deposits made into the account were executed online through master, visa and swift cards from overseas. The parent company co-conspirator is Evgeny Nikitsiuk of Belarus controls hundred percent shares and also owns 85 percent shares in the Liberian company. He is the sole signatory to the Liberian account at a local bank(name withheld for now).
But what raised a red alert is an Ivorian national who resides in Sierra Leone, Patrick Hermann Wani Diega controls only 15 percent shares in the Liberian company. “He usually travelled from Sierra Leone to Liberia to conduct withdrawals when he is not signatory to the account,” an insider familiar with the investigation told this paper early Tuesday.
“The authority has asked why they are not using the master card to do withdrawals?” Diega has refused to answer. But some top government officials are trying to prevent him from coming for investigation,” an insider said.
The level of suspicion came after the local bank detected huge withdrawals in cash. For instance, between 8-24 November 2021 an amount of US$240K(two hundred and forty thousand united states dollars) was withdrawn. Then between 24-28 November 2021, a withdrawal of US$256K (Two hundred and fifty six thousand united states dollars) was made. Based upon this, the bank informed the third party switch, visa and master cards company to help ascertain the origin and legitimacy of these transactions.
Following that, on December 2, 2021 a visa member bank based in the Republic of Slovakia reported fraud against the visa card and the local bank blocked all the transactions. This was to the annoyance of Diega who was said to have gone to court to file a law suit.
On December 10, 2021, it was investigated that a company repressing visa-issuing banks in Ecuador complained to the local bank in Liberia against their card holders by the local bank’s merchant Korlane Investment.
That instead of using the services for information technology, they were using it for the collection of 1xbet, a sport betting company in the gambling sector. According to research, the betting company is based in Nigeria.
The FIU described the transaction as suspicious and needs to be investigated. An official of the FIU who was seen at the court on Monday seemed to be unhappy with the slow pace at which the court was trying to proceed with the case.
When the solicitor General of Liberia General Syrenius Cephas was contacted if he knew about this case, he said: “I heard about it, but the man has rather sued the bank. The case is at the high court. I am not protecting anyone. Why will I, as Chief prosecutor do that?”
But added, someone is trying to undermine his work. The case was filed by an aid in his office which should not be the case.
More details will follow in our subsequent report.