Tag Archives: international crime

Argentina probes ties between ex-presidents, Miami real estate empire


Offshore corporations have one main purpose – to create anonymity. Recently leaked documents reveal that some of these shell companies, cloaked in secrecy, provide cover for dictators, politicians and tax evaders. Sohail Al-Jamea and Ali Rizvi McClatchy

Where did a mystery man from Argentina get nearly $65 million to spend on ultra-luxury Miami condos, New York apartments and South Florida strip malls?

That’s what Argentine prosecutors want to know, especially because Sergio Todisco doesn’t seem to have a fortune of his own — and because he once acted as an offshore corporate front-man for a top aide to former president Néstor Kirchner.

The controversy again shows how Miami’s gleaming condos attract secret and potentially illicit money from around the world.

Between 2010 and 2015, Florida companies registered in the names of Todisco and his now ex-wife, Elizabeth Ortiz Municoy, a real estate agent in Miami and Buenos Aires, spent about $21 million on luxury condos at some of South Florida’s best-known towers, including Icon Brickell, St. Regis, Turnberry Ocean Colony, Apogee Beach and 900 Biscayne. The crown jewel was a $10.7 million, four-bedroom unit at the Regalia in Sunny Isles Beach. The companies later sold most of the units.

Other companies that listed Todisco and Municoy as officers invested $30 million in South Florida bank branches and a pharmacy, as well as a $13 million unit at Manhattan’s stately Plaza Hotel.

Only two of the transactions involved mortgages, according to public records, meaning the other deals were likely for cash.

In Argentina, major corruption investigations are swirling around ex-president Kirchner, who died in 2010, and his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who subsequently became president. Now, an Argentine federal prosecutor has opened an inquiry to determine if Todisco and Municoy were laundering money for Kirchner associates — or even the Kirchners themselves, although they’re not yet an official target of the investigation.

At the very least, there’s compelling evidence that Todisco and Municoy were buying properties for people who wanted to keep their identities hidden.

“The tax position of Todisco and Municoy revealed by documents obtained [by the prosecutor’s office] makes it impossible to associate them with the million-dollar transactions carried out abroad,” reads a complaint filed as part of the investigation into the Todisco affair.

Here’s why Argentine law enforcement is so suspicious: At the same time Todisco was snapping up luxe Miami condos, he acted as the director of Gold Black Limited, an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands. Gold Black’s stated purpose was “real estate investment” in the United States, according to documents in the massive leak of confidential offshore files known as the Panama Papers.

The company’s owners? Néstor Kirchner’s personal secretary and close friend, Héctor Daniel Muñoz, who died of cancer earlier this year, and Muñoz’s wife, Carolina Pochetti.

A lawyer for Fernández de Kirchner did not respond to questions and Pochetti could not be reached.

The president’s shadow

Muñoz had been a debt collector at the Kirchners’ law firm before they came to power.

During his time in government, he served as Kirchner’s “body man,” a sort of valet and jack-of-all-trades who answered the president’s phone, handled his medication and stayed by his side when he was hospitalized. Kirchner affectionately called him el gordo (“fatty”) and, according to a press account, once slapped him during an argument. The pair was also fond of play-wrestling. When Kirchner couldn’t sleep, he would wake up his friend to keep him company.

Mafia Expert Roberto Saviano Denounces London As “The Most Corrupt Place On Earth”

Roberto Saviano, the mafia expert, has described London as the most corrupt place on the planet. The investigative journalist made his name by exposing the practices of the infamous Camorra clan centered in the Italian city of Naples.

Saviano has now gone on to describe the British capital as the center of an international network of bribery and crime.

“If I asked what is the most corrupt place on Earth, you might say it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the south of Italy” He said. “I would say it is the UK. It’s not UK bureaucracy, police, or politics, but what is corrupt is the financial capital. Ninety per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.”

This echoes observations made last week that major Western cities, such as London, New York and Miami harbor illicit funds and launder money through their lucrative property markets. It also directly challenges the David Cameron’s assertions that Afghanistan and Nigeria are “fantastically corrupt” and “possibly the most corrupt countries in the world”.

Saviano is challenging the accepted perspective of corruption in the West. For most governments and indeed members of the public, corruption is a problem of poor countries. Specifically, those that are far away and home to a largely alien culture. Our own frankly superior values would not hold credence to petty bribery schemes or misuse of public funds.

This mythical view is quickly exploded when one sees the eye-watering sums of money that are facilitated by the Western professional classes and businesses in relations with overseas despots and other unsavory characters.

Senior bankers have described London as the “most developed tax haven” available. Its new major has warned the city may grow into the global money-laundering capital. According to Transparency International, 33,000 London homes are owned by overseas shell companies in jurisdictions that are not legally obliged to declare the owner’s name.

This blind eye to dirty money can escalate to more serious crimes. Saviano recognizes this characterization. “In my lifetime, more than 4,000 people have been killed in Naples and the surrounding area by the Camorra.”

After exposing mafia crimes, the 10 years of his life has been accompanied by five body-guards in caravan of two armored cars. He has now turned his attention onto London.

For Saviano, The UK capital is the involved in almost every international crime going. In respect of drugs, “Mexico is its heart and London is its head”.  He claims that the city facilitates international organized crime and is home to the Russian mafia.

London, or, by extension, the West, is not immune to crime or corruption. In many cases, its sophisticated legal and financial systems facilitate it. Given the sums of money involved, where else can we find more corruption?

Sourced From – http://www.forbes.com/sites/jwebb/2016/05/30/mafia-expert-robert-saviano-denounces-london-as-the-the-most-corrupt-place-on-earth/#266f6567111a