HSBC CASE BLOWS LID OFF CLINTONS' OFFSHORE EMPIRE
Panama Papers suggest ties to massive money-laundering scheme
NEW YORK – The arrest of the head of global foreign exchange cash trading at HSBC bank may shed new light on suspicions the Clinton Foundation has been involved in illegal offshore money-laundering operations on a massive scale.
The investigation into HSBC currency trader Mark Johnson and associate Stuart Scott for their alleged role in a “conspiracy to rig currency benchmarks” by front-running customer orders has escalated to the point where the Department of Justice is threatening to tear up a 2012 agreement to fine HSBC a historic $1.9 billion for money-laundering violations in lieu of criminal prosecutions.
At issue is whether or not HSBC has honored the 2012 deferred-prosecution agreement in which the bank agreed to establish internal review procedures to catch and punish potentially criminal activities by employees.
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The bank’s failure to discipline the two currency traders will make it difficult for HSBC to convince law-enforcement authorities that the massive Hong Kong-headquartered bank has complied with the 2012 agreement. An internal investigation in 2013 cleared them of any wrongdoing regarding a $3.5 billion currency trade that U.S. prosecutors now believe was criminally fraudulent.
HSBC money trail leads to Clintons
WND broke open the HSBC money-laundering case with a series of articles beginning in February 2012. More than 1,000 pages of customer records and secret audio recordings brought to WND by whistleblower John Cruz, a former HSBC employee, showed HSBC employees in Long Island were stealing the Social Security numbers of former bank depositors to create bogus “pass-through” accounts used to launder hundreds of millions of dollars for criminal enterprises such as Mexican drug cartels and Islamic terrorists.
WND reported in February 2015 Cruz told Senate Judiciary Committee staff preparing for the Loretta Lynch confirmation hearings that he considered the $1.9 billion fine DOJ imposed on HSBC in 2012 in lieu of criminal prosecution “a joke.” Cruz argued that a $1.9 billion fine of an international bank the size of HSBC amounted to no more than “a few days operating profit.” He described it as “a cost of doing business” once HSBC had decided to launder money for international criminals.
After the HSBC currency traders were arrested, WND conducted an investigation of the bank’s connections to the Clinton Foundation, uncovering a massive offshore financial network involving tens of thousands of transactions that extend far beyond HSBC.
The transactions surfaced in database searches of leaked offshore banking documents.
On Feb. 10, 2015, the London Guardian reported $81 million from seven wealthy international donors flowed to the Clinton Foundation through controversial Swiss tax-free HSBC accounts maintained in Geneva, as revealed by leaked HSBC files obtained by French newspaper Le Monde.
The evidence has been passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Guardian, BBC Panorama and more than 50 other media outlets around the world.
Breitbart reported in April that key Clinton financial partners, including Canadian mining executive Frank Giustra and the Chagoury family of Nigeria, made use of the controversial Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca to move assets around the world.
Breitbart noted Giustra is one of the Clinton Foundation’s largest contributors, donating more than $25 million, while the Chagoury family in Nigeria has committed $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative.
This led WND to begin an extensive investigation into the major leak of offshore banking documents, known as the “Panama Papers,” a giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records from the files of the Mossack Fonseca law firm that was archived by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The Panama Papers database contains information on some 214,000 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. It reveals major financial institutions, including HSBC, involved in the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens that form a complex international network involved in tax evasion and money-laundering schemes.
In a series of searches of the ICIJ Panama Paper’s database of leaked documents, WND has uncovered tens of thousands of transactions that surface for Bill Clinton under his own name as well as for various shell companies he has created using his initials, WJC.
Searches of the names Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton uncovered tens of thousands of additional offshore transactions via offshore investment companies established for both.
Additionally, tens of thousands of offshore transactions are recorded in searches for the Clinton Foundation and its various subsidiaries, including the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
The surfaced transactions tied to the Clinton family begin to appear in 1993, the first year Bill Clinton was president, and extending through 2015, when the ICIJ database of Panama Papers offshore leaks was published.
Transactions linked to the Clinton Global Initiative have occurred in countries such as Panama, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, British Anguilla, the Bahamas, Switzerland, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Jersey, Malta, Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey, Cyprus, France, Belgium, Italy, Canada, China, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Singapore, Thailand, Mauritius, Ecuador, Guatemala, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Samoa and Vanuatu, as well as various “undisclosed” and “undetermined” locations.
“The cache of 11.5 million records shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars,” the ICIJ writes about the Panama Papers.
Ties to foundation donors
The McClatchy Washington Bureau, an ICIJ participant, reported in April that while the Panama Papers have revealed direct connections with the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama – including ties to Marc Rich, the international fugitive pardoned by Clinton in his final days in office and to firms tied to Ng Lap Seng, the Chinese billionaire implicated in a major Democratic Party fundraising scandal while Clinton was president – the Clintons themselves do not appear as Mossack Fonseca law firm clients.
“The Clintons themselves do not appear to be in Mossack Fonseca’s database, nor does it appear that their daughter, Chelsea, or her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, who co-founded a hedge fund, are listed,” the McClatchy Washington Bureau reported.
“But Bill and Hillary Clinton’s connections to people who have used offshores is fuel for her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders.”
While the transactions identified in an ICIJ database search correspond to records that detail the nature of the transactions, the ICIJ has not typically released transactional details because of concerns over privacy laws in the various jurisdictions, including the United States. So, for instance, while it’s known that WJC LLC is associated in the Panama Papers database with thousands of transactions recorded in the ICIJ database, WND is unable to determine if the transactions involved Bill Clinton personally or only associates of Bill Clinton.
A database search for Clinton Global Initiative reveals what appear to be Clinton-affiliated entities registered offshore, such as Clinton Development Company S.A., a company incorporated in 1996 by Mossack Fonesca in the small South Pacific island nation of Niue (deactivated Dec. 16, 1999); Clinton Investments Limited, incorporated by Mossack Fonesca in the British Virgin Islands in 1990 (deactivated May 23, 1991); Clinton Holdings Limited, incorporated by Mossack Fonesca in the British West Indies in 1989 (deactivated April 30, 1993); and Clinton, Inc., incorporated by Mossack Fonesca in the Bahamas in 1993 (deactivated Jan. 3, 2001).
Similarly, a database search for Chelsea Clinton Investments lists Chelsea Enterprises Limited Company, incorporated in 2001 by Mossack Fonesca in Nevada (deactivated March 20, 2009); Chelsea Resort Ltd., incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in Seychelles in 2005 (deactivated Dec. 5, 2014); Chelsea Manor Ltd., incorporated by Mossack Fonesca in Seychelles in 2005 (listed as active); Chelsea House Ltd., incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in Seychelles in 2006 (deactivated Jan. 8, 2010); Chelsea Crystal Limited, incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in Seychelles in 2006 (deactivated Nov. 9, 2010); Chelsea International Limited, incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in 2001 (deactivated Dec. 20, 2002); Chelsea Holdings Overseas S.A, incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in Panama in 2007 (deactivated Jan. 6, 2010); and Chelsea Group Ltd., incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in 1994 (deactivated Oct. 9, 2014).
For most of these Mossack Fonseca-registered corporations using the “Clinton” name, shareholders are listed simply as “bearer,” a designation that does not permit identifying with certainty whether the parties backing the formation of the corporation were the Clinton family, a Clinton family designee or an unrelated third party simply exploiting the Clinton name.
Yet, there is evidence within the ICIJ database that Clinton-formed corporations have offshore banking connections.
The Clintons or agents working on their behalf incorporated five shell companies, the Washington Free Beacon reported in April, that generate thousands of hits in the Panama Papers offshore entity database.
The corporations include WJC LLC, which Bill Clinton incorporated in 2008 as a “pass-through” for his consulting fees, as well as ZFS Holdings, incorporated in 2013, one week after Hillary Clinton left the State Department, apparently as a vehicle for her publisher Simon & Schuster to pay a $5.5 million advance for her 2015 book “Hard Choices.”
The other three Clinton-formed shell companies incorporated in Delaware are:
The Acceso Fund LLC, a Delaware corporation that Bill Clinton formed in 2009, to be used by the Clinton Foundation, supposedly to funnel money to the Clinton Foundation’s Colombia-based private equity fund, Fondo Acceso.
The Acceso Worldwide Fund Inc. was incorporated in Delaware in 2013, supposedly to be used by the Clinton Foundation in working with Fondo Acceso.
The Haiti Development Fund LLC was registered in 2010, again as a vehicle for the Clinton Foundation to raise charitable donations supposedly targeted for the relief of the victims of the 2010 earthquake.The Delaware limited liability companies such as WJC LLC are not required to file annual statements disclosing their directors or owners, according to the Free Beacon. The Clintons registered both companies in New York after they were established.
A search of Acceso Fund LLC in the Panama Papers offshore database produces hits for 1,604 offshore entities. There are 3,436 hits for Acceso Worldwide Fund LLC and 8,719 for the Haiti Development Fund LLC
A search for ZFS Holdings LLC produces hits for 24,086 offshore entities.
Moreover, the public record shows the Clintons are no strangers to offshore banking. The Daily Caller noted Jan. 12, for instance, that Bill Clinton was a partner in Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Global Partnership, registered in the Cayman Islands, from which Bill Clinton was paid an estimated $10 million, as originally reported by the Washington Post in 2008.
The Associated Press in August 2015 broke the story that Bill Clinton had created and used a shell corporation, WJC LLC, and a shell bank account to hide an undisclosed amount of money from public reporting and accountability.
The AP reported that the disclosure came in response to questions the news wire had posed regarding financial files the Clintons had released as a legal requirement for Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign. The answers were provided by Clinton officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The officials leaking the information confirmed that WJC LLC was a “pass-through” account, designed to collect fees for consulting, possibly for speeches, and conceivably to receive payment on commercial “deals” in which the Clinton had delivered services, possibly including political favors in return for payment.
WJC LLC is the type of company that gun-running and drug-dealing criminals involved in international money-laundering create and operate to avoid law-enforcement detection.
As exposed in the book “Partners in Crime: The Clintons’ Scheme to Monetize the White House for Personal Profit,” by emptying the account to zero following each payment, the Clintons avoided having to make public disclosure of the account, since the rules require candidates to declare only family assets worth $1,000 or more.
As noted in “Partners in Crime,” the existence of WJC LLC as a corporation or as a shell bank account has never been mentioned in any Clinton Foundation audited financial statements or IRS Tax Form 990 since the foundation’s inception in 1997. Because the WJC LLC bank account never showed up with a positive balance in banking records reported to bank regulators, the Clintons also avoided disclosing the existence of the account in their income tax filings.
A search of the ICIJ database of the Panama Papers for WJC LLC produced a list of hits that included 1,011 offshore entities, 446 officers, 72 intermediaries and 143 different addresses.
Among the “offshore entities” that surfaced in the search for WJC LLC was the still active WJC Investment Group Ltd., a corporation registered in the British Virgin Islands on Oct. 6, 2005, by the Singapore-based Asian wealth manager Portcullis Trustnet, that the Panama Papers list as registered in the British Virgin Island as a trust company. The ICIJ reports that about a third of the offshore entities in the Panama Papers were incorporated through Portcullis Trustnet (now Portcullis) and Commonwealth Trust Limited, two offshore service providers that were made public as part of the ICIJ’s 2013 “Offshore Leaks” exposé.
The information on Portcullis Trustnet was added to what has become the Panama Papers database in June 2013, when it was produced in conjunction with the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación.
WJC Investments LLC
As exposed in Chapter 8, “The India Scam,” of “Partners in Crime,” until the Obama 2008 presidential campaign opposition research became public, the Clintons had managed to keep the existence of WJC Investments LLC completely secret.
On May 27, 2015, following the AP’s discovery that Bill Clinton used WJC LLC as a shell company, Jennifer Epstein noted in Bloomberg Politics that Bill Clinton also owns WJC International Investments GP LLC, as well as WJC International Investments LLC.
The establishment media, generally protective of the Clintons, has neglected to investigate Bill Clinton’s WJC limited liability corporate holdings, even since the Washington Post in 2014 reported the general partnership WJC International Investments GP LLC was created by Bill Clinton in 2006.
As pointed out in “Partners in Crime,” there are many legitimate reasons to create and operate LLC structures, including tax planning, an additional advantage deriving to the benefit of the Clintons is secrecy.
Unlike public corporations, the filing and disclosure requirements for LLC benefits those, such as the Clintons, who want to maximize privacy by avoiding public disclosure requirements. How many investments have the Clintons derived from connections established with donors to the Clinton Foundation and/or members of the Clinton Global Initiative?
The American public may never know. The likelihood is WJC LLC, as well as WJC International Investments LLC and WJC Investments LLC were created and maintained as limited liability corporations – with WJC LLC being nothing more than a shell corporation – precisely so that questions could never be answered.
Variations of WJC Investments LLC produced thousands of hits in the ICIJ offshore leaks database.
A search of the ICIJ database of the Panama Papers for WJC Investments LLC produced a list of hits that included 19,372 offshore entities, 3,396 officers, 215 intermediaries and 316 addresses. The database also produced 38,934 offshore entities associated with WJC Investments Group LLC, plus 50,407 offshore entities identified with WJC International Investments LLC, as well as 68,188 offshore entities identified with WJC International Investments Group LLC.
WND also searched the ICIJ database of the Panama Papers for William J. Clinton and found the name was associated with 433 offshore entities, 1,380 officers, 250 intermediaries and 363 addresses.
Hillary, Chelsea Clinton and Clinton Foundation
A search of the ICIJ database also produced thousands of hits for Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and HRC Investments LLC, as well as thousands of hits for various listings under Chelsea Clinton’s name and thousands of hits for the Clinton Foundation and its various subgroups, including the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
A search for the Clinton Global Initiative surfaced 5,505 associated offshore entities, with several in the top listings including the “Clinton” name in the offshore entity’s title.
Similarly, a search for Hillary Clinton Investments turned up hits for 18,450 offshore entities, with several in the top listings including the name “Hillary” or “Clinton.”
Again, given the nature of the ICIJ Panama Papers database, it is not possible to determine if Hillary Clinton was personally involved with the 18,450 offshore entities listed.
Among the offshore entities listed in the search for Hillary Clinton Investments, Mossack Fonseca incorporated several, including Hillary S.A., incorporated in Niue in 1997 (deactivated Dec. 27, 1999); Hillary Finance Services LTD, incorporated in 1997 in the British Virgin Islands (deactivated Oct. 31, 1998); and Hillary Equities Corp., incorporated in 2003 in Panama (deactivated Feb. 12 2010).
Trump in Panama Papers
While Donald J. Trump’s name shows up on 3,540 of the Panama Papers leaked documents, the GOP presidential candidate does not appear to be a direct owner of any company formed by Mossack Fonseca, the McClatchy Washington Bureau reported April 29.
“Early in his career, Trump developed properties,” McClatchy noted. “Over the decades, he has increasingly let others invest the capital and take the risks. He sells them his name and reputation, and is paid millions in return.”
The newspaper said that seems to be the case with the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower in Panama, noting that in the Mossack Fonseca files, it is the most frequent association with Trump’s name, “since his business partners in the project appear as buyers of condo units, some of whom create offshore shell companies with Mossack Fonseca for the purchase.”
McClatchy sited two instances of others seeking to capitalize on Trump’s name that were responsible for hits in the Panama Papers database:
Trump Wise Investment Ltd. was created by the Hong Kong firm Instant Companies Limited and registered in the British Virgin Islands from 1998 to late 2005. “The secret documents show Mossack Fonseca did not even know who the shareholders were,” McClatchy reported.
Similarly, Trump World Capital Ltd in the British Virgin Islands was opened in late 2006 by Mossack Fonseca’s Singapore office. It remains active, with shareholders listing addresses in Palembang, Indonesia. “One shareholder is a young woman whose LinkedIn profile describes her as merchandising supervisor at a small clothing retailer,” McClatchy reported.
“Neither of these appear to be connected to Trump in any way,” McClatchy concluded.