Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fraudster set to lose Austrian millions

Benefit fraudster Wayne Patterson will lose the $3.3 million he has invested in Austria, after the Crown won a case to retrieve it.
Wayne Thomas Patterson was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to stealing $3.4m in multiple charges of benefit fraud.
He faked 123 identities to claim up to $28,000 a week for three years before his arrest in 2006.
The Crown has recovered the $3.4m that was taken, but it has also spent the past eight years in a legal battle in Austria to recover Apple shares and cash that had increased in value to about $3.3m.
Patterson, who employed an Austrian lawyer, has argued that the Crown has recovered what it was owed and the outstanding funds were rightfully his.
Despite telling the Parole Board last year that he had instructed his lawyer to release the funds to the Ministry of Social Development, he has continued his fight to retain the funds.
In September, the Vienna Court of First Instance heard the Crown's claim against Patterson and his Seychelles-based company Westgate Holdings Ltd, which he set up to hold the stolen proceeds.
On October 30, the court ruled that the Crown was entitled to the cash and Apple shares held in the Anglo-Irish Bank in Austria. Patterson was also ordered to pay the Crown €48,300 in legal costs.
Patterson and Westgate have until mid-January to appeal the decision.
A ministry spokesman said that if the ruling was not appealed the funds could be deposited in the consolidated account early next year.
Patterson, 55, is to appear in a judge-alone trial in January on seven charges in relation to writing forged letters in support of a failed bid for parole.
He was denied parole in March, with the Parole Board finding he could not be trusted not to offend again if released early.
The board took into consideration advice from the ministry that said Patterson was trying to thwart the ministry's attempts to recover profits made from the investment of his stolen funds.
Patterson's current sentence ends in July next year.


Friday, 14 November 2014

JP Morgan Cut ties With Bank Of Muscat Offshore, Seychelles

JPMorgan said it cut off the service to about 500 foreign lenders last year as regulators press the world’s biggest banks to verify that transactions are used for legitimate business. The crackdown seeks to halt funds tied to money laundering, terrorism and countries covered by economic sanctions. Correspondent accounts allow lenders to take deposits or make payments on behalf of foreign institutions.
“JPMorgan has to be extra careful to make sure they’re adhering to standards and not even approaching anything questionable,” said David Kass, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ordered JPMorgan to improve anti-money-laundering efforts last year, finding that its controls tied to the Bank Secrecy Act were inadequate. The firm failed to find out enough about banking customers and identify suspicious activity, according to the January 2013 consent order. The Bank Secrecy Act requires firms to report all large cash deposits to help prevent crimes such as drug-trafficking and terrorist financing.
JPMorgan’s relations with its regulators have been marred by legal disputes that contributed to more than $23 billion in settlements last year, including deals to resolve probes into the sale of mortgage bonds.

“We’re trying to meet new standards we’ve set for ourselves and that our regulators want us to set to reduce risk to our company,” Dimon, 57, said on an Oct. 11 conference call.
Correspondent banking remains a core business even after cutting some clients, JPMorgan has said. The department is within the firm’s treasury services division, whose revenue fell 2.7 percent to $41.1 billion last year.
BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest bank, reported a surprise drop in profit last week after setting aside $1.1 billion for U.S. investigations into dollar payments tied to countries, people and entities subject to federal sanctions. The probe involves dealings with Iran, Sudan and Cuba, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Drug Cartels

HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Europe’s biggest bank, paid $1.9 billion last year to end U.S. claims of shoddy anti-money-laundering controls. The firm was accused of enabling Latin American drug cartels to launder money by neglecting to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion of dollar purchases from a Mexican subsidiary.

Last year, the Federal Reserve said Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank, lacked effective controls at two subsidiaries, Citibank NA and Banamex USA. The firm failed to conduct proper due diligence on customers and was too slow to file so-called suspicious activity reports, the OCC said in 2012. Citigroup said at the time that it had taken significant steps to strengthen money-laundering controls and address regulators’ concerns.


Victoria —Since the news broke on Tuesday that the Central Bank of Seychelles had taken control of the Bank of Muscat International Offshore (BMIO), uncertainty about the future of the bank, its customers and its employees has been mounting.
On October 24, CBS announced that the loss of BMIO's correspondent bank overseas left the bank unable to process outward foreign currency transfers for its clientele, leaving its clients abroad unable to perform transfers or deposits.
In the latest press statement issued this morning, the Central Bank re-iterated that it "felt that it was necessary" to take over the bank until such time as the correspondent banking issue is resolved or an "alternative solution" is found to allow the bank's clients to transfer funds.
"The Managing Director of BMIO has taken annual leave to allow CBS and the Financial Intelligence Unit to resolve the matter and the rest of BMIO staff are assisting CBS in the operations of the bank," read the statement.
SNA caught up with the Managing Director of BMIO, Frank Hoareau, to get his perspective on the bank's current situation.

Can you give us a brief explanation of what it means to lose your correspondent banking relationship and why this happened in BMIO's case?
A correspondent banking relationship allows a bank like BMIO for example, to clear transactions on behalf of its customers in various currencies and through the respective financial centres; US dollars via New York, Euros via Frankfurt and pounds Sterling via London.
When a bank does not have a correspondent relationship they cannot do transactions in international currencies for its customers, it's as simple as that.
For much of the last six years of the bank's existence we have used JP Morgan as BMIO's correspondent bank for the three main currencies that we were using (US dollar, Euro and British Pound).
This relationship came about by virtue of the arrangement which JP Morgan has with BMI Bahrain, one of our main shareholders.
Early this year when BMI Bahrain started negotiations to sell its stake in BMIO, JP Morgan informed us that they were unwilling to carry on with the relationship and that they don't have a presence in the Indian Ocean Region. They explained that they are also having compliance challenges from their regulator (the US Federal Reserve) to maintain these small accounts with risky profiles.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Why Are Chinese Tour Operators Cancelling Seychelles Travel?

Yes, Seychelles has historical ties with Africa, but it sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1000 miles off the east coast of Africa.
So why are Chinese tour operators cancelling trips to Seychelles?
Over ebola fears, according to a report in eTurboNews.
Top Seychelles tourism officials have gone to China armed with maps of Africa and this message: Seychelles is Ebola free and safe for travelers.
Alain St. Ange, the Seychelles minister for tourism and culture is in China with Sherin Naiken, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, for one-on-one meetings with travel agents and tour operators. They’re selling Seychelles as the new tourism destination for Chinese vacationers.
They started in Beijing with CAISSA Travel Management Co. Ltd., Windy Feeling International Travel Service, and Qunar.com, eTurboNews reports.
St. Ange argued that Africa is 54 countries, not villages, and spelled out where Seychelles was — safely situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, eTurboNews reports.
It became apparent to a delegation of Seychelles’ private tourism players who want to work with Chinese tour operators, that Chinese travelers have not yet figured out this geographical detail, according to the report. They put Seychelles in the same bag as other African countries. This wrong perception gave the Seychelles’ tourism industry bad publicity.
The Ebola threat has affected Africa’s tourism industry. Seychelles has been registering cancellations in tourism bookings.

“Ebola is on the west coast of Africa; we sit off the east coast of Africa,” St. Ange said. “Yes, Seychelles remains part of Africa, but we live our lives as a small island nation well outside all the difficulties that are ravaging this continent.”
Tour operators and travel agents in China are convinced the Ebola threat in West African countries is a wake-up call for the continent, eTurboNews reports.
“China is still overcoming its SARS lesson, and with the Ebola outbreak,
travelers are conscious of their choice of holiday destinations,” according to CAISSA. Chinese tour operators and travel agents say there
needs to be continued management of the epidemic to ensure travelers’ behavior does not boycott the continent as a whole.
St.Ange and his delegation plan to go to Xiamen and Shanghai armed with a map of Africa showing clearly the position of Ebola-affected countries and where Seychelles is situated. The same message will be repeated, the report said.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sakher El Matri agresse une Tunisienne aux Seychelles

Psychopathe ? Maniaco-dépressif ? Mégalomane? Rusé ? Tous ces traits de caractère pourraient correspondre à un Sakher El Matri, éminent sympathisant des Islamistes, selon nombre de ses anciennes connaissances et autres collaborateurs. Mais nous le croyions calmé depuis qu’il a été éjecté de la Tunisie et accueilli aux Seychelles grâce à ses amis influents. Il n’en est rien. La beauté de cet archipel posé sur l’Océan indien n’a pas calmé les penchants violents de Sakher El Matri ni son agressivité.

Ainsi, il s’en est pris à une jeune mère de famille tunisienne séjournant dans un hôtel de la place alors qu’elle le photographiait. Pourtant tous les Tunisiens savent que le gendre de Ben Ali, qui demandait aux journalistes de le féliciter pour le poste de président de Conseil d’Administration de Tunisiana alors que l’on tirait leurs concitoyens comme des lièvres, séjournait en hôte de qualité à Victoria, capitale seychelloise.
Il faut reconnaître que de la haine à l’encontre de ses compatriotes, Sakher El Matri en a beaucoup à revendre. N’ont-ils pas mis fin à ses rêves de grandeur, lui qui se projetait déjà Président en 2019 ?

Friday, 7 November 2014

The Dangers Of The Middle East Hubs

The Seychelles delegation attending World Travel Market in London (WTM) is saying that all is looking more positive for the island on the UK market.
“The continued interest by the UK Tour Operators, the support displayed by the press through the many interviews carried out on the Seychelles Stand at WTM and the new business drive are all positive signs said the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange who was personally heading this year’s delegation to the UK Tourism and Trade Fair.
“Airline discussions have been held and new investments inquiries attended to. Our arrival figures are showing signs that the UK Tour Operators are pushing the islands once again. We launched new marketing tools and our e-marketing Department is today more on the ball than ever before”  said Minister St.Ange
This year the Seychelles had a big private sector delegation participating alongside the Seychelles Tourism Board at WTM.


Foreign Office issues worldwide terrorism warning for British tourists

British holidaymakers travelling anywhere in the world have been told to be vigilant as they are at risk of being attacked by Islamist terrorists.
The Foreign Office on Friday night issued a worldwide travel warning, saying tourists were at a risk of attack as a result of Britain’s intervention in Iraq and Syria.
The warning applies to every country in the world, and the FCO updated travel guidance on its website. It reflects a “generalised threat” to Britons, rather than intelligence of a specific and credible attack.
The warning states: “There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.”


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Seychelles Chamber of Commerce chairman Marco Francis refutes Sri Lankan fraud allegations

Marco denies involvement with Robert

The story published in Lanka Herald about Sri Lankans being swindled in the Seychelles has resulted in one of the accused, Marco Francis writing to the website disowning himself from Robert Piksa’s actions.
Francis in his response said, “Yes, I am a shareholder in a company with Mr Piksa and yes, we export fish to Sri Lanka, but all our activities are above board. Also whatever dealings Robert Piksa has or had done on his own I cannot be responsible. I have never indulged in nor will ever go into money laundering.”
Following is the response sent by Marco Francis.
I am writing to you in reply to the article in Lanka Herald on October 30, 2014 title “Sri Lankans swindled in the Seychelles”.
In the article you specifically mentioned my name Marco L Francis have “swindled” a number of unidentified Sri-Lankan nationals seeking to do business in the Seychelles. Also “cheated many Sri Lankan businessmen promising deals in the Seychelles and obtaining funds, starting from exporting fish to Sri Lanka, opening up offshore companies and bank accounts for money laundering were some of the rackets the duo were allegedly involved in”.
This article is totally without justification and the accusations were totally baseless and false.
Yes, I am a shareholder in a company with Mr Piksa and yes, we export fish to Sri Lanka, but all our activities are above board. Also whatever dealings Robert Piksa has or had done on his own I cannot be responsible. I have never indulged in nor will ever go into money laundering. As chair of SCCI I have to put the good name of Seychelles business first in everything I do. I am cought in the middle of this for being a share holder of the company.
I believe that there are ulterior motives at play as the article does not mention any specific names or transactions.
The article has brought disrepute to me, the Seychelles chamber of Commerce and Industry and Seychelles.
I am requesting that Lanka Herald do a retraction as prominent a place on its website as the article.

Kind Regard
Marco L. Francis