Russian billionaire Prokhorov keeps money in bank US suspects of money laundering and terrorist financing

Russian billionaire Prokhorov keeps money in bank US suspects of money laundering and terrorist financing
Mikhail Prokhorov Photo: Sergey Savostyanov/ TASS

Tanzanian FBME Bank Ltd. was closed after the U.S. department of Treasury accused it of involvement in money laundering, arms sales, evading sanctions and financing of Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.

The Daily Beast found that Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov has bank account in Tanzanian FBME Bank Ltd., which is accused of involvement in money laundering, arms sales and financing of Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah by the U.S. department of Treasury. Journalists found this information in confidential report by Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC), which owns FBME. The Daily Beast has a relevant document dated from 2014.

The report stated, that Prokhorov has 23 bank accounts at FBME. Michael Weiss, the author of The Daily Beast, wrote that accounts were opened by third parties and the bank violated Cyprus legislation. Accounts were opened by companies, which are mainly registered in the British Virgin Islands and controlled by Prokhorov. Their representatives were four people, whose names are mentioned in the document. It is not clear from the report what exactly belongs to these companies and how much money they have deposited or withdrawn from accounts at FBME.

Michael Weiss specified, that Prokhorov have not been accused of any crimes. He also notes that its is a common practice among  wealthy public figures to use offshore bank accounts and anonymous companies to hide financial assets and to avoid taxes in their country.

Representatives of Mikhail Prokhorov and ONEXIM group said that they had contacted a lot of banks around the world and that Prokhorov had never hidden his assets.

FBME Bank was opened in Lebanon in 1982. In 1986 it moved to the Cayman Islands, and in 1993 to Tanzania. FBME was especially popular among Russian customers. After the 2013 banking crisis in Cyprus, a lot of bank accounts were opened there.

In December 2015, Cyprus Central Bank deprived FBME of right to work on the island. In may 2017, the Central Bank of Tanzania revoked FBME’s license. The reason for this was accusations of violation of legislation by the US. Currently, liquidation of the bank is underway. All accounts of the bank's customers are frozen. The Central Bank of Cyprus does not specify in its report the sums Prokhorov and other high-level clients had in the bank.

It was reported that FBME had "stolen money of Russian taxpayers, which were connected with the case of Magnitsky." In addition, according to the financial intelligence unit of the U.S. department of Treasury, one of the Bank's clients has deposit from financier of Lebanese Hezbollah, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tags: Oligarchs
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