It was the late 1990’s and I was hired by a San Francisco law firm to investigate a diamond ponzi scheme. A scheme that I have not been able to write about until today, almost 20 years later. The original victim is deceased. Most of the involved parties are no longer in business but I have to provide a few redactions to protect my client law firm and quite frankly, me.
A Russian individual in San Francisco offered an investment opportunity to another Russian resident for a $50,000 investment in South African diamonds. No red flags here, LOL. The victim transferred the money through a company named Nikado Corp, an Antigua corporation to an account at the Bank of New York. I was able to track a transfer from the Bank of New York to a Russian owned bank in Antigua managed by one Vladimir Ivanov. Interesting to note that my investigation took place one year before this article was published on the Russian Mob laundering money through the Bank of New York.
There was an SFO investment company involved in this transaction called Morgan Fuller. They, through a company called Pinnacle had purchased stock in a Lithuanian bank called Bankas Hermis. This turned out to be a total fraudulent shit storm as documented by the SEC here.
Based upon the listed relationships, this bank was used an an investment vehicle for Morgan Fuller and Bankas Hermis. The key was to be able to trace the Nikado account to this bank.
We had created a “chart of characters” and one name was closely associated with providing Boris Yeltson logistical support for his election. There were also two Americans on that list that had worked for the Reagan campaign.
We traced the money to Antgua which is one of the most difficult offshore havens to extract intelligence from. Even though I had a former US Treasury official well entrenched there, he hit walls wherever he went.
Based upon all the “players” we knew of, which included a major criminal organization and Russian Government officials, we reached a point where we handed the case back to the client advising them how deep they would have to go and that it was obvious our research would have to be handed to the Feds.