September 26, 2020

Taking down Titan

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Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 10.37.27 AMFrom 7Newsbelize

For the past two days, we’ve been telling you about the US led crackdown on Offshore companies in Belize, mainly Titan International Securities. Well tonight, two of the Titan owners, Bahamians Kelvin Leach and Rohn Knowles are in police custody after they were intercepted trying to fly out of the country today.

As we’ve told you, 2 of them men have been named with 4 other defendants, including Belizean Andrew Godfrey, in a federal indictment accusing them of participating in a scheme which defrauded the US Government of 1 billion Belize dollars in taxes.

As we’ve shown you, local law enforcement has been going to great lengths to facilitate the US authorities, even though no crime was committed on Belizean soil. As we showed you last night, the US funded Anti Drug Unit, took eight hours to clean out the offices of the 3 men on the 4th floor of the Matalon Building on Coney Drive. At the end of the raid, truckloads of documents, records, computers, and personal items were confiscated and delivered to the Financial Intelligence Unit.

US authorities say they will seek to extradite Knowles, Leach, and Godfrey to face trial in that country, but at this time, no official request has been made to Foreign Affairs. As we told you, the men were allowed to leave the building after Tuesday night’s seizure, and they weren’t officially detained for anything. So, they were out free and unaware of any impediment to their movement, up until today when police picked them up at the Airport just after midday. 7News understands that they were trying to board a flight to Cancun.

We stress that officially, these men aren’t wanted in Belize, so they have been allowed to move as they please. But all that came to an end, when they tried to check in for that flight; law enforcement in Belize were immediately called in. We understand that they were trying to reach the Bahamas, the home country of the Leach and Knowles, and that the reasoning is that since they have no business to conduct here for the foreseeable future – and since the police took every single item out of their office down to the last staple and garbage bin, they should probably return home with their families.

But that plan was foiled when police arrived, detained them and escorted them along with a sizable quantity of luggage to the Ladyville Police Station. The officials from that station wouldn’t confirm, but we understand that personnel from the took over the investigation and started to question them about their intentions. Up until about an hour and a half before news time, the officials from the were still going through all of their belongings, and counting whatever cash they had on them. We also met their attorney, Godfrey Smith, at the police station, doing as much as he could to get the men released

We tried to confirm our information with the Officer Commanding Ladyville Police, but we were referred to the new Public Relations Unit at Eastern Division. PR Officer, Douglas Hyde told us by phone that the police couldn’t comment on the detention of the men because they are only providing a support role to the FIU in this matter.

No charges have been forthcoming so far, but well-informed observers have told us that this is a delaying tactic to give the US Government time to get a formal extradition request made.

We also understand that the FIU intends to the charge them with failing to declare funds over $20,000 Bze to the authorities. Two of the men who tried to leave the country reportedly had a substantial amount of cash on them, but we’re unsure of the actual amount they had in their possession. We’re told that a possible defence against that, should the FIU take that route, is that they were not even given the opportunity because as soon as the authorities at the airport positively identified them, they were pulled out and taken to the station. Around 5:30pm, they were transferred to the Queen Street police station – where they are still being held.

So, that’s where it is right now. The decision, we’re told, has already been made to charge the men with that financial offense, but the actual paperwork to prepare it is in process.

For more on this story go to: http://www.7newsbelize.com/index.php#story1

Related story:

How the Full Search Of Titans Int’l. Looked

From 7Belize (September 11, 2014)

When we left you on Friday night, police were still at the Matalon Building on Coney Drive collecting all documents, computers and business records from the office of Titan International Securities – which is on the fourth floor.

As we told you, police swept into their offices at around 1:00pm and barred anyone form coming or going, including Titan’s local attorney Andrew Marshalleck.

We saw three police vehicles there, which is a lot for white collar crime – especially when no crime has been committed under Belize laws. But those vehicles were far from sufficient for the monster job of collecting an office-full of documents.

And by 5:30 pm, a cargo truck with government plates had pulled up to collect everything. We had seen this same truck, minus the police at the Roe building called earlier in the afternoon. Significant, because that is the headquarters for Unicorn International Securities – another one of the offshore companies named in the US indictment which was unsealed on Tuesday in New York.

But enforcement of that US indictment was carried out in Belize as part of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between this country and the United States. But, it was a big job; the cargo truck wasn’t enough and police pickups, had to pull up to carry away some of Titan’s records.

After one pickup bed was full – another pulled up, and the purpose of those American flags emblazoned on the front fender became clearer than ever. The police officers from the US funded anti drug unit were doing the heavy lifting nominally for the Financial Intelligence unit, but really for the US Department of Justice. They removed thousands of documents, all of which really have no use to Belizean law enforcement – and will presumably be handed over to the US.

After they filled up all the pickups, they then had to bring an SUV – this one without a US Flag on it – for the remainder of the Titan’s possessions.

Another police SUV, this one with a US flag also had to be filled up – using every container possible – up to garbage bins – from the Titan office. In all, it didn’t end until just after 9:00pm – eight hours after it started at 1:00 pm. It was a massive operation between police and the Financial Intelligence Unit, involving more than a dozen police officers, and at least six police vehicles. But, an unusual operation because no one was arrested or detained. And the three persons who were in the building and have been named in the US indictment, were free to go, without any limitation on their movement. They are 51 year old Belizean ANDREW GODFREY,34 year old Bahamian KELVIN LEACH and 29 year old Bahamian Rohn Knowles. Leach and Knowles are principals in Titan, while Godfrey also has an office on the fourth floor.

According to a release on Tuesday form the US Department of Justice, they will seek to extradite all three persons to face trial in the United States. But, no extradition procedures have been initiated with Belizean authorities so they are free to move in and out of Belize tonight – but travelling to the US would likely result in an arrest.

That’s where US citizen Bob Bandfield is in Federal custody tonight. He was well known in Belize’s Offshore Banking circles as a dealmaker. And, according to the , that’s just what got him in trouble. According to an official release, quote, “Bandfield and his co-conspirators devised not only a fraudulent scheme but an elaborate corporate structure based on lies and deceit designed to enable U.S. citizens to evade and circumvent our securities and tax laws.” End quote.

Presumably, they did all this though Belize where they had a number of offshore banking operations. This is big news in the States, and the website “stocksecrets.com” says that the bust is part of a two year undercover operation by an FBI agent during which the agent, pretending to be a stock promoter, visited Belize to meet with some of the alleged conspirators and set up offshore entities.

The FBI says it also has recording where Bandfield and Godfrey explained a scheme in which they claimed they could launder fifty thousand dollars a month.

And while those are the allegations mede in the states, these companies are duly registered and licensed as offshore service providers in Belize, where they have committed no offence.

And the news is this story is, the lengths Belizean authorities now have to go to in order to carry out enforcement for and on behalf of authorities – even when that enforcement casts a blight on the entire offshore sector in Belize.

US Authorities allege that the accused persons laundered approximately $500 million us dollars for more than 100 U.S. citizens and residents. They face charges in the US of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering among many others. And while we have named only four persons, there are six corporate defendants – all Belize based offshore entities, and six individual defendants, namely, Bandfield, Godfrey, Leach, Knowles along with Brian De Wit and Cam Can, both reportedly Canadians, well-known to operate in Belize, but are believed to have left the country some time ago.

For more on this story go to: http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=30012&frmsrch=1

See related iNews Cayman story published September 10 2014 “US say Belize offshore companies scammed 1 billion!” at: https://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/us-say-belize-offshore-companies-scammed-1-billion-2/

 

 

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