R4 million seized in Russian cyber crime case
Almost R4 million has been seized by the Supreme Court of Seychelles in a court case taken by the Attorney General’s office on behalf of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) against a Russian organised cyber crime gang with registered offices in Victoria, Seychelles.
The order for the permanent seizure of over US $325,000 (equivalent to approximately R4,000,000) was given by Judge Karunakaran when he directed that the funds be transferred to the Republic in accordance with Section 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The criminal proceeds had been lodged in a Seychelles bank account owned by Onwa Limited, an international business company with a registered address at 306 Victoria House, Victoria, Seychelles.
A Grand Jury sealed indictment issued by the United States Southern District Court of New York in 2011 charged that this cyber crime gang engaged in a massive scheme that infected four million computers in over 100 countries.
The indictment alleges that the gang used malicious software which digitally hijacked the infected computers to ease the defendants’ commission of internet-based fraud.
According to the indictment, the FBI believes that criminal proceeds of over US $14,000,000 had been achieved by the fraud.
One of the key gang members identified in the indictment was a man of Syrian origin but with a Russian passport named Andrey Taame.
The indictment identified a number of countries and bank accounts, including a bank account in Seychelles, where defrauded monies were believed to have been transferred by the gang.
The documents submitted as exhibits by the FIU in its application to the Supreme Court of Seychelles for an interlocutory order against the funds lodged in the account identified that Intershore Consult (Proprietary) Ltd was the registered agent, that the registered office address of ONWA Ltd was at 306 Victoria House, Mahé, Seychelles and that a Seychellois at that address was the director and a shareholder of the company.
In October 2009, the director signed a resolution resolving to open a bank account in the name of Onwa Limited with two Russian citizens, including Andrey Taame, as the only authorised signatories on the account. A copy of this resolution was certified as a true copy by Apollo Business Solutions Seychelles (PTY) Ltd.
Taame is currently a fugitive from the FBI and a WANTED NOTICE can be found on the FBI website. It appears that Taame never visited Seychelles.
“The order by the Supreme Court Judge for the seizure of the monies under the Proceeds of Crime Act is a highly successful outcome and reinforces the commitment of the Republic to confronting the abuse of its offshore sector,” says a communiqué from the FIU.
The joint investigation into this criminal activity took over two years to complete as the predicate criminality took place in different parts of the world and because of the time required to obtain the relevant information in Seychelles and to seek cooperation from overseas partners in the US, Europe and Russia.
A fundamental aspect of the statutory remit of the FIU is to ensure that Seychelles and particularly its financial services sector cannot be used to conceal the proceeds of crime and to ensure that organised crime gangs and money launderers who seek to abuse the financial structures in the Republic will end up having their money and property confiscated.
The recent non-compliant Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rating reinforces the need for Seychelles to re-establish its reputation as a State committed to preventing the use of its jurisdiction for criminal and terrorist financing purposes.
This case is one of a large number of cases currently being investigated jointly with the agencies of other States linking Seychelles’ offshore companies with local directors and shareholders to Russian and Eastern European organised crime.
Source: NATION 4-15-14