Netherlands hooked on Russian "Troika"

Hundreds of millions of euros went through the Moscow office of the Dutch ING, say journalists.
ING's Moscow division knew about the possibility of money laundering by one of its clients, the Dutch newspaper Trouw reported on Wednesday. Hundreds of millions of euros went through the division, listed by companies that were part of the Troika Dialog offshore firms network, wrote to Trouw with reference to the investigation carried out by the OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Investigation Project).

In particular, the Cyprus company Popat Holdings, which was part of the Troika network, had an account at ING Moscow in Moscow from 2006 to 2013. Popat also had an account with Lithuanian bank Ukio: namely Ukio documents, which lost its license in 2013 The city that fell to the investigators became the basis for identifying the network of Troika offshore firms. With their help, journalists say, money was withdrawn from Russia, including using “criminal schemes”. The network operated from 2006 to the beginning of 2013, during which time $ 4.6 billion was transferred to it, $ 4.8 billion was withdrawn, according to OCCRP.

Trouw described the operation, during which almost 350 million euros came from the companies that were part of the Troika network to Popat’s Moscow ING account. Of these, more than 250 million euros - from the account of Popat in Lithuania, to which, as follows from the leakage of documents, tens of millions came from Panamanian companies. The funds were transferred to Moscow on the same day, and it is not known what happened next.

The contracts, in accordance with which the payments were made, were signed by “Armenian nominees”, says the article Trouw.

Also, an ING account was owned by Digimarket Holdings, which received money from its Ukio account.

In 2009, the Belgian unit of ING informed the local regulator that its correspondent accounts in the country might have been used to launder money that came from Ukio. This was written at the time by the Belgian media. An investigation of the Belgian authorities revealed that about 1.7 billion euros were transferred in this way, writes Trouw. About 220 offshore companies participated in the transactions, including Popat.

That investigation revealed that the owners of these companies were involved, among other things, in tax fraud, corruption, organized crime, writes the Belgian magazine Knack. Money from ING correspondent accounts in Belgium came from Ukio from 2006 to 2009, the magazine reported.

Shares of ING on Wednesday fell by 5%, after a day earlier declined by 3.3%.

ING quite recently, in September 2018, managed to resolve the previous laundering scandal. "Now we have a large-scale program to strengthen measures to assess customers," a representative of ING told Vedomosti. “We do not comment on individual cases,” he said regarding reports on the involvement of the Moscow division of ING in suspicious customer operations. - But, of course, we take all such signals very seriously, many of which relate to events of past years, especially in the context of the “know your customer” program.

In 2018, the bank admitted that the criminals laundered money through its accounts, and by agreement with the prosecutor's office of the Netherlands paid a 775 million euro ($ 876 million) fine. ING also fired the CFO. “Structural violations” in the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing system “lasted for years,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement; ING did not properly verify the beneficial owners of the accounts. “ING has regularly warned since 2008, but it didn’t take appropriate measures to stop” illegal operations, which amounted to “hundreds of millions of euros,” prosecutor Margret Froberg told Reuters at the time.

That investigation by the Dutch prosecutors began in 2016, one of the most significant violations, according to them, was the use of ING accounts to pay bribes in the Uzbek case of the telecommunications operator VimpelCom. The US Securities and Exchange Commission estimated the amount of bribes to Uzbek officials at least $ 114 million. Vimpelcom (now VEON) settled the charges by paying US and Netherlands regulators in 2016 $ 795 million.

These violations in ING also interested US regulators, Reuters reported. In 2012, US authorities financed ING for $ 619 million for wire through the American banking payment system for Cuban and Iranian clients.