Why Cuba's Shadowy Banking System Poses an Inherent Risk

Monday, December 7, 2015
Exhibit A of why the Obama Administration efforts to promote financial ties with Cuba's shadowy, state-owned banks, is a bad idea -- or simply mid-boggling.

As we've posted before, "Banks Are Right to Be Wary About Cuba Transactions."

Moreover, it should raise red-flags among U.S. banking regulators.

By Kenneth Rijock in Caribbean News:

Cayman Islands fraudsters may have moved $450 million to Cuba

The first civil suit has been filed by one of the victims against the Cayman “Gang of Four”, Sharon Lexa Lamb and Dundee Merchant Bank, where Lamb was the senior vice president and director. One source, who is familiar with Caribbean fraud, has stated that most of the estimated $450 million to $500 million in stolen client money was probably moved to Cuba and that it was deposited in several of the government-controlled banks there.

In the absence of direct evidence to support such an allegation, the reasoning behind such a statement is based up these known facts:

(1) The Gang of Four's maritime courier, the Cuban national José Fernandez Santana, has the ability to travel freely in and out of Cuban ports, to Grand Cayman, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and a number of other Caribbean financial centers. Unimpeded international travel by Cubans, especially in a multi-million dollar yacht, can only occur if the individual has governmental approval. If Santana is not an agent of Cuban intelligence, his yacht would certainly be seized, and he arrested and imprisoned.

(2) Sharon Lexa Lamb, the apparent ringleader of the Gang of Four, and who married Santana through a purely business arrangement that gives her Cuban residency as well as the right to purchase real property there, is frequent visitor to Cuba. As previously reported, Lamb fled to Cuba twice; first, when the trading scandal first broke, and later, when a civil suit was filed, and she was being sought for service of process.

(3) Other members of the Gang of Four are known to have visited Cuba for the purpose of conducting business transactions, possibly setting up accounts so that wire transfers from the Cayman Islands could be set up, or bulk cash shipments orchestrated by Santana, or payments from other offshore tax havens could be accomplished.

(4) Rumors have abounded that certain Cuban government agencies, in need of hard currency for activities that they wish to conduct, actively participate in financial crimes in the tax havens, the object of which is to fund subsequent covert operations.

(5) Admissions made by Sharon Lexa Lamb to witnesses to the effect that the victims would never recover their money unless they granted her total immunity from prosecution, gives rise to the conclusion that the money is being held in a jurisdiction where it cannot be accessed or frozen. Cuba is one of the very few places that fits the description.

Are the retirement accounts of the sixty Canadian & American investors gone forever, and sitting in accounts in the Republic of Cuba, controlled by the Gang of Four? Perhaps the multiple pending investigations will provide the answer; stay tuned.

Kenneth Rijock is a banking lawyer turned-career money launderer (10 years), turned-compliance officer specializing in enhanced due diligence, and a financial crime consultant who publishes a Financial Crime Blog.