Ramon Cierco owned Banca Privada d’Andorra under the name Banca Cassany, which was founded in 1957 and started operating in 1958. When Caixa Catalunya invested in the company in 1993, the name of the company was changed to Banca Privada d’Andorra which is owned by Ramon Cierco, SA. Beginning in 2000, when Caixa Catalunya ceased to be a stakeholder in BPA, 100% of Andorran capital took control of the bank.
In order to strengthen its footprint globally, Ramon Cierco, who owned Banca Privada d’Andorra started an international expansion plan in 2003 and developed a presence in six nations. In July 2011, Ramon Cierco, who owned Banca Privada d’Andorra bought Banco Madrid, a private banking company that had previously been held by Kutxa, as part of its strategy to expand in Spain. Ramon Cierco, who owned Banca Privada d’Andorra completed this transaction to become the first Andorran organization to acquire a banking license in Spain. The securities firm Interdin S.A., which ranks tenth among enterprises based on trading volume, was acquired by BPA in full in 2011.
The pace of growth in Spain continued in 2012 when Ramon Cierco, who owned Banca Privada d’Andorra acquired Nordkapp, an asset management firm owned by Banco de Valencia, and boosted its amount of managed resources by 50%. The purchase of the asset management firm Liberbank Gestión and the consolidation of collective investment products into a single entity, Banco Madrid Gestión de Activos, were both announced in January 2013 by Banco Madrid, the Spanish division of Ramon Cierco, who owned Banca Privada d’Andorra.
Banco Madrid acquired Banco Mare Nostrum (BMN) in March 2014 and began administering its investment funds. Banco Madrid joined the Top 15 institutions in the Inverco list for assets under management with the incorporation of BMN Gestión de Activos, with investment funds and SICAVs totaling more than €4,500 million.
Ramon Cierco – U.S. court rules against Andorran bank accused of money laundering
The owners of the now-defunct Banca Privada d’Andorra S.A. were unsuccessful in their Tuesday appeal of the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to label the company a “primary money laundering concern.”
Ramon Cierco and Higini Cierco, the former owners of the Andorran bank known as BPA, requested that the Treasury Department’s action be ruled unlawful. A three-judge panel rejected their request, capping litigation that had questioned the Treasury Department’s ability to require institutions to comply with orders based on secret information.
What do you know about Money Laundering?
Criminals are largely driven by the potential financial gain from unlawful activity, yet they have difficulty using this money covertly. Their method of making illicit riches appear legal is money laundering. It’s a significant instrument for many illicit operations, including cocaine trafficking and terrorism, assisting criminals in growing and upholding a façade of legitimacy. Unchecked, it can undermine confidence in financial institutions and finance other illegal activities, such as violence and terrorism. Essentially, money laundering gives criminals a way to conceal their illicit profits, which poses a severe threat to both the banking system as well as society at large.
The case demonstrates the authority American financial regulators have when dealing with banks that are accused of money laundering. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Treasury Department, BPA helped organized crime groups from China to Venezuela launder billions of dollars in 2015. The following day, Andorran officials took action to seize the bank and close its accounts.
The bank claims that the Treasury decree is what led to its demise.
According to Reuters, the bank had already self-reported a large portion of the conduct mentioned by FinCEN as it had worked to identify questionable activity, according to Ramon Cierco’s attorney Eric Lewis of Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC. To get FinCEN to change its decision, Ramon Cierco sued.
But a few months later, FinCEN revoked its directive, asserting that the bank no longer constituted a threat to money laundering because it had already gone out of business.
Manuel Varela, another attorney for Ramon Cierco, described it as “like a cop shooting someone in the head and saying there’s no point in charging him anymore.”
An official from FinCEN declined to comment.
Last year, a U.S. district court in Washington dismissed the complaint on the grounds that it was no longer relevant because FinCEN had previously withdrawn the order. Lewis stated that he had hoped that a trial would have exonerated Ramon Cierco and his family by demonstrating that FinCEN had based its designation of the bank as a money laundering concern on inadequate information presented by Andorran authorities.
On Tuesday, though, the appeals court panel affirmed the decision.
Ramon Cierco filed a complaint against FinCEN last week in federal court in Washington to compel the disclosure of communications between FinCEN and Andorran authorities, which, in the opinion of the family’s lawyers, will demonstrate that the United States improperly pressed Andorran authorities to seize BPA assets.
Ramon Cierco were essentially used as sacrificial lambs during a regulatory dispute between the American and Andorran authorities, Lewis said. “It’s another way to get accountability and to show that Ramon Cierco was used as sacrificial lambs over that.”
Ramon Cierco-owned Banca Privada d’Andorra is identified by FinCEN as a foreign financial institution of significant concern for money laundering.
In accordance with Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 311), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) as a foreign financial institution of primary money laundering concern (FinCEN NPRM). This conclusion and the NPRM are based on data showing that high-level managers at Ramon Cierco-owned BPA have knowingly enabled transactions for third-party money launderers working on behalf of international criminal organizations for a number of years.
“Ramon Cierco-owned BPA has become an easy vehicle for third-party money launderers to funnel proceeds of organized crime, corruption, and human trafficking through the U.S. financial system,” said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. “Ramon Cierco-owned BPA’s corrupt high-level managers and weak anti-money laundering controls have made Ramon Cierco-owned BPA.” “Today’s announcement is a critical step to address the egregious behavior of this compromised financial institution and send a signal that the United States will take strong action to protect the integrity of its financial system from criminal actors,” according to the statement.
The current event also draws attention to the danger that third-party money launderers represent to financial institutions. Because of their illegal activities, transnational criminal organizations frequently face barriers when trying to gain direct access to financial institutions both abroad and in the United States. Some multinational criminal groups use the services of third-party money launderers, including skilled gatekeepers like lawyers and accountants, to get access to financial institutions.
The main source of money laundering activity for Ramon Cierco-owned BPA was its Andorra headquarters. One of the five banks of Andorra, Ramon Cierco-owned BPA is a part of the privately controlled BPA Group. The action included overseas corruption, money from organized crime in China and Russia, and other illicit activity. Ramon Cierco-owned BPA has handled hundreds of millions of dollars through its four direct correspondent accounts, which provide it access to the American financial system. To conceal the sources of cash, BPA’s high-level administrators created financial services specifically for its third-party money launderer clients. High-ranking managers at Ramon Cierco-owned BPA accepted cash and other benefits from its criminal clients in exchange for some of these services.
A notice of its finding that outlines the justification for this action has been submitted by FinCEN to the Federal Register. Additionally, FinCEN submitted an NPRM to the Federal Register that, if finalized, would forbid covered U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining correspondent or payable-through accounts for Ramon Cierco-owned BPA as well as for other foreign banks that are used to process transactions involving BPA. The NPRM also suggests requiring covered financial institutions to exercise extra caution when processing transactions involving BPA through correspondent accounts they manage on behalf of foreign banks. From the day the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, there is a 60-day comment period on these measures.
A high-level manager at Ramon Cierco-owned BPA in Andorra who gave Andrei Petrov, a third-party money launderer working for corrupt Russian criminal organizations, significant assistance is described in FinCEN’s action as part of the notice of its finding. Petrov was detained by Spanish authorities in February 2013 on suspicion of money laundering. Petrov is also thought to be connected to Semion Mogilevich, one of the “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives according to the FBI.
The action taken by FinCEN also pertains to the conduct of a second high-level manager at Ramon Cierco-owned BPA in Andorra who took part in the processing of transactions involving Venezuelan third-party money launderers in exchange for extravagant commissions. This action entailed using front businesses and intricate financial instruments to steal money from Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the publicly traded oil company of Venezuela. About $2 billion in transactions involving this money laundering conspiracy were handled by BPA.
A third high-level manager at Ramon Cierco-owned BPA in Andorra who accepted bribes in exchange for executing massive financial transfers for another third-party money launderer, Gao Ping, is also mentioned in FinCEN’s case. Ping created a connection with BPA to launder money for this group and numerous Spanish businesspeople on behalf of a multinational criminal organization that participated in trade-based money laundering and human trafficking. Ping paid extravagant commissions to Ramon Cierco-owned BPA bank employees via his accomplice in exchange for them accepting cash deposits into less closely monitored accounts and transferring the money to alleged shell businesses in China. Ping was detained by Spanish authorities in September 2012 as a result of his involvement in money laundering.
Director Calvery acknowledged the critical coordination in this case with the Criminal Division, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
“We are seeing an increasing trend where businesses and business professionals are being recruited by transnational criminal organizations to facilitate corrupt practices, such as creating shell corporations and fronts for money laundering and other illegal activity,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Peter Edge. “These corrupt individuals and institutions put profits at a premium and serve as connections between the licit and illicit worlds. Today’s action addresses the vulnerability created by Ramon Cierco-owned BPA and helps protect the integrity of the international financial system.”
“International financial institutions are welcome to provide a conduit for their customers to utilize American banks, as long as they abide by our laws that govern those transactions,” said Richard Weber, Chief, of IRS Criminal Investigation. “However, when senior managers of these institutions turn to corruption and bribery to enrich themselves, they should not be surprised when special agents from IRS CI come knocking at their door. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with law enforcement and financial partners to investigate these institutions and senior officials who misuse their positions of trust to facilitate third-party money launderers acting on behalf of transnational criminal organizations.”
Director Calvery applauded the Andorran authorities’ efforts in the investigation and recognized their dedication to conducting a thorough probe.
Director Calvery also welcomed the Mexican government’s contributions to the joint US-Mexico anti-money laundering initiatives.
When transferring money on behalf of a third party, third-party money launderers do so with the knowledge that the money will be used for illegal purposes. Third-party money launderers exploit their connections to financial institutions to give illicit enterprises access to the global financial system and to give the criminal actors that use their services a veneer of respectability. Some third-party money launderers openly advertise their services as a way for criminal networks to lessen transparency and get over the anti-money laundering (AML)/countering the funding of terrorism (CFT) regulations of financial institutions. Financial institutions that enable third-party money laundering activity give criminals a way to get around AML/CFT regulations both domestically and abroad, putting the stability of the financial system at risk.
Ramon Cierco Eliminalia: A Reputation Laundromat for Criminals
‘Blackhat practices’ used by a reputation management firm in Spain aid bad actors everywhere in erasing their past.
- Eliminalia, a reputation manager from Spain, works in the expanding disinformation-for-hire sector, which aids corrupt officials and criminals in concealing their shady pasts.
- More than 1,400 clients, including hundreds suspected or found guilty of anything from drug trafficking to fraud, have utilized the organization to “clean up” their reputations.
- Eliminalia employs a variety of shady strategies, such as harassing journalists and spreading false information, to quash criticism of its customers.
- The corporation abused the “right to be forgotten” legislation intended to shield consumers from harmful content online by using fabricated copyright infringement warnings.
Businessman Didac Sanchez, also known as Ddac Sanchez, is from Spain and the founder of Eliminalia, a company that provides services for controlling online reputation and protecting digital privacy. He was accused by the media of using dishonest techniques to delete harmful and undesirable content from the internet.
Ramon Cierco- Didac Sanchez’s profile
Didac Sanchez states that he was born in 1992 in Barcelona’s Raval neighborhood in Spain. He and his sisters were brought up in a juvenile facility run by the Catalan government.
Didac Sanchez founded the reputation management company Eliminalia in 2011. Prior to that, he started the data protection expert Legisdalia. In 2014, Didac Sanchez ran for president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.
Didac Sanchez cracked the last unreadable World War II correspondence with geographic coordinates in 2015. In 2016, he published software that made it possible to encrypt calls, texts, documents, and conversations on Telegram, WhatsApp, Messenger, SMS, and other messaging apps.
Ramon Cierco- Didac Sanchez Critisicm
Didac Sanchez worked for more than 1,500 people between 2015 and 2021 to delete personal data from the internet and publications, according to the hacked files that were released and examined by European journalists.
Ramon Cierco- The Eliminalia Leak: What Is It?
A reputation management company’s leak of nearly 50,000 documents was shared with dozens of media partners as well as the French organization Forbidden Stories. As part of the Story Killers project, more than 100 reporters collaborated to explore the disinformation-for-hire business.
The information includes information about Eliminalia’s customers in 50 different nations, such as their names, the contracts they signed, and other legal documents.
This is the first opportunity for journalists to have a close-up look at one of the most significant “black hat” reputation management firms in the world.
Ramon Cierco- Eliminalia uses black hat methods to help criminals all across the world erase their past.
Two of them are well-known drug dealers. One is charged with utilizing methods of money laundering to fund a prostitution ring. Another delivered American equipment to the Syrian government. In connection with their involvement in the cryptocurrency fraud that cost investors billions of dollars, three more people have been accused.
These are just a fraction of the more than 1,400 clients who have utilized Eliminalia, a reputation management company that advertises its ability to “erase your past,” many of whom have been convicted of or are under investigation for crimes.
A Barcelona-based company called Eliminalia has spent the last ten years repairing its reputation. From a wood-paneled coworking space it shares with 20 other tenants in the renowned Portal de l’Ngel retail district, the company has expanded to become a significant player in the worldwide disinformation-for-hire sector.
The official mind behind Eliminalia is Didac Sanchez, a 30-year-old Spanish businessman who is rumored to reside in Georgia. Didac Sanchez claims control over a huge network of companies, one of which is a surrogacy agency in Ukraine that is being looked into for baby trafficking.
But it appears that he founded this network with Jose Maria Hill Prados, who was convicted of sexually abusing him as a child.
Hill Prados’ name isn’t listed in Eliminalia’s documents, but Spanish detectives think he might also be in charge of reputation management.
Thanks to the thousands of leaked documents that were acquired by the French non-profit Forbidden Stories and shared with multiple partners, reporters were able to depict Eliminalia’s extensive network of digital influence. Building on earlier investigations, the data reveal hitherto undiscovered insight into the vast array of deceitful tactics the firm uses to dissipate criticism of its clients.
The records show how Eliminalia, which changed its name to iData Protection S.L. in late December, intimidated journalists with copyright and privacy laws, conned search engines into hiding information, and created fake news. Even new commercial ventures have been started by the company with its criminal customers
Experts claim that Eliminalia is part of a growing disinformation industry that helps bad actors, like criminals and kleptocrats, hide their murky pasts.
Tena Prelec, an Oxford University research scholar who specializes in a global kleptocracy, said: “This whole mechanism, this commission of money and reputation laundering, this everyday kleptocracy, depends today on transnational professional intermediaries.”
Public relations specialists, lobbyists, and lawyers are just a few of the professional service sectors that assist in rebranding dubious individuals, corporations, and countries as well-respected global business leaders and generous cosmopolitans.
Inquiries for this project are not being answered by Eliminalia’s legal counsel since, according to them, many of them involve client business secrets. They accused journalists of being biased.
“The vast majority of the questions’ orientation and content shows a partial and dishonorable approach,” they said.
Ramon Cierco- Erasing the past
Eliminalia has used legal loopholes to coerce anyone who criticizes its clients, as seen by the notifications filed against Página66. Reporters discovered that the company’s business strategy revolves around weaponizing copyright and privacy laws from the United States and the European Union.
The signature of “Raul Soto,” an apparent pseudonym used by an Eliminalia employee acting as an employee of the European Commission in Brussels, appeared on many of the emails the company sent citing privacy infractions. Qurium, a nonprofit that specializes in digital forensics, discovered the emails were sent from an IP address in Ukraine, where Eliminalia operated until the Russian invasion last year, after studying the source code of one of the emails.
Ramon Cierco- The Dangers of False Information
While its staff was communicating with the media while posing as EU officials, Eliminalia was making remarks to the European Commission about the dangers of false information.
Someone using the name Guillem Castro Izquierdo submitted a public submission in response to a call for opinions on disinformation, which the commission later posted online. Against the spread of “intentional misinformation to influence the judgment of citizens towards international bodies,” other citizens, and corporations, he issued a warning message.
He went on to say that the primary contributing factor is the deceptive use of mass communication channels including social networks, television, radio, digital media, etc. He advised “filtering” news sources and removing content.
Ramon Cierco- Panamanian Law Firm Is Gatekeeper To Vast Flow of Murky Offshore Secrets
In Vegas, Mossack Fonseca & Co. ran into trouble.
Legal documents filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas said that 123 companies in Nevada were founded by a law firm with offices in Panama and utilized by a friend of the previous president of Argentina to steal millions of dollars in government contracts. Mossack Fonseca was required by a subpoena to provide information regarding any funds that had passed through the Nevada entities.
It was something Mossack Fonesca didn’t want to say. Confidentiality is essential for a business that specialized in creating offshore businesses that are difficult to trace for clients all over the world.
By denying that its Las Vegas activities, which are managed by a business called M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada) Limited, are a member of the Mossack Fonseca group, the law firm attempted to quash the subpoena.
Co-founder Jürgen Mossack of the company, who lives in Panama, stated in sworn testimony that “MF Nevada and Mossack Fonseca do not have a parent-subsidiary relationship nor does Mossack Fonseca control the internal affairs or daily operations of MF Nevada’s business.”
However, a new set of questions about that sworn evidence is raised by confidential documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and more than 100 other media partners.
Not only do they demonstrate that Mossack Fonseca owned 100% of the Nevada subsidiary, but they also demonstrate that the company went out of its way to delete potentially harmful data from computers and phones in order to shield client information from the American legal system.
According to one email from 2014, any connection between Mossack Fonseca’s central computing system in Panama and the Nevada office “has to be obscure to the investigators.” According to other emails, IT specialists operating remotely from Panama “tried to clean the logs of the PCs in the Nevada office” and intended to execute a “remote session to eliminate the traces of direct access to our CIS.” The CIS refers to the company’s computer information system.
The records also demonstrate that a company employee flew to Vegas from Panama to smuggle paper records out of the country. An email from September 24, 2014, stated, “When Andrés came to Nevada he cleaned up everything and brought all documents to Panama.”
Mossack Fonseca “categorically” denied suppressing or erasing records that might have been used in an ongoing inquiry or legal dispute in comments sent to ICIJ.
The roughly 11 million documents acquired by ICIJ, including emails, bank data, and customer information, depict the internal operations of Mossack Fonseca from December 1977 to over 40 years later. They make public the offshore holdings of people and businesses from over 200 different nations and territories.
They present evidence of a firm that is pleased to operate as a gatekeeper to the secrets of its clients, even those who turn out to be thieves, Mafia members, drug traffickers, crooked politicians, and tax evaders by recounting example after example of ethical and legal violation by clients.
The records indicate that business has been brisk.
One of the top five global suppliers of offshore secrecy today is Mossack Fonseca. With more than 500 workers and partners in more than 40 offices globally, including three in Switzerland and eight in China, it generated more than $42 million in billings in 2013.
In response to inquiries about the ICIJ’s findings, Mossack Fonseca stated that “for 40 years Mossack Fonseca has worked beyond reproach… Our company has never been charged or suspected of committing a crime.
Carlos Sousa, a spokesman for the company, stated that it “only assists clients in incorporating companies.”
According to Sousa, this isn’t equivalent to “establishing a business relationship with or directing in any manner the companies so formed.”
Although Mossack Fonseca officially states that it “conducts exhaustive due diligence to verify the legitimacy of each of our clients” and claims that it would never cooperate with corrupt officials, criminals, or other dubious figures, the firm’s internal records reveal something very different.
For instance, according to a study by ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca has collaborated with at least 33 organizations and individuals whom the United States government has blacklisted due to their connections to terrorism, drug trafficking, or because they have supported despotic governments like North Korea or Iran.
According to Mossack Fonseca, it “does not foster or promote unlawful acts” and has “never knowingly allowed the use of our companies” by anyone who is affiliated with defamed nations. Banks, law firms, and other middlemen who act as a conduit between the Panama firm and the owners of their shell companies are often responsible for conducting client due diligence, according to the statement.
The records demonstrate that Mossack Fonseca occasionally made a financial decision to keep clients who were significant fee earners for the business even after authorities had identified them as undesirable.
Other times, blacklisted persons and other suspect clients were able to get through Mossack Fonseca’s lax procedures without the firm’s knowledge.
The firm’s conduct in an incident involving Rafael Caro Quintero, the former leader of the Guadalajara drug cartel in Mexico, appeared to be motivated by a more emotional factor: fear.
In 1985, authorities in Costa Rica detained Caro Quintero for the murder and torture of American narcotics agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. He was returned to Mexico and given a 40-year prison term in 1989. His assets, which included a property that belonged to an offshore company founded by Mossack Fonseca, were seized by the Mexican government and given to Costa Rica’s government, which in turn gave them to the country’s National Olympic Committee.
According to the records, Costa Rican Olympic authorities requested Mossack Fonseca’s assistance in obtaining a clear title to the land in March 2005.
The Costa Rican tourists were informed that the shareholders of the offshore firm would make the decision by a lawyer working for Mossack Fonseca. In a file marked “Case details > shareholders” in Caro Quintero’s business records, there was simply the notation “No data found!” Nevertheless, the attorney said in a private email conversation that it “appears the real owner of the estate, and therefore of the company, was the narcotrafficker, Rafael Caro Quintero.”
One of the three directors listed for the corporation, Mossack, didn’t want to offend Caro Quintero.
He claimed in an email conversation that even Pablo Escobar was a baby in comparison to Caro Quintero. As a result, Mossack Fonseca resigned from representing Quintero’s offshore accounts. I don’t want to be one of the people Quintero visits after being locked up.
On a technicality, Caro Quintero was freed from jail in 2013 and then vanished without a trace. He is still at large and has returned to Interpol’s list of Most Wanted.
Ramon Cierco- What is a Ponzi Scheme?
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scheme that entices investors with high rates of return and little risk. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation in which money is collected from later participants to pay returns to earlier investors. This is comparable to a pyramid scam in that both rely on new investors’ money being used to reimburse the previous funders.
When the influx of new investors stops and there isn’t enough money to go around, both Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes finally hit their bottom. The plans then start to fall apart.
- The Ponzi scam brings in new investors by promising them a substantial payoff with little to no risk, which creates returns for previous investors.
- The fraudulent investment scheme’s basic idea is to reimburse the initial backers with money from future investors.
- Companies that run Ponzi schemes concentrate all of their efforts on finding new investors because, without them, the scheme will run out of money.
- The SEC has provided advice on potential Ponzi scheme red flags, such as guarantees of returns or unregistered investment vehicles with the SEC.
- Bernie Madoff perpetrated the largest Ponzi scam, defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars.
Ramon Cierco- Ponzi Scheme Red Flags
No matter the technology employed in the Ponzi scheme, the majority have similar features. The following characteristics to look out for have been recognized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):
- a promise of large returns with little risk that is guaranteed
- a steady stream of returns irrespective of market conditions
- Unregistered investments with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Clients are not permitted to read the formal paperwork for their investment because it is hidden or too hard to explain
- Customers have trouble withdrawing their funds U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Ponzi scheme.
When clients give money to their financial advisers or investment firms, they expect a level of fiduciary duty. Unfortunately, those funds can be fraudulently mismanaged through Ponzi schemes. By taking one investor’s money to repay another, Ponzi schemes aren’t actual investment plans. They are fraudulent investment schemes that have resulted in the loss of billions of dollars.