Friday, June 16, 2017

Money stolen by Russian mob linked to man sanctioned for supporting Syria's chemical weapons program

By Michael Weiss, CNN Investigates
Updated 7:50 PM ET, Fri June 16, 2017

An investment group that U.S. authorities say is run by Russian mobsters and linked to the Russian government sent at least $900,000 to a company owned by a businessman tied to Syria's chemical weapons program, according to financial documents obtained by CNN.

According to a contract and bank records from late 2007 and early 2008, a company tied to a state-backed Russian mafia group, according to U.S. officials, agreed to pay more than $3 million to a company called Balec Trading Ventures, Ltd — supposedly for high-end "furniture."

Wire transaction records seen by CNN confirm that at least $900,000 was transferred.

Both businesses are registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The company allegedly tied to Russian mafia was called Quartell Trading Ltd., and the U.S. Department of Justice claims it is one of the many vehicles into which millions of dollars of stolen Russian taxpayer money was laundered a decade ago in connection with the so-called "Magnitsky affair," perhaps the most notorious corruption case in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Balec Ventures is owned by Issa al-Zeydi, a Russian whom the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned in 2014 for his connection to the Scientific Studies and Research Center, the hub of Syria's nonconventional weapons program, including its manufacture of Sarin and VX nerve agents and mustard gas.

(More here.)

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