Jersey, Standard Chartered and HSBC – hosts to alleged fraud

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The Guardian has reported that:

The Serious Fraud Office has begun a new investigation into British links with one of the biggest corruption inquiries in Africa. UK firms won huge contracts from the Kenyan governments of presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, but anti-corruption investigators have discovered that many were fictitious and amounted to state-sponsored looting.

The SFO inquiry is concentrating on the movement of millions of pounds into accounts in the tax havens of Guernsey and Jersey controlled by Andrew MacGill, a 64-year-old arms dealer from Fife.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that financing for some of the 18 suspicious security equipment contracts at the heart of the investigation was administered through a company called Investec Trust, based in Guernsey.

As they noted:

Investec Trust is an arm of the South African-based private banking group Investec, best known for its UK sports sponsorship. The trust handled LBA's business from 2001 through accounts with the banks HSBC in Guernsey and Standard Chartered in Jersey. Internal audits showed that no questions were asked by Investec managers about LBA's receipt of funds from Kenya or Mr MacGill's arms dealing for the Kenyan police with controversial suppliers that included a Yugoslav state company accused of supplying military aid to Saddam Hussein.

Suspicions were aroused among some Investec staff in April 2002 when a fax arrived from Rashmi Kamani, in Nairobi, requesting the transfer of $3.5m - received from the Kenyan government - to a Swiss company called Apex Finance. A file note said: "Who is RC Kamani? What authority do [sic] he have to effect payments on LBA? Who is Apex Finance Corp and what connection to LBA?" On Mr MacGill's instructions the transfer was made, followed by at least four more until February 2004. They totalled more than £15m.

But it was only after the publication in March 2004 of a report by the former anti-corruption chief, John Githongo, that executives realised the danger. The company's lawyers recommended the firm make a suspicious activity report to Guernsey's financial intelligence service.

I don't normally like quoting this much from an article. But this one is too important not to do so.

And still the Channel Island's show no shame. No longer can they say this all happened in the era before regulation. This happened in the recent past. But it took independent third party pressure before Investec apparently thought it appropriate to file a suspicious activity report, which wholly negates their purpose. These things are meant to give rise to investigations, not occur as a result of them.

It's clear, profit is still all that counts in these places. And ethics don't.