Keeping Foreign Corruption Out of the United States: Four Case Histories

Keeping Foreign Corruption Out of the United States: Four Case Histories

United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations | February 4, 2010
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This report examines how politically powerful foreign officials, their relatives, and close associates have used the services of U.S. professionals and financial institutions to bring large amounts of suspect funds into the United States to advance their interests. Using four case histories, including Equatorial Guinea, this report shows how some foreign individuals have used U.S. lawyers, real estate and escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and even university officials, to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anticorruption safeguards. This report also offers recommendations to stop the abuses.

From 2004 to 2008, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, has used U.S. lawyers, bankers, real estate agents, and escrow agents to move over $110 million in suspect funds into the United States. Mr. Obiang is the subject of an ongoing U.S. criminal investigation, has been identified in corruption complaints filed in France, and was a focus of a 2004 Subcommittee hearing showing how Riggs Bank facilitated officials from Equatorial Guinea in opening accounts and engaging in suspect transactions. 

Two lawyers, Michael Berger and George Nagler, helped Mr. Obiang circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering (“AML”) and PEP controls at U.S. financial institutions by allowing him to use attorney-client, law office, and shell company accounts as conduits for his funds and without alerting the bank to his use of those accounts. If a bank later uncovered Mr. Obiang’s use of an account and closed it, the lawyers helped him open another. The U.S. shell companies they formed for Mr. Obiang included Beautiful Vision Inc., Unlimited Horizon, Inc., Sweetwater Malibu LLC, Sweetwater Management Inc., and Sweet Pink Inc. ...


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