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Shell companies, Latvian-type correspondent banking, money laundering and illicit financial flows from Russia and the former Soviet Union

Graham Stack (Business New Europe, Berlin, Germany)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 5 October 2015

837

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to examine the role played by international shell companies in Latvian-type correspondent banking, who creates the shell companies according to what criteria and the resulting money laundering operations for financial flows from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on journalist and non-governmental organisations investigations, financial intelligence unit reports, interviews with participants, whistleblower reports and public domain databases to research financial activities shrouded in secrecy with connections to corruption and organised crime.

Findings

Latvian-type correspondent banking generates for its clients from the former Soviet Union anonymous shell companies en masse across diverse onshore and offshore jurisdictions. The shell companies are vehicles for moving white, grey and black funds from Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet countries through international correspondent banking relations to offshore savings accounts and business suppliers. The creation and administration of the shell companies is handled by para-bank “business introducer” structures that dilute customer documentation.

Research limitations/implications

This paper does not address the specifics of Latvia’s domestic anti-money laundering (AML) legislation and enforcement thereof.

Practical implications

Attempts to eradicate shell companies in individual jurisdictions, for instance, by introducing registers of beneficial ownership of companies, may merely displace the phenomenon to other jurisdictions, and thus treat the symptom not the disease.

Originality/value

This is the first scholarly study of mass use of international shell companies by Latvian-type banking in connection with financial flows from Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union.

Keywords

Citation

Stack, G. (2015), "Shell companies, Latvian-type correspondent banking, money laundering and illicit financial flows from Russia and the former Soviet Union", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 496-512. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMLC-06-2014-0020

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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