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Analysis & Opinion, EU/Europe

Browder claims Ireland a laundering ‘soft spot’ and that police did not act on historic evidence he presented

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

A leading anti-Putin campaigner has called Ireland a ‘soft spot’ for money laundering that is open to use by financial criminals unless further actions are taken.

Bill Browder, financier, political activist and current CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, said that he had previously presented the Irish police evidence of monetary foul play, but that this evidence led to no further action.

Ireland was one of the countries listed in a widespread search for laundering destinations related to funds discovered by his deceased colleague, Sergei Magnitsky, he explained. 

“We have strong evidence of money going into Ireland, going into real estate in Ireland,” he told the Irish Times. “We filed that evidence with the Garda Economic Crimes Unit, and nothing happened. Zero.”

He added that the larger case involved proceedings being opened in many other countries, along with seizures of financial assets, and that none of this occurred in Ireland.

“As long as Ireland remains a soft spot for money launderers and they think that nothing is going to happen, they will continue to launder money there,” he said.

Ireland has faced criticism in the recent past for alleged deficiencies in its AML framework, particularly amongst its European colleagues.

As recently as this week, criticisms have been made of it as a potential laundering destination by MEPs in Brussels.

The country was fined €2million by the EU in August 2020 for a delay in implementing the bloc’s fifth AML directive. It has also been singled out as a poor performer in Europe for substandard know-your-customer protocols in many of its digital asset management agencies, according to Blockchain analytics and cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace.

Its reputation will likely remain under the radar given yesterday’s confirmation of their new Commissioner Mairead McGuinness in Brussels, with the portfolio of financial services and stability.

Mr Browder had previously worked with Irish politicians to bring forward legislation allowing governments to seize the assets of suspected human rights abusers and corrupt individuals.

Versions of this legislation have been implemented with his guidance in many other countries.

Through Mr Browder’s extensive financial career, he has developed a long-running conflict with the Russian Government, beginning with his legal action against several high-profile Russian companies in the mid-2000s. He is currently a wanted man in the country, but Russian authorities have repeatedly tried and failed to gain Interpol’s cooperation in his arrest and deportation.

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