The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has revealed that law abiding individuals are being unwittingly co-opted as named beneficial owners by the so-called Troika Laundromat.

Earlier this year OCCRP revealed the large extent to which the operations of this laundromat, in which European banks handled large volumes of suspicious transactions involving parties from the former Soviet Union, included trade-based financial crime (Trade-based Financial Crime, 15 March 2019).

Beneficial ownership

The OCCRP cites one example of an unwitting participant in money laundering as Armen Ustyan, a 34-year-old Armenian who lives in Vanadzor, Armenia, and works seasonally in the construction sector in Russia.

He is also the beneficial owner of a Panamanian company involved in million-US dollar transactions, according to records the company held with Ūkio Bankas in Lithuania.

Ustyan is just one of many individuals who have allegedly been used as proxies by companies involved in the Troika Laundromat.

Azerbaijani connections

The OCCRP has also uncovered a similar approach by companies in the Azerbaijani Laundromat.

Maharram Ahmadov, a driver living in the outskirts of the Azerbaijani capital Baku, was also the beneficial owner of two British shell companies with accounts at Danske Bank Estonia.

The accounts were used to transfer more than US$1.7 billion, some of it reportedly used to pay bribes in Azerbaijan.