Friday, 11 May 2018

What Happened to Alan Dershowitz?

quote [ How a liberal Harvard professor became Trump's most distinguished defender on TV, freaked out his friends and got the legal world up in arms. ]

I've always thought this guy was a raging douchebag, regardless of whether or not he says something I agree with (and I disagree with almost everything he says here). The article mentions a lot of his celebrity connections (he's a bigger groupie than Pamela Des Barres), but Jeffrey Epstein is conspicuously absent.
[SFW] [politics] [+3 Interesting]
[by hellboy@7:55pmGMT]


HoZay said[1] @ 4:43am GMT on 12th May [Score:4 Underrated]
Tho not mentioned at all in the Politico piece, I assume Dershowitz' defense of Trump is directly related to Trump's support for Netanyahu and Israel's national interests, over the US national interest.
Alan Dershowitz: Why Trump is right in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Alan Dershowitz Slams 'Sex and the City' Star Cynthia Nixon as 'anti-Israel Candidate' in N.Y. Race
steele said @ 10:57pm GMT on 11th May [Score:1 laz0r]
In a kind of morbid way, I'm fascinated with how we're all still pretending this current course is sustainable. It's a bit like that one panel comic with the stock market guy sitting around the campfire with other survivors of the collapse. But, instead of talking about delivering returns to investors, we'll be congratulating ourselves for keeping up the illusion of a "democracy".
hellboy said @ 11:42pm GMT on 11th May [Score:4 Insightful]
Yeah. I hear people say things like "A sitting president has never been indicted...criminal charges against Trump seem highly unlikely." (as Mandery does) or "What Trump has done isn’t appropriate for criminal charges..." (as Silverglate does, as if he even knows what Trump has done), it makes me want to punch them in the throat. It's like people in DC (physically or psychologically) are so busy telling themselves that there's nothing unusual going on that they can't even conceive of the fact that just because something has not been done before, that doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't. There is a very real possibility that we have a President who is an agent of an enemy country, and at the very least he's a corrupt money launderer for organized crime. And we're supposed to say "oh well, that's what impeachment is for, what can we do?" Have you not noticed that the Republicans are using the congressional investigations to protect him, rather than impeach him? This is exactly the situation where a special prosecutor is needed, and the idea that what's happening is some kind of witch hunt for political payback is fucking delusional.

Dershowitz claims, "if this were Hillary Clinton being investigated and they went into her lawyer’s office—the ACLU would be on every television station in America jumping up and down." Who does he mean by "they" - a highly respected prosecutor from her own party on the basis of legitimate evidence? The ACLU would be wrong, and you and I would be among the people saying so, and I know that because we supported the actual FBI investigation of Clinton. It may be impossible for these shitheads to imagine, but not everything is reducible to partisan politics. Cohen is a crook, the FBI raid was legitimate, Dershowitz is a shithead.

And I'm really hoping Dershowitz is the next takedown by #metoo. That fucker is a creep.

Thanks for letting me rant, a friend sent me the Politico thing this morning and I thought I couldn't hate the guy more than I already do.
lilmookieesquire said @ 12:12am GMT on 12th May [Score:1 Insightful]
I forgot who it was, but they said the silver lining is that some creeps came out of the closet. This is one of them.
steele said[1] @ 12:42am GMT on 12th May [Score:1 Hot Pr0n]
I get you, but to me it's just another ring in the circus of distractions, you know? And this bread? It's shit.

Have you met the ResistanceHole yet?
hellboy said @ 3:54am GMT on 12th May
Hey, I thought I was bbqkink for a second, that doesn't mean I want to live there!

(Just kidding bbq)
Taxman said[1] @ 1:22pm GMT on 12th May
I don’t mean to be that “don’t worry, be happy” guy, but here we are.

Robert Mueller likely knows how this all ends.
The beginning of May marks the longest period of public silence from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team since his first charges last October—more than two months without any new plea deals, fresh indictments, or publicly “flipped” witnesses.

At the same time, though, it’s been a period of aggressive moves that continue to illustrate an investigation that is far from complete, including the raid by federal prosecutors on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, court evidence that shows Mueller’s team successfully sought permission to expand the scope of the probe, the release of former FBI director James Comey’s memos documenting his interactions with the president, continual hints that the special counsel is probing the UAE, the odd meeting by Blackwater founder Erik Prince in the Seychelles, and numerous other aspects of the complex, multi-part investigation.

Recent weeks have also seen President Trump tweeting regularly about the investigation and the capital W, capital H “Witch Hunt,” and in his train wreck of a phone interview with Fox & Friends last week, he hinted that his patience is wearing thin, referring to “our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won't.”

“I’ve taken the position—and I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change—that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over. It's a total, it's all lies and it’s a horrible thing that’s going on, a horrible thing,” he said. “They have a witch hunt against the President of the United States going on.”

Then, last night, the final hours of April held one final surprise: The New York Times published a list of questions that, according to Donald Trump’s legal team, Mueller’s office wants to ask the president. The more than four dozen questions span a spectrum from the Steele dossier to suspicious, Russia-friendly changes to the GOP’s party platform during the 2016 Cleveland convention, but most of the questions focus on the president’s own statements and reactions to various steps of the investigation, and his interactions with three key figures: former national security adviser Mike Flynn, attorney general Jeff Sessions, and Comey.

Donald Trump himself tweeted about the questions early Tuesday, saying it was a “disgrace” that they leaked, but the Times story sources the leak to people on Trump’s side; Mueller’s team continues to operate almost entirely leak-free. It’s also hard to read the leaks as anything other than an attempt to bring public pressure on Trump to refuse an interview with Mueller’s team. (According to media reports, Trump has been keen to sit down with Mueller, but his legal team has advised against it.)

Mueller’s proposed questions are primarily high-level—presumably the starting point for what would then be increasingly detailed follow-ups, backed up by specific emails, documents, telephone records, and other files Mueller’s team and FBI investigators have accumulated in an investigation stretching back more than two years. While the initial 49 questions are intriguing on their own, they primarily line up with what’s publicly known about the investigation so far. There’s nothing out of left field. Thus, the real mystery is the follow-ups: Why, precisely, is Mueller interested?

Taken as a whole, the leaked questions help shape and underscore some key takeaways:

1. Mueller always knows more than we think. Every single indictment has been deeper, broader, and more detailed than anyone anticipated. This “misunderestimating” of what Mueller knows has been true of both the public and media reports, and of his witnesses and targets: Both Rick Gates and Alex van der Zwaan were caught in lies by Mueller’s team, who have known far more specific information than their targets first realized. Presumably, Mueller’s questions to Trump are informed by even more evidence that we haven’t seen.

2. Mueller is building a bulletproof case. Paul Manafort spent the spring trying to argue that Mueller was a loose cannon, a reckless, out-of-control prosecutor straying far beyond his assignment. His court case, though, proved just the opposite: The release this spring in court of a previously classified memo by Rod Rosenstein makes clear just how cautiously and conservatively Mueller is proceeding legally. One of the key members of Mueller’s team, Michael Dreeben, specializes in looking down the road at potential legal pitfalls and how cases might appear not just at initial trials but in later appellate courts. And Dreeban’s work has paid obvious dividends: After reviewing the evidence in Manafort’s effort to dismiss the charges against him and Mueller’s highly detailed 282-page rebuttal, Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort’s lawyers, “I don’t really understand what is left of your case.”

3. There are more loose threads than ever. Perhaps the most troubling conclusion after reading Mueller’s proposed questions is just how many questions exist about the behavior and motivations of the President of the United States during his first year in office. The 49 questions lay out just how much remains unanswered and unknown, publicly at least, nearly a year into Mueller’s special counsel work. It’s hard to tell from the questions alone which ones represent the most possible jeopardy for the president, but when matched against the five core areas of Mueller’s investigation, it’s clear that Mueller wants to talk with President Trump about nearly all of them, from obstruction of justice to the Trump Organization’s business deals in Russia to the 2016 Trump campaign’s involvement with various Russian officials. Add in the full breadth of the investigation, from New York taxi medallions to Virginia rug stores, and the “supporting players”—including Erik Prince, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Tony Podesta, Carter Page, Sergey Kislyak, Sergey Gorkov, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, as well as the hackers of Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear—and it’s clear that this is no made-up “witch hunt.” There are likely more indictments yet to come.

4. We still don’t know the biggest, most important evidence. There’s an ever-growing pile of evidence that exists that hasn’t become public yet. That includes, obviously, the evidence that George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and Rick Gates all traded to Mueller for their plea deals over the last seven months. Presumably, Mueller considers each defendant’s testimony worthy of trading months—and even years—off of a potential prison sentence, so it seems significant that more than seven months after Mueller “flipped” Papadopoulos, we still haven’t seen a single iota of the evidence he presumably provided to the investigation.

5. Mueller likely already knows how this story ends. Add up the four above points and it seems clear that Mueller might actually be relatively close to wrapping up the investigation. Given that the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office, stemming from an investigation by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, was sure to provoke a reaction from President Trump—the investigative equivalent of kicking a hornet’s nest—it seems likely that Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who approved the raid, understood that one or both of them might be fired by the president in its wake. It seems likely that before they took such a provocative step on the case that they could see their way through to the investigation's end.

and for educational purposes:

If Trump is laundering Russian money, here’s how it works
For Donald Trump, there was the purchase of the $12.6 million Scottish estate and the $79.7 million for golf courses in the United Kingdom, not to mention the $16.2 million for the Northern Virginia Winery. All in cash.

For Michael Cohen, it was the lucrative day in 2014 when he sold four Manhattan buildings for $32 million—three times what he’d paid for them less than three years before.

Recent days have been filled with a seeming tidal wave of fresh revelations from the spiraling investigation around Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, particularly around suspicious financial transactions involving Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who appears to have used the same shell company LLC to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, collect six- and seven-figure consulting deals from companies like AT&T and Novartis, and receive payments from a company with close ties to oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

The subtext of many of the recent tales—from Donald Trump’s massive cash-spending spree to Cohen’s $32 million flip of New York real estate—is that the atypical transactions are worthy of greater scrutiny. After all, why was the self-proclaimed “King of Debt” suddenly waist-deep in cash and on a spending spree in the midst of the global real estate crash? Where was Cohen’s money coming from—and where was it going?

It’s the old adage from the Watergate investigation: “Follow the money.”

The implication, particularly in the more fever-swampy portions of Twitter, is that there was money laundering afoot—probably Russian in origin. The “quid” perhaps, before the election and the “pro quo” afterward. But is that a real possibility—and if it was money laundering, by whom and how?

The payments appear to mirror suspicious activity that led to the earliest charges and investigative avenues of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, the money laundering and conspiracy charges leveled against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates. (Gates has since pleaded guilty; Manafort’s case continues to move forward toward trial later this year.)

But to Treasury officials and law enforcement who have long pursued money laundering and terrorist financing probes, it’s not what Donald Trump or Michael Cohen did in any single transaction that raises red flags—it’s how they conducted business day in and day out. The layers of shell companies, the contracts involving pseudonyms, the law firm cut-outs to make deals.

"Many of the activities, when viewed in aggregate, point to a deliberate attempt to create opacity,” says Amit Sharma, who used to work on countering terrorist financing after 9/11 at the Treasury Department. “When you take two steps back, you see a murkiness and level of complexity with which the Cohen and Trump companies have operated—what are they hiding? Why are secondary and tertiary entities signing under pseudonyms and ‘cover' names? Truly legitimate, transparent companies don’t need to do that. Does this point to corruption and/or conspiracy? It certainly looks that way! Are all activities pointing to specific money laundering transactions? Not necessarily.”

The fundamental approach to Trump and Cohen’s empires should raise eyebrows—and evidently has with Mueller’s probe and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York—precisely because of the apparently great lengths they undertook to evade basic transparency. While not necessarily illegal—some of the tactics are, in fact, regular parts of complex businesses—the pattern of activity points to an attempt to evade one of the basic precepts of modern banking and anti-money-laundering efforts: Know your customer.

“What we call ‘covered institutions,’ that’s any financial institution overseen by US financial regulations, they have to have a comprehensive anti-money-laundering regime. It basically come down to one central question: Do you know your customer? Who’s behind the account, who has control over an entity or can facilitate transactions on its behalf, what are its sources of funds, and what is the normal, expected nature of its business or pattern of activity for that person or entity?" Sharma says. “Anytime a bank or financial institution spots activity that doesn’t match the regular pattern, they’re required to file suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department.” (Those exact type of reports were triggered by odd withdrawals and payments by the Russian embassy around the time of the US election, and are the subject of part of Mueller’s probe, according to Buzzfeed.)

Yet while regulations—especially since 9/11—require in-depth documentation and identification for basic banking for individuals, it has been much easier—until literally today—for corporate entities to hide their identities behind lawyers and shell companies. “Financial institutions are mandated to collect all this data on its customers, but up until now, financial institutions have not had to do the same for companies,” Sharma says. “For companies, often it has simply been the business location and Tax ID number and we don’t know the underlying ownership. We don’t know whether it’s a Russian oligarch.” (In fact, new Treasury Department rules that require stronger due diligence on banks to understand who actually owns—or has a controlling interest in—a company only come into effect today, May 11, 2018.)

As Sharma says, “Trump and his companies have exercised this practice for many years—it seems that every new project, every product, every new building, he’s starting a new company or legal entity to manage it. This has been the case for overseas operations and activities as well. People do this to protect themselves from liability and to create protective measures that don’t roll directly up to them personally. In any given structure, he may own a portion of a parent company that owns a controlling interest in a holding company that may own a portion or receive economic benefits of the real estate.”

In 2016 The Wall Street Journal's Jean Eaglesham, Mark Maremont, and Lisa Schwartz outlined a specific example of just that sort of structure: “Donald Trump owns a helicopter in Scotland. To be more precise, he has a revocable trust that owns 99 percent of a Delaware limited liability company that owns 99 percent of another Delaware LLC that owns a Scottish limited company that owns another Scottish company that owns the 26-year-old Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, emblazoned with a red ‘TRUMP’ on the side of its fuselage.” All told, the Journal reported, 15 entities were used at that point to “own” Trump’s fleet of two airplanes and three helicopters.

Layer on layer of corporate structure makes it hard for investigators, tax officials, or prying lawyers to figure out who owns what, the underlying source of money for specific transactions, whether taxes are being appropriately paid in a given jurisdiction, or who might be partners in what enterprises.

That’s where “Section 311” comes in.

In 2001, as part of the USA Patriot Act, the Treasury Department was given a new tool against money laundering, known as “Section 311,” after the relevant section of the law, to designate foreign financial institutions, jurisdictions, or entities as “of primary money laundering concern.”

A Section 311 designation was meant to help authorities highlight suspicious patterns of activity without having to prove any single transaction was illegal—it’s the rough equivalent for money laundering of the criminal RICO statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, that allows prosecutors to take down entire mafia families, drug cartels, and street gangs without having to prove everyone involved knew about or participated in all the various individual crimes.

“We deliberately put these tools together to go after really bad people—organized crime, terrorists, dictators, Chinese Triads,” Sharma says. “You didn’t have to point to a single illegal transaction. The totality of the transactions should give you pause enough that we would want to be sure US institutions scaled back or ceased doing business with them.”

The designation, which effectively forces US financial institutions to sever ties with the entity, makes it all but impossible for an entity to participate in the global financial system. In the years since, the US Treasury Department has used Section 311 to go after the banks and front companies that help North Korea evade sanctions, to go after Iran’s nuclear program and terrorism financing, to isolate Syria, to punish banks that helped Saddam Hussein launder money, and to pressure off-shore havens, like the Pacific island of Nauru, that the US believes are complicit in money laundering.

Sharma says that if what we have seen with Michael Cohen’s business dealings existed anywhere overseas, where it intersected with an investigation or a politically exposed person or national security issue of import to the US, it would ring all sorts of alarm bells at Treasury. What seems to be continually revealed is a pattern of atypical financial transactions, and too much of it seems structured specifically to hide and evade critical information or people involved.

That desire for opacity, though, doesn’t necessarily point to money laundering. A specific charge of “money laundering” requires that the initial funds be traced to a so-called “predicate,” a recognized serious crime. “It could be fraud, smuggling, selling high technology, proceeds of child pornography. There are hundreds of predicate crimes in the United States; the global standard is ‘all serious crimes,’” explains former Treasury agent John Cassara. The complexity of tracing money all the way through the financial system, from a legitimate asset back to a crime, or vice versa, makes these cases some of the most challenging investigators undertake. “These are very, very difficult cases—it takes a lot for the investigators, the prosecutors, the US attorney to understand,” Cassara says.

Part of the reason the cases are so tough is that there are plenty of other, nonillegal reasons wealthy people create opacity, including to minimize taxes, to limit personal or corporate legal liability, or to shield assets in divorce proceedings.

The truth of the matter is that the global financial system is simply too large for officials to look at very closely.

Money laundering is a huge—literally physically huge—problem: Illicit drug sales in the United States alone are estimated at around $60 billion to $100 billion a year, which translates, Cassara says, into about 20 million physical pounds of currency, far too much to be moved easily or spent easily. “The bad guys have a logistics issue. They want to try to get into a bank or nonbank financial institution, so they can spend it,” he says.

Globally, the International Monetary Fund estimates that between 2 and 5 percent of the world’s gross domestic product is laundered money from illicit activity. “The number I normally use is the total is in the range of $4 trillion to $5 trillion, about the amount of the entire federal government budget,” says Cassara, who spent 26 years investigating such cases and has written multiple textbooks on anti-money-laundering efforts.

Given that scale, the hard work of thousands of investigators and tax officials the world over amounts to a drop in the proverbial bucket; authorities only seize or charge about 1 percent of suspected money laundering cases. “By any measurement, we do a terrible job of enforcing this,” Cassara says. “I have the utmost respect for my colleagues, but if you just compare the bottom line with the results, as [financial crime expert] Raymond Baker used to say, total failure is just a decimal point away.”

That shockingly low level of enforcement helps explain how Manafort’s scheme—which Mueller’s team says involved more than $18 million, funneled through entities that included oriental rug shops just a few miles from the Treasury Department itself—ran undetected and unprosecuted for so long.

Each year, the Treasury Department fields upward of 18 million pieces of financial intelligence, including more than 2 million suspicious activity reports from banks and financial institutions—far more than it can effectively process. Globally, there are 145 foreign financial reporting centers, like the Treasury Department’s so-called FINCEN, its intelligence and enforcement unit, which translates into tens of millions more reports and warnings. It’s relatively easy for even large-scale financial crimes to hide in that mountain of evidence. “Your inbox was always full,” Cassara says.

Today, Cassara says, money launderers have to be incredibly stupid or incredibly unlucky to be caught. “Since 9/11, the amount of financial intelligence has grown exponentially, so bad guys are taking steps to evade those efforts,” Cassara says.

But what’s the point of buying, say, $934,350 in oriental rugs (as Manafort is alleged to have done), or buying luxury condos in London (as Russian oligarchs are said to be fond of)? How exactly do money laundering schemes work?

While it’s easier to grasp how to hide cash at the street level—like in Breaking Bad, when Walter White purchases a cash-intensive car wash and simply cooks the book to show he’s washing more cars than he is—money laundering at the global level follows the same three-step process:

Step 1: Placement

The first challenge is simply getting the money somewhere into the global financial system, which is often easier said than done. Banks are required to file reports anytime someone deposits more than $10,000 in cash, so sneaking large amounts of cash into the financial system can pose a huge challenge. Breaking large transactions into smaller ones, say multiple deposits of $9,999, to evade the transaction reports is known as “structuring” or “smurfing,” and is illegal itself. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert spent time in prison for “structuring,” as part of his effort to pay hush money to one of the men he sexually abused as a high school coach, rather than for the underlying abuse. “Placement is where criminals are most vulnerable, because the money is closest to the original crime,” Cassara says. “It’s much easier to catch them at the crime than to say ‘there’s a suspicious shopping center or golf course’ and work backwards.”

Tracing “laundered” money back to illicit proceeds is key to any investigation.

Step 2: Layering

The second challenge is hiding the origin of the illicit money. That’s where the layers of LLCs can be helpful. Every time money moves—from one entity’s account to another, from one bank to another, from one country to another—it helps hide the original source. “It’s confusing and makes it difficult for investigators, tax officials, or a former wife to follow that money trail. It’s using this labyrinth of LLCs and tax havens, in the US and overseas, to make it difficult and time-consuming to trace,” Cassara says. “It gets hard because of issues of [investigative] competence, venue, jurisdiction.”

Often, this “layering” step takes place with the help of lawyers and law firms; the revelations of the Panama Papers and the follow-on Paradise Papers laid out just how large a global business it is to help elites hide their assets. “Many of these folks have go-to structures and lawyers they use to go through the layering process,” Sharma says. “A lot of laundering happens through nonfinancial businesses and professions.…The Russians use a ton of folks in Turkey, UAE, and Cyprus. That fact pattern is well-known and long-standing.”

While the Panama and Paradise Papers revelations focused primarily on overseas entities and tax havens, the United States is actually one of the worst global offenders: The so-called “Delaware company” structure is notorious for its lax documentation and opacity, as NPR’s Planet Money found out when they set up shell companies in Belize and Delaware in 2012.

Step 3: Integration

Once the money is in the global financial system and its origins properly obfuscated, the final challenge is making the money accessible—that is, integrating it into the legitimate economy. At the high end of money laundering, this often means purchasing real estate.

“Real estate is a big issue for money laundering and has been for a long time,” Cassara says. “If you’ve got a condo or a shopping center or a golf course, the money has already been placed, it’s already been layered, it’s the final stage—integrated. The authorities aren’t going to look at that. Once you see property, in whatever form it is, it’s assumed that’s good, that’s a legitimate investment.”

Large-scale money laundering, like what corrupt regimes or oligarchs need, requires—like any good investment portfolio—a well-balanced portfolio. “If you’ve got that much money, you need diversification,” Cassara says. “You’re going to put so much into gold, so much into stocks, so much into golf courses. By that point, they’re many steps away from illicit proceeds.”

Real estate is particularly attractive for money laundering because of the large numbers involved—a single large transaction to purchase a golf course, a luxury condo, or shopping center is an easy way to make a whole lot of money look legitimate at once without raising any eyebrows with banks or regulators. It’s also a good way to evade so-called “capital controls,” which limit, for instance, the amount of money Chinese citizens can transfer out of the country.

The goal in such efforts isn’t necessarily to have access to immediate cash—sometimes the end goal is simply to own a physical asset. “Parking” illicit gains from corrupt regimes, including Russia or China, in luxury real estate in the West is a common pattern because it historically holds value and, if you’re the buyer, you only trigger taxes by selling, not with the initial transaction. “Real estate tends to hold its value, luxury real estate typically even goes up—it’s a great way to preserve it without losing it,” Sharma says.

Such absentee owners—more interested in parking their assets than actually occupying a residence—has led to the phenomenon of what locals call “lights out London,” entire luxury buildings or wealthy neighborhoods where hardly anyone is ever home. More than 85,000 offshore shell companies own British real estate, and one report last year found nearly $6 billion worth of properties owned by politicians and public officials with “suspicious wealth.”

Similar concerns have been raised about Libyan purchases in Dubai, Chinese purchases in Vancouver, and Russian purchases in Miami, among other cities. It’s such a problem in New York real estate that the Treasury Department is moving to end anonymous all-cash purchases.

And then there’s the oriental rugs. Perhaps the oddest part of the lengthy, detailed indictment of Paul Manafort is the nearly $1 million he evidently funneled through various antique rug shops. As Adam Davidson wrote at The New Yorker last fall, “It’s hard to imagine a person who spends $12 million over six years but only shops at a handful of stores, and nearly always happens to have a bill that ends in multiple zeroes: $107,000, then $20,000, then $250,000. At an unnamed men’s-clothing store in New York, Manafort spent $32,000, $15,000, $24,000, and other multiples of a thousand. For money-laundering experts, this fact alone would be cause for suspicion. It is extremely rare for even a single purchase to end in three zeroes.”

The rugs and clothing appear to be an example of what officials call “trade-based money laundering,” using physical goods to evade currency reporting limits. There are, after all, only three ways to move money around the globe: Through bank transfers, through cash, or through physical trade. “I argue that trade-based money laundering is actually the largest of the three money laundering ideologies but it’s the one we’ve done the least to enforce,” Cassara says. “When a buyer and a seller are working together, the price of an object can be whatever they want it to be—it could be pens, it could be gold, it could be carpets….The reason it’s so effective is that global merchant transactions is in the tens of millions of dollars [a day]. Try to find the suspect transaction in that sea.”

It’s relatively easy for a determined money launderer to falsify invoices, either inflating or deflating price, with the willing cooperation of a commercial partner—like an oriental rug store, where you purchase a rug that’s worth $5,000 for, say, $20,000 and the store owner returns the difference to you in cash. Or buy a rug worth $20,000, and buy it from Shop A for $5,000 and sell it to Shop B for the full price—the difference becomes all clean money. “I sold those rugs to another shop, that cash from Shop B, paid to me, is effectively washed,” Sharma explains.

That so many of the transactions and behaviors of the Trump business empire and Michael Cohen’s empire appear to hew so closely to the well-known patterns and stages of money laundering deeply troubles Sharma.

“It falls into fact patterns that we’ve seen in other areas of Russian and Eastern European organized crime,” he says. “We’re staring at a government—that goes right to the top—that engages in very way of doing business and the exact same fact patterns that we set these tools up to combat. That’s mind-boggling to me.”
rylex said @ 4:58am GMT on 13th May
What?! No tl;dr pictures??!
Taxman said @ 12:14pm GMT on 13th May [Score:1 Underrated]
Sorry about that rylex, as close as I could get:

eggboy said @ 6:14am GMT on 12th May
Rudy Giuliani while bitching out on a televised debate with Avenatti:

"I wouldn't debate him because it wouldn't be fair," the former New York mayor and US attorney continued.

He added, "I debate, like, really intelligent, skilled people," pointing to the famed attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

"I know Alan Dershowitz," Giuliani said. "He's no Alan Dershowitz."
hellboy said[1] @ 8:02am GMT on 12th May
He's right, it wouldn't be fair. Avenatti would destroy him.
eggboy said @ 10:45am GMT on 12th May [Score:1 Funny]
"I don't get involved with pimps" Avenatti's response:
C18H27NO3 said @ 5:14pm GMT on 13th May
Dershoshits is an asshole. A self important, oportunist dickhead. Has been, always will be. Not sure how the fuck he's attained the stature he has.

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