26.11.12

Is the Bank of Spain laundering Derwick Associates' money?

London 26.11.2012 - The "unacceptable face of capitalism", otherwise reported as involvement of some of the world's "most reputed" private financial institutions in money laundering, and aiding and abetting with terrorists, is shocking enough. But what if I were to give an example where boardroom greed is not part of the equation? What if I were to show that a Central Bank, of one European country, neglected its anti-money-laundering responsibilities, by clearing ill-gotten proceeds from extremely dubious characters starring in corruption rackets? What if I were to show that judicial authorities have disregarded anti-money-laundering legislation? Hard to believe? Think again.

In 2010, Viajes Marsans declared it was insolvent. The group's commercial activities were stopped. Madrid's 12th Mercantile Court took over the process of dissolution. This was followed by a ruling against a previous move -by disgraced owner Gerardo Diaz Ferran- of selling his conglomerate to Posibilitum Business. Once all assets had been seized by Madrid's Judge Ana María Gallego, an auction process was launched. And that's when things start getting really interesting. Note the following information for parties willing to bid in the auction (point no. 5):
El pago del precio fijado para la adjudicación o venta de cada uno de los bienes se realizará mediante ingreso (efectivo, transferencia “Banco de España” o cheque bancario) en la cuenta intervenida por la Administración Concursal, abierta a nombre de VIAJES MARSANS S.A.-ADMINISTRACIÓN CONCURSAL, que se facilitará a los interesados. En el caso de que la Administración Concursal aceptara un pago aplazado, éste será garantizado y con los costes financieros, incluido el descuento financiero, a cargo del comprador. [bold added]
Translation of relevant part: "... (cash, "Bank of Spain" transfer or check) payment shall be made into account seized by administrator, to Viajes Marsans S.A Administrators, whose details shall be given to interested parties."

Finca El Alamín, Gerardo Diaz Ferrán's former hunting
retreat purchased by Derwick Associates for €24 mil.
One of Diaz Ferrán's assets up for sale was a 1,600 hectares hunting farm, which reports in the Spanish press indicate was purchased by Derwick Associates. Another source reports that Alejandro Betancourt, who nowadays counts on the daughter of one of -paraphrasing Hugo Chavez-  Spain's most rancid oligarchs as his wedding planner, had indeed bought El Alamín (pictured).

But what does this mean in practical terms? Madrid's 12th Mercantile Court acts as administrators of Viajes Marsans, and auctioned a number of assets. Winning bids from participating parties had to be settled in one of three possible ways (cash, transfer, or check). The winning bid for the farm in question is cited as €24 million. It is unlikely that Derwick Associates paid for it in cash. That leaves bank transfer or check. It must be borne in mind that Derwick Associates incorporated in Spain 13th January 2011 with a capital of €10,000, and there it was, sometime later, offering €24 million in a sealed envelope.

So Madrid's 12th Mercantile Court accepts Derwick Associates winning bid, and proceeds to either:

1) process a €24 million transfer, from Derwick's account to the special-purpose account controlled by the administrator, whereby funds have to be cleared by THE Bank of Spain;

2) pay into its own special-purpose administrator's account a €24 million check from Derwick, whose bank is legally-bound to have done relevant due diligence.

Whichever way the payment was processed, there's legislation in Spain against money laundering. There's also a financial intelligence unit of sorts, responsible for ensuring that banks enforce a number of obligations in that respect. There's even explicit criminalisation of money-laundering in the Penal Code. The law leaves no room for interpretation: money laundering is illegal, and Cesar Batiz's excellent exposes in Ultimas Noticias leave little doubt as to the propriety of Derwick Associates contracts with the Chavez regime.

What is astonishing about this, IMO, is that transaction didn't happen in cash between private parties (as is often the case in Spain), but rather it was a public auction, controlled by judicial authorities, acting as administrators of assets seized from a fraudster. The thought of said administrators disregarding legislation to prevent money laundering is beyond shocking. But what makes it even more so, is that the Bank of Spain (i.e. the Central Bank), as the clearing institution behind all such transactions, could have also failed in establishing the legitimacy of Derwick Associates' funds. So what, if anything, is Mr. Eduardo Torres-Dulce doing about it? If the enforcers are failing, what hope is left for Spain?

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