ARE you looking for a way to boost your income or perhaps bypass international sanctions? Do you need extra cash for a new car? Or a great family vacation? Or maybe just to pay the armed mercenaries you depend on to prop up your repressive regime? Well ,from the makers of “Selling Fake Oil For Dummies”, and “Chinese Housing Contract for Dummies” comes “How to launder Money for Dummies”. There are no classes to attend or books to buy. All you need to get started is a passion, a will to succeed and of course an oil refinery.
Step 1. Find an oil refinery
Laundering money requires the basic illusion that your business can make a profit. This immediately rules out things in T&T like calypso tents, TTT, and preventative flood plans. Oil, on the other hand, is perfect. With its labyrinthine accounting and perception of wealth, oil refineries are beloved by gangsters across the globe looking to scrub their dollars clean.
According to Transparency International, over 90 per cent of the extractive industries are based in developing countries. These countries have weak to no oversight, making them ideal places for embezzlement and bribery.
In recent times oil refineries in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Brazil, Russia and the Caribbean have been either investigated for or been found guilty of money laundering. If you look hard enough you’re bound to find a shady refinery in a nice shady spot somewhere.
Step 2. Don’t own an oil refinery? Be an investor
Firstly, are you sure you don’t have an oil refinery? Did you check under your bed or in your spare cupboard? You might be surprised to learn that people are practically giving away oil refineries these days. But even so, don’t sweat it. You don’t need to own a refinery you just need to create a joint venture with one.
In their 2018 paper entitled, “Natural Resources and Money Laundering”, authors David Muhlemann and Stefan Mbiyavanga explain how this occurs.
“A common modus operandi in such deals is for a public official to…forcefully acquire control over an asset and the commodity it produces,” write Muhlemann and Mbiyavanga. This enables them to further sell the assets and commodities to “middlemen and Investors and the earnings misappropriated”.
And remember if journalists ask you about the details, just accuse them of being United National Congress supporters.
Step 3. Make a joint venture
In recent times Venezuelan state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA)—the oil company that produces no oil—has struck many joint ventures with refineries across the Caribbean.
These included deals with Albanisa in Nicaragua and a now-defunct deal with PetroJam in Jamaica.
In May of this year a report by consultants Douglas Farah and Caitlyn Yates found that Albanisa was a slush fund for Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega, as well as a front by which PDVSA used to launder narcotics money.
Last December Jamaica’s auditor general reported that PetroJam in five years used 1.5 million barrels of oil valued at $12.8 billion. But half of those 1.5 million barrels could not be accounted for.
So if you’re friends with nitwits in the Caribbean who also have an oil refinery, half the work is done!
Step 3. Get a Swiss-based trader.
It’s easy to think the only things Switzerland is good for is chocolate and tennis players. But it’s also a major hub for commodities trading.
In the same report by David Muhlemann and Stefan Mbiyavanga lies an interesting fact: no Swiss trader has even been found guilty of money laundering. “Also,” write the authors, “the Swiss government has not been willing to take progressive steps to adequately supervise and regulate the natural resource trade.”
How much of an endorsement do you need?
Though it should be noted that in 2018 Swiss banker Matthias Krull, was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in a money-laundering scheme linked to PDVSA.
But here’s where Step 4 comes in.
Step 4-Find useful idiots
The term “useful idiots” refers to people who unwittingly repeat socialist propaganda, once it attacks “imperialism”.
Specifically, people who teach at the UWI. As former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro will tell you, It’s easier to commit crimes in the Caribbean if you can also paint yourself as a victim of “western imperialism”.
This is why no UWI intellectual speaks to the well-documented journalism exposing the links between Castro and drug trafficking. Or have asked for transparency on how Petrocaribe money was spent by Caricom governments, given that Haitains are currently rioting over that.
Remember if anyone asks to see your accounts, just say “financial auditing is a tool of the oppressor!’’
So get cracking. That blood money won’t launder itself!
By Darryn Boodan (a freelance writer)