The United States Government has named four banks in Liberia linked to a fraudulent scheme involving cumulative U$13m stolen from American citizens by former Liberia Football Association (LFA) Vice President for Operations, Cassell Anthony Kuoh, now serving jail sentence in North Carolina, USA.
The United States Department of Justice booked the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), Afriland First Bank Liberia Limited, Global Bank Liberia Limited and Ecobank Liberia Limited for their involvements in the wire transfers of the stolen amount.
A US diplomatic note written on February 22, 2018, delivered a supplemental request for mutual legal assistance to restrain Mr. Kuoh’s accounts with the four Liberian-based banks, all of which received proceeds of the swindle Kuoh and co-conspirators perpetrated.
The request to restrain of Kuoh’s assets is to prevent their removal or dissipation and thus ensure their availability for forfeiture and repatriation to the United States.
The United States Department of Justice made the request pursuant to Article 18 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Crimes (UNTOC), to which the United States and Liberia are parties.
The US Government stated in the request that Kuoh and others engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud individuals in the United States of over U$13 million by falsely representing that they possessed large quantities of gold and diamonds in Liberia, which they sought to ship to the United States for refinement and sale.
- S. victims, in turn, would send money to the subject accounts in Liberia, as directed by the conspirators, for what they were told were, among other things, permit and storage fees required for the gold and diamonds shipments.
Based on bank records and victim statements, prosecutors in the US identified wire transfers to the subject accounts, described as follow:
Global Bank from at least in or about August 21, 2014, through in or about September 3, 2014, Kuoh instructed a victim, only identified as D. S. to wire at least U$250, 000 from a Wells Fargo Bank account to an account at Global Bank of Liberia limited, account number 103010203795 held in the name of McDan Shipping Company Limited, D. S. sent the money in two wire transfers.
EcoBank Liberia Limited, from September of 2014 to June 2015, Kuoh instructed one or more victims including D. S., V. S., and R. C. to wire at least U$1, 972, 600 from U. S. bank accounts to EcoBank account number 0011014722515701, held in the name of Phoenix Mining and Investment Group.
Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) beginning September 2014, Kuoh directed D. S. and V. S. to wire approximately U$2,139,770 to two conspirators’ Bank of America accounts in the names of Charslyn G. Kuoh and Woodrow Mentar Jr. Following these transfers, from March 2015, through August 2015, the conspirators wired a total of U$553,500 from two Bank of America accounts to LBDI account number 00321045856801, held in the name of Charslyn G. Kuoh, wife of Cassell.
Afriland First Bank Liberia Limited from October 2016 through November 2016, Kuoh instructed one victim V. S. to wire at least U$ 271, 500 from a SunTrust Bank account to Afriland First Bank account number 020118250162 held in the name of Phoenix Mining and Investment Group. The wires were effectuated via correspondent accounts at Citibank N. A., New York, NY, and HSBC Bank USA, NY. The wires from V. S. were sent from his company, the S Group, LLC.
In addition to the bank accounts, Kouh has consented to the forfeiture of real property in Liberia, identified as Kuoh Residence, Roberts International Airport Highway, Lower Margibi County.
Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia upon receipt of the diplomatic note, last week, requested Criminal Court “C” Judge J. Boimah Kontoe for a freezing order to have assets of Mr. Kuoh frozen, seized and confiscated based upon the US Department of Justice’s request for mutual legal assistance.
Mutual legal assistance shall be afforded to the fullest extent possible with respect to investigations, prosecution, a judicial proceeding in relation to serious crimes, money laundering, terrorism, terrorist financing and predicate offenses for money laundering.
Writes P. Nas Mulbah