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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ALEXEY FEDORICHEV





Near midnight on December 1st, 1999, inside Pizzeria St-Michel in Cap d’Ail, I briefed Prince Albert on a Monaco-based arms dealer.  

Horrified, Albert resolved to nix all contact with him. 

The Prince also had a query of his own that night:  would I investigate a Monaco-based Russian named Alexey Fedorichev?  

He explained that Fedorichev had designs on ASM, Monaco’s European League football team.


Two months later, I delivered my findings on Fedorichev.  

Fast forward to December 15th, 2002, when a decision had to be made within days over whether or not to allow this Russian to invest in Monaco’s football team.

We had determined, through various levels of sourcing, that Fedorichev was of dubious character, that his Monaco-based company, Fedcominvest, allegedly engaged in money laundering, especially with regard to its dealings with a company called Astrahangasprom.  

Both the Italians and the French suspected that Fedorichev linked to the Red Mafia. 

We also understood Fedorichev had cultivated a personal relationship with Stephane Valeri, who held Monaco’s highest elected office as President of the Conseil Nationale (General Assembly), and that Fedorichev had used Valeri in illegal business transactions.

On December 19th, the Palace announced Fedorichev’s disqualification from investing in ASM football.



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From Fedorichev's Monaco police file:

1976: two years in prison for speculation.

1980: four years in prison for extortion.

1984: one year in prison for fraud.

More recently, under suspicion of laundering money, connected at various times to N'Drangheta (Italian mafia), the Ukrainian mafia, and the Russian mafia.




Monday, March 30, 2015

RICHARD & CHRISTOPHER CHANDLER







At 6:30 on the evening of 9 October 2002, I met Prince Albert in Suite 906 of Hotel Columbus while his bodyguards waited outside.

On our agenda that evening:  the Chandler brothers and their company, Sovereign Group.  


The only known press article at that time about the Chandlers or their company had been published in the Financial Times (July 6th, 2002) by Moscow correspondent Andrew Jack.  He wrote that brothers Richard and Christopher were “intensely private” and “extremely low-profile.”  

The deeper we dug into their activities, the better we understood why:  at best, the Chandlers were running an unregistered commodities business in Monaco, atop an apartment building purchased by their company, Sovereign Plaza, Ltd. (registered in the British Virgin Islands) in January 1998 for 423,000,000 French francs (sixty-five million dollars), in cash.  They renamed the building Sovereign Plaza and kept it completely empty, aside from its top two floors, where each brother kept an apartment and from which they ran their investment trading company.  

Richard Chandler
At worst, they were laundering money for Russian interests, including Gazprom, in which they were the fourth largest investor—and fronting for Gazprom’s extensive money laundering and kickback schemes.

The first piece of data linking the Chandlers to Monaco dealt with the dissolution of Chandler House, Ltd., a New Zealand property company struck off the record on January 30th 1991.  As they were residing outside of New Zealand, the brothers were obliged to provide their address:  Le Soleil d’Or, 14th floor, CD Rainier III, MC 98000 Monaco. 

A decade later, in addition to owning Sovereign Plaza, the brothers owned and resided in villas in nearby St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.  

Additionally, they bought and renovated the old David Niven estate in St-Jean facing the Med, where they had planted their elderly parents.  

They also possessed their own yacht, helicopter and jet plane, along with a security apparatus that was described to us as “like Fort Knox.”

To be certain that Sovereign Plaza housed a thriving unregistered business enterprise, we conducted surveillance one morning.


It was an awkward location, opposite the heliport, where someone either on foot or in a car for three hours would come under suspicion.



Christopher Chandler
So we recruited an artist, who set up an easel and painted a landscape while noting the plates of no fewer than eighteen vehicles entering the underground car park—brokers and support staff working for the commodities enterprise.

Further inquiries revealed that the Swiss government was in the midst of a similar investigation:  Investigating magistrate Ivo Hoppler, whom I dispatched my deputy to visit in Zurich, believed that Sovereign Group engaged in money laundering for Russian clients in Switzerland and also believed it had defrauded a number of Russian investors.  

Hoppler had begun his investigation after a ruling in September 2002 by the Swiss Federal Banking Commission that Sovereign Group (Zurich) should be shut down.   Subsequent to this decision, police commenced sweeping searches at the Zurich offices of Sovereign Forex Ltd, Sovereign Capital Management AG, Sovereign Finance Group AG, and Sovereign Bank Corp Ltd.  The latter was discovered to be operating a bank without a license.  

Soon after, on October 7th, a Swiss court ordered Sovereign Group (Zurich) to cease its various operations due to alleged money laundering activities in Russia and the Caribbean.  Part of the evidence removed by police were documents linking Sovereign Forex to Credit Agricole as one of the main money laundering ports for elements of Chechen organized crime, as well as for former high-ranking officials in the Russian government.

We discussed various options with the Prince on how to counter the Chandler brothers.  Because he was still Hereditary Prince without power to take action through Monaco’s government, we agreed to commence Operation Spook:  an overt investigation that would send clear signals to the brothers that their activities were under scrutiny.  It would suggest to them that they consider looking for another country in which to base themselves and their operations.



On 11 June 2003, in M-Base, our operational headquarters in Monaco, I briefed Prince Albert various subjects, including on the Chandler brothers:

As part of Operation Spook, at my request, the Prince had asked a Monaco police inspector to look into their properties.  Whether or not this inspector’s gumshoe tactics tipped them off, or whether he had leaked his mission, or word reached the Chandlers through their own police sources, we could not be certain.  But by now we had a spy in their midst and knew the Chandlers had been spooked.   

Our spy provided us a list of everyone working inside Sovereign Plaza, along with job descriptions and telephone extension numbers, including commodity traders.

We also learned that the Chandlers planned to move their un-registered commodities business to Dubai.  

Their new dictum:  Dubai for work, Sardinia for play.  

This was excellent news, which we chalked up as another success.  After all, our brief was to secure Monaco, let the Chandlers and those of their ilk become someone else’s headache.


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Friday, March 27, 2015

STIG CARL-MAGNUS CARLSSON AKA KARL-MAGNUS KARLSSON






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In mid-January 2005, the Prince was in Sweden, dog-sledding with the newest addition to his entourage:  Stig Carl-Magnus Carlsson, a Swede who’d allegedly paid for the recent vacation of Bruno Philipponnat (Albert's senior aide) in the Bahamas.  

Carlsson’s past, we’d already learned, was rather murky, and we delved deeper into it, at the Prince’s request.

On February 4th, I briefed the Prince in London—a late morning session in his Dorchester Hotel suite during which we covered a variety of issues.

On Stig Carl-Magnus Carlsson:  

He had left a trail of failed businesses behind him.  He is a habitual bankrupt who lives a precious lifestyle at the expense of his investors. 

Be wary—he will probably use your name to lure potential investors into new companies.  

His so-called “Internet company” in Shanghai—China Internet Ventures Ltd—does not actually do anything other than act as an introduction service for people desiring to do business in China.

I recommended the Prince exert caution about associating himself with businessmen (or con men) like Carlsson—or risk having his name used as a means to dupe potential investors.

The Prince requested we dig deeper on Carlsson. 

“Did investors lose money?” he wanted to know. 

I thought I’d already said they had but resolved to flesh out further detail.  

I suggested that Bruno Philipponnat—Albert's gatekeeper as aide-de-camp—was not doing his job keeping riff-raff away, but was instead establishing inappropriate closeness to those who wanted to ingratiate themselves with the Prince, often for his own financial gain.


On February 7th, I met with the Prince again and provided the update he had requested on Carl Carlsson. 

I had spoken with Stanley Berk—of California, USA—an investor in Carlsson’s business venture, Scoop.  

Berk had told me the following:  Once Carlsson had the money from his investors, he engaged in inappropriate behavior, spending rampantly on personal items and selling securities in Scoop to cover personal debt.  His actions set the business back, and it ultimately failed.  

Berk and his fellow investor, Stephen Grayson, filed a complaint in court alleging breach of contract and fraud, saying that Carlsson made promises with no intention of performing. 

Bruno Phillipponnat
I suggested the Prince make Phillipponnat aware of this, a nice way of getting his aide-de-camp to realize he would potentially embarrass himself and the Prince, too, if he continued to allow Carlsson access to the royal court. (Three months earlier, Philipponnat had called the hosts of a New Years Eve party the Prince planned to attend to insist they invite Carlsson, supposedly at the Prince’s behest).  

The Prince suggested that I make his aide-de-camp aware of Carlsson’s poor character and business transgressions.  

Complying, I phoned Philipponnat and left a message for him to call me.  He never did.  When I later mentioned this to the Prince, he replied, “I don’t think he wants to hear your message.”

In early March, the Prince traveled to Moscow with the fellers—Robert Munsch, Preston Haskins, Carlsson—and Gocha Arivadze, who rented a brothel for the night to celebrate his birthday.  

The Prince, as such, ignored our reporting on Carlsson and Arivadze, and doubtless did not heed our advice regarding security concerns while traveling in Russia.  

It is almost a certainty the FSB would secretly record activities in his bedroom, which, depending on the nature of such activities, could one day lead to blackmail.



Monday, March 16, 2015

MONACO: MOSCOW-ON-MED






In mid-2000, Prince Albert of Monaco commissioned and funded a report about Russian designs on his principality.

On 5 September 2000, I hand-delivered this report to Albert at The Mark Hotel in New York City. 

Everything the Russians hoped to achieve in Monaco has come to fruition beyond their wildest expectations.



Here are the first two pages of that report.





Sunday, March 15, 2015

PUTIN'S TROLL DEN





A new investigation by St. Petersburg-based journalist Andrei Soshnikov written for the weekly local publication Moi Region reveals the details of a 400-person “troll den” in St. Petersburg, run by the government’s Internet Research Agency to champion the propaganda war between Russia and the West.
Take “Natalya Drozdova,” for example.
“Natalya” has a LiveJournal, a Twitter and a Facebook. She’s an “art historian” who lives in “the beautiful city of St. Petersburg. 
She’s interested in “art, psychology and everything that goes on in the world,” and she’s “glad to have you as an online friend.” 
“Natalya” is a fake online person implanted by a woman named Tatyana Kazakbayeva, an employee of the Internet Research Agency working out of St. Petersburg. 
She’s being paid by the Kremlin to disseminate pro-government opinions online.



Others are paid to discredit bloggers who write the truth about Putin.



Saturday, March 14, 2015

ANDORRA: MONEY LAUNDERING IN THE PYRENEES





The chief executive officer of a bank in the tiny European country of Andorra has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering following U.S. allegations that funds were laundered for groups from China, Russia and Venezuela, Andorran police said Saturday.

Joan Pau Miquel Prats of Banca Privada d'Andorra was taken into custody late Friday and will be held throughout the weekend pending a likely court appearance Monday, said an Andorran police spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules preventing him from being named.



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I found Andorra an odd little place, more of a shopping center than a country—a consumer paradise staffed by dark, ugly, misshapen natives.  

Even the hotel—said to be Andorra’s finest—was creepy and surreal, its service scarce and unfriendly.  But I needed to see these microstates up close and personal.

At ten o’clock the next morning, as appointed by Rene B of Liechtenstein, who opened this door to the Andorrans, I appeared at a small office in Prat de la Creu, Unit # 402. 

Jordi Pons Lluelles, their one-man Financial Intelligence Unit, greeted me.  He spoke no English; his secretary, Ellie, translated.  I made my pitch.  Lluelles seemed to grasp my position—chief of the unofficial Monaco intelligence service, responsible to the Prince—and seemed to grasp the concept—micro-European states band together to fight money laundering as a united group. 

I used Andorra’s own motto—Through unity comes strength—to clarify and justify what we were attempting to achieve.

Andorra’s banking business, Lluelles explained, derived from Spain and South America—the safe haven in Europe where Spanish speakers (read:  drug cartels from Colombia) launder and/or park their revenues.  Russians, said Lluelles, had not yet discovered Andorra.  He smiled a lot and pronounced this a good idea, agreeing to attend our kick-off meeting in Luxembourg come October.



A few months later, Monaco police chief Andre Muhlberger provided a fascinating tidbit on Andorra that helped explain their duplicitous behavior since my visit in July:   Andorra was not interested in cleaning up their money-laundering problem, said Mulhberger, because, for them, it was not a problem. 

According to Muhlberger, the sister of Andorra’s interior minister was connected to a man named Durand, reputed to be a big-time, wide-scale Andorra-based money launderer.  

Andorra was simply not interested in an association that might cramp the style of a money-spinner from which higher circles had been profiting for decades.  



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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

JEAN-PAUL CARTERON





As a young man with a law degree from the University of Paris, Carteron tried to break into French politics but could not find support and lost several elections.  

Perhaps disillusioned with the system, he left France in 1981 and went to work as a lawyer for Jean-Claude “Papa Doc” Duvalier of Haiti and wound up looking after Papa Doc’s huge fortune.  

When Papa Doc died, Carteron carried on with Baby Doc Duvalier, for whom he facilitated real estate deals along the Cote d’Azur and in Monaco.  

The Duvalier regime was brutal, murderous and corrupt--and the beginning of Carteron’s own financial base.  

As Haiti’s ambassador to the UN in 1985, Carteron took the opportunity to forge strong links with Eastern European countries, and utilized those contacts as the basis for creating the Crans Montana Forum in Switzerland in 1989.  

Carteron was a Swiss national on the basis of his first marriage to a Swiss national, Patricia Luyet, who apparently ran off with Carteron’s mistress.

Only after bloodying his hands with the Duvaliers and enriching himself did Carteron portray himself as a “humanitarian.”  

The forum endeavored to provide respectability for brutal, corrupt regimes in Africa, from which Carteron personally profited.  

One notable example is Congolese President Sassou N’Guesso’s six hundred thousand Swiss-franc “contribution” to the forum, part of which benefited Carteron personally.

By 1996, the Swiss became disenchanted with Carteron and requested he move his forum elsewhere.  

They suspected him of money laundering, and his forum gave them logistical headaches due to its dubious participants, many of which had to be kept under surveillance while in country.  

Expelled from Switzerland, Carteron chose Monaco as a new base and received permission from Prince Rainier to create a Monaco S.A.M. and stage his forum inside the principality.  

Carteron began to call his private entity the Monaco World Summit.  

Leaders of other countries invited to participate for a fee were given the impression, because of its name, that the summit was an official Monaco event or at least sponsored or sanctioned by Monaco, which it was not.


Once he institutionalized his summit in Monaco, Carteron began to establish himself as a professional middleman.  

His specialty:  brokering honorary consulships to Monaco from Eastern European and Balkan countries.  

His standard rate to get someone named as honorary consul to Monaco:  fifty thousand euros or, in some cases, an expensive Breguet wristwatch.  


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Monday, March 9, 2015

MURDER IN MONACO





A body found in a ravine near a church in Monaco is that of missing Bristol boxing promoter Michael Graydon, it has been confirmed.
A spokesperson for the foreign office last night said the 29-year-old, who went missing in Monaco more than two weeks ago, had been found dead.
She said: "We can confirm on the death of a British national - Michael Graydon, who had previously been reported missing, in Monaco.

Body found in Monaco ravine identified as missing Bristol boxer Michael Graydon | Bristol Post

Michael Graydon found dead in Monaco after disappearing two weeks ago | Daily Mail Online



Once, a playground to the rich and famous.
Once, "the world's safest country."
Today, a nursery for Putin's thugs.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

WSJ






As he types away in this scenic seaside city, Robert Eringer has acquired an unusual distinction among bloggers: A prince half a world away has gone to court seeking to censor his writings.
Among the allegations the prince is challenging: that Prince Albert gave Monegasque citizenship to Italians needing "safe haven from prosecutors in their native country"; that the prince invited a known Russian money launderer to be the guest of honor at a Monaco gala and accepted the gift of a dacha built by the Russian government while he was a member of the International Olympic Committee considering Russia's ultimately successful bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Prince Albert's suit also objects to Mr. Eringer's contention that Monaco has dragged its feet in an investigation into the fate of dozens of Jews in Monaco during World War II.
Mr. D'Antin, Prince Albert's attorney, declined to comment about Mr. Eringer's contentions regarding Italians getting citizenship. He said a dacha was built on the prince's property but denied it had any connection to the Olympic committee vote.
An admission that Prince Albert contravened the IOC's Code of Ethics.
As for the allegation about dining with a Russian money launderer, the attorney denied the claim and said that just because Prince Albert "has Russian friends doesn't mean that he is close to the mafia."
Dining?  How about pandering:  Sergey Pugachev was even invited to Albert's wedding.
In his statement in response to the prince's suit, which hasn't previously been reported, Mr. Eringer said, "Everything I publish in my blog is true and verifiable to the best of my knowledge." He called the litigation part of a "campaign to silence Monaco's critics."




Friday, March 6, 2015

RUSE, REVIEWED





This Never Happened to the Other Fellow


Robert Eringer, private intelligence contractor and part-time Santa Barbara resident, is no James Bond, not least because he drinks his martinis with gin rather than vodka. 
And if he’s ever foiled a plot to burgle Fort Knox, he’s not telling.
Eringer is the author of Ruse, a tale of his own experiences in intelligence operations that puts Ian Fleming’s protagonist to shame. 
And Eringer’s wit easily trumps the groan-inducing one-liners Bond is known for. 
His quick and insightful humor makes Ruse an unexpectedly entertaining read; this story of spies and counterintelligence is funnier than most comic novels.
In 1993, Eringer was approached by a publisher in possession of a book proposal from Edward Lee Howard, a notorious CIA/KGB double agent who had defected to Russia in 1985. 
Unaware of Eringer’s connections to the intelligence community, the publisher wanted Eringer to edit the book and assist in negotiations with the author. 
Eringer immediately contacted the FBI, suggesting that the book would be the perfect opportunity to lure Howard from his Moscow hideaway and bring him to justice in the United States.
The attempted rendition of Howard turned into a decade of red tape, dummy publishing deals, and meetings in seedy restaurants and hotel lobbies from Washington to Zurich to Moscow.
Eringer chronicles these events in incredible detail, some pulled from his obviously preternatural memory and others drawn from notes, which Eringer intentionally took in execrable handwriting. 
As he notes in Ruse, “Bad handwriting is less incriminating than encryption.” 
The book is full of tidbits of espionage technique like this one; any budding operative could learn quite a bit just from throw-away comments on procedures that are obviously second nature to Eringer.
While Eringer takes plenty of well-aimed and often hilarious pot-shots at the Russian powers that were during the Cold War, his attention to detail and spot-on sense of humor are directed at United States intelligence organizations as well. 
During the first part of the book, as Eringer and his FBI contacts attempt to have Howard’s rendition authorized, the process is slowed to a glacial pace by officials within the FBI
Eringer refers to these successive levels of authority as the Cheese Family: the Big Cheese, the Bigger Cheese, and so on. 
The State Department--the highest level of authority the operation is required to clear--Eringer simply dubs “the Headcheese.”
The best part of the book, however, is the author’s way of recording his constant internal monologue while interspersing it with conversations and events that are going on simultaneously. 
During a dinner hosted by former KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, whose tell-all book Eringer pretends to be marketing, Eringer nods and smiles, maintaining his cover while thinking to himself that he has “come through the looking glass and landed at the mad KGB chairman’s dinner party, as painted by Salvador Dali.” 
This observation is prompted by the enthusiasm, shown by the Russian ex-spies in attendance, for Eringer’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Russia secretly support and encourage American secession movements, in order to destabilize the U.S. government.
Ruse fully chronicles Eringer’s association with Howard, as well as detailing another FBI operation in which he captured wanted murderer Ira Einhorn, who oddly enough also claims to be the founder of Earth Day. 
The book is fast-paced, absorbing, and a must-read for anyone with an interest in espionage. 
Eringer himself is a fascinating character, well worth meeting at his upcoming book-signing.





Thursday, March 5, 2015

FORBES: THE PRINCE & THE BLOGGER






By all rights Eringer, 57, and the prince, 53, ought to be pals. 
Back in 2002 they hit it off so well over drinks at Monte Carlo’s Hotel Columbus, Eringer says, that Albert hired him to be his personal spymaster and keep sketchy people–arms dealers and money launderers among them–out of the tiny 800-year-old nation-state, including folks like Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of the former British prime minister, who was denied residency in Monaco. 
Eringer claims he outfoxed the Russian intelligence service’s efforts to penetrate Albert’s social orbit and created liaison relationships with more than a dozen foreign intelligence agencies. 
He also says he introduced the prince to senior intel officials in the U.S. like former CIA chief Porter Goss and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
His duties, Eringer insists, included handling some of the prince’s more personal affairs. 
Among them: negotiating with the mother of one of Albert’s illegitimate children and warning the prince that one of his American friends boasted he had an embarrassing tape of Albert taken at a Parisian strip club. 
Eringer’s suit and blog paint the prince as a hapless ruler with an insatiable libido, surrounded by manipulative sycophants. 

Even though his suit failed, Eringer gained some vindication: The ruling, he says, substantiates his far-ranging involvement with the prince. 
The opinion notes that Eringer performed tasks like “investigating who would leak information about the prince to the press and helping a woman who alleged she was raped by the prince.”