US Citizen Found in Belize Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Activities

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Updated: May 24, 2016

The gravity of the issue surrounding offshore banking and the effects it has had on the banking sector was not given much attention back in July 2014 when Belize was in the international news following the launch of an investigation into CYNK Technology, a company that had falsely stated its address to be inside the Matalon Building in Belize City.  Attention was drawn to CYNK Technology when its stocks began soaring rapidly; going from ten cents in June and increasing to twenty dollars one month later.  The initial conclusion that it was a pump and dump scheme proved true in a US Court; a pump and dump scheme referring to when the value of stocks are artificially inflated by insiders and then dumped once money is made off the stocks.  The court case wrapped up when a US citizen who was residing in Belize at the time of his arrest, pled guilty in a Brooklyn Federal Court yesterday, to conspiring to launder two hundred and fifty million dollars in proceeds from securities fraud.  This is a major victory for those investigating money laundering cases since it is the biggest conviction so far when it comes to businesses hiding money offshore.  71-year-old, Robert Banfield was a dentist with a practice in Canada before moving to Belize.  He was arrested at a Miami Airport in September 2014 and has been in the custody of the US authorities since.  Banfield was being accused of incorporating more than five thousand shell companies in Belize and the West Indies and laundering money through pre-paid debit cards.  In an article published by The Wall Street Journal, it stated, quote, “Prosecutors say Mr. Bandfield, a U.S. citizen who operated a group of companies in Belize, was the architect of a scheme that allowed his clients to secretly manipulate U.S. stock prices, launder their illegal proceeds back to the U.S. and evade taxes. As part of the scheme, Mr. Bandfield created more than 5,000 shell companies in Belize and the West Indies to hide from the U.S. government his clients’ stock ownership and ill-gotten proceeds, according to prosecutors.”  End of quote.  Banfield is set to be sentenced on September 1, 2016 and faces up to twenty years in prison; he has agreed to forfeit one million dollars.  Two other individuals charged with him have pleaded guilty, and the rest remain fugitives.