QCOSTARICA – Multiple Internet websites make claims that Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is laundering money in Costa Rica.
No reliable source has revealed evidence of the claims of Zelenskyy’s alleged fraudulent investments in Costa Rica made by multiple Internet websites.
For example, at least two sites, TimiSsss News and Pledge Times mention that Zelenskyy would have money stashed in the Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika, a financial entity that does not even operate in Costa Rica.
Both publications claim that their sources of information are Telegram channels associated with Ukrainian opposition politicians and circles close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The speculations were replicated over the weekend by the Catalina Vargas Hicken Facebook account which frequently reproduces disinformation about Costa Rica.
Hicken’s post on February 23, El PLATANAR, LAVADORA OFICIAL DE LOS UCRANIANOS!!!
SOMOS VERGÜENZA MUNDIAL!! (El PLATANAR, OFFICIAL WASHING MACHINE OF THE UKRAINIANS!!! WE ARE WORLD SHAME!!), alludes to the 2013 BBC.com article on Arthur Budovsky, founder of Liberty Reserve, a Costa Rica-based centralized digital currency service, shut down by the United States government after an investigation by authorities across 17 countries.
In 2016, Budovsky was sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 20 years in prison. The tie-in to Zelynskyy is that Budovsky, who became a Costa Rican citizen after giving up his US citizenship, was born in Ukraine.
The two websites reported that the money, allegedly, is periodically deposited by Ukrainian billionaires. Again, there is no Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika operating in Costa Rica, as confirmed by the General Superintendency of Financial Institutions (Sugef).
In Costa Rica, foreign banks, to establish a bank branch and carry out banking activities in the country, must have the authorization of the Consejo Nacional de Supervisión del Sistema Financiero (Conassif) – National Council for the Supervision of the Financial System, based on the “Ley Orgánica del Sistema Bancario Nacional“.
The purpose of this Law is to regulate, supervise, control and coordinate the National Financial System, in order to guarantee the use and investment of its resources towards the public interest and economic and social development, within the framework of the real creation of a democratic and social State of Law and Justice.
To date, the Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika has never carried out authorization procedures before CONASSIF, nor is it supervised by the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras (Sugef) – General Superintendence of Financial Entities.
The Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika (DBLA) was the subsidiary of the German bank Dresdner Bank that specialized in business with Latin America. However, in 2004 the financial entity announced the closure of this branch, and future attention by the bank only in the offices of Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Brazil; as reported at the time by Germany’s state news, DW.com.
In its report, La Nación says it consulted the Public Ministry (Prosecutor’s Office) if there is any ongoing judicial investigation into alleged illicit activities, related to money laundering, involving President Zelenski or high-ranking members of the Government of Ukraine. The Deputy Prosecutor’s Office for Money Laundering and Prosecution confirmed that it no cases in process with these characteristics.
For its part, the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas (ICD) – the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs (ICD), whose Financial Intelligence Unit is in charge of issuing reports of suspicious operations, indicated that since last week it learned of the circulation of rumors about Zelenski’s alleged fraudulent investments in the country.
Sergio Rodríguez, director of the ICD, indicated that the entity acted preventively in the face of alerts and activated a protocol to confirm or rule out the veracity of such reports.
According to Rodríguez, such investigations are confidential, and if signs of criminal activity were detected, the case would be transferred to the Public Ministry. In a statement, the ICD indicated that the regulations for the prevention of money laundering oblige banks to abide by regulations on Personas Políticamente Expuestas (PEP) – Politically Exposed Persons, both domestic and foreign.
With PEP clients, financial institutions must monitor the origin of the funds and carry out “continuous monitoring of the commercial relationship.” In addition, when it comes to transfers from abroad, a protocol is applied that allows them to verify, before the PEP receives or sends funds, the origin of the money and the reason for the transaction, “when its characteristics, amount, activity, country of origin or destination”, may represent a risk of money laundering or terrorist financing.