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Money Laundering – The interesting parallels between Anglo Austrian Bank and Atlas Banka

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Mid-November European Central Bank withdrew the bank license of the Vienna-based Anglo Austrian Bank (previously “Meinl Bank“). The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMAI) stated it was “due to (the bank’s) history and the violation of due diligence over the past few years.

The bank immediately appealed against the revocation of the license. The General Court of the European Union on Wednesday gave a reprieve to Austria’s former Meinl Bank (now called Anglo Austrian Bank), allowing it to keep its banking license pending further court action.

The OOCRP Report

A few days before revocation, OCCRP and its Austrian media partners published an investigation showing that Meinl Bank had facilitated a moneylaundering scheme in Eastern European countries to move assets from their banks, bypassing regulation and hiding the dealings from local authorities.

The mechanism empowered by Meinl Bank was plain and simple. The Austrian bank would have granted loans to offshore companies, and the loans were secured by assets from Eastern European banks, usually deposited in their correspondent accounts at Meinl. When banks in Ukraine, Lithuania and Latvia collapsed, offshore companies failed to repay the debts and Meinl took the money deposited by the fallen banks. The scheme involved about 500 million euros, the news organizations reported. Criminal cases involving operations facilitated by Meinl Bank are ongoing in all three Eastern European countries.

OCCRP Report published on Nov 21, 2019

Bank for Scam Operators

Meinl Bank (or Anglo Austrian Bank) probably also moved in the area of broker scams. We have reports and documents from victims of broker scams. Based on the information and documents, it seems obvious that Meinl Bank has accepted scam operators and their entities as customers and opened accounts. Meinl Bank has thus facilitated investment scams to cheat retail investors and launder the stolen money.

Our partners from the European Funds Recovery Initiative (EFRI) are currently working with the victims on the relevant statements to the Austrian authorities.

Interesting Parallels to Atlas Banka

There are surprising parallels to the money laundering scandal surrounding Atlas Banka in Montenegro, which is now in insolvency. As with Meinl Bank, around €500 million was laundered via Atlas Banka. As with Meinl Bank, according to the published findings of the authorities, these are money from Eastern Europe and money from investment scams. The public prosecutor’s office in Montenegro has been investigating Atlas Banka since 2018.

The authorities in Montenegro have issued an arrest warrant against former owner Dusko Knezevich. Knezevich is currently in exile in London. He has confirmed to FinTelegram that he maintains business relations with the operators of scams. The authorities in several EU countries are currently analyzing Atlas Banka’s data in this regard.

FinTelegram has information that Meinl Bank and Atlas Banka apparently shared some shaddy clients. Hence, it could be worth for the respective authorities in Austria and Montenegro to investigate the relationship between these two banks.

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