NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Two Companies, Cooperhill Investments Limited and Kazou BV, recently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to recover $10.8 million that the companies allege the Republic of Seychelles illegally seized from them in 2010. As alleged in the complaint, this seizure is the latest in a campaign of financial piracy by the Republic of Seychelles, which has seized over 100 bank accounts of foreign individuals and companies since 2008. Following a consistent pattern of behavior that has been exposed in two previous lawsuits alleging financial piracy, the Seychelles’ Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), who took the money, has offered no explanation at all for its seizure of the assets. One of these prior lawsuits, according to the Complaint, alleged that Seychelles even kidnapped foreign nationals, threatened them with false drug charges and harassed a teenage girl to meet its goal of stealing money from the plaintiffs in that case.
The Complaint alleges that this program of state-sponsored financial piracy is being undertaken by the Republic of Seychelles in order to rebuild its foreign reserves as the result of an acute financial crisis stemming to 2008. Furthermore, as the Complaint pleads, Seychelles is obtaining financial assistance from both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank, while, at the same time, stealing money from Seychelles’ banking customers. This conduct, the Complaint alleges, is consistent with findings of the U.S. State Department that Seychelles officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
As alleged in the Complaint, in this most recent example of financial piracy, a BMI Bank manager lured Cooperhill’s patronage from another bank and then helped the FIU illegally take Cooperhill’s funds. The Complaint also alleges that BMI Bank then helped the FIU actually increase the amount of money in the account by surreptitiously blocking withdrawals while at the same time allowing numerous further deposits. The Complaint further alleges that Barclays Bank, as it has done in the past, conspired with the FIU to illegally seize Kazou’s funds. To accomplish this goal, the Complaint alleges, Barclays Bank stalled and asked unnecessary questions in order to prevent funds from transferring out of the account. The net effect, according to the Complaint, was that Barclays helped the FIU to grow the funds that it stole.
Craig Weiner, Esq. of Hofheimer, Gartlir, Gross, LLP, a New York based law firm and lead counsel for the plaintiffs stated: “Few people would believe that in this day and age that their bank assets could be seized by a foreign government without regard to due process of law, banking regulation, or standard business practice. Our complaint alleges that this very condition has existed since at least 2008 in the Seychelles, and we strongly advise investors to be wary of depositing any assets there for that very reason."
The Complaint also pleads that the FIU carried out their illegal actions at the direction of Irish nationals Barry Galvin, Liam Hogan, Declan Barber and Joe Cully (aka Niall Scully), who act as subcontractors to Seychelles, and each have been individually named in prior lawsuit(s) and in this recent Complaint. According to the complaint, Galvin and Hogan are former members of the Irish national police force and secret police and Barber and Cully were members of a secret Irish military unit. According to the Complaint, these rogue subcontractors reportedly receive substantial commissions based on the amount of funds they seize and are compensated far in excess of their Seychelles counterparts, which according to the Seychelles press has resulted in significant discord.
The Complaint alleges that the Seychelles government has continued its policy of financial piracy, even in the face of heightened scrutiny from the prior lawsuits and media attention. This time, as alleged in the Complaint, Seychelles has not even bothered to offer an excuse for why its agents have stolen the funds -- it merely took the money.
Clients are represented by Craig Weiner at Hofheimer, Gartlir, Gross and Avi Pawar in the UK.