Inside world’s financial underbelly, with warnings on Bitcoin, ICOs and Malta

By Alec Hogg

Was treated to a world of new insights on society’s dodgy operators yesterday at Offshore Alert editor David Marchant‘s annual London conference.

Investigative journalist Marchant specialises in offshore tax havens, having uncovered 175 fraudulent schemes in the last two decades. His pre-eminence in the field is clearly appreciated by the hundreds of regulators and investigators who flew in from around the world, with a speaker’s list that reads like a who’s who of international financial crime enforcement.

Among the conference headliners were the chief of Criminal Investigation at the IRS and his British counterpart, who explained how cyber currencies have become the underworld’s new money laundering vehicle of choice. They say criminals are behind 97% of all Bitcoin transactions, while crypto crime specialists told us that “conservatively” 80% of ICOs are fraudulent.

Some other takeaways: Big data and deep collaboration through the recently launched J5 group (US, UK, Netherlands, Australia, Canada) is closing the net on organised crime – and tax cheats. We also got a clear message to steer clear of Liechtenstein – and its shady successor Malta, where a journalist was recently blown up by a Mafia-style car bomb. Scary world this.

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