QCOSTARICA – Several websites claim that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is laundering money in Costa Rica.
No reliable source has revealed evidence of allegations of alleged fraudulent investments by Zelenskyy in Costa Rica made by several websites.
For example, at least two sites, TimiSsss News and Pledge Times mention that Zelenskyy has money stashed at Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika, a financial entity that does not even operate in Costa Rica.
Both publications claim their sources of information are Telegram channels associated with Ukrainian opposition politicians and circles close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The speculation was replicated over the weekend by Catalina Vargas Hicken’s Facebook account which frequently replicates misinformation about Costa Rica.
Hicken’s February 23 post El PLATANAR, OFFICIAL LAVADORA OF LOS UCRANIANOS!!!
SOMOS VERGÜENZA MUNDIAL !! (El PLATANAR, OFFICIAL WASHING MACHINE OF UKRAINIANS!!! WE ARE THE WORLD’S SHAME!!), alludes to the 2013 BBC.com article about Arthur Budovsky, founder of Liberty Reserve, a centralized digital currency service based in Costa Rica, shut down by the US government after an investigation by authorities in 17 countries.
In 2016, Budovsky was sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 20 years in prison. The connection to Zelynskyy is that Budovsky, who became a Costa Rican citizen after renouncing his US citizenship, was born in Ukraine.
Read more: Liberty Reserve founder renounced US citizenship for Costa Rica
Both websites reported that the money would be periodically deposited by Ukrainian billionaires. Again, there is no Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika operating in Costa Rica, as confirmed by the General Superintendence 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, on the basis of the “Ley Organica 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 in the public interest and economic and social development, within the framework of the creation of a democratic system and a social state of law and justice.
To date, 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 specialized in business with Latin America. However, in 2004, the financial entity announced the closure of this branch and the future focus of the bank only in the offices of Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Brazil; as reported at the time by German state news, DW.com.
In his report, La Nación claims to have consulted the Public Ministry (Prosecutor’s Office) if there is an ongoing judicial investigation into alleged illicit activities, related to money laundering, involving President Zelensky or high-ranking members of the Ukrainian government. The Assistant Prosecutor’s Office for Money Laundering and Prosecutions has confirmed that there are no ongoing cases with these characteristics.
For its part, the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas (ICD) – the Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD), whose Financial Intelligence Unit is responsible for issuing reports on suspicious transactions, indicated that it had learned since the week latest the circulation of rumors about alleged fraudulent investments of Zelenski in the country.
Sergio Rodríguez, director of the ICD, indicated that the entity has acted preventively in the face of alerts and has activated a protocol to confirm or deny the veracity of these reports.
According to Rodríguez, these investigations are confidential and if signs of criminal activity were detected, the case would be transferred to the public prosecutor’s office. In a statement, the ICD said that the regulations on the prevention of money laundering oblige banks to comply with the regulations on Personas Políticamente Expuestas (PEP) – Politically Exposed Persons, both domestic and foreign.
With PEP customers, 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 which 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.