THE Securities Commission of The Bahamas is investigating possible Bahamian links to the arrest in Miami, Florida of German private banker Matthias Krull, who was recently charged in the United States in connection with an alleged scheme to launder more than $1bn linked to Venezuela's state oil company.
Up until June, Krull was a senior relationship manager at private bank Julius Baer in Panama, managing assets for Venezuela. He and four other private bankers in Panama and The Bahamas left Julius Baer that month to join The Bahamas branch of Swiss private bank Gonet to focus on growing a Latin American client base, according to international reports.
"This is to advise the public that the Securities Commission of The Bahamas is aware of the recent arrest in Miami of banker Mr Matthias Krull and the allegations outlined in the USA criminal indictment related thereto, as well as speculation and reports circulating in various media," an ad paid for by the Securities Commission notes.
"The commission noted that the matter potentially references regulated entities in The Bahamas and therefore the commission is investigating the matter and has also contacted the Central Bank of the Bahamas in this regard."
The Securities Commission said it will "appropriately address any issues that may arise within its scope" but is prohibited by Section 28 of the Securities Industry Act from divulging any details of any investigation and/or examination and therefore will not comment any further at this time.
Krull, 44, was arrested in late July in Miami. That same month, he was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in a federal court in Miami with conspiracy to commit money laundering, Reuters reported.
"Venezuela's state of social, political and economic crisis in which multibillion-dollar corrupt and criminal ecosystems thrive drives rivers of criminal proceeds through south Florida, which has become an international money-laundering hub and a desirable destination for well-to-do foreign criminals and kleptocrats," the complaint said, according to Reuters.
"Prosecutors said the scheme began in 2014 and 2015 and aimed to launder $1.2 billion through Florida real estate and fake investment schemes, including fraudulent bond issues and investment funds," Reuters reported.
Prosecutors said US dollars embezzled from Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA "were used in corrupt schemes to take advantage of the Venezuelan government's fixed exchange rate between Venezuelan bolivars and US dollars. In 2014, the government rate overvalued the bolivar by a factor of about 10, allowing massive returns for people able to use the government rate, the complaint said," Reuters reported.
The complaint also charged several other people.
Krull was not due to take up his new post at Gonet & Cie in the Bahamas until the end of the year, Bloomberg reported.
He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing tomorrow.