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Shell company behind casino launders millions while Mastercard opens up to crypto

A $2 shell company helped laundered millions of dollars, North Korean hackers find a way to fund the regime and Mastercard is set to allow crypto payments.

Antonis Melis
February 12, 2021

Mastercard is planning to give businesses the option to receive payments in crypto currencies, provided the digital currencies meet their “Principles for Blockchain Partnerships” framework

Riverbank Investments, valued at only $2, was the shell company that helped Crown Casino become one of Australia’s biggest money laundering scandals.

And Kim Jong Un’s team of hackers continue to find ways to manipulate institutions to fund their nuclear regime.

Read more on these stories below.

Mastercard will let merchants accept payments in crypto this year

Mastercard is hoping to give merchants the option to receive payments in cryptocurrency later this year.

This is an upgrade to their previous programme with partners Wirex and Uphold, which only covered payment and not settlement in cryptocurrency. The new initiative will allow businesses who opt in, to conduct their business beyond the bounds of the fiat ecosystem.

There is however no guarantee that Mastercard’s new initiative will support Bitcoin, as cryptos will be evaluated against Mastercard’s 2019 “Principles for Blockchain Partnerships” framework, which was released after Mastercard’s Libra exit.

The document placed emphasis on stability, consumer protection and regulatory compliance in vetting potential partners. However, Mastercard has said that “Many of today’s 2,600 digital currencies today fail to do this.,”

It will be interesting to see how many businesses participate in the initiative, as many bitcoin buyers primarily treat their coins as investment vehicles and not payment tools.

Hundreds of millions believed laundered at Crown Casino Perth through $2 shell company

A $2 shell company is believed to have been a vehicle for international criminal organisations to launder money at Crown Perth from at least 2014. The company, Riverbank Investments Pty Ltd, was the conduit for hundreds of millions of dollars to Perth’s casino.  

In her ground-breaking report on Crown, Commissioner Patricia Bergin said that Riverbank and a similar company called Southbank, which helped channel money to Crown Melbourne, were “infiltrated and exploited by criminal elements, probably including international criminal organisations” since at least 2014.

“There can be no doubt that the processes adopted by Crown outlined above enabled or facilitated money laundering through the Southbank and Riverbank accounts,” the report said.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) records show that Riverbank Investments is owned by Crown Resorts Limited, with Crown Resorts chief executive Ken Barton its sole director and company secretary Mary Manos its secretary.

North Korean hackers stole more than $300 million to pay for nuclear weapons

According to a confidential United Nations report, throughout most of 2020, North Korean hackers stole hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The document accused Kim Jong Un’s regime of conducting “operations against financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses” to pay for weapons and help keep North Korea’s struggling economy afloat. An unnamed member of the UN claimed the hackers stole virtual assets worth $316.4 million dollars between 2019 and November 2020.

The report also alleged that North Korea “produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure” while continuing “to seek material and technology for these programs from overseas.”

Details from the report, which is currently confidential, were obtained by CNN through a diplomatic source at the United Nations Security Council.

Read more on CNN

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