A close look at the disturbing activities of Russian nationals in Grenada indicates that their strong political and economic influence masks their laundering of suspect "investment capital," and are more than sufficient grounds for elevating Country Risk on Grenada to a high level. Although there have been warning signs for some time, most compliance officers at North American and EU banks are unaware of the influence that Russian businessmen exert in that country.
The story, which has not appeared in mainstream media, is as follows:
(1) Several years ago, affluent Russian businessmen appeared in Grenada, stating that they were interested in real estate development on the island. Though Grenada has a functional economy, unlike many other East Caribbean states, their overtures were immediately accepted by local officials.
(2) Bribes and other illegal gratuities and benefits were distributed to public officials, and after that, there was no inquiry into the Source of Funds of the investment capital the businessmen intended to place in real estate ventures.
(3) The Russians allegedly funded at least part of the election campaign of the current party in power, including flying in, at their expense, an airliner of expats, who promptly followed their orders, and voted in the individuals the Russians wanted. Bribes were also paid to insure the election results.
(4) Conflicts of interest, among sitting government officials and the new Russian investors, appeared but there was no action taken against those involved,
(5) There are currently six real estate projects in progress, funded by the Russian group, and none of which has disclosed the source of funding.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst