A holding company’s claim that it “had the funds and network to take the action necessary to complete business deals” was put to the test in an SI background investigation. Searches of civil records located a lawsuit filed in 2008 in which the holding company sued the United States of America, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Internal Revenue Service for return of approximately $24.5 million seized from bank accounts in Florida. The government’s response to the holding company’s claim disclosed that there was an ongoing criminal investigation in Arizona involving drug trafficking and related international money laundering enterprises. The seizure of the funds resulted from evidence gathered during the investigation.
In addition to the foregoing, the government stated that it was still investigating whether there were any victims of fraud because the investigation made it apparent that many of the entities associated with the seized accounts had no legitimate business activity, are shell companies, and have failed to comply with reporting requirements in Florida regarding their purported operational activities. The government specifically noted that the holding company’s Web site appears to promote an investment scheme with unrealistically large interest returns which typically is consistent with a fraudulent investment operation and, in fact, agents have received statements from individuals reporting that they have invested in a program that promised incredibly high rates of return. The government’s investigation led it to conclude that the holding company failed to establish it is an entity of substance and not composed of a series of shell companies simply moving money around in a money laundering exercise to conceal the ownership, source, and control over the funds.