Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Monday, February 19, 2018


 If you are a compliance officer at an international bank whose clients conduct business with Panamanian corporations, or who is involved in vetting wire transfers to or from Panama, it is suggested that you review the 2018 Mutual Evaluation Report of the Republic of Panama. You may access the document here.


Notwithstanding that the European Parliament has held proceedings on the illegal detention of Russian-Spanish businessman Vladimir Kokorev, and that two MEPs have come out in support of concrete action, the European Union remains passive in the Kokorev scandal. In a case more reminiscent of the Russian Gulags, the "material witness" remains under House Arrest, after more than two years of illegal detention in a Spanish prison. A bogus money laundering case holds him captive, contrary to Spain's own laws regarding pretrial release, as well as EU Human Rights principles.

Given that no charges have ever been filed against any individual or entity, and the strong suspicion that affluent Spanish business interests, obsessed with obtaining Equatorial Guinea's lucrative oil concessions, we also wonder why the United States have never taken diplomatic action to free Mr. Kokorev. After all, it is American oil firms that are currently benefiting from their contracts with EG, and a change of government there, as engineered by Spanish interests, could result in a loss of important business, and assignment of those extraction rights to Spanish companies. Where is the United States in this human rights violation ?

Sunday, February 18, 2018


 Transfer Pricing is well known to students of financial crime; it occurs when a taxpayer elects to take profits from an international transaction in a lo- or zero-tax jurisdiction, by manipulating sales process through the use of controlled corporate entities. Profits only show up where there are, effectively, no taxes payable.

The crime generally manifests itself as tax fraud, or money laundering, or both. and it is responsible for the loss of literally billions of dollars in tax revenues, on a global scale. Importers and exporters are often pressured to engage in illegal price manipulation, for they are uniquely situated to alter books and records. Generally, Transfer Pricing schemes are employed to evade taxes upon sales, but there are instances where large purchases  give financial criminals the opportunity to resort to Transfer Pricing.

A case study, to assist readers in understanding the issues involved. J Astaphan & Co Ltd., d/b/a/ Astaphan's,  has been engaged in retail consumer sales in Dominica for decades. You are familiar with Dominica attorney Anthony Astaphan, counsel to the Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit; Anthony's extended family owns the business.

According to reliable Dominica sources, Astaphan's purchases its US-based goods from a Florida corporation named Vanste, Inc., in what purport to be arms-length transactions. In truth and in fact, the sole officer of Vanste Inc. is Neyra Beatriz Ceballos, who, notwithstanding her last name, is the wife of Jack Maurice Astaphan. Miami-Dade County Official Records searches confirm their spousal standing.

Vanste shows only one employee, Jack Astaphan, and he confirms this on his Internet postings. Vanste's "office" is a single family residence, not zoned commercial, at 15746 SW 101 Street, Miami, Florida. This real estate is owned by Jack Astaphan, and he has registered it as Homestead under Florida law, meaning that it is his primary residence. Both Astaphan and Ceballos show that property as their residence for voting purposes. The hard line telephone number at that address, (305) 386-5669, comes back to Anthony Astaphan's sister, Genevieve Astaphan.

If the purchase prices paid by Vanste Inc. for goods shipped and sold to Astaphan's in Dominica are for a lesser amount than Vanste paid for them, and therefore Dominica Inland Revenue Division will only tax the arriving goods on the stated value/purchase price, then duty is greatly reduced, and Transfer Pricing has occurred. If this is the case, Vanste's declared profits ( or losses) may constitute tax fraud in the United States, for whomever reaped the illegal benefits. Additionally, Dominica tax obligations, owed by Astaphan's, should be examined.

Unfortunately, in a country where undue influence and corruption is the order of the day, we understand that Anthony Astaphan has insured that Inland Revenue is forever prohibited from auditing Astaphan's books of account, so we are unable to quantify the amount of taxes evaded, at either the US or Dominica end, but we trust that this article has given the reader additional insight into the mechanics of Transfer Pricing and tax evasion,, as it relates to sales, rather than purchases.

Friday, February 16, 2018


The government's selection of Dominica attorney Anthony Astaphan to investigate Antigua's role in the massive Odebrecht bribery scandal boggles the imagination. Here's why it is a Conflict of Interest on the highest order:

(1) Astaphan was, until recently, the personal attorney for Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Antigua sources allege that Browne is one of suspects in the bribery investigation.

(2) Astaphan is married to a member of Antigua's Bird family, and has reportedly represented that family in the past. A Bird was a previous prime minister of Antigua.

(3) Astaphan has a long history of representing several East Caribbean leaders linked to corruption. How can he possibly render an objective opinion, when his career is replete with dodgy government officials under suspicion for accepting bribes & kickbacks ?

This case is a textbook example of who NOT to choose to conduct an impartial investigation into charges of corruption, on behalf of the ONDCP. Find someone neutral and truly qualified as an objective finder of fact, not an advocate for the worst that the East Caribbean has to offer its voters. It is humbly suggested that a competent investigator, from outside the region, be engaged, to uncover the truth, wherever its takes him.


The Government's appeal of the order granting bond to fugitive Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli was followed by its motion to stay bond , pending the resolution of that appeal, and the Eleventh Circuit agreed.

Martinelli's counsels' efforts to obtain bond from the Eleventh Circuit were denied as moot, given that the District Court had stayed enforcement of its order granting bond. The appellate court did call for an expedited briefing schedule for the appeal, which will accelerate the progress of the case on appeal.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


The controversy surrounding the European trip of Asot Michael, the cashiered ex-Minister of Tourism and Investment. continues to raise questions. The people of Antigua & Barbuda are certainly entitled to some straight answers.

These issues remain unresolved:
(1) The minister was en route to a conference in Cannes; why did he not fly to an island in the French West Indies, such as St Martin, Guadeloupe or Martinique, where he could have caught a nonstop flight to France.  Why travel to the UK first ? Was he intending to meet someone there, and reportedly reassure him, and was it the unnamed British national,who had allegedly paid him a bribe, but received nothing in return ?

(2) Was he carrying blank CBI passports, and for what purpose, when he was detained* on orders of the National Crime Agency (NCA), regarding the payment of an illegal "gratuity"?  Though Antiguan authorities state that no passports were listed on the property receipt, our source disputes this.

(3) Why did the minister, now effectively sacked, after his detention and interrogation, travel into Central London ? His destination was the Cannes conference.

(4) Who is the other very senior Antigua government official alleged to be involved in the bribe scandal ? My sources assert that former Minister Michael did not act alone.

Until there are complete answers to these questions, we fear that the Michael scandal will remain troublesome for the Government of Antigua, and a source of concern. There may be  perfectly legitimate reasons for some of these suspicious activities, and we will keep an open mind, as we seek to unravel the mystery.
* I can see no issues of diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom, as the minister was neither assigned to the UK mission, nor was his secondment to the Embassy accepted by the UK Government. Contrary to popular belief, diplomatic immunity has strict parameters and limits, to come into force and effect.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


The Federal Judge who ordered Ricardo Martinelli released on bond, while his attorneys appeal the Court's order denying his Habeus Corpus petition, has stayed the release of the former president of Panama. The Attorney General objected to his release, and the Court thereafter agreed that the United States would be unable to extradite him to Panama, if he subsequently became unavailable, in  a well-reasoned opinion, that, unlike most of the pleadings in the case, is available to the public for review.

We still have no confirmation concerning precisely what grounds Martinelli's able legal team alleged in their petition. Were the extradition papers procedurally defective, or the Panama extradition statute itself fatally flawed ? We cannot say, but perhaps the appeal will settle those questions in the negative.What about the Panamanian allegations about damaging bordello visit videos of Trump, taken by Martinelli's National Security Agency spies, when trump visited the Trump Ocean Cliub ? So many issues, so little time.