ASG Resolution Capital, a company closely connected to Latvia’s ABLV Bank, has paid some $2 million to one of the largest lobbying groups in the United States, in a bid to lessen the impact of a money laundering investigation by US authorities.
Research carried out by the Justice for Martins Bunkus foundation shows that the company paid one of the most influential lobbyists in the US, Mercury Public Affairs.
ABLV Bank has been linked to money transfers to 17 Black, the Dubai company owned by Yorgen Fenech, who is the suspected mastermind in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The bank is also mentioned in a report filed with Latvia’s Office for the Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity by the family of Caruana Galizia, which links her death to a criminal network. Together with Pilatus Bank, ABLV was accused of money laundering by authorities in the US.
The family of Caruana Galizia had delivered a report to Latvian authorities, following investigations by the Daphne Project. Those investigations revealed that Latvia’s ABLV Bank, like Pilatus Bank in Malta, was a service provider to a money laundering network, implicating politically-exposed persons, PEPs, in Malta and Azerbaijan.
The company hiring the lobbyists, ASG Resolution Capital, has close links with ABLV Bank. As the foundation learned, the executive body of ASG Resolution is made up of former board members and employees of ABLV Bank.
Mercury Public Affairs has been engaged to represent the interests of ASG Resolution Capital at the US Treasury Department and at FinCen, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. FinCen had published a report on the potential involvement of ABLV Bank in large-scale money laundering schemes.
Additionally, investigations by the Bunkus Foundation show reason to suspect that ASG Resolution Capital is taking advantage of gaps in the laws of Latvia to support ABLV Bank’s creditors’ claims for those clients who might not be able to prove the legality of the origins of their funds.
“ASG Resolution Capital, with the help of the US lobby, probably is striving to gain influence over processes and institutions in order to make it possible for it to implement the successful and unimpeded transfer of monetary funds of potentially suspicious origins from ABLV Bank to current accounts of third parties,” according to the Justice for Martin Bunkus Foundation.
The Justice for Martin Bunkus Foundation was set up after the 2018 murder of Martin Bunkus, a Latvian lawyer who sought to have ABLV Bank involuntarily liquidated. His murder remains unsolved.
Caruana Galizia’s family has linked Bunkus’ murder with that of the Maltese journalist. Bunkus was murdered only seven months after Caruana Galizia.