Seychelles FIU returns frozen funds to Austrian investment scam victims
(Seychelles News Agency) - Four Austrians who were identified by anti-fraud authorities in Seychelles as victims of an investment share scam have had nearly $70,000 (SR860,000) returned to them in a landmark ruling by the Seychelles Supreme Court, according to a press statement issued by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in Seychelles.
The FIU worked alongside the Seychelles’ Attorney-General’s office to bring the matter to court under the islands’ tough anti-money laundering laws, and according to the FIU, the Austrians were fortunate to get their money back.
“There has been a steady increase in this type of crime globally in recent years and most of those who invest in these scams usually end up losing their money,” said the FIU statement this week.
One of the victims, Holger Gerwin, has expressed his thankfulness to the authorities in Seychelles, hailing in particular the work of the FIU and other partners involved in the process.
“I am very satisfied with the outcome of the case and the fact that I have got my money back. The FIU and all those involved have done a remarkable job,” said Gerwin.
The Director of the FIU, Declan Barber, has commended BMI Bank for their assistance in helping to ensure that the victims were identified and assisted.
The FIU said that the victims used the services of a local attorney, who filed an application to the Courts on their behalf under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
While the FIU has the power to temporarily preserve funds under investigation to stop them from being moved out of the jurisdiction, it is only the courts that have the ability to freeze funds. After due process, the monies can then be returned to the victims, if they have been identified, or turned over to the State.
Since launching the sector in 1996, Seychelles' thriving international financial services industry comprises of some 140,000 International Business Companies (IBCs).
Since the OECD rated the Seychelles jurisdiction as ‘non-compliant’ in terms of tax transparency rules last year, Seychelles has made swift strides to impose stricter regulation of the sector to avoid becoming a haven for money-laundering and other illicit financial activities.
The Financial Services Agency (FSA) was set up earlier this year as an independent regulator of Seychelles corporate services providers, securities exchange, insurance and other related businesses.
In November last year, the National Assembly of Seychelles also approved amendments to some sections of the 1994 International Business Companies Act and the inclusion of a new section to ensure that the law and offshore sector are in line with international standards and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s recommendations.
The Supreme Court of Seychelles has ordered the freezing and forfeiture of millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from offshore-related crime as a result of investigations conducted by the FIU.
The court has also made a considerable number of freezing and forfeiture orders amounting to millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from offshore-related crime as a result of investigations and international cooperation.