My most popular blog posts this past year were not really Russia related. They were a story that I accidentally stumbled upon while researching corruption here in the country of Georgia.
Each quarter a report is put out on the banking sector in Georgia by KPMG [see here for the most recent one]. A company name caught my eye while scrolling through. And the whole story spun out from that.
I’m still getting asked about this story, so I thought a follow-up would be appreciated.
Shortly after I published my series on ESOL BV, Gilbert Armenta, William C Morro, and their partners in crime, a notice appeared regarding a company called MoneySwap.
It was “a notice convening an extraordinary general meeting (the “EGM”)”, whose purpose was:
“…to approve, inter alia:
i. the subscription for new ordinary shares in the Company by Wraith Holding B.V. (“Wraith”), together with certain options to be granted to Wraith to subscribe for additional new ordinary shares;
Who was Wraith Holding B.V.?
You guessed it!
Gilbert Armenta and William C Morro.
In March, MoneySwap had entered into a loan agreement with Wraith, which “…was incorporated for the purpose of investing in MoneySwap.”
In a statement, MoneySwap’s interim CEO Craig Niven stated:
“I am pleased to be able to announce the involvement of Wraith, which we hope will result in Wraith becoming a controlling shareholder in Moneyswap. Wraith has a real vision as to how the company can be developed and the financial and management resources necessary to achieve this vision,”…
Morro is now a board member of Moneyswap. Of course, none of his fraudulent activities are mentioned, except to note that he is a director of the now infamous Zala Group Limited.
What is MoneySwap and what does it do?
MoneySwap is a Gibraltar incorporated payment solutions provider which allows both online and point of sale transactions to be settled using UnionPay cards with operations in Hong Kong and China.
MoneySwap was advised on Armenta and Morro’s takeover by Hamlins in London, who wrote:
Wraith is an investment company backed by Gilbert Amenta who has considerable experience in the payments sector.
*Cue the laugh track*
Meanwhile, Zala Group is still active and looking for employees.
Zala’s contact page has been updated to show its connection to MoneySwap, using the latter’s addresses in London and Hong Kong.
Where is this going?
According to MoneySwap’s website:
MoneySwap provides a gateway to UnionPay’s MoneyExpress® services. This enables users abroad to remit funds directly to UnionPay cardholders in China. Each remittance is authenticated by UnionPay and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange of China (“SAFE”). The cardholder in China can withdraw cash at an ATM or make purchases where UnionPay cards are accepted. Currently, China is the second largest global recipient of remittances. MoneyExpress® is a secure, cost effective and convenient way to send funds to China. MoneyExpress® is a registered trademark of UnionPay.
Right now it can take days and exorbitant fees to transfer money from one country to another. There are multiple issues with SWIFT, and people are looking for options to move away from it. Getting a company on blockchain to transfer money easily and rapidly and cheaply would be an ideal alternative for many. China is one of the largest countries for remittances (it placed in the top 5 in 2016 with $61 billion), so you can imagine the fees a company like MoneySwap could rake in for their services.
As we know from my previous research into Armenta and Morro, it is also an ideal way to launder money.
My previous blog posts on Armenta, Morro, and their drug running, money laundering, Hawaiian separatist connections (in order):