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David MarchantEditor at OffshoreAlert
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Deck the cells with bowls of porridge

December 14, 2016 by David Marchant 1 Comment
No year would be complete without OffshoreAlert being sued. In 2016, it happened twice.

Both complaints reminded me why the USA is hands down the best place for an investigative journalist to operate.

The Federal Communications Decency Act fully protects website operators from claims for damages regarding content posted by third parties. So when Russian Fedor Sannikov sued us at state court in Florida, he instead sought an order only for the removal of perceived negative postings about him on our message board and even that is unlikely to be granted given the Free Speech protections offered by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, the SPEECH Act means that British firm Privilege Wealth Plc's libel complaint at the High Court in London doesn't even need to be defended because foreign defamation judgments are unenforceable in the USA. The law is the difference between having to shell out hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees in the U.K. and not having to spend one penny.

The Privilege Wealth scheme also reminded me that gullible investors can't be deterred from squandering their savings. OffshoreAlert didn't receive a single call or email from any investor after our thoroughly-researched, 5,000-word story was published.

One Cayman Islands-based used-car salesman asset manager whose firm has been promoting the scam did approach us but only to ask for a free copy of the article! After being told that it was available only to subscribers (at a cost of just $60), Simon Welsh, of Hypa Asset Management, never did subscribe, thereby demonstrating an alarming lack of concern for his firm's clients and reputation.

OffshoreAlert's exposé of Privilege Wealth was our biggest of the year, involving dozens of individuals and companies in at least 15 countries. The scheme continues to trundle along but will inevitably fail. 'Low risk, high returns' offered by recidivists, including one convicted fraudster and two banned financial industry operators. What could possibly go wrong?

Another stand-out event during the year was the liquidation in Liechtenstein of Cayman Islands-owned Gable Insurance, which, among other things, provided worthless insurance for two fraudulent offshore investment schemes that OffshoreAlert exposed in recent years, namely Axiom Legal Financing Fund and Centaur Litigation Group.

Telling investors their capital and returns are insured is a common feature of sales pitches for fraudulent investment schemes. It happened with both Axiom and Centaur and is currently happening with Privilege Wealth. It's simply a case of telling investors what they want to hear.

Finally, no round-up of 2016 would be complete without mentioning that the first person to sue OffshoreAlert for libel was released from prison in August after serving 13 years of a 17-year sentence for tax fraud and money laundering. Marc M. Harris tried to put OffshoreAlert out of business when he sued in 1998. He was arrested and imprisoned five years later.

My message of hope and cheer to Privilege Wealth's principals is this: 'You're Next'. Enjoy this festive season while you still have your liberty because 'Ho, Ho, Ho' will eventually be replaced by 'No, No, No'. At least if OffshoreAlert has anything to do with it.

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  • zonta
    By zontaon Sunday, February 18, 2018 11:40:13 AM

    Dear David: Your information regarding victims and fraudsters resonates impeccably with what I have and am seeing over my time many hears as an investigator. Hope to join forces with you as I am headquartered in North Vancouver, B.C., well known as a fraudster driven environment with many victims to feast on, Mostly with no retribution recourse criminally or civilly for the victim. Lawrence Skwarek CEO, Zonta Research Group

    We hunt for red flags in high-value, cross-border finance by monitoring offshore and onshore courts, regulatory actions, offering documents, and other sources - and email you the results.

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