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Armenian Fraudster Sent Money Monthly to UDP Minister? #540064
01/14/20 12:27 PM
01/14/20 12:27 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 64,783
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Documents Surface Alleging a Minister Received Money from a U.S. National Involved in a Huge Fraud

A throve of documents has been obtained on a complex case in the U.S. Courts  involving an alleged scheme to illegally obtain more than five hundred million U.S. dollars in renewable fuel tax credits.  It includes court documents and press reports of the alleged bribes paid to senior U.S. officials as well as from Belize.  The documents contain explosive information against businessmen Isaiah and Jacob Kingston from Utah, along with Lev Dermen from California and originally from Armenia. The three are charged with money laundering and fraud.  The matter is ongoing before the U.S. district in Utah.  Dermen was in prison since August 2018 and was seeking pre-trial release, but the motion was denied because he was considered a risk due to his business interests and connections in Turkey.  The Kingston siblings pleaded guilty; part of the documents involves a testimony by Jacob Kingston, who provided evidence against Dermen. Kingston alleges that Dermen offered him and his family the protection of U.S. law enforcement “umbrella.”  This would have allowed Kingston to file fraudulent claims for renewable fuel tax credits with impunity.  According to Kingston, Dermen’s tentacles extended to other countries, including Belize.  Kingston outlined that a government official from Belize was “routinely paid twenty-five thousand dollars in cash each month by Dermen and that when Dermen could not make the payment himself, he would ask Kingston to make the payments on his behalf.  On at least one occasion, in or about February 2014, at Dermen’s request, Kingston arranged for cash payment to the Belizean official through an associate.”  Kingston says that in or about June 2013, he electronically sent funds to a different Belizean government official at Dermen’s request.  Later in the document, it is established that Kingston’s testimony was to be corroborated with contemporaneous text messages including one with the Belizean minister.  Now, the name of the minister is not being released at this time. But the allegations of the connections are explained as follows. Dermen apparently was seeking a diplomatic appointment in Las Vegas, U.S., which was being pushed by a government minister with whom Dermen had frolicked in the U.S.  That, however, did not materialize because the U.S. turned it down. We’ll keep following this story.

Channel 5

Re: Armenian Fraudster Sent Money Monthly to UDP Minister? [Re: Marty] #540073
01/15/20 06:10 AM
01/15/20 06:10 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 64,783
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

UDP Ministers Tried To Make Fraudster Into Diplomat

Who dunnit? Which government minister collected 25 thousand US dollars from Armenian fraudster Lev Aslen Dermen every month? That's the question that probably bounced around the Cabinet room this morning after court documents emerged from the US state of Utah. That's where Armenian fraudster Lev Aslem Dermen is in prison on a half a billion dollar biofuels fraud - and his former associates have all turned on him - and they're spilling the beans.

According to those court documents, one of the associates - Jacob Kingston, quote "will testify that Dermen and his associates made cash payments to foreign government officials. Kingston will also testify that a government official from Belize was routinely paid $25,000 cash a month by Dermen and that when Dermen could not make the payment himself he would ask Kingston to make the payment on his behalf." End quote.

Sources tell us that those funds would go to an address in Miami to be picked up - and that US authorities had to warn the government of Belize that this address was under surveillance for suspicious activity.

Additionally, Kingston says in February of 2014 Kingston himself arranged for cash payment to the Belizean official through an associate. And in June of 2013, he electronically sent funds to a different Belizean government official at Dermen's request." End quote.

So that's two government officials - and the solid suspicion is that these are UDP ministers - because a number of them were known to be rubbing shoulders with Dermen - known in Belize as Levon Termendzhyan.

And that's because Dermen was throwing around lavish sums of money. And he did that because his primary interest in Belize was to become a diplomat - even if it meant buying the diplomatic immunity associated with that. He needed that status - US court documents say - to facilitate his illicit movements of cash - since diplomats are not searched.

And 7News has learned that he almost got that diplomatic immunity - right here in Belize. Reports say one Minister recommended him to be an Ambassador - and - our reports say - that might have gone through - except that the US authorities stepped in and said they would reject his nomination. We have learned that another minister put forward his name for honorary consul in the US state of Nevada - but that didn't work out either. It's not far fetched to assume that every recommendation was made for an inducement, or, what in political parlance is called a campaign contribution.

Court reports out of Utah say the case is set to go to trial on January 27th - so the wagons are circling very quickly for the Barrow administration.

Today, Barrow told the Reporter newspaper, quote, "The documents call no names and appear to be a preliminary description of evidence to be led when a trial starts. If such evidence is led and names called, I will - as I always do - deal harshly with any proven official wrongdoer." End quote. Of course, in politics, perception trumps proof, and Barrow may have to act more quickly than he might wish - difficult with a national convention and his imminent retirement on the immediate event horizon.

We will keep following this story.

Channel 7

Re: Armenian Fraudster Sent Money Monthly to UDP Minister? [Re: Marty] #540084
01/16/20 05:10 AM
01/16/20 05:10 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 64,783
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

PM Barrow Asks Ministers Who Took 25k/Monthly

Since Monday, the news and social media has been abuzz with reports of high level corruption in the UDP government. This is after court documents emerged form the US state of Utah saying that an Armenian fraudster - who allegedly conned the US government out of half a billion dollars - paid 25 thousand dollars monthly to a high ranking government official. And that another electronic transfer was made to another high official.

The man who allegedly made these payments is Levon Termendzhyan, also known as Lev Dermen - and he was known to rub shoulders with many UDP ministers.

So, who got the money? And for what? This is the question we've been teasing at for two nights. Well, today the Prime Minister held a press conference to squarely confront the issue. So whodunnit? That's what he asked his entire Cabinet yesterday:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"What I did was, yesterday in our cabinet meeting I require each cabinet member to say whether he or she could have any reason to believe that he or she would be the person or that they would be the persons to which the material is referred. Let me put it another way, did anyone in this room (talking about the cabinet room yesterday), received $25,000 US dollars a month over a period of time from this Mr. Lev or Mr. Kingston or some third person that at one time Mr. Kingston said was used as an intermediary and the answer came back no. Other question: Did anyone in this room received funds from Mr. Lev by way of an electronic transfer? And the answer came back no. That is where for the moment the matter must rest. The evidence in this trial will be forthcoming and what I am here to also tell you is this: if it turns out that indeed there is evidence to show that a member or 2 members of my cabinet received funds from Mr. Lev, there will be hell to pay."

"Might be that the minister could make hell of a case saying where is the proof that this was other than a campaign contribution from someone that I knew who supported me and there are no laws in Belize, that regulate campaign finance contributions, but I wouldn't need to get into that sort of an argument nt with the minister, would I? Because even if that could b shown to be true, you lied to me and you lied to the cabinet in saying that you did not received any money. That in itself is a basis for me to say sir/madam you cannot stay in any cabinet that I lead."

"I don't think I can make my position any clearer. Once there is evidence of monies having been received by any UDP cabinet member from this gentleman. GAME OVER. My reaction is going to be axiomatic and I promise the Belizean people that as I have always done I will move swiftly in the face of what I would know to be actionable wrong doing."

Saldivar Denies Fraud, Bribery or Quid Pro Quo, but Mum on Cash

Of course there are huge political implications in that - especially with the UDP leadership convention coming up in three weeks.

And here at 7News we know that at least one of those men aspiring for Leader, John Saldivar has been an associate of Lev Dermen. And we know that because Jules Vasquez went to the Gold Cup in 2013 as a journalist and learned that Dermen was a part of John Saldivar's entourage. In fact, information at the time was - Dermen was ferrying Saldivar to games in a private jet.

Today we asked the Prime Minister about that connection:...

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Because of the personalities involved and we need to be real, certainly from my observation of events which I had no proximity to, I was working, but it certainly seem clear that there was a very familiar relationship between the Minister of Sports at the time or I believe he was involved in football Mr. Saldivar and Levon. Those were the names I kept hearing, the team would talk about them because certain ma if you score a goal Mr. Levon gives you one thousand dollars. Real talk, that happened and he was rolling with Mr. Saldivar and his entourage."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I can confirm that a number of UDP personalities did meet Mr. Lev, yes."

"But Mr. John Saldivar isnt one of them? You're not sure?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know that he isn't at all. In fact, I believe that he is and I think that is widely known, because of some footballing connection and some gold cup trip, so I don't know that Minister Saldivar would be silly enough to deny that he did know the gentleman. But there were others in the cabinet that had met him as well."

"Is it not in the least bit curious to you that Minister Saldivar is once again entangled with business people. questionable..."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Who said that Mr. Saldivar is entangled?"

"Hold on one second sir, because when you back track to the entire Mason situation, he was a questionable character which we found out after the fact when the entire incident happened and we found that he was involved in the very same sporting arena transactions and now here we go again with Dermen where we are talking aging accepting favors in the sporting arena and the very same person. The point is it is casting quite a cloud over the administration."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Look, the allegations contained in that statement lodge before the court by the prosecutor indeed is extremely concerning. That is why I am here and that is why I am seeking to reassure you and the public that once those allegations mature and once evidence would be lead, anybody who in fact is shown to have accepted monies from this gentleman will be dealt with."

This evening - after the press conference, Saldivar put out a statement saying, quote, "..For the record, I met American businessman Lev Dermen in 2013 and last saw him sometime in early 2015. Mr Dermen was known to many in Belize as a wealthy businessman. I interacted with Mr Dermen on several occasions and did so publicly, including, as is already public knowledge at the Gold Cup in 2013. However, I categorically reject any suggestion of my involvement in any act of fraud or bribery with Mr Dermen. At no time have I used my office for any such vile quid pro quo activities as the political propagandists suggest. Any such suggestion is obviously motivated by political actors who are intent on seeking to gain political mileage for the imminent electionsTo certain elements within my own party I say that it is regrettable that the campaign for the leadership of my Party has caused some to sink to this level of maliciousness and falsehood." End quote. He adds that his attorney has been instructed to initiate legal action against anyone who has published, publishes, causes to be published or continues publication of these malicious falsehoods, quote "about me and the office I hold."

Dermen the Diplomat?

So, John Saldivar says his office was never used for fraud or bribery - because the suggestion is that Lev Dermen was tiring to buy his way into a diplomatic posting. And that's why he allegedly used cash to cozy up to UDP ministers. Today the Prime Minister said Lev Dermen did ask to be a consular representative for the city of Las Vegas - which is not a diplomatic posting, per se. Here's how he explained it:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Mr. Lev, Mr. Levon, whatever his name is, at no appoint approached the government for a diplomatic appointment. He did approached the government expressing an interest in an honorary consulship and none of you better not tell me that that's a difference without a distinction an honorary consul, the very title means that you are and can never be considered a diplomat. He did approached the ministry of foreign affairs and he was guided indeed to the ministry of foreign affairs by a minister. He never wrote any formal recommendation, a minister whose name I will call. There is nothing to hide, the Hon. Michael Finnegan and Minister Finnegan said to him you go to the ministry of foreign affairs and as Minister Elrington told cabinet yesterday, that happens on a very regular basis. Minister of Foreign Affairs made clear that there was nothing unusual about that and he instructed his people to interview the gentleman and to conduct due diligence. Ministry did its due diligence sent Mr. Levon, he was then known as Turmenzian, sent his name and his particulars to special branch, to properly vetted and the report dated 25th May 2013 signed by Mr. Vidal as head special branch, reference is made to your request for vetting to be conducted on Mr. Levon who is being considered for appointment as honorary consul for Belize in Nevada. Interpol checks do not reveal anything adverse on the applicant and so with that in hand the ministry proceeded to ask the United States whether there would be any difficulty with Mr. Levon being made honorary consul in Las Vegas. US ultimately said no we have our reasons, send us another name, he is not going to be appointed. Consular appointments are for the minister of foreign affairs. Diplomatic appointments are for me and that's why everybody needs to get absolutely straight that there was never any application or approached about a diplomatic appointment, because such an approached would have had to be made to me and nobody in my government would have dare to approach me to appoint any Lev whatever as any kind of Belizean diplomat."

PM Says “All Hell Will Break Loose” When Evidence Comes Out

So, if Dermen just went - without any special introduction to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked to be consul general, if that is the case, then which minister or high official got monthly money from Dermen and why?

PM Barrow says we will have to wait for the trial to find out:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Nobody in Belize knows who it is to whom these statements, these allegations refer. What is clear is that at least one minister of my government and at least one official of my administration; both are on the hook, though un-named, in terms of what the material is alleging. I want to make clear to the media and to the public, this trial, as I understand it is to start imminently. I don't know who it is that these allegations are being made against, but I imagine that we will soon find out. I can't begin to guess and speculate and surmise and attempt to play Sherlock Holmes to come up with the names. That obviously for good and sufficient reason up to this point in time the prosecutor in the US has left on unspecified. I don't know see frankly and I repeat myself that there is anything more to be done at this stage. I really think we have to await the further proceedings in the U.S."

"Is there anything else that can be done in your limited capacity pending the outcome of the testimony to begin an investigation internally or what have you?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"If you could show me how such an investigation would proceed, all we have is this documentation of what is not even evidence. What the prosecutor in the States said he would like to lead as evidence. On that basis what would be investigate in Belize. This is not a matter in trying to not wanting to do more. It is a matter of not being able to more in the circumstances. It's a matter of biding out tide, I must bide my tide, the cabinet must bide its tide, the media must bide this tide, because ultimately they will be a case and evidence will be lead and then depending on that evidence all hell will break loose."

The trial is set to start on January 27th in Utah.

The Lev Revelation And Its Effect On UDP Leadership

And, if all hell breaks loose, then what will happen with the leadership of the UDP. Barrow is about to leave office, and either one or both of the men who would succeed him could be implicated. Yes, Saldivar has - through a statement denied that he was involved in any fraud, bribery or quid pro quo. But we note that he has not denied receiving funds - which as the PM has pointed out - could be simply written off as campaign contributions - which is not a crime.

For his part, Patrick Faber has told us he only met Dermen once in passing, and that was it.

But, delisted the denials, all hell can still break loose - and, if so, what happens to the leadership race, and the succession for PM Barrow?

He addressed that today:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"If any of the 2 leadership aspirants turns out to be somebody who received cash, I would fire that person and I believe that the party would absolutely disqualify such a person from proceeding with the leadership challenge, because how will you get fired from the cabinet? Remember, I hold the whip hand, recollect that I don't need to go anywhere until the general elections are called. If I would have to fire a leadership aspirant and the party says well we don't care that you fire the person, we will still elect that person and we will say he must take over and lead us into the general elections. Well I will save them from their own fall you know, because I will make it plain that cannot happen. But we are really spinning wheels and getting into outlandish theoretical scenarios. Man come on and be practical, if any of the leadership aspirants were to be fired by me before the convention, that's the end of it."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"But supposed the case is adjourned, these things often happens and a leadership convention ensues and you demit office as you say you will shortly after the convention and then evidence emerged against perhaps one of the persons who rise as leader, would this affect your timeline for leaving office?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"May well do, that's an important question. If the trial is postponed and we have the leadership convention and a victor emerges and the new trial date is fixed and it is now 6 months from now, it is a month or two after the convention, I'm going no place until I see what the results of the trial will be in terms of the evidence lead, or alternatively, I would have a get a solid sacred promise from the leader elect made in front of the cabinet and backed up in a way that I will explain by the cabinet that if evidence emerged that he was the recipient of funds, that he will resign and I would say to the cabinet, I couldn't force it, but I would expect that you would oblige him to resign for your own sakes, otherwise just pack your bags, leave and hand over the government to the PUP."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Is this a cause of anxious worry as you are about to go off into the sunset?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In deed, because I want to go, but this might keep me longer."

Channel 7

PMPress Conference Yesterday

Re: Armenian Fraudster Sent Money Monthly to UDP Minister? [Re: Marty] #540106
01/17/20 05:42 AM
01/17/20 05:42 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 64,783
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

How Dermen’s Application for Honorary Consul was Rejected

There is more to report on Lev Dermen’s ties to Belize, including an application through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for him to be appointed Honorary Consul to Las Vegas.  PM Barrow says that Dermen initially approached Minister Michael Finnegan, who in turn referred him to the Foreign Ministry with the request.  When the application appeared before Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington along with a curriculum vitae, it gave the impression that Dermen was a squeaky clean businessman.  The U.S. government would later decline the request to have him named Honorary Consul to Nevada and that’s as far as it went.  Here’s how the P.M. explains what happened.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“If you read this CV you would think that the man would be entitled to apply to the government for a halo, that he was a saint.  Anyway, the ministry did its due diligence, sent Mr. Levon, he was then known as term…, sent his name and his particulars to Special Branch to be properly vetted and the report dated May 25th, 201, signed by Mr. Vidal as head of Special Branch, reference is made to your request for vetting to be conducted on Mr. Levon who is being considered for appointment as Honorary Consul for Belize in Nevada.  Comment: Interpol checks do not reveal anything adverse on the applicant.  In his limited visits to Belize, however, it was confirmed that he associates closely with Zubair Mohamed Kazi, owner of the Paradise Shrimp Farm on the Coastal Road.  And so, with that in hand the ministry proceeded to ask the United States whether there would be any difficulty with Mr. Levon being made Honorary Consul in Las Vegas.  Alas and alack for Mr. Levon and good for Belize, the U.S. ultimately said no, we have our reasons, send somebody else or send us another name.  He is not going to be appointed.  And that, as far as I can tell, is where this matter rested until the events of recent occurrence.”

Channel 5

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