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Can Britain register a ‘news agency’ having no journalist?

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Can Britain register a ‘news agency’ having no journalist?

Sohail Choudhury

In October 2018, Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian, Britain’s denial that it launders money is like Russia’s denial that it poisons spies. No one believes a word of it. If I walked into my bank and tried to deposit £55m, I would be asked to see the manager, if not the police. But if I were to shift such sums through a Belgravia flat or a West End jeweller or an offshore tax haven, I would be offered a tier 1 golden visa and honored status as an inward investor. It is McMafia stream this way, sir, no questions asked. Eat your heart out, Polish plumber.

He wrote, governments have long implied that offering houseroom to laundered money harms no one, benefits Britain and ranks as “inward investment”. Tony Blair and David Cameron openly welcomed Russian oligarchs, Saudi princes and Chinese property hoarders. Experts put the amount of dirty money floating around the world offshore at some £21tn, with as much as £390bn removed from Russia since the fall of the Berlin wall alone. The idea of such loot clearly dazzled British ministers, even though the Treasury sees virtually none of it.

Terming London as the capital of oligarchia, of McMafia operations, Mr. Jenkins wrote: if other countries allow their wealth to be stolen it may not be Britain’s problem, but it makes Britain an accessory to the greatest kleptomania of the century. To the US tax authorities, as to the man in the Moscow street, London is the capital of oligarchia, of McMafia operations. It is responsible for two-thirds of the world’s tax havens, mostly in the Caribbean, their legality no defence against their deplorable morality. They are like medieval pirates, a standing rebuke to the world’s economic order.

In 2019, ten people have been arrested in London after investigators raided a gang suspected of smuggling £15.5 million (Dh73.5m) of dirty money in suitcases from Britain to the UAE.

In dawn raids, five Indian nationals, one Frenchman and four British – all aged between 28 and 44 – were arrested.

A 41-year-old man thought to be the ringleader in the gang, was held in Hayes, west London, in the operation that was led by the National Crime Agency.

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said, the suspects are alleged to have been part of a well-orchestrated conspiracy to launder millions of pounds of money made through Class-A drugs and organized immigration crime, transferring it from the UK to Dubai over the past three years.

It claimed the group had moved £15.5m (Dh73.7m) over the past three years and tried to smuggle 17 migrants into Britain last summer.

Cash, drugs and a number of cars including Range Rovers, Audis and BMWs were seized during the raids in Hounslow, Hayes, Uxbridge and Southall, in the British capital.

The raids follow an NCA investigation, supported by the Met Police, into cash seizures of more than £1.5m (Dh7.1m) made by Border Force officers over 2019.

“Cash is the lifeblood of organized crime groups and they need the services of money launderers,” said Chris Hill, the agency’s senior investigating officer.

“We believe that the action we and our partners have taken will have caused permanent damage to a well-established money-laundering network.

“We are determined to do all we can to target illicit financial flows and hit organized criminal networks where it hurts – in the pocket.”

The 2019 arrest of Indian, French and British nationals on specific allegations of money laundering and connections to drug trafficking was just a tip of the iceberg. Taking advantage of London being the capital of dirty money, several criminals gangs are active in money laundering, dealing in drug monies, selling diplomatic passports and citizenship of several Caribbean nations. Most importantly, they never hesitate in selling citizenship or even diplomatic passports to criminals, drug peddlers, mafias, bank frauds, counterfeit money-manufacturers and corrupt politicians.

Today in this article, we are going to expose the activities of an organized crime racket, which is operating in London with a number of branch offices in New Delhi, Dubai, Beijing, Moscow and other cities. And to cover their illegal activities, this racket is operating a news agency, under a company which was incorporated in the United Kingdom, while it is alleged that the so-called news agency also is an umbrella and is actively involved in money laundering, drug and arms trafficking, and even granting citizenship to fleeing members of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Islamic State.

For many years, it was reported in the international media that Dominica, a small island country in the Caribbean is involved in selling citizenship and diplomatic passports to individuals around the world. The matter was also reported in Al Jazeera network with specific evidences.

According to Caribbean newspapers, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his cronies have sold an unknown number of diplomatic passports to various individuals, including fugitives. Moreover, he and his associates are luring Indian, Chinese, Russian, Bangladeshi, Iranian and Middle Eastern nationals in smuggling-out cash and buy Dominica’s citizenship.

A company named CS Global Partners is working as the exclusive agent of Roosevelt Skerrit in selling citizenship as well as it is also alleged that the same company is involved in money-laundering. Few key figures in this company, who are of Indian origin are also accused of luring Indians in draining-out their ill-gotten or dirty money and depositing it in secret bank accounts abroad.

With the ulterior motive of expediting the selling of citizenship and diplomatic passports, Roosevelt Skerrit has established a shadowy company in Britain under the disguise of a news agency.

The so-called news agency having no journalists

WIC News is operated by a company named WIC News Limited (Company number 10631553) from Kemp House, 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX, United Kingdom. It has no land or mobile phone number on its website.

Currently, it is run by a Croatian national named Dragan Perkanovic (born on June 1988), who was appointed on October 1, 2018, and by profession, he is not a journalist. Instead, he is a consultant.

Earlier, WIC News was founded with Parker Benjamin, a British national and online retailer, who was appointed on February 21, 2017 and resigned on February 19, 2018.

According to information, Benjamin Parker is also director of Medium Raw Limited, Wellbeing Limited, Roof Building Renovate Limited, Concord Close Management Company Limited, Diamon Abodes Limited and Dolls House Centre Limited.

Similarly, another British national named Hill Samuel Christopher (not a journalist) was appointed as director of January 22, 2018 and had resigned on October 7, 2018.

WIC News Limited was incorporated on February 21, 2017. The application for incorporation was filed by Benjamin Parker. There is no other partner or shareholder in the company, proving it is a mere one-man-show.

Other sister concerns of WIC News Limited are:

Create East Community Interest Limited, Company number 10631554, incorporated on February 21, 2017, company type: community interest company, registered office 17 Kimberley Street, England, Wymondham, NR18, ONU, England,

Connectfleet Limited, Company number 10631556, incorporated on February 21, 2017, company type: business and domestic software development, registered office 18 Merlin Court, Nightingale Walk, Burntwood, WS7 9QT, UK.

It is suspected by counterterrorism experts that Dragan Perkanovic and WIC News might be actually involved in handling trafficking in drugs and dirty money, while this shadowy establishment might also be working for Roosevelt Skerrit in handling his wealth in the secret bank accounts.

It is also learned that Croatian national Dragan Perkanovic fled his country to escape legal actions for his connections with the Russian mafia rackets. In Britain, his main job is to take care of opening offshore companies and bank accounts under the instruction of Skerrit’s agents in London.

When contacted a law firm in Britain, it said, news agencies are supposed to be run by journalists, while the case of WIC News, where only one individual from Croatia, who is not a journalist is running the show, sounds like a very suspicious entity. Moreover, they said, sitting in Britain, any news outlet cannot run false and fabricated news items about any individual. Such acts are considered serious crime under British law.

A senior member of the London Press Club was utterly surprised knowing a news agency in running in Britain without any journalist. Moreover, the member confirmed there is no journalist named Dragan Perkanovic in UK, while WIC News is not registered with any of the local press associations.

Dominica under radar of FBI, NCA & CBI

As the cases of fugitives and criminals holding citizenship or diplomatic passports of Dominica were exposed, several intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US, National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India are already investigating the allegations of Dominica’s connections to international drug trafficking network, money laundering and other forms of serious crimes. Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as Britain’s MET Police are also investigating allegations of Islamist terrorists using Dominica passports.

Sohail Choudhury is the Executive Editor of Blitz

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