"If you're a kleptocrat, you're going to have to do a really good job hiding your stuff because we're going to get it eventually," said Jaikumar Ramaswamy, the chief of the Justice Department's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering section, which manages the Kleptocracy Initiative.
said the unit has a dual mission: to help bring kleptocrats to justice, but also to harden the US financial system against illegal money flows.
The "underground criminal illicit finance infrastructure," said Ramaswamy
, serves not only corrupt politicians but also tax evaders and organized crime.
But in some cases, Ramaswamy
said, the unit is unable to penetrate the opaque shell companies that are used to hide stolen money.
explored in its Offshore Leaks investigation, for as little as $90 "nominee directors" without business qualifications offer their names as fronts for offshore entities in which they have little to no real involvement.
"It often times is the dead end of an investigation, where you have a nominee trust or corporation, and you can't pierce beyond it," Ramaswamy
said the lack of beneficial ownership data was the biggest obstacle that his
team confronts in hunting down the assets squirreled away by kleptocrats.