US brands Scottish firm part of ‘significant transnational criminal organisation’
A Scottish company has been officially branded part of a “significant transnational criminal organisation” by American authorities in a money-laundering crackdown.
The Payments Factory – registered on Buchanan Street, right in the middle of Glasgow’s Style Mile – is the Scottish wing of a global network accused by America’s Treasury Department of processing profits from mail frauds.
President Barack Obama in September signed an order seizing assets of the network, called PacNet, and paving the way for sanctions against anybody, including British firms, doing business with it.
This puts its Scottish wing on the same blacklist as global Mafias such as Italy’s Camorra, Japan’s Yakuza and Mexico’s Los Zetas.
American authorities claim PacNet, whose network is based in Vancouver, processed payments for one of the world’s biggest scams, a French “psychic” called Maria Duval who targeted vulnerable elderly people in mass but ostensibly personal mailshots offering spiritual insights for cash.
The Americans said the network was also the payment system of choice for other fraudulent schemes. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: ‘PacNet has a 20-year history of engaging in money laundering and mail fraud, by knowingly processing payments on behalf of a wide range of mail fraud schemes.
PacNet has denied “ever knowingly processing payments for deceptive mailings by any of its clients” and contests its designation as a crime organisation.
Its Scottish wing was formally explicitly designated part of the “significant transnational crime organisation” by the US. So were its two directors, Paul Davis of the Isle of Man, and Italian-born but British resident Raffaella Ferrari. The Payments Factory when it was first created briefly listed PacNet leader Rosanne Day as a director.
An investigation by US broadcaster CNN named lawyer Mr Davis, who is also known as Robert Davis, and Ms Day as the two main players in the PacNet network. US authorities said an Isle of Man airline called PacNetair was used to move large quantities of cash around Europe.
A spokesman for PacNet stressed that the group was fighting to re-establish its good name.
He said: “PacNet categorically denies the false allegations made by the US Government about its payments processing services for direct mailers — a division of the company representing a small percentage of its total revenue and operations.
“The company operates a rigorous compliance and due diligence program and to protect the general public — and itself — from unseemly scam artists, the company has stopped processing payments for direct mail companies altogether.
“Indeed, PacNet has regularly reported suspicious transactions to the Canadian federal government and has consistently cooperated with Canadian, US, and other law-enforcement investigations.