Police in the UK following a criminal investigation took hold of about £180 million in cryptocurrency, with the seizure topping a record amount made just weeks before by law enforcement.
Metropolitan Police on Tuesday said detectives with its Economic Crime Command received intelligence about the transfer of criminal assets, leading to the July 10 discovery of nearly £180 million ($249 million) worth of cryptocurrency. The Met didn’t specify the type of cryptocurrency that was seized. The detectives have been focusing on an ongoing investigation into a suspected international money laundering.
A 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering offenses on June 24, the Met said, adding that she was released on bail.
The same team of detectives on June 24 seized £114 million in cryptocurrency – then a record amount – as part of their probes.
“Proceeds of crime are laundered in many different ways. While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organized criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money,” said Graham McNulty, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, in a statement.
Police said the investigation has been complex and wide-ranging and will continue for months to identify the people at the center of the money-laundering ring.
Meanwhile, in the US, a “prolific identity thief” who fraudulently used credit cards, pocketed $500,000, and bought bitcoin has been sentenced to three years in prison, according to the federal court in Seattle.
An investigation by the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee found no proof of widespread voter fraud in the state’s 2020 election, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s false claims.
“The Committee embarked upon hours of public testimony, the review of countless documents and presentations on the 2020 election, and careful review of the elections process itself,” the 35-page report released Wednesday said. “This Committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.”
GOP state Sen. Ed McBroom, who chairs the committee, wrote in the report that he is “confident” the election results in Michigan, which President Joe Biden won by nearly 3 percentage points, are accurate.
McBroom also appeared to take a swipe at Trump, who repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that the election was fraught with voter fraud and rigged against him. In Michigan, Trump and his allies filed at least half a dozen lawsuits in an attempt to overturn the election results. They lost all of them.
“Sources must lose credibility when it is shown they promote falsehoods, even more when they never take accountability for those falsehoods,” McBroom wrote.
The Michigan Senate committee recommended that Michiganders “use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.” It also called on the state attorney general to investigate those who promoted false claims.
The investigation comes nearly eight months after the 2020 race and as Trump continues to baselessly assert that the election was stolen from him. Federal, state, and local officials have repeatedly concluded that the election was fair and accurate.
This conspiracy theory seems to stem from a case of human error on election night. At the time, the county’s unofficial election results initially showed Biden in the lead. Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican, moved to rectify the issue and after multiple checks, the county went to Trump. The county also audited the results in December, affirming Trump’s win over Biden.
“All compelling theories that sprang forth from the rumors surrounding Antrim County are diminished so significantly as for it to be a complete waste of time to consider them further,” McBroom wrote in the report.
Eisinger explained how some of America’s wealthiest people have minimized their incomes and paid zero federal income tax in recent years, argued that philanthropy isn’t a substitute for government, and called for changes to the tax system.
Here are Eisinger’s 15 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:
1. “The ultra-wealthy are not in our tax system. They’re off in an entirely different universe, one where income is essentially voluntary. The shorthand for what they’re doing is ‘buy, borrow, die.’ You buy, or you build, or you inherit your money. You borrow against it. You don’t pay taxes on the gains. And then when you die, there are various ways that you can avoid estate tax.”
2. “The means that they have at their disposal – their purchasing power, their political power, their influence, their charitable givings – all emanate from their wealth and, more directly, their wealth growth. We thought that wealth growth is more properly thought of as income for these people. Everybody has said, ‘Checkmate, ProPublica, you idiots, we don’t tax unrealized gains in this country,’ to which we say, ‘Yes, that is the point of our article.'”
3. “If you had asked tax experts and wealth experts last week, ‘Does Jeff Bezos pay zero in federal income tax? Does Elon Musk pay zero? Does Mike Bloomberg?’ – most people would say no. That’s a pretty shocking thing.”
4. “There is a wealth tax in this country for average Americans. It’s property tax. Most people’s houses are their font of wealth, and they’re taxed every year.”
5. “Warren Buffett is really astonishing. He’s the king. He has avoided more tax than anyone in America by our measurements.” – the famed investor minimizes his income by keeping his fortune in Berkshire Hathaway stock and not paying a dividend, ProPublica reported. He defended himself to the publication.
6. “Elon Musk is outside of the regular tax system. He gets paid when he wants to get paid. He takes income at the time and place of his choosing. If you can imagine arranging your affairs so that you can control when income comes in, that gives you an enormous amount of leeway over your taxable income.”
7. “Carl was great. He was incredibly charming and was totally perplexed by the concept of needing to pay taxes. ‘If you don’t have income, you don’t pay taxes.’ He was very amusing.” – discussing how billionaire investor Carl Icahn declared $500 million of income between 2016 and 2017, but reduced his taxable income to zero by borrowing against his assets to boost his investment returns, then deducting the interest costs of the loans.
8. “What the wealthiest person in the country contributes to American society through a tax system that we all need to contribute to – that’s a little bit more newsworthy than a crotch shot.” – dismissing a comparison between ProPublica publishing details of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ tax returns and tabloids releasing supposedly intimate photos of him.
9. “We don’t have any evidence that Warren Buffett borrows. Not all these guys have exactly the same model or do all of this in lockstep with each other. But what we do know is that Buffett takes hardly anything for income, so when he talks about raising tax rates for the rich, it’s essentially irrelevant to him. It’s really irrelevant for all these guys.”
10. “Bloomberg said it’s a violation of his privacy, which was an interesting statement for a person who runs one of the most important media companies in America.” – on Michael Bloomberg’s response to ProPublica publishing details of his tax returns.
11. “We have thousands of people. We’re going to be doing stories all year on various aspects of it. And we’ll name many, many more people, but only in what we consider to be responsible ways that are in the public interest.”
12. “Warren Buffett said to us, ‘I’m going to give 99%-plus of my fortune to charity … that’s going to be better for society than paying down the United States debt.’ I would like to allocate my tax dollars the way I want, spend them on this and not that. But we collectively have a society, and we have a democracy. And the democracy gets together and makes priorities. And then we influence the democracy through the vote.”
13. “There are certain collective functions of government that charities could never do. We do need government to do some things, and government can’t do it if it’s starved, if the roads and bridges are crumbling, if we think that Social Security and Medicare are going to go bankrupt.”
14. “There are whole swaths of the tax system that just simply do not function anymore. We don’t have enforcement. We don’t have auditing from the IRS. The budget has been gutted. The wealthiest among us could be paying tens of billions of dollars more every year in income taxes – not even talking about a wealth tax -if we had a different kind of income tax system or taxation system in general.”
15. “There are two extraordinary things about death in our tax code that are great gifts to the ultra-wealthy.” – highlighting the “step-up in basis” which raises the cost base of appreciated assets when they’re inherited, and structures such as trusts that let recipients avoid paying inheritance tax.
GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on Friday announced his opposition to an independent commission that would investigate the January 6 Capitol riot, calling it “a partisan joke.”
Legislation for a bipartisan commission, which would probe the deadly insurrection, is currently “designed” to hurt Republicans, Rubio said.
“There’s no cover-up here,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “We already know what happened on January 6. It was a horrifying day. It’s something that should never happen again.”
He added: “We’re going to learn even more about what happened that day. Why? The Justice Department, as they should, is trying to prosecute and put in jail hundreds of people responsible for what happened that day.”
Rubio then said that congressional hearings have already revealed a lot about what happened on January 6, in addition to what he said was continuous media attention on the riot.
“There’s plenty of attention being paid to this,” he said. “Not to mention that the media doesn’t stop talking about it. They’re also looking at it.”
As the two-term senator then explained, the language for a commission mandates that Democrats and Republicans on the evenly divided panel have to agree in order to issue a subpoena.
He contended that Democrats could use such a stipulation to put “a story out there saying” that a Democrat wants to subpoena an individual “but they can’t because Republicans are blocking it.”
“This is about damaging Republicans,” he said. “It’s about keeping the House majority in 2022 and winning elections and keeping this in the headlines.”
He added: “This is a partisan joke.”
The House passed the bill to establish the commission in a 252-175 vote, with thirty-five Republicans joining all 217 Democrats in supporting the bill.
Earlier this week, former President Donald Trump released a statement telling GOP lawmakers to oppose the legislation, specifically calling on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
“Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission,” he wrote. “Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left. Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!”
McCarthy has expressed his opposition to the legislation, and McConnell came out against the bill this week, calling it a “slanted and unbalanced proposal.”
With McConnell’s disapproval of the bill on record, it now faces a difficult road in the Senate, where Democrats must secure 10 GOP votes to overcome a legislative filibuster.
Republicans like Rubio and Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota are now largely rallying around the idea of a commission being used as a political football.
Thune recently told CNN that a January 6 commission could undermine Republican messaging as the party heads into the midterm elections.
“I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with: That’s jobs and wages and the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders – not relitigating the 2020 elections,” he said. “A lot of our members, and I think this is true of a lot of House Republicans, want to be moving forward and not looking backward.”
Rubio is up for reelection in 2022 and could potentially face Democratic Rep. Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief and former Trump impeachment manager who is set to enter the race in the coming weeks.
The ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz will cooperate with federal authorities who are investigating the Florida lawmaker, sources told CNN.
The news comes days after Joel Greenberg, a former Gaetz ally and Florida county tax collector, formally pleaded guilty to six felony counts and agreed to cooperate with the US government in its investigation into Gaetz.
Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend, a former Capitol Hill staffer has been linked to the Republican since at least the summer of 2017 – an apparent time period of interest for investigators. According to CNN, the woman is expected to help prosecutors understand hundreds of transactions they’ve obtained records of.
Investigators have been pushing for the woman’s agreement since earlier this month, CNN reported. Sources did not share with CNN if there is a formal agreement to cooperate.
Gaetz has not been charged with any crime. Investigators from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for months have been investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with a minor and broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution, and public corruption laws.
“Congressman Gaetz doesn’t seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg’s plea. Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex,” Harlan Hill, a Gaetz spokesperson told Insider. “Mr. Greenberg has now pleaded guilty to falsely accusing someone else of sex with a minor. That person was innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz.”
Neither the ex-girlfriend’s lawyer, Timothy Jansen, nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.
Gaetz’s lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner told Insider leaks by anonymous sources have compromised the integrity of the investigation.
“We’re ready for a fair fight on the facts and the law. Anywhere. Anytime,” the lawyers said. “But the steady stream of leaks by anonymous sources undermines the integrity of this process. It is simply and unequivocally improper.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
New York prosecutors have subpoenaed an elite private school in Manhattan as part of an investigation into former President Donald Trump and his Trump Organization, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Sources told the Journal that Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School was subpoenaed by prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Jennifer Weisselberg – the childrens’ mother – previously told Insider that Trump would include school tuition in the compensation package for her former husband, Barry Weisselberg. She is a cooperating witness in investigations from both the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the New York Attorney General’s office.
Prosecutors may be examining whether the tuition arrangement allowed Barry or Allen Weisselberg to avoid paying taxes, according to the Journal.
Jennifer Weisselberg told the Journal that more than $500,000 in tuition was paid for with checks written either by Trump or Allen Weisselberg. But the records in her possession don’t show who made the payments, the Journal reported.
The subpoenas for the elite Upper West Side school will allow prosecutors to obtain copies of the transactions for tuition payments, which may tell them whether they came from Trump, Allen Weisselberg, Barry Weisselberg, the Trump Organization, or some other source.
Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office have already gone to the Supreme Court to subpoena reams of financial documents from the Trump Organization, including tax filings. They have also subpoenaed Allen Weisselberg’s bank records.
The Trumps and Weisselbergs have ties to Columbia Grammar
Michael Cohen, a former executive at the Trump Organization and personal lawyer for Trump, was previously the chairman of Columbia Grammar’s board. He helped make sure the Weisselberg grandchildren would be considered for admission, Jennifer Weisselberg previously told Insider.
The children of Jack Weisselberg, Allen Weisselberg’s other son, have also attended Columbia Grammar, according to the Journal.
Barron Trump, the former president’s youngest son, attended the school when he lived in New York City.
And the Trump Foundation – Donald Trump’s now-dissolved charity organization – donated $150,000 to the school between 2014 and 2016, according to the Journal’s review of tax filings.
James’s office is conducting its own investigation into Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s finances. It has made fewer public moves than the investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Vance is set to retire in December, and is widely expected to make a decision about whether to bring charges against Trump or the Trump Organization before then.
Trump faces numerous other legal headaches, including investigations into his conduct as president, lawsuits over sexual misconduct allegations, and an investigation in Georgia into his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results there.
In an earlier interview with Insider, Jennifer Weisselberg said the Trump Organization would pay employees like her former husband with perks like tuition and housing instead of cash as a way to control their lives.
“They want you to do crimes and not talk about it and don’t leave,” she said.
Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close associate of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Greenberg has given investigators information about an “array of topics,” the report said, including encounters that he and Gaetz allegedly had with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.
The Justice Department first indicted Greenberg last June, and he resigned from his government position shortly after. Since then, he’s been charged with 33 counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.
Gaetz, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported last month that the Justice Department was investigating him as part of the Greenberg inquiry. In particular, the feds are said to be looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and violated sex trafficking laws.
The Florida Republican lawmaker has fervently denied the allegations against him and claimed the department’s probe is part of an elaborate and convoluted extortion scheme against his family.
A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tuesday’s reporting comes after prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense attorneys told a judge last week that they were close to reaching a plea deal.
It’s unclear what the terms of the agreement would be, but Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller hinted that his client was cooperating with prosecutors, telling reporters last week, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”
It’s unusual for prosecutors or defense attorneys to publicize the existence of a plea deal because they’d want to avoid tipping off other targets.
“I don’t know if [Scheller’s] foreshadowing, I don’t know what the motive would be because generally cooperators don’t want people to know they’re cooperating,” Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who was the lead agent in the government’s case against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider. “But maybe that buck has passed because this case has been so publicly talked about.”
The Times’ report on Tuesday, which revealed that Greenberg has been cooperating since last year, also suggests he didn’t have much to lose when lawyers for the prosecution and defense told the court last week that a plea deal was on the horizon.
Based on media reporting about the Gaetz probe, prosecutors likely have a large trail of breadcrumbs to follow as they work to corroborate the allegations against the GOP lawmaker.
The investigation is said to be looking into whether he used campaign money to fund travel for women, and The Times reported investigators were scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”
CBS News reported that prosecutors were also zeroing in on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who is accused of footing the bill for female sex workers, hotel rooms, and travel expenses. And The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo in 2018 and that Greenberg then sent $900, in varying amounts, to three young women.
But there’s other information that prosecutors would need to build a strong case, details they may not be able to glean from records and documents.
That’s where Greenberg comes in.
For one, he could have been privy to conversations in which only he and Gaetz were present or private communications that took place on encrypted apps, in text messages that could have been deleted, or on a burner phone.
“There could be a number of things they did that the government may not have access to or doesn’t even know exist,” Ebadi said.
But the biggest thing he could speak to, she added, is whether Gaetz expressed his intent in the conduct he’s accused of engaging in.
“Depending on what prosecutors charge, often an element in various cases is intent, or proving someone’s knowledge or willfulness when committing a crime,” Ebadi said, adding that with Greenberg, “you could have someone that was present when [Gaetz] was making statements like, ‘I’m going to do this,’ or ‘I’m doing this for these particular reasons.’ Those are crucial words in a case like this, especially when it comes to that element of intent.”
A self-identified libertarian, Luckey’s 28-year-old brother held a fundraiser for Trump and has donated to the Republican Party, according to Open Secrets, a campaign finance watchdog group.
Gaetz and Luckey live on separate coasts, but have been traveling together during the pandemic
Luckey told the Daily Mail that working remotely as a food analyst in California during the pandemic has let her spend more time with her future husband.
“So I have been traveling with him everywhere,” she said. “I am his travel buddy.”
In early reports on the federal investigation, Gaetz’s travel with an underage girl is one area of interest.
“I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated,” Gaetz recently told Axios. “You know, I’ve paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner. I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not.”
Luckey graduated from college in 2016 and is attending business school online
She attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, according to her LinkedIn page, and is now enrolled in the Harvard business program online. She majored in economics and accounting while studying as a Gaucho.
Gaetz apparently wants an Elvis impersonator to preside over their wedding
“It’ll be between now and 2024,” Luckey said of their wedding plans in the Daily Mail interview. “We are flexible and have no time span yet.”
“Matt wants an Elvis impersonator to preside,” she continued. “I want multiple venues, so we’ll see.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office currently running a probe into President Donald Trump’s finances has tapped forensic accounting specialists for help, The Washington Post reported.
District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has expanded his initial 2018 probe into hush money paid to two women who say they had sexual relationships with Trump before he was president. Vance has now asked FTI Consulting to look for discrepancies among some property deals and consult with prosecutors on whether or not Trump’s company altered the value of some assets for tax breaks.
Earlier this year, Vance asked a judge for eight years of Trump’s tax records on the grounds that media reports had identified “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization. Trump has fought the release of those records in court, but Vance has also expanded the scope of the investigation since then.
Trump has recently expressed concern over the large scope of the investigation as his presidency comes to an end.
“Now I hear that these same people that failed to get me in Washington have sent every piece of information to New York so that they can try to get me there,” Trump said in speech earlier this month. “It’s all been gone over, over, and over again.”
According to Jason Zirkle with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners who spoke to The Post, Vance may have hired the firm to help counter any arguments that the investigation is driven by political animus.
One source who asked to remain anonymous told The Post analysts with FTI Consulting may have already reviewed some of Trump’s dealings as part of a grand jury investigation and could potentially testify if criminal charges are filed.
Vance’s office could not be reached for comment by phone at the time of publication and the Trump organization has not replied to Insider’s request for comment.