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In SDNY Defendant Belan Pleads Guilty To False Sales of Ukraine Mine and Land Forfeits $22M

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Alamy photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 29 – When Valentyn Belan came to plead guilty to wire fraud before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods on May 29, the courtroom was empty (other than for Inner City Press) and the court reporter couldn't understand him.

  Belan repeatedly said, Yes completely Your Honor; he told Judge Woods he had a masters degree from Ukraine. Then he agreed to forfeit over $22 million dollars and to a prison term of 97 to 121 months.

  The underlying complaint describes Belan conning a businessman from Hong Kong to invited in real estate and a mine in Ukraine. In his allocution Belan said most of this took place outside of the U.S. but there had been one meeting in New York.

 But the forfeiture order lists three bank accounts at Suntrust - now seeking to sell itself to BB&T only recently released from a money laundering enforcement action by the U.S. Federal Reserve - and another two at TD Bank. Also to be forfeited: Units 101-102, and additional space in Blocks 10-11, located at The Century Garden, No 726 XinHua Road, Chang Ning District, Shanghai, China.

  Belan's defense lawyer Florian Miedel put into the record the the value of this property should be subtracted from the $22 million figure. Judge Woods signed the order.

  Also in the SDNY, in 2018, Belan lost custody of his minor children to their mother Olena Chumachenko. The transcript has this:  "Q: Were you aware of Ms. Chumachenko's relationship with a man from Kuwait named Nabil? A: She did mention to me that she had met another man." Then by another questioner: "Alyna Nechaeva... they started in 2012 and it lasted for a few years." And now even the Shanghai apartment is gone...

Earlier on May 29 as the U.S. Panama Papers prosecution of accountant Richard Gaffey and tax expatriate Harald Joachim von der Goltz moved toward trial, on May 29 disputes about suppressing files seized from the accountant's office and documents obtained from Panama, Germany and elsewhere overseas came to the fore.
SDNY Judge Richard M. Berman asked whether the lawyer for initially lead defendant Ramses Owens, sitting on the side of his courtroom, even had the right to make arguments. Owens has not been arraigned or appeared in the case.

  From Panama, using J. Iandolo Law of 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, Owens is disputing the use of his mobile phone records obtained under the US - Panama Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty.

   Assistant US Attorney Eun Young Choi argued that some of the US' request for information from other governments are covered by diplomatic privilege. She said, however, that information from and about Germany will be made available to the defendants on June 7.

  Judge Berman set a motion schedule running into August. The lawyer for von der Goltz said he may file a motion to dismiss the wire fraud and money laundering counts claiming that no money ever move through wires. The case is USA v. Owens, et al., 18-cr-00693 (Berman).

                        Pearl, not 40 Foley, photo by Inner City Press

Inner City Press readers may remember that Patrick Ho was found not guilty on only one of the eight UN bribery charges against him in December 2018, Chad money laundering - because the money moved in a gift box, in cash, and not through wires. Watch this site.


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