A Russian bank owned by former North Carolina Congressman Charles Taylor has been accused of money laundering and lost its license, according to Bloomberg News.
The Commercial Bank of Ivanovo “failed on multiple occasions to comply with Bank of Russia regulations” on money laundering “of criminally obtained incomes and the financing of terrorism,” the Bank of Russia said in a press release.
The bank lied about its assets and reserves, the central bank said, “in order to improve its financial indicators and conceal its actual financial standing.” The bank also artificially inflated its capital to make it look like it was in line with Russian regulations, the press release said.
The central bank said most of CBI’s business involved corporate and individual loans, but 70% were “low-quality loans.”
The Bank of Russia said it will forward its findings “bearing signs of a criminal offence to law enforcement agencies.”
Charles Taylor owns 80% of the bank, according to Bloomberg
Taylor, a Republican, represented the 11th District of North Carolina in the House of Representatives from 1991 to 2007.
“In a brief statement, CBI confirmed the loss of its license and directed deposit-holders to a government-run deposit insurance scheme. It didn’t comment on the accusations made by the central bank. Taylor could not immediately be reached for comment,” according to the Associated Press.
The Russian central bank appointed an administrator to take over CBI’s operations.
The AP reports, “Taylor bought CBI in 2003 alongside his business partner Boris Bolshakov, a former KGB agent and Supreme Soviet deputy who is listed as the bank’s second-largest shareholder.”
That same year, two people tied to Taylor testified that he “knew about fraudulent loans made by Asheville-based Blue Ridge Savings Bank, which he owned at the time, to a political supporter,” according to the AP. The then-congressman said at the time he did not know anything about the loans.
Those two former political associates in 2005 were sentenced by a judge in Asheville to probation but no jail time in the fraudulent loan scheme, the Hendersonville Times-News reported at the time.
Taylor’s Russian bank was based in Ivanovo, northeast of Moscow.
Bloomberg reports that as a congressman, Taylor “created exchange programs and internships for Russian students during Russia’s transition from Communism.”
“When Democrat Heath Shuler defeated Taylor in the 2006 election, his campaign said Taylor’s Russian ties were a distraction from working for North Carolina voters,” according to the AP.
North Carolina’s 11th District includes most of Western North Carolina.
Rolling Stone magazine highlighted the 2006 race between Taylor and Shuler, a former quarterback with the National Football League. “Taylor built much of his fortune while serving in Congress, partnering with a former KGB general to form the first American bank in post-Soviet Russia,” Rolling Stone said at the time.