Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Clarification. Kosher Nostra article

WMR ran the article titled: "North Jersey: epicenter of "Kosher Nostra" and Mossad activity" on July 27, 2009. The following paragraph represents a correction [bold segment] to the original report about the disposition of the criminal case brought against Ted Maher, a former US Green Beret, in the 1999 death of banker Edmond Safra in Monaco:

"Another prominent Syrian Jew was Edmond Safra who founded Banco Safra in Brazil in 1955. The Beirut-based Safra family had long served as important bankers for the Ottoman Empire. Safra eventually became a billionaire banking and investment tycoon. Safra founded the Republic National Bank in New York in 1966. In 1999, Safra was killed in an arson attack on his Monte Carlo home. Safra's U.S.-born nurse, Ted Maher, a former U.S. Army Green Beret, was arrested and charged with starting the fire, convicted and released after serving a prison sentence. Safra's killer or killers still remain at large. Safra's security chief, Shmuile Cohen, had recruited a number of Israeli military special forces personnel to guard Safra, but Shmule and the guards were given the night off by Safra's wife. Before his death, Safra was negotiating the sale of Republic Bank to HSBC. Safra was also cooperating with the FBI in its probe of the use of U.S. banks by the Russian-Israeli mafia to launder billions of dollars. There is speculation that Safra was murdered by the Russian-Israeli mob to keep him from divulging more details of their operations to the FBI."

In our initial report, we indicated that Maher's conviction was later overturned. The Safra Foundation publicist correctly stated the following in an email (as far as only the Maher matter is concerned):

"The information about Mr. Safra’s nurse, Ted Maher, is misleading. In fact, Mr. Maher was arrested under suspicion of starting the fire in which Mr. Safra died and was convicted of the crime in 2002 by the Monaco court. Ted Maher’s conviction was not 'overturned'. The court found him guilty and sentenced him to a prison term, which was served. There has been no further court inquiry into this case, let alone an 'overturning” of it.'"

Our clarification and correction has been sent to the publicist for the Edmond J. Safra
Foundation in France.

However, WMR currently stands by the remainder of the information contained in the relevant paragraph and the following was sent to the Safra Foundation's publicist:

"However, there are enough media reports since the time of Mr. Safra's death to strongly indicate there is much more to the story than Maher's confession. For example, the following from the NY Daily News, Dec 4 02: 'The lawsuit, filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court by Torrente's children, Jason, 30, and Genevieve, 23, charges that Safra, 67, 'restrained' [Viviane] Torrente [their mother and Safra's nurse] and 'prevented her escape' from the bathroom where they suffocated.'

As for Maher being a sole perpetrator, that is not what the Monaco police reported to Mr. Safra's own security chief. From AFP on November 26, 2002: 'The security chief of billionaire banker Edmond Safra was handcuffed by police as he tried to get into the penthouse apartment where his boss was suffocating to death, a court trying Safra's American nurse on arson charges was told Tuesday. Samuel Cohen told the court in the exclusive Mediterranean principality of Monaco that he was called to Safra's building at 5.00 a.m. on December 3 1999, but when he demanded to be allowed to up the burning apartment to find a way in -- arguing that he alone knew the security arrangements -- he was stopped by police. 'They told me that there were assailants there. I kept insisting, and it went on for 30 minutes,' Cohensaid, before describing how when he finally made it to the fifth floor he was overpowered and handcuffed.' It is noteworthy that Cohen said the police said there 'were assailants [plural]' in Safra's Monaco apartment. That would indicate that if Maher was guilty as charged, he may have had at least one accomplice.

And AFP ran this on Dec, 4 1999: 'Safra normally surrounded himself with bodyguards in his heavily protected Monaco penthouse, but this was not the case on the night of the attack.' That conflicts with your statement: 'There were never any security guards of any kind guarding the apartment in Monaco - neither that night nor any other night.' Has AFP retracted?

It is well documented that Mr Safra was cooperating with the FBI in an investigation of Russian Jewish mafia involvement with his competitor, the Bank of New York (BONY). Feb 7 2000 Times of London: 'In the days after his death rumours abounded that his killers were the Russian mafia, incensed by Safra's co-operation with the FBI,which was investigating mafia money-laundering through Safra's New York-based Republic National Bank. . . Safra's fear was well-founded. He had, in effect, signed his own death warrant five years ago, when Republic National Bank first alerted the FBI to a Pounds 6 billion money-laundering racket: the Russian mafia was thought to have been transferring cash from offshore bank accounts into dollar accounts at Safra's bank. And when, last October, Safra froze the bank accounts of most of his Russian clients in preparation for selling his bank to HSBC, scores of Russians lost everything. One Russian businessman suspected of mafia links has told friends that Safra's actions cost him $ 30 million.'

Based on the other available information, I see no need to change any other part of the paragraph in question unless there is some further documentation that shows the Monaco police were incorrect in their initial assessment of the situation and that the FBI was not investigating Russian Jewish money laundering through Republic National Bank and related activity at BONY. You'll note that no where in the article is it stated that Mr Safra had 'dealings' with the Mafia and to the contrary it specifically states: 'Safra was also cooperating with the FBI in its probe of the use of U.S. banks by the Russian-Israeli mafia to launder billions of dollars.' The statement does not assert that Mr. Safra was any subject himself of an FBI investigation but was cooperating in an investigation of the use of banks by the Russian-Israeli mob for money laundering."