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Money Laundering Schemes and Tax Evasion in NGOs

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a vital role in addressing social issues and championing noble causes. However, like any other sector, NGOs are not immune to illicit activities such as money laundering and tax evasion. While the majority of NGOs operate transparently and ethically, a small percentage engages in activities that raise concerns about their integrity.

The investigative team of Aisland News worked on the history of climatechangenews.com, the website used from the fake journalist Mr. Matteo Civillini.
The result is really surprising and here is the full report with the evidences….

Climate Home News Ltd is the company owning climatechangenews.com. The only shareholder is Mr. James Ramsey (Linkedin) who owns also other companies:

  • Climate Change TV
  • RTCC – Responding to Climate Change Limited (NGO he writes)
  • Climate Change News Ltd
    quite a serial entrepreneur…

3 companies have 1 GBP for capital and 1 is “over-capitalised” with 100 GBP, basically empty shell companies. Here an example from the evidences file:

The total turnover is 0 (Zero), yes zero (one is NGO by the way).
The total operative costs reported in the financial statements are about 2000 GBP.
The magic trick is built by loans to the companies from an unknown lender for >750,000 GPB in 1 year and Mr. James Ramsey borrowing the same amount from the companies.
Every year the debts of Mr. Ramsey are written off and the game starts again.
In this way Mr. Ramsey avoid taxes on sales, avoid to pay taxes on the company earning and avoid to pay taxes on the personal profits. This fraudulent schema is going on from the year 2016.
Our expert auditor explained that this is a very common schema for money laundering and tax evasion using one NGO and regular companies as actors.

Mr. Ramsey was using multiple shell companies to stay under the radar of the tax authority, but the fake journalist placed him in the spot lights.
It’s not finished yet, climatechangenews.com shows a big team of reporters:
Matteo Civillini on top followed by Megan Darby, Adam Wentworth, Joe Lo, Mariel Lozada and Sebastian Rodriguez. The filing of the companies declare only 2 persons and no official payments for anybody.
The team members have been paid with the black money that Mr. Ramsey is pulling out of the companies as personal loan. Technically the members of the team may be considered associated in the crimes, taking advantage of the money laundering and tax evasion schema. The Tax authority of UK is very clear, employees shall pay the taxes on their wages if their company does not honour such obligation. This is a big trouble for every component of team and most probably some good taxpayer will send a report to HRMC after reading this article.

Mr. Ramsey wrote on his profile: “Running and managing the world’s leading source of climate change news. Original investigative news stories every day with more than one million unique visitors per year.” It’s an unrealistic because the interaction on their facebook page with 19K user reveals interactions that you have with ± 200 users. It’s easy to buy fake users, and also easy to spot that they are fakes.
The public web ranking, reports their website to the 366,786 position in UK. It’s very low, many personal blogs have a better ranking.

Climatechangesnews.com shows proudly a badge as winner of The Drum Award 2022.

We have not been able to find their name between the winners and they did not respond to our enquiries. By the way, the Drum Awards is for marketing and public relations, not for journalism or website specialist like they claim in an old press release of 2018.

The address of the companies is the same and seems a fake: SUITE A JAMES CARTER ROAD,MILDENHALL BURY ST. EDMUNDS. Google maps takes you in a remote place plenty of warehouses:

Impossibile to find their headquarter, the only possibility is that it’s the green trash bin at the right side 🙂

update 2023-12-03
– On the website they show the address of the accounting firm, the registered company address can be found querying the company house.
– the page of the donors reports also RTCC, the NGO of Mr. Ramsey, so he is making donations from the NGO to his own company, these guys are amazing 🙂

You can download the zip file with the full set of evidences used in our investigation.

The most common money laundering schemas for NGOs are:

1. Shell NGOs:

   One prevalent money laundering scheme involves the creation of shell NGOs. These organizations appear legitimate but serve as a front for illegal financial activities. Funds are channeled through these NGOs, making it challenging for authorities to trace the origin and destination of the money. Establishing a network of shell NGOs can further complicate the investigation process.

2. Misuse of Charitable Funds:

   Some unscrupulous NGOs misappropriate charitable donations for personal gain or to finance other illegal activities. This can involve creating fictitious projects or inflating the costs of legitimate projects, with the excess funds finding their way into private accounts.

3. Complex Transactions:

   Money launderers within NGOs may engage in complex financial transactions, such as layering funds through various accounts and countries to obscure the money trail. These convoluted transactions aim to confuse authorities and make it difficult to follow the illicit funds.

Tax Evasion Practices:

1. False Reporting:

   NGOs may engage in tax evasion by submitting inaccurate financial reports. This can include understating income, overstating expenses, or hiding the true nature of financial transactions. Such practices enable NGOs to reduce their taxable income and, consequently, the amount owed in taxes.

2. Offshore Accounts:

   Establishing offshore accounts is a common tactic used by both individuals and organizations to evade taxes. Some NGOs exploit this strategy by funneling funds through tax havens, where they can benefit from lenient tax regulations and reduced scrutiny.

3. Inflated Administrative Costs:

   Tax evasion can also occur through the manipulation of administrative costs. By inflating these expenses, NGOs can reduce their taxable income. This deceptive practice allows organizations to divert funds for personal gain while appearing to operate within the bounds of the law.

While the majority of NGOs operate with integrity and a genuine commitment to positive social change, it is essential to remain vigilant against the minority that engages in money laundering and tax evasion. By implementing robust oversight mechanisms, fostering transparency, and promoting international collaboration, stakeholders can work together to ensure that NGOs continue to be a force for good in addressing global challenges.


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