A case study in a vertically integrated #MoneyLaundry
The Kingstons, the polygamists that Big Love toned down to make them believeable for TV. Also featuring Turkish and Russian costars.
Terminology note: when I refer to the established Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I use “LDS Church”. When I refer to members of that church, I use “LDS”. When I refer to the shared mythology group that includes LDS, LDS before 1890, fundamentalist FLDS, & other polygamist groups, I’ll use “Mormon” or “Mormondom.” For each individual splinter group, I’ll use their name.
Mormon:LDS::Christian:Protestant (or Catholic, or Baptist, or Jehovah’s Witness) LDS and LDS Chruch try very hard to deny that they share holy texts & mythology, but they’re all related, from the same foundation.
And yes, Mormons are Christians. Christianity doesn’t require Trinitarianism, it doesn’t define texts (there are text conflicts between Protestants, Catholics & Orthodox), or define ritual behaviors. Get people wet in Jesus’ name? You’re Christian.
You’ve probably heard of the FLDS, the group that is currently being dismantled after their prophet, Warren Jeffs, was convicted of child rape. Also money laundering. Welfare fraud. Labor law fuckery. But financially? FLDS were small. Flashy, no substance.
The financial power of the polygamous splinter groups is the Kingston Group, also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society. They’re a multigenerational polygamous family who started in the 1930s with a dairy farm, a potato-wheat farm and a small coal mine.
It can be hard to explain to people who didn’t grow up in the Mormon Corridor (a rectangle roughly from Idaho to Arizona, Continental Divide to Donner Pass in the US, with groups in Alberta and in Mexico) how pervasive Mormondom’s culture is.
It’s not just like saying Evangelicals are an influence on Georgia. Yeah, they’re AN influence. But they’re a lot of separate influences who move in the same direction. They’re more or less independent at the congregational level. They often disagree and switch congregations.
It’s the difference between being a queen in Westeros, and being THE Queen of Westeros.
Obedience and cheerful acquiescence are primary virtues for Mormondom, and while they discarded most Calvinism, they instill a strong work ethic, paired with a deep commitment to the survival of the community. They fall in line, more often than not.
Examples: In LDS practice, you’re assigned to a ward (local congregation) by your address. You attend that ward, even if you’d rather attend the ward you grew up in. No exceptions if you work night shifts and the ward near your job is a better fit. Your individual will shouldn’t matter.
Not even if you were assaulted by an elder or bullied by the head of the Relief Society (women’s group) or an older kid is abusing your younger one. (Exceptions can be granted by going WAY high up, but hard to get.) This is normal within the established LDS Church.
There are no professional clergy in any of Mormondom. Mormon Studies exist as a major at BYU, it’s far more historical than theological or ministerial, and it’s a not a route to the ministry or leadership. The leadership is all male. All functions are volunteer in the sense of “you have been volunteered”.
Refusing to take up a responsibility when the leadership says God told them you’re going to do it... is almost not done. And it means the next job you’re told to do will be worse. Pay 10% of your income or you don’t get access to rituals.
Everyone is both encouraged to pray for direct guidance from God, and receive prophecy, but the only prophecy comes through the established Prophet, who heads the Church. If you get a prophecy that contradicts the Prophet? Well, you’re wrong, or you start a schism. This is the established church.
The splinter groups turn these expectations of obedience to eleventy-twenty. But people don’t stick with ANYTHING if they’re not getting more out of it than they put in. That’s elementary human behavior, and emotional satisfaction is a strong motivator.
The specific emotional satisfactions common to Mormondom are built into Mormondom from infancy: a sense that they are a chosen, superior people; that only through their actions is salvation possible; that discontent or doubt is active defiance of God, and itself a sin. (Sure, a lot of Christendom uses a similar, unspoken formula, but it’s actively voiced in most of Mormondom.)
Oh, and they’re big on prosperity as a sign of God’s favor. Not exactly Prosperity Gospel, but preserving & growing capital within the community.
There’s always been a thread of internal communalism within Mormondom. Even before the mass migration in 1846-7, Mormons shared amongst themselves. For example: The Word of Wisdom, the doctrine that forbids tea, coffee, tobacco & booze.
You’ll rarely get a practicing LDS to admit this, because most don’t have much historical education, and they’ve been told all their lives that it was a voluntary rejection, not economic.
However, that doctrine was written in 1833, when the Mormons were trying to settle in Missouri. They didn’t have their own trade network established for material goods, and they didn’t have much money. Buying tea, coffee and tobacco deprived the community of cash, and gave money to hostile neighbors. The situation in Missouri was going bad; 20 Mormon men and boys were massacred 5 months later.
Also, Joseph Smith didn’t like tobacco smoke, and Emma Smith didn’t like cleaning spit off her floors. Which are both reasonable. However, skip ahead to the 1850s. Deseret built a distillery & brewery, because weak beer was safer than water, while whiskey had medicinal & surgical uses, plus trade value. And the discussion of that time frame makes it clear that even the Prophet, Brigham Young, found consumption to excess to be the problem, not having a beer.
You can apply this economic principle to a lot of Mormondom behavior. Early on in what’s now Utah, it was necessary. They had to be self-sufficient because there were no railroads yet and they were in the middle of nowhere.
There was some burning loathing, too.
Before the 1950s Red Scare, when Cleon Skousen grafted Birchers & Mormondom, the idea of collective action for better labor, better living conditions or to build a group service (like rural electric & telephone cooperatives) was normal in the US, and Mormondom. Thus, when the Kingstons established their cooperative, it was mostly family, but not exclusively. They were willing to bring in fellow travelers who were willing to work and share equally. It was the Depression. Cooperatives meant survival, especially for the excommunicated.
By 1950, and the transition from the founding prophet to the 2nd, the Kingstons had established their habits. They’d been excommunicated for 20 years, had built their own priesthood & their own prophecy, and mostly rejected the other two major polygamist groups.
They’d also started expanding their business portfolio, but like most businesses in the 1950s, they were primarily cash oriented. Which they exploited for tax avoidance. Because... there’s a thread of anarcho-capitalism that runs through Mormondom. (Loathing part!)
It’s not just in the schisms, though they’re the reservoir. Collectively, Mormondom has never forgotten that the state of Missouri let them be murdered en masse, then used the militia against them in 1838, & Illinois failed to protect Joseph Smith from the mob who murdered him in 1844.
(There’s another legacy of counterfeiting, which was common the Mississippi watershed during Bleeding Kansas era. Communities did use their printing presses to fuck over their neighbors, and yes, the early Mormons were doing it too, but that’s on the 1840s, not the Mormons.)
Mormondom remembers that the Federal government, as Martin Van Buren, would not protect the early Mormons’ rights to property and security. Those who went to what became Salt Lake City in 1847 intended to leave the United States forever. They did, in fact, leave.
They couldn’t know that the Mexican-American War would end in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which transferred a big whack of the American West to the United States.
But mostly? The US left the Deseret (Utah) Mormons alone until after the Civil War. The time and distance gave them space to evolve. They spend most of the 1850s having something that’s generously called a Reformation (and looks more like an Inquisition). They established their hierarchies, instituted white supremacy, and considered themselves a mostly separate Theocratic state.
The United States could not leave them alone on polygamy. In the 1830s, most states had laws against bigamy on the books, but the federal code did not, until 1862, when the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act outlawed it in federal territories, including Utah. Mormondom took it personally, as an attempt at genocide.
You can see the LDS reaction in the settlement patterns of the Mormon Corridor. There’s a good chance any Corridor town founded 1862-1880 was Mormon polygamist diaspora. That chance goes up the whiter the town is now, compared to the demographics of the rest of the state.
Mormons were trying to claim territory where they wouldn’t be bothered, could make a living, could practice what they believed was necessary for salvation. The more the Feds tried to outlaw it, the more defensive Mormondom became, even as fewer practiced polygamy. Further laws passed by Congress (Edmunds Act, 1882; Edmunds-Tucker, in 1890) were intended to eradicate polygamy, but instead turned it into civil disobedience & resistance.
Then came the 1890 Woodruff Manifesto. This document causes almost all Mormondom schisms.
The Manifesto banned the practice of polygamy in the established LDS church. Most members of the time mostly approved it. Most were not practicing polygamists. But it also looked like compromise to get Utah statehood, which was desperately needed.
For the previous 50 years, almost all major Mormon internal regulation came as prophecy, most of which are recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants (one of 3 sacred texts for Mormondom) or in Brigham Young’s preaching and writing. That’s how Mormondom was accustomed to seeing their self-regulation change.
The Manifesto was explicitly NOT a prophecy, but policy.
Polygamy went on the down low. People who were already in plural marriages maintained them with varying degrees of secrecy, but no future plural marriages were allowed.
Economically? 1890-1915 were incredibly bad years in the West. Silver panics, locusts, drought.
The LDS Church lost almost all of its property before the Manifesto – an early form of civil asset forfeiture. The intermountain West is HARD to farm. Water control alone has been a century of “oh shit” patching. Mining was always exploitative, and LDS did not treat non-LDS miners as equals. There were many strikes, and often riots.
But... by the 1920s, a little relative prosperity gave financial breathing room for a resurgence of polygamy, and the relative social approval of some forms of socialism & communal action allowed the first generation of post-Manifesto schisms to flourish.
Charles Kingston was never a practicing polygamist, but he came to believe in the principle of it. It got him excommunicated in 1929. At first, his wife Vesta thought he was cheating on her, but he convinced her, and their children. Their firstborn, Elden, was then 20 years old when his father was excommunicated. He was always in fragile health, and he was about to marry himself.
Elden became the Kingstons’ first prophet. He was a good organizer, and had a high degree of both emotional intelligence and general empathy, so what established had the the potential to be a kind, generally benign, rather welcoming splinter group that practiced group communalism, maybe even eventually group marriage. He died in 1948, with 5 wives, having established the early aspects of the cult: that all material wealth was held in common in the Cooperative Society; that clothes & food & shelter were identical and not worldly and shared equally. He was definitely a product of his time, of the Depression and World War II’s rationing.
One further Mormondom cultural quirk: Mormondom generally considers the US Constitution & Bill of Rights as nearly holy documents, inspired by God. But the further amendments? Not so much. The Will of the People doesn’t apply to taxation & universal suffrage.
Now, back to the 1950s. We’ve got a mostly cash economy which enabled a large degree of tax evasion, the early Red Scare, Cleon Skousen and the Birchers of Doom, and the disastrous 1953 Short Creek raid, which tried (and failed) to enforce anti-bigamy laws.
Up on the north side of Salt Lake City, the Davis County Cooperative Society was well into the third generation, and this is where it gets hinky. Their 2nd prophet decided they had a special bloodline that needed to be cultivated, and started using his cattle breeding techniques on his own family. Also brainwashing. What’s better than a crime family? A crime family incest cult.
1930s-60s Kingston men and boys wore self-made coveralls without pockets, no shoes or hats. Women wore identical blue dresses without pockets. Religiously? Because nothing in this world was worth keeping. But behaviorally? It’s hard to walk away without shoes. No pockets? Makes it hard to squirrel away escape money.
Keeping marriages between cousins kept the capital in the family. They stopped bringing in outsiders. Nobody in the family got paid, so they couldn’t easily leave anyway. Without labor expenses, the businesses were and are nearly all profit, which they turn back into more wealth.
(This is that point about Mormondom’s behavioral controls: they’re always framed as religious and virtuous, but they’re always in the financial interest of the organization.)
Like much of Mormondom, the Kingstons, even at this time, were not interested in evidence-based medicine. To be fair, mid-century medicine didn’t have a lot to offer, other than antibiotics and some vaccinations, and could often be harsh and feel futile. Further, there’s a religious belief that there’s a plant for every condition, but avoiding doctors also works as community control: if you don’t take people to the hospital, nobody notices how many babies, or who is sick.
They did keep their children in public schools, but that was a fairly easy dodge back then. Mothers were almost exclusively active in their children’s school, and it’s easy enough to say their fathers were at work. The Kingstons now use the charter/private school Not For Profit foundation scam, which is a convenient adjunct to money laundering.
A commonality in crime families, regardless of location or culture, is a preference for cash businesses as the primary income. Cash used to be far easier to use for most transactions – even up to real estate. (The Kingstons also have mining claims, which could plausibly turn up gold.)
But the dodge couldn’t last forever. The IRS got smarter, so did the Department of Justice and the State of Utah. It eventually became impossible to buy any real estate for literal cash, and most vehicles. The Kingstons had to start issuing W-2s and using SSNs.
Which meant the Kingstons needed some verticality. Just because they were technically paying salaries doesn’t mean anyone got money. They turned their paychecks over to the cooperative or church, got scrip they could spend at family businesses, the money stayed inside.
Following is a partial list of known Kingston Group businesses, sorted by primary function. Remember that they’ve had almost a century of keeping all of their capital in the family, and keeping everything in the family is not only good criminal sense, it’s a religious duty.
(Thanks to Amy K Osmond, who wrote her dissertation on the organizational structure of the Kingstons https://collections.lib.utah.edu/dl_files/7b/ad/7bad8b47ae9de48b984099deda07cd54d0ab867f.pdf
This is TIGHT vertical integration of money laundering. The point is to under-report the cash income at level 1 so L1 businesses barely break even. What the L1s must buy comes from & through level 2 businesses (which puts that money into laundry). L2s also barely break even.
The excess cash from the L1s gets used for local petty cash expenses (food, clothing, fuel) or turned into cash resale items (everything from eBay clearance arbitrage to flea markets) or just stashed. This is where the church is useful: collection plate deposits.
L2s contract their services with each other and the L1 & L3s. This produces the churn that cleans the money to be used at L3. The point is to minimize the tax burden at all levels, and zero out as much profit as possible with accounting, while making the untaxed, cash income as available as possible.
There is loss in the system, but less than in most laundry operations. The risk, though, is that everything’s integrated. One thing breaks or gets busted? It can bring the whole system down.
Level 1 (L1) The high cash businesses where the laundry starts and where money comes in from the outside Vending machines Advance Vending Mountain Coin Machine Distribution Premier Vending Best Distributing Amusement Games A&E Amusement
Bail & Pawn Bail Bond Specialists Shoppers Pawn Shop Sportsmans Pawn Shop Sportsmans Bail Bond Specialists Sportsmans Fast Cash AAA Sportsmans Bail Bonds Information Recovery A+ Sportsman’s Bail Bonds
Gyms Fountain of Youth Health & Athletic Club Perpetual Youth Inc Retail East Side Market Family Stores Tru Value Shoppers Boot Corral Standard Restaurant Supply/International Gourmet Michael’s Shoe Repair & Men’s Stores The Car Store Sales & Leasing (also mid-level) Mountain Gold Entertainment Lake Elsinore Casino/Card House
Service providers (Level 2 / L2) The L1s contract with L2 service providers. On paper? It all looks like business as usual. For example: Make fictitious records of extra garbage runs. They look like real ones, but the money spent & received in those records is clean.
AAA Security A-1 Disposal Gabriel Construction Spiffy Ice Able Distributing CTC Trucking Associated Trucking Kingston Trucking Club 48 Managment American Federal Corp Kingston Produce (Pineapple, Potatoes & Onions) (also a 1 since they sell legit vegetables & 3, as real estate)
L3 Laundry (Finance, Investment, Real Estate) Takes funds from levels 1-2, invests in transferable property, lends at interest, buys & maintains property for rental income. These are the stores of wealth & the final cleaning. When you rent/sell a house bought with fraudulent funds, you get clean money back.
Arrow Real Estate Kearns Property CO Fidelity Funding/Fidelity Factoring (not THE Fidelity. This is a pawn shop/payday loan for business clients) El Cid Financial Kingston Investments Bear Mining Company COB/COP Coal Development CW Mining Company A-Fab Engineering Co-op Mining Company Hiawatha Coal HK Engineering
Not For Profits – can take cash from any level without reporting it; can spend at any level with minimal oversight. Latter Day Church of Christ Ensign Academy Little Red House Montessori
And AT LEAST 60 more businesses, LLCs and DBAs that are far more opaque. Consulting, Enterprises, anonymous corps and LLCs. The Kingstons are known to control at LEAST $300 Million, but twice? Thrice? Easily possible. Some estimates say $10B.
Yes, they own a casino, too. It’s a small one, and that’s one of their better geniuses: they’re not ostentatious. Casual and semi-pro poker players aren’t enthusiastic about their card rooms, but being rude to the casual rubes while maintaining a good invitation-only back room is great camouflage.
This organizational infrastructure is interesting right now because when a crime family is doing laundry for itself, it’s also worth doing some other laundry. They have the infrastructure built, after all. If they can pull 25-40% off someone else’s money, that’s just more for them.
The Kingstons launder via loans. (Which is what got them in trouble this time.) They lend some of their money through the pawn shops or the Fidelity short term business loan shop. This is a double laundry, since it can clean their own money & other people’s.
This was a Manafort dodge, remember: he’d buy a property with illicit funds from an off-shore account, then get a mortgage on the property from a US bank so he had the cash.
Recall: money laundering always LOSES money; it’s the opposite of actual good business.
But it’s not possible to launder all the money, because then they’d just be legit. So they sometimes get stuck with $5M in gold sitting in a closet, which someone steals and someone else kills to get back... little problems like that. Yep, happened. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/inside-the-order-one-mormon-cults-secret-empire-244969/
The Kingstons have been under scrutiny before. Usually for child abuse and neglect, and because of incestuous intermarriage/rape. But also for financial malfeasance, welfare fraud and tax evasion. https://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/news/ci_4540197
The Kingstons, unlike the FLDS, abandoned their distinctive clothing a couple generations ago, and they blend in. Big Love (HBO series) used some known aspects of the Kingstons as their model. Though they had to tone it down, because fiction requires plausibility. https://www.sltrib.com/news/polygamy/2018/08/04/girls-polygamous-kingston/
But like most of the polygamous groups, living well is for the Prophet and his favorites. Many women and children live in crowded, poorly maintained houses, scrounging for sufficient work and food and clothing. It prompts a few neglect complaints, but not enough.
Some boys are discarded, though the advantage of the Kingstons’ extremely diverse internal economy is they usually need labor, and they can keep dangling the hope of an aunt-cousin marriage while the boys are too naïve to call bullshit.
The boys who are cast off from the Kingstons are usually a lot closer to SLC, and thus jobs, than the FLDS boys, who got dropped in the high desert to hitchhike out on I-40 or I-15. If you have to be kicked out of your cult...
Let me be clear: this is multigenerational abuse. There is no consent possible because these children are raised without the idea that another way of life is possible. The best possible end is the one playing out now, where the Feds confiscate the wealth, leaving no reason to stay.
Three years ago, some Kingston businesses were raided. It looks like they may have been tipped off, because there were a lot of missing & blank hard drives. Former employees who would talk to the media (and the Feds) provided documents and context. https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/09/10/strange-winding-fraud/
Last year, the first indictments from that raid came down: Isaiah and Jacob, sons of the current Prophet, John Daniel. They’re the CFO and CEO of Washakie Renewable Energy. (WRE). Which has looked like a Utah success story... https://www.standard.net/police-fire/washakie-ceo-kingston-offers-to-put-up-m-to-ensure/article_1472a88d-f5ea-59ad-beaa-0a96b4c24db1.html
WRE claimed to produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel per month from waste oil. They absolutely did spend money on facilities, and a PR budget, and a lot of positive media. They made it all look really, really good. https://www.standard.net/news/business/government-moves-to-seize-washakie-renewable-energy-plant-kingston-land/article_01e29553-9137-5cc4-9f00-1cbf2298a7ce.html
Biodiesel is not quite fully profitable yet, but we need to grow the infrastructure, so there’s a federal $1/gal tax credit for biofuel producers. And we’ve got cult members who believe Bleeding the Beast (aka tax fraud & evasion) is a religious duty. https://kutv.com/news/local/inside-the-kingston-kingdom-former-employee-reveals-clans-secrets
There’s a good chance that WRE can’t produce anywhere near the capacity they claim. They may not be producing ANY B99 at all. But there were tax credits! The Kingstons bought biodiesel from others, claimed it as their own, filed for the credits.
$511 Million worth of tax credits. They’d loop those same gallons through shells 5-6 times, claiming the credit every time. It’s an amazing scam. The Kingstons claim they’re totally innocent. This is a conspiracy against them. Mom & a wife are up on forgery charges, too. https://www.sltrib.com/news/2019/01/22/wife-mother-latest-be/
They will moan and whine about how they were honest, just trying to make a better fuel, and didn’t mean harm! And oh, I have cancer but no actual diagnosis because I don’t go to doctors. You gotta let me out Where I’m gonna run as fast as I can to Turkey, where I’ve stashed $950M. https://www.standard.net/police-fire/washakie-ceo-kingston-offers-to-put-up-m-to-ensure/article_1472a88d-f5ea-59ad-beaa-0a96b4c24db1.html
That’s where this gets complicated. (Oh, just now??) The Kingstons launder via loans. Some of the tax credit scam money got loaned to a Russian/SoCal real estate investor & fuel company guy named Lev Aslan Dermen (AKA Levon Termendzhyan. I’ll call him Lev.) https://www.propublica.org/article/robert-mueller-subpoenas-associate-man-hired-michael-flynn-lobbyist
Jacob Kingston & Lev have been in bed as SBK Holdings USA since 2013 when they established it. SBK Holdings is associated with SBK Holding in Turkey, which is run by Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, and it’s mostly Russian energy sector money. Awkward, what with sanctions and all. (credit to Louise Neufeld in this medium thread: https://medium.com/@ninaandtito/a-511m-fuel-tax-credit-fraud-indictment-in-utah-connects-a-polygamous-mormon-cult-to-mike-flynn-402e1f7a0fb5 )
(The Turkish SBK Holding is not apparently associated with the UAE SBK Holdings, which is primarily the personal property of the Sultan bin Kafayiah, though it too appears to have significant shenanigans... and theft... to their credit. And also Real Estate.)
Korkmaz is besties and biz-besties with Ekim Alptekin... who hired Michael Flynn to be the lobbyist for Turkey. It’s true: the energy sector is a small town, but a small town that includes a tightly integrated vertical money laundering operation run by polygamist cultists? https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/10/22/polygamous-sect-members/
Somehow I don’t think this was coincidence at all. Because the money laundry had mob ties in the 80s, when they were providing coin op machines to the mob. These ties stick and get passed down. The Kingstons were reliable with their criminal & political partners. Noting here that the Rocky Mountain News produced excellent jouralism, but their archives only exist as reprints. The article is a reprint from RMN. https://culteducation.com/group/1099-polygamist-groups/16619-polygamy-and-profit.html
The Kingstons with checkbooks (which is only the upper 1%) all maxed out their political donations to the Utah GOP & Utah GOP candidates for years. Yes, Mitt always took a big donation. So did Mia Love. And Hatch. And Chaffetz. But a large single donation usually means there was more money going to SuperPACs and other dark money instruments. That’s the Post-Citizens United World.
Also, likely the governors, Attorney Generals, and local officials. Those donations are harder to find and trace because Utah’s campaign finance system is less than sufficiently transparent, but this stuff is pretty obvious. Kingstons have been allowed to get away with this, because campaign cash is an easy way to get regulators to look elsewhere.
In 2017, Lev’s former partner & legal counsel for SBK Holdings USA said that LEV had been indicted for money laundering & tax evasion & stolen petroleum. /shocked face... but it gets even more interesting, because Lev’s got another legal case on his ass. https://therealdeal.com/la/2017/10/05/beverly-hills-real-estate-attorney-hit-with-lawsuit-as-drama-engulfs-his-former-company/
Last summer, an ICE agent was convicted of one count of human trafficking, specifically of smuggling a Mexican national into the United States. The person he smuggled turned state’s evidence against the ICE agent, who turned on the guy bribing him to smuggle people. https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/federal-law-enforcement-agent-convicted-criminal-charges-related-helping-mexican
The Confidential Source was a petroleum industry worker who had blown his green card due to felony convictions. Somehow I doubt this was the first time the ICE agent bent rules. Because...
See, SBK/Noil Energy (both are Lev) sponsored this lovely event for Hispanic Cops. This is the politest possible form of bribery. http://hapcoa.org/templates/files/hapcoa-2016-aguila-awards-press-release-2.docx
(WRE and the Kingstons do it, too — they’ve been all over Salt Lake City cultural & charity events for the past 5 years. Until this little arrest problem...)
And also, there are planes. Specifically, a low cost Turkish regional airline, Borajet. Which is apparently where at least some of the $950M that the Kingstons are supposed to have in Turkey went. And also more than a couple private jets. http://lawzilla.com/blog/sbk-holdings-usa-inc-vs-edgar-sargsyan/
And that matters, because about 7 years ago, before the Iran deal, there was a sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of gold going into Dubai from Turkey. Reuters noticed it. There was even a Gold Bank, backed by the UAE sultan (the OTHER SBK). Which failed. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-emirates-iran-gold-idUSBRE89M0SW20121023
The minority shareholders noticed an irregularity, then suddenly the majority holders were unavailable, and the gold (and the investments) all went... somewhere. (But the majority shareholders were the Sheikh? Shh.)
But there was still a lot of gold moving from Turkey to Dubai... And then where? Iran is a good possibility. But it’s the Middle East, and in 2012-2015? It could be anyone in the region, including Russia and Ukraine.
Remember the Kingstons’ known businesses? They mostly mine coal, but they have gold claims. (The Wasatch Range aren’t really gold/silver mountains, but there’s some.) And they have pawnshops. And retail gold establishments.
That anarcho-capitalist strain in Mormondom means that there are a lot of gold-bugs in the intermountain west. They’re not big on jewelry, because excessive jewelery immodest for women and Mormon men limit themselves to a wedding ring and a tie clip. They don’t much go for coins, either, because governments issue those. But ingots? Gold-bugs like LEGO bricks of gold.
But there is a lot of gold in the area, and it comes into pawn shops. The Kingstons have sufficient cash on hand to go buy from other pawn brokers. The retail end of any money laundry requires B2B cash exchanges.
It’s not something they mention often in PawnStarsWars reality shows, but pawn shops have cash flow issues, too. They don’t tend to borrow from local competitors, but it’s completely reasonable for someone in Denver to network with people in Santa Fe and Salt Lake City.
This is just... basic business. Close enough to be allies, far enough away that they’re not competition. If everyone knows that there’s the one guy in SLC who will always buy gold (though at a discount), that knowledge will get used. When Santa Fe has an excess of second thought engagement rings, SLC will buy.
SLC doesn’t have labor costs, so breaking down jewelry into stones and metals is also No Big Deal. The Kingstons have just enough metals mining production – at least production they claim on paper – to justify a small smelter. They can crank out ingots as long as they can recycle, and there’s so much jewelry.
Then it’s just a matter of getting the gold and the stones out of the country. Minor logistics, actually, once you’ve got the connections and cover. Sell the junk stones on eBay. Put the good stuff in a bag, in a big Suburban full of kids. Take the kids to the beach, hand off the bag. It’s on a private jet leaving Orange County by sunset.
Because the one laundry service the Kingstons can provide that almost no other crime family has? They’re ostentatiously white Americans.
Their wives and daughters are usually petite blondes who don’t look out of place going shopping in Las Vegas or LA, racking up tens of thousands at Prada, Hermès, or Louboutin. Even if they’re paying in cash. Shopping is also a form of Laundry, since there’s the secondary market, and that shopping gets luxury goods into places where sanctions forbid it. White women can get away with things that would make a clerk call the cops on someone brown.
Kingston men look like respectable Mormon men. They wear polos and dockers, and sometimes a nice, but by no means excessive suit. They’re sober, they don’t even swear. Hell, they don’t even speed, even when driving a Bugatti.
It’s their camouflage. It’s how they’ve gotten away with not paying taxes for decades, and with abusing their children, and incest, and not paying their own family.
It’s why nobody questioned that a single biodiesel site was outperforming everyone else in the country.
At least, not often enough. This time? The upper part of the family is likely going to federal prison for a long time. They’ve lost most of their Congressional protection: Love is gone, Chaffetz is gone, Hatch is gone. Mitt doesn’t need them – he’s got his own scams.
I doubt Jacob & Isaiah & Sally & Rachel will trust the second string members of the family with the account codes and passphrases, at least not while they think they can play innocent. After conviction? Well... There’s gonna be a lot of civil asset forfeiture.
And just as Gold Bank suddenly lost the deposits of its minority shareholders, I think there’s a good chance that anyone in Turkey or UAE or Cyprus will have no idea about Kingston family money.
Never heard of it. Oh, weren’t they on a reality show? Who? No idea.
While Warren Jeffs went to prison for rape & sexual assault, what’s keeping him there, and many of the other upper FLDS, are the financial crimes – stealing from the school district, child labor, real estate fraud.
That will break the Kingstons, too. /end