Igor Korzuv and the Estonian crypto license factory Private Finance

The 27-year-old Estonian Igor Korzuv is a busy man. He is currently a board member in five crypto payment processors. His appointments are likely to have less to do with his experience as a financial manager or crypto professional than with the fact that he works for the Estonian company builder Private Finance. Apparently, the Estonian FIU as the competent regulatory authority has no problem with this approach. And has no problem that some of these companies are involved in scams.

Crypto licenses for scammers

Cybercriminals know that Estonia is an excellent country for opening an “EU licensed” crypto payment processor. Since 2017 these licenses are offered by lawyers, consulting firms, and company builders. About 3000 have been issued so far (read our report here). The necessary companies, trustees, and managers such as Igor Korzuv are also provided. As obvious as in the case of Private Finance (www.prifinance.com) it is not always but it is generally known that you can buy a license for a few thousand Euros.

Igor Korzuv – a case in point

In the case of Igor Korzuv (LinkedIn profile), the consequences of the lack of supervision by the responsible FIU become apparent. Despite his hardly available experience in the finance sector, he is a board member in the five licensed crypto finance institutions:

His appointments were all made between 10 and 28 July 2020 in his capacity as manager of the Estonian company builder Private Finance (www.prifinance.com) he joined in May 2020. Before that he was serving in the Estonian Defense Force which is honorable but would not provide him with the qualification needed to run a regulated financial institution, would it?

Clear Transfer Technologies OÜ is involved in the broker scam Trade99. The financial market regulators in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand have warned against the Trade99 scam and the Estonian operators months before Igor Korzuv joined them (read our report here). The Private Finance team should have learned about the scam activities of their clients in their KYC checks. Apparently, however, they and the FIU are unimpressed by this.

The fact is that a director of a company is liable under civil and criminal law for the illegal activities of his company. Anyway, Igor Korzuv and his employer Private Finance know the scammers behind ClearTransfer and Trade99 and the other scams. It would be expected that they would file a criminal complaint with the FIU in Estonia. Otherwise, they are to be qualified as co-conspirators.

The Estonian approach

Korzuv is not the only one of his kind. There are other Estonian agents such as Kadri Mätlik (47), Merle Paju (26), or Pille Kobin (46) who work in as front men in many licensed companies that in turn work for cybercrime organizations. This is apparently a common practice in Estonia and accepted by the regulator FIU.

It would probably not be possible in any other EU country except perhaps Cyprus for a 27-year-old to be a director of five regulated financial services providers. The personal requirements for directors of licensed financial service providers must demonstrate experience, competence, reliability, and suitability for the job. How can this be the case for a 27-year-old without significant work experience working in five licensed companies? Not at all, right? The supervision of Estonian crypto payment processors by the FIU is a mockery of the entire EU.

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