Artist, Rapper or Criminal? The enigmatic and often controversial figure known as Gio Basha has just been fined $10 million by the SEC (securities and exchange commission) and this isn’t his first run-in with the law. In 2011 Basha was being investigated by the FBI and the DOJ for money laundering with his uncle, Albanian politician “Alqi Bllako”. It would seem that diplomatic immunity played a part in that investigation being dropped, however Basha’s bank accounts were frozen and his assets were seized.
In 2021 Basha reportedly made over $15 million in the private art industry but he was quickly put under investigation again for money laundering and this time Basha’s private equity firm was subsequently fined $3 million by the SEC for failing to implement and enforce compliance policies and procedures to prevent the misuse of material, nonpublic information. It was suspected that Basha only sold artwork to wealthy Albanian mobsters and international drug traffickers according to an ICC report.
An investigation showed that, unlike selling stock or making routine bank transfers, private art sales through auction houses are not subject to anti-money laundering provisions in the Bank Secrecy Act. Basha was able to exploit this loophole because when art is sold, sellers are not required to confirm the identity of the buyer nor to make sure the artwork isn’t being used to launder dirty money. Fast forward to last month, when a raid on a mansion in Italy, belonging to a reputed Sicilian mob boss, led the FBI right back to Gio Basha.
According to an Italian AISE report, Basha acted as a middleman in over 300 private art deals, using a system called shadow banking, he was able to launder millions for corrupt politicians and Russian oligarchs alike. Enter Gio Basha the musician, a gangster rapper who would like to be known more for his music persona, rather than his ongoing legal battles and SEC fines. Still, some have called Gio Basha a genius in the art-world and fans of his music follow him like a cult. Though it’s probably not smart to be connected to organized crime whilst rapping about it— as we have seen in recent RICO cases involving rappers like Young Thug and Casanova.