13th January 2018
17 NATIONS VOW TO TACKLE OIL SMUGGLING TO NORTH KOREA
Japan-based NHK World on 13th January reported that Japan, the US, South Korea and 14 other countries have pledged thorough crackdowns on ships suspected to be involved in the smuggling of refined oil to North Korea. The countries involved in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, released a joint statement on 12th January. The framework is intended to tackle the threat posed by proliferation of WMD.
ARMS SALES TO “REPRESSIVE” STATES INCREASED SINCE BREXIT VOTE
I News on 12th January reported that the UK had “dramatically increased” the value of weaponry and defence equipment it sells to the world’s most repressive regimes since vows by senior ministers to expand arms exports after the Brexit vote, with export licences worth £2.9billion in the 12 months after June 2016 to 35 countries considered “not free” by Freedom House, a respected international think-tank, a 28% increase on the 12 months before the Brexit vote. Countries mention in the article include Equatorial Guinea, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, as well as Oman, UAE and Saudi Arabia. It also notes the move for closer ties with Turkey. https://inews.co.uk/uncategorized/arms-sales-britain-increases-exports-worlds-repressive-regimes-nearly-third-since-brexit-vote/
CANADA TIGHTENS NORTH KOREA FINANCIAL TRANSACTION RULES
The Red Deer Advocate, a Canadian news site, reported on 12th January that Canadian financial institutions have been ordered to treat what few transactions they conduct with North Korea with even greater diligence. The Finance Minister issued the directive in December following concerns that the North Korean government was skirting international sanctions through money laundering and other illicit financial activity. However, the number of financial transactions between Canada and North Korea is extremely small because of those sanctions imposed since August 2011, but financial institutions will now have to treat even those few that are allowed — including remittances worth less than $1,000 and humanitarian aid — as potential cases of money laundering and report them to the government. One observer describes the move as largely symbolic.
4 PERUVIANS CHARGED IN US WITH GOLD MONEY LAUNDERING
Coinweek on 12th January reported that 4 Peruvian citizens have been indicted in the US for their alleged involvement in a multi-billion dollar, international gold money laundering scheme – Pedro David Perez Miranda (aka “Peter Ferrari,” aka “Peter”), 57; Gian Piere Perez Gutierrez (aka “GP”), 33; Peter Davis Perez Gutierrez (aka “Peter Jr.”), 33; and Jose Estuardo Morales Diaz (aka “Pepe Morales”), 50. They were charged on 16th November. The same indictment also named 2 others – Samer H. Barrage, Renato J. Rodriguez, and Juan P. Granda who had previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in a related case. They are alleged to have conspired to purchase billions of dollars of criminally-derived gold from Latin America and the Caribbean using through Elemetal LLC, a Florida-based dealer in precious metals and financial institution.
EU UPDATES LIST OF VESSELS SUBJECT TO NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS
On 13th January, EU Regulation 2018/53/EU amended Regulation 2017/1509/EU to add to the sanctions lists 4 vessels previously added to the relevant UN list – BILLIONS NO.18; UL JI BONG 6; RUNG RA 2; and RYE SONG GANG.
See also Council Decision 2018/58/CFSP.
100 ARRESTS OVER TELECOMS FRAUDS IN PHILIPPINES
ABS-CBN News in the Philippines reported on 13th January that he authorities there had arrested over 100 suspects from China and Taiwan allegedly involved in fraudulent telecommunications operations. The alleged telecom fraudsters operating in the Philippines supposedly pretended to be police officers, prosecutors and judges to victims in China, some of which are large company owners.
AUSTRALIA SETS UP CRYPTOCURRENCIES TASK FORCE
Customs Today on 13th January reported that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is planning to institute a task force that shall monitor cryptocurrencies trades to ensure the right amount of tax is being paid on crypto profits. The report came from the Australian Financial Review.
HMRC “HIT BY BREXIT AND PARADISE PAPERS”
The BBC, Guardian and others reported on 13th January that MPs in a report published on 11th January say that they are “far from confident” that HMRC can deal with the tax avoidance allegations made in the wake of the Paradise Paper leaks. The Public Accounts Committee said the department would also struggle to deal with the pressure of Brexit and its own internal changes. HMRC believes Brexit alone could add 15% to its workload, the report said.
THE CRISIS IN THE DRC
Defence Web on 12th January carried a feature highlighting the continuing crisis (or rather crises) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It points out, for example, that in late 2017, the UN had elevated the DRC to the status of a Category 3 humanitarian emergency. This category includes only 3 other countries – Yemen, Iraq and Syria – all of them in a state of full-blown war, and that DRC has the highest rate of internal displacement globally, at 5,500 people a day. President Kabila (did you know his father’s mentor back in the 60s was Che Guevara, in Cuba’s short-lived and failed intervention in the DRC shortly after it received independence?) has refused to vacate the office, or call fresh elections, despite his term ending. The official government has clamped down ruthlessly on passive Catholic Church-led protests (during 31st December protests, security forces tear-gassed churches and dragged congregants into the streets, arresting priests, civilians and activists alike, and 8 people were shot and killed), and UN special investigators (an American and a Swede) killed. This is all on top of corruption, regional violence, interference by neighbouring states and violence and corruption fueled by the country’s mineral riches.
11-COUNT INDICTMENT INVOLVING URANIUM ONE SCANDAL IN THE US
Zero Hedge reports that the US DoJ has unsealed an 11-count indictment naming a former Department of Defense intelligence analyst turned uranium transportation executive called Mark Lambert who stands accused of a bribery and money laundering scheme involving a Russian nuclear official. The charges stem from an alleged scheme to bribe a Russian official at JSC Techsnabexport (aka TENEX), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation and the sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide, in order to secure contracts with TENEX. Lambert is the co-President of DAHER-TLI, described as “the leading front end freight forwarding company dedicated to Nuclear Cargo” on its website.
For background on the so-called “Uranium One scandal” one can investigate online such sites as https://www.factcheck.org/2017/10/facts-uranium-one/
The Republicans have alleged some sort of conspiracy by the Obama Administration in 2010, when Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy agency, sought to acquire a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Canadian-based company with mining stakes in the western US, and then candidate Trump making unfounded accusations of giving away US uranium rights to the Russians in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Also useful is the Arms Control Wonk podcast from October (with associated links). It should be noted that the “scandal” had, in fact, little to do with the uranium, but was rather a straightforward bribery case to obtain trucking transport contracts…and anyway only around 3% of uranium supplies are sourced in the US (and most of its weapons-grade stuff apparently originated in… Russia – which the podcast will explain).
CORK CYBER CONFERENCE HEARS APPEAL FROM GARDAÍ TO REPORT ALL FRAUD INSTANCES
The Evening Echo in Ireland carries a report saying that less than 5% of cyber fraud is reported to the Gardaí a cyber fraud conference held at University College Cork has heard.
ALLEGED COMMODITY POOL FRAUD IN US
Law 360 reports that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed a civil enforcement action and obtained an immediate restraining order against Blue Guru Trading LLC and 2 of its principals (Richard D. Carter and Mark R. Slobodnik of Illinois) for alleged fraud and misappropriation in obtaining some $750,000 in investments for a supposed futures pool. A judge also froze the assets of all three and barred the destruction of documents.
OPERATION COSMO 2 GLOBAL PLANNING SEMINAR
WCO reports on 12th January that The WCO Strategic Trade Control Enforcement (STCE) Programme hosted an Operation COSMO 2 Global Planning Seminar at WCO Headquarters in Brussels, from 9 to 11 January 2018.
The Seminar was aimed at reviewing the progress made by the Customs community in establishing capacity to address the proliferation of Weapons of Mass destruction (WMD) and related items since the WCO’s first Operation Cosmo in 2014, and plan further Customs operational activities to counter illicit trafficking in WMD.
his event was attended by 120 participants representing 96 WCO Members, Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) and international organizations, including the UN 1540 Committee Group of Experts, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), INTERPOL, the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
COCAINE ON UK BANKNOTES
It is, I think, well known that many (if not all) banknotes are contaminated to some degree with cocaine. Now in “More or Less”, a BBC Radio programme on statistics etc (honestly, it is interesting and fun) reports on this, and how the new “plastic” polymer notes will not reveal contamination (at least without new technology). Also, why do most notes show contamination, when obviously only a tiny proportion were involved in the snorting etc of the drug?
14th January 2018
JAPAN NAVAL FORCES MONITORING SEA TRAFFIC IN YELLOW SEA
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessels and patrol aircraft have been conducting vigilance and surveillance activities in the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula and in the Sea of Japan since late last year to deter North Korean attempts to smuggle refined petroleum products and other items through ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas.
It reports that this is the first time Japan’s forces have taken part in a mission to crack down on smuggling at sea — a method North Korea exploits as a loophole in the UN sanctions, and that government sources say that Japan and the US share the mission in different areas in the Sea of Japan, while Japan is solely engaged in activities in the Yellow Sea.
UK-INDIA AGREEMENTS ON CRIMINAL RECORDS EXCHANGE AND RETURN OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
The Home Office announced on 14th January that the UK and Indian governments have signed agreements on tackling international criminality and returning illegal migrants. The MoU on criminal records exchange is said will lead to British and Indian law enforcement bodies sharing criminal records information, fingerprints and intelligence. This will assist the police in protecting the public from known criminals, including sex offenders. It will also allow the courts in both countries to access more information to support tougher sentencing decisions. Meanwhile the agreement on returns paves the way for a quicker and more efficient process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who have no right to be in the UK. This has proven difficult in the past due to some Indians not having the required paperwork or travel documentation for them to be accepted back in their home country.
ANGOLA PRESIDENT’S ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN TARGETS PREDECESSOR’S CONNECTIONS
Capital News in Kenya reports on the apparent efforts of Angola’s new president Joao Lourenco in his first 100 days against corruption and nepotism. Firstly, he sacked his predecessor’s daughter, who had been the head of the state oil company. The next big name linked to former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos was that of his son, Jose Filomeno, who was removed from his post at the top of the African nation’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. During his presidential campaign, the former defence minister vowed to distance himself from Dos Santos who remains head of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party.
SPURNED WIFE ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION AT SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANY
News 24 reports that a spurned wife has made damning claims about an alleged web of corruption at one of South Africa’s largest companies, detailing luxurious holidays to New York, Dubai, France and the Bahamas – said to have been paid for with wads of cash her husband allegedly received in kickbacks from lawyers and suppliers. Yvette Diedricks (43), the now ex-wife of former Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) legal head Kenneth Diedricks (45), makes the allegations in a 17-page affidavit accompanied by 157 pages of annexes, which include hotel receipts, emails, photographs and bank statements she religiously kept. It was deposed with a prosecutor at the National Prosecuting Authority in Pretoria, and is also being investigated by specialist police unit, the Hawks.
ZIMBABWE – FORMER MINISTER AND MISSING DIAMONDS
Pindula in Zimbabwe reports that former Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa is being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) over diamonds that allegedly disappeared from Government vaults during the time he was minister in 2015. The article points out that dissolved the board of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) in December 2013 and appointed former permanent secretary in his ministry, Professor Francis Gudyanga, to act as the sole MMCZ board member until 2016.
LITHUANIA BANS 49 RUSSIANS FROM ENTERING COUNTRY
The UA Wire in Ukraine reports that the Lithuanian Minister of the Interior has banned 49 Russian citizens from entering the country under the Magnitsky Bill. The list included Russians accused by Lithuania of human rights violations and money laundering, and those already been recognized as persona non grata in Lithuania. The Bill imposes sanctions against foreign citizens accused of corruption and human rights violations, and they are banned from entering Lithuania for 5 years.
AIRBUS ORDERED TO PAY FINE IN TAIWAN MISSILE CASE
Reuters on 14th January reported that Airbus had said that it had been ordered to pay €104 million in fines over a missile sale to Taiwan in 1992 by subsidiary, Matra Defense. It reports that the scandal around French arms sales to the island in the early 90s was one of a series of cases that underpinned accusations of widespread corruption during the final years of late French president Francois Mitterrand.
SHKRELI APPEALS $7.3 MILLION FORFEITURE CLAIM
Law 360 reports that controversial former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has urged a New York federal judge to reject the government’s demands that he forfeit $7.3 million following his August conviction on securities fraud and conspiracy charges, arguing that he made no profit from the alleged crimes.
NEW BOOK – THE EVOLUTION OF UN SANCTIONS
Subtitled “From a Tool of Warfare to a Tool of Peace, Security and Human Rights” and available as e-book at $189. Said to mark the 50th anniversary of UN sanctions (first imposed on Rhodesia in 1966 under heavy lobbying by the newly formed membership of the Non-aligned Movement, or NAM,), it examines the evolution of sanctions from a primary instrument of economic warfare to a tool of prevention and protection against global conflicts and human rights abuses. The rise of sanctions as a versatile and frequently used tool to confront the challenges of armed conflicts, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, is rooted in centuries of trial and error of coercive diplomacy. The authors examine the history of UN sanctions and their potential for confronting emerging and future threats, including: cyberterrorism and information warfare, environmental crimes, and corruption. The book claims that 22 of the UN’s historical 30 sanctions events either fail to meet or barely meet the defined terms for UN sanctions as spelled out in Article 41 of the UN Charter. Sanctions under the Charter are meant to be temporary measures to coerce, contain or constrain violators of international norms in maintaining and restoring international peace and security.
See also –
FLYING WITH GUNS IN THE US – PART 3
On 12th January, the Firearms Blog in the US published the third and final instalment of a comprehensive guide to transporting arms and ammunition on US airlines. It appears to concentrate on zip ties being used to ensure the security of your luggage…
MALTA COURT ORDERS EXTRADITION OF MAN IN VAT FRAUD CASE WHO CLAIMS HE WAS KIDNAPPED TWICE
On 14th January, Malta Today reported that a man who claimed he was kidnapped and forced to sign documents which implicated him in VAT fraud is set to be extradited from Malta to the Czech Republic. Marek Drga was arrested in Malta in November for tax evasion involving unpaid VAT amounting to over €350,000. In December, the court ordered his return on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant, but he claimed that he was kidnapped twice, once in the Czech Republic (which he says involved the local police) and once in Gozo, and forced to sign some 50 pages of documents which tied to a company he no longer owned. He claims the abductions are connected to a shady deal involving construction giant, Miroslav Zaremba, who had previously sub-contracted Drga’s company, and that he left the Czech Republic after criminal fraud investigations against Zaremba commenced.
MNANGAGWA SAYS NOT TO BLAME EVERYTHING ON SANCTIONS
The Zimbabwean reports that whilst for years Zanu PF under Robert Mugabe blamed all the county’s ills on sanctions, opting to hide behind the sanctions mantra even as corruption and bad governance flourished. Now it says that the state media reports that new President Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans should stop complaining about the impact of Western sanctions on the country and instead focus on creatively leveraging on available human and natural resources to steer growth and development.
EU PRESIDENT SAYS MALTA MUST APPLY AML RULES PROPERLY
The Malta Independent reports that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker launched a broadside against Malta in response to a European Parliamentary Question about the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He said it had to be a priority for Malta to ensure that money laundering rules are implemented on the ground.
“MALTA SOLD PASSPORT TO IRANIAN ON OFAC SANCTIONS LIST”
Keneth Rijock in his blog on 14th January alleged that, whilst giving not names, an Iranian entered Canada, tried to buy several properties, was found by the bank involved to be on the OFAC lists and abruptly left Canada. He says if this is an example of the due diligence undertaken on applicants for Maltese passports, then all holders should be subject to enhanced due diligence checks.