THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 15

15th January 2018

DRONE ATTACKS IN SYRIA

The open source research website, Bellingcat, carries 2 articles dated 10th and 12th January about the use of attack drones in Syria.  One is about the reported attack on a Russian base using armed drones –

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/01/12/the_poor_mans_airforce/

It reports that the drones used appear to be reasonably small, with a wingspan of approximately 3 or 4 meters. Their construction seems to be reasonably basic, with a plywood body covered in plastic sheets which has been secured using tape. A small engine, possibly petrol, provides propulsion.  The report also details other, previous attacks, plus drones for sale on an informal “arms market” on the messaging app, Telegram.  It provides copious photos and even video of the alleged attack on 6th January.  The “bomblets” arming the drones [SEE BELOW] are described as having a core of explosive inside a layer of ball-bearings, encased in a white plastic shell and detonated by an unidentified type of fuze, probably point detonating.

The earlier post from the Daily Beast details an investigation by the Guardian into the drones for sale on Telegram –

https://www.thedailybeast.com/black-market-sold-drones-used-in-russian-base-attack

Image-16.1

HOAX PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY IN SYRIA?

What can you trust?  The Bellingcat newsletter reports a report by Russia-based Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), which conducted an in-depth investigation into what appeared to be a new Russian mercenary group (a private mercenary company) in Syria, called Turan that apparently appeared in April 2017.  It concludes that the so-called “Turan private military company” is not an actual military unit but an elaborate hoax created mostly by one person: “ANNA News” and “Russkaya Vesna” reporter Oleg Blokhin.

https://citeam.org/turan-pmc/

 

SWEDEN REISSUES BOOKLET ON WARTIME PRECAUTIONS

On 14th January, Sweden reissued a booklet first produced in the 40s and updated in the 80s.  An updated version of the pamphlet Om kriget kommer (If War Comes) will be sent to Swedish homes in May or June 2018.  First released during the Second World War, the booklet contains tips for citizens on what to do should Sweden become involved in a war.

https://www.thelocal.se/20180114/sweden-to-re-issue-booklet-of-world-war-precautions

IRAN LEGISLATING TO MEET FATF REQUIREMENTS

On 15th January, the Financial Tribune in Iran reported that with a 31st January deadline set by FATF for Iran to fully adhere to its AML/CFT commitments, parliamentarians and Foreign Ministry officials in Iran convened to discuss 4 related Bills for improved adherence to AML/CFT requirements.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/economy-business-and-markets/80047/majlis-foreign-ministry-discuss-fatf-regulations

POTENTIAL CONFLICT HOTSPOT? DJIBOUTI

In the first of a planned series of articles on possible, or likely places for a war to start in the near future, Politco on 15th January concentrates on Djibouti in East Africa, which already boasts a long-term French base, plus US bases, a Chinese one and Japan’s first oversea military base, with an Italian one and Saudi Arabia building one. Turkey is being wooed by the government and India is thought to be considering a base too.  The article points out that tensions or conflict between any of these could mean conflict in Djibouti (between India and China, for example).  The article describes Djibouti as strategically placed at the entrance to the Red Sea, commanding a large percentage of the trade and energy flows between Europe and Asia, and home to more foreign bases than any other country.

https://www.politico.eu/blogs/the-coming-wars/2018/01/the-most-valuable-military-real-estate-in-the-world/?utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=b26fbd6cf8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-b26fbd6cf8-190081609

NEW UK INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES CONTROLS

On 10th January, TLT LLP published a briefing saying that DEFRA has issued a new consultation to implement a new enforcement regime under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation.  It reports that the Regulation aims to prevent or manage the introduction or spread of 49 specified invasive plant and animal species, requires Member States to implement measures for prevention, early detection or rapid eradication or, management of invasive species; and applies the “polluter pays” to introduce penalties in domestic legislation that must be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” – these can include warning letters as well as civil or criminal penalties.

www.tltsolicitors.com/insights-and-events/insight/new-enforcement-regime-for-tackling-invasive-non-native-species/

HOUSE OF COMMONS REPORT ON THE “GROWING THREAT OF ONLINE FRAUD”

In another briefing on 10th January TLT LLP reported that, on 6th December the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts published its report: “The growing threat of online fraud”, which criticises the fraud education campaigns including the government-backed “Take Five” initiative, current police measures and initiatives and the current work being undertaken by the banking industry.  It says that the report does not just put the spotlight on banks. The police, the Home Office and industry bodies are also included for criticism and recommendations.

http://www.tltsolicitors.com/insights-and-events/insight/the-growing-threat-of-online-fraud-new-report-released/

ONLINE TAXATION IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC

The European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) has published a report with the catchy title of “The Geopolitics of Online Taxation in Asia-Pacific – Digitalisation, Corporate Tax Base and The Role of Governments”.  It points out that Asian tax bases are not actually shrinking, but growing, since the invention of the Internet.  In other words, it maintains, the tax problems Asian states are seeking to address through sometimes draconian measures do not seem to exist. Tax revenues from corporate income taxes are growing at a faster pace than GDP or personal income taxes.  Total corporate taxes collected in the Asia-Pacific region have more than doubled in the last decade.  It suggests that blaming the Internet for base erosion is likely to be a misconception created by national politics, or an attempt to protect the revenues of old telecom incumbents by blocking new, innovative services that compete with basic telecom services.

http://ecipe.org/publications/the-geopolitics-of-online-taxation-in-asia-pacific/

HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

On 15th January in South Africa the Sowetan Live reports that a whistleblower’s call for help to his wife in Lesotho has exposed the operations of a sophisticated international slave trade syndicate.  It says that “for years” South African police have been investigating the alleged operations of the organisation but authorities say the suspected mastermind‚ a prominent businessman known as the “General”‚ and who has been arrested before on multiple charges‚ including kidnapping‚ has always managed to stay one step ahead of the law.  But on 11th January, it reports, organised crime unit detectives from the specialist police unit, the Hawks, raided homes‚ lodges‚ farms‚ taverns‚ a taxi rank and a panel beater’s shop‚ in the mining town of Welkom‚ arresting 6 people (including 2 recruiters from Lesotho and some of the businessman’s relatives) and rescuing 10 women and men who had allegedly been trafficked from across the country and southern Africa.

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-01-15-alleged-human-trafficking-mastermind-speaks/?src=ilaw

CHINESE POLICE FIND NEARLY $10 MILLION HIDDEN IN WALLS OF APARTMENT

The People’s Daily in China reports a video showing a big stack of cash hidden inside the walls of an apartment building found in the investigating of a fraud case in Songyuan City, northeastern China’s Jilin province.  Police say they found $9.9 million in the walls.  It says that the money had reportedly been withdrawn by the legal representative of a fertilizer producing company surnamed Wei which had agreed to sell fertilizer to buyers below market value and received their payments.

http://en.people.cn/n3/2018/0115/c90000-9315521.html?src=ilaw

“LARGEST EVER” ONLINE INVESTMENT FRAUD IN CHINA?

Asia Times on 15th January carries a report on Qbao, which could be the largest online investment fraud in China’s history.  It reports that, at the height of its business operations, the online investment company, Qbao.com, had around 200 million registered users, and claimed returns of up to 80%.  The full name of the company, Qianbao, had the veneer of success, as it translates into “money treasure”.  The founder of the site, Zhang Xiaolei, is now in police custody after turning himself in just before the start of the new year, and is accused of illegally raising $11 billion, according to sources close to the Chinese authorities and reported in the mainland media.

http://www.atimes.com/article/fears-grow-chinese-investors-snared-11-billion-fraud-probe/?src=ilaw

“SWISS MAN ARRESTED IN KERIMOV CASE”

Sputnik, a Russian news site, reports that French authorities have arrested a Swiss citizen, Alexander Studhalter, on suspicion of being involved in the case of Russian lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, seemingly the front man for Kerimov’s property acquisitions.

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201801151060753508-swiss-kerimov-involved-arrested/?src=ilaw

HMRC TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH WITH TOO LITTLE

On 12th January, the chartered accountants’ body, ICAEW, reported that the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into HMRC’s performance makes for sobering reading – with HMRC undertaking the largest transformational programme in Europe while at the same time coping with Brexit and other demands, it seems HMRC in danger of trying to do too much with too little.

https://www.icaew.com/en/about-icaew/news/press-release-archive/2018-press-releases/hmrc-in-danger-of-trying-to-do-too-much-with-too-little

FRENCH “BLACK WIDOW” CASE

On 15th January, Digital Journal reported that a French woman dubbed the “Black Widow of the Riviera” for allegedly seducing and poisoning wealthy elderly men, leading to the deaths of 2 of them, faces a life sentence. Patricia Dagorn, 57, is already serving a 5-year prison term for theft, fraud and sequestration involving an octogenarian in the French Alps in 2012 after he agreed to let her live with him in exchange for sexual relations.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/france-s-black-widow-on-trial-for-poisoning-four-seniors/article/512134#ixzz54F2lgS63

ALLEGED SERIOUS IRREGULARITIES INVOLVING HUNGARIAN PM’S SON

The Budapest Beacon repeats a Wall Street Journal story that alleges that OLAF has revealed serious irregularities in public procurements won by Elios Innovatív Zrt., owned at the time by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law István Tiborcz.

https://budapestbeacon.com/eu-anti-fraud-office-finds-irregularities-procurements-won-orbans-son-law/?src=ilaw

TENNIS CLEAN-UP HAS FOCUSED ON “LOW-HANGING FRUIT”

ABC News in Australia carries an article saying that 2 years after tennis authorities announced a sweeping review of the integrity regime in tennis, fans are still waiting to see how they’ll clean up the sport.  A betting analyst quoted in the article claims that since the review was launched, the Tennis Integrity unit (TIU) has mainly focused on low-hanging fruit — players like Brandon Walkin.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-15/tennis-integrity-review-concerns-about-lack-of-progress/9324638?src=ilaw

WHAT DOES DEATH OF SALEH MEAN FOR YEMEN?

On 15th January, the House of Commons Library published a briefing saying that in December the long-time former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was killed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and asks what does this mean for the Yemen conflict? It says that the main result, to date, appears to have been an intensification of bombing by the Saudi air force, and analysts also fear that it will be even more difficult to negotiate a solution to the bloody conflict without the skills of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8201

COLOMBIAN TERRORIST GROUP ELN RESUMES KIDNAPPINGS

On 14th January, the BBC reported that a Colombian oil worker was kidnapped by the country’s last rebel group, the ELN, after peace talks with the government broke down and a truce expired.  Police said the man was abducted from an office in Saravena near the border with Venezuela.  The BBC reminds us that ELN was founded in 1964 to fight against Colombia’s unequal distribution of land and riches, inspired by the Cuban revolution of 1959, has attacked large landholders and multinational companies, and repeatedly blown up oil pipelines, is strongest in rural areas and finances itself through extortion, kidnappings and drug trafficking.

http://world.einnews.com/article/426552128/Dh7sUNXk3aOCSH52?lcf=34uUlhgLzqoheLgaZNl6pnTB3rGPmU1-FRaFRPDhp-4%3D

See also –

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/wave-violence-strikes-colombia-after-eln-ceasefire/

IRS GUIDANCE ON REVOKING CITIZENSHIP

On 12th January KPMG reported on IRS Notice 2018-01 which provides guidance for implementing Code section 7345 which requires the IRS to notify the US State Department of those taxpayers certified as having “seriously delinquent tax debt”., to allow for the State Department to deny a passport application for such individuals and may also revoke or limit passports previously issued to such individuals. The measures are being implemented in January 2018, and the IRS notice describes exceptions to certification and taxpayer remedies.

https://home.kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2018/01/tnf-notice-2018-01-passports-revoked-denied-for-certain-tax-delinquencies.html

VENEZUELA: INCREASED AND CONTINUED LINKS TO DRUGS, ORGANISED CRIME ETC

Insight Crime on 15th January reports claims of increased ties between the Maduro regime in Venezuela and organised crime.  It says that the country’s political, economic and social crises have fueled crime and strengthened illegal economies, while international sanctions against government officials including President Maduro have failed to weaken the regime’s power and have helped solidify its leaders’ ties to transnational crime, and that drugs produced in Colombia continue to pass freely through Venezuela’s border.  In addition, Colombia’s Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación – EPL), has established a presence in Venezuela for the first time this year, and the Rastrojos, once one of Colombia’s most powerful criminal groups, have also begun to emerge in Venezuela after practically disappearing in their home country.  The article claims that the sanctions imposed by OFAC have lacked impact.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/gamechangers-2017-venezuela-maduro-administration-strengthens-criminal-ties/

MS13 LOOKS TO STEP UP INVOLVEMENT IN DRUG TRAFFICKING

On 12th January, Insight crime reported that a newly-unveiled criminal case against several alleged MS13 members in the US suggests the gang is attempting to improve its communication practices and step up its involvement in drug trafficking.  A profile on the website reminds one that MS13 (Mara Salvatrucha) is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in LA in the 80s, the gang’s reach now extends from Central American nations like El Salvador and through Mexico, the US, and Canada.  Its activities have helped make the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — the most violent place in the world that is not at war, and in October 2012, the US Treasury labeled the group a “transnational criminal organization,” the first such designation for a US street gang.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/indictment-ms13-us-operations/

https://www.insightcrime.org/el-salvador-organized-crime-news/mara-salvatrucha-ms-13-profile/

US ARMY 3D PRINTING RESEARCH

Janes.com reported that the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is exploring a variety of engineering-grade plastics in its additively manufactured, or 3D printed, parts on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to help them compete with the strength of injection-moulded components.

http://www.janes.com/article/77037/us-army-research-laboratory-exploring-engineering-grade-plastics-in-3-d-printed-uav-parts

EU REVIEW OF DUAL-USE EXPORT CONTROLS

On 12th January the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing on a proposed Regulation that recasts the 2009 Regulation.  Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/589832/EPRS_BRI(2016)589832_EN.pdf

SIPRI REPORT INTO RECAST OF EU DUAL-USE EXPORT REGULATION

On 15th January the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a report “Export controls, human security and cyber-surveillance technology: Examining the proposed changes to the EU Dual-use Regulation”.  The report seeks to inform discussions about the European Commission’s proposed ‘recast’ of the European Union Dual-use Regulation—the main regulatory instrument for EU member states’ controls on the trade in dual-use items.  One of the most controversial aspects of the Commission’s proposal is a series of amendments to the Regulation that would give human rights, international humanitarian law (IHL) and terrorism a more central role in member states’ dual-use export controls and create an expanded set of controls on exports of so-called cyber-surveillance technology.  The report outlines the existing relationship between human rights, international humanitarian law (IHL), terrorism and dual-use export controls and details the origins of the discussion about applying export controls to cyber-surveillance technology and describes the measures that have been adopted to date within the Wassenaar Arrangement and the EU. The report then analyses those aspects of the Commission’s proposal which are focused on human rights, IHL, terrorism and cyber-surveillance technology while also detailing the responses and alternative formulations put forward by key stakeholders. The report ends by presenting some conclusions and recommendations, focused particularly on the issues that should be addressed as the review process continues during 2018.

https://www.sipri.org/publications/2017/other-publications/export-controls-human-security-and-cyber-surveillance-technology-examining-proposed-changes-eu-dual

SIPRI

UK KEEPS CLASSIFIED FILE ON GIBRALTAR FROM 1949 CLOSED

The Gibraltar Chronicle reports that the UK Government has refused to release a classified file on Gibraltar dating back to 1949, claiming its contents could harm Britain’s relations with Gibraltar and Spain.  The dossier was closed for 70 years and is due to be opened on January 1st 2020.

http://chronicle.gi/2018/01/diplomatic-concerns-keep-secret-gib-file-firmly-shut/

UN EXTENDS MANDATE OF LEBANON TRIBUNAL FOR FURTHER 3 YEARS

UN News reports that the Secretary General has extended for another 3 years from 1st March (or until completion of the cases, if sooner) the mandate of the tribunal set up to try those accused of carrying out the February 2005 attack in Beirut, which killed 22 people, including the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and injured many others.  The trial in absentia of 4 individuals indicted over the killing began in January 2014 at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is based near The Hague in the Netherlands, and is currently ongoing.

www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58342#.Wlx9Dkx2tZU

RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS CONCERN OVER IMPENDING US SANCTIONS

Bloomberg on 12th January reported that the US Treasury is finishing its first official list of “oligarchs” close to President Putin’s government, setting off a flurry of moves by wealthy Russians to shield their fortunes and reputations.  It is linked to a report required by 29th January that must include “indices of corruption” with the oligarch’s names and list any foreign assets they may own, and which lawmakers expect the list to provide a basis for future punitive actions against Russia.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-12/russia-s-oligarchs-brace-for-u-s-report-listing-putin-friends

SPAIN INVESTIGATING €30 MILLION LAUNDERING TRAIL

EU Observer on 15th January reports that Spain has opened an investigation into complaints that Russian officials laundered €30 million of stolen money through Spain as part of a wider scam exposed by the late Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, amid ongoing investigations into the money trail in Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Switzerland, and the US.

https://euobserver.com/tickers/140549

FRANCE WANTS ADDITIONAL VIRTUAL CURRENCIES CONTROLS

The Seattle Times carries an Associated Press article saying that France’s finance minister says he wants new regulation targeted at virtual currencies, to stop them from being used for tax evasion, financing terrorism and other crime.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/france-wants-tougher-rules-on-bitcoin-to-avoid-criminal-use/?src=ilaw

NORTHERN IRELAND POLICE: FIRST PROPERTY FREEZING ORDER

The Belfast Telegraph on 15th January reports that Police in Northern Ireland have obtained a freezing order over a property in Newtownabbey – in the first use of such powers by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, which was established by PSNI, HMRC and NCA to tackle criminality linked to paramilitarism as part of a government action plan on tackling paramilitary activity, criminality, and organised crime.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/police-issue-first-property-freezing-order-in-northern-ireland-36488965.html?src=ilaw

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/1272-paramilitary-crime-task-force-obtains-property-freezing-order

REASONS FOR HUGE INCREASE IN SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY REPORTS IN INDIA

The Economic Times in India reports that Global market intelligence, research, and advisory company BIS Research has said policy measures of the Indian government like demonetisation have led to large scale increase in suspicious transaction reports (STR).  STR have increased from a little over 20,000 in financial year (FY) 2011 to over a 100,000 in FY 2016, and reached nearly 500,000 in FY 2017. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/suspicious-transaction-reports-up-due-to-demonetisation-tax-surveillance/articleshow/62510217.cms?src=ilaw

UK FRAUDSTER HAS £2.7 MILLION HOME SOLD TO PAY COMPENSATION

In a news release on 15th January the CPS reported that a fraudster who stole millions of pounds from his employer to spend on lavish properties and jewellery has had his home in Kent sold for £2.7 million to pay as compensation to the company he defrauded.  Alan Cooper, 56, was convicted of fraud by abuse of position after taking £3 million from Chambers Travel Management Ltd in Kent in September 2014 and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/news/fraudster-has-home-sold-pay-compensation-company-he-stole-ps3million?src=ilaw

GENEVA BANKER ON TRIAL FOR $100 MILLION LOSSES

On 15th January Swissinfo reports that a trial is underway in Geneva of a former Credit Suisse banker accused of causing losses of more than $100 million to his eastern European clients.  The unnamed 54-year-old French citizen is accused of fraud and forgery in at least 12 cases, including the oil billionaire and former prime minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, as well as a former Russian senator, Vitaly Malkin.  The prosecutor claims the defendant caused the loss through speculation and misappropriation. The banker allegedly used assets of other rich clients to cover for book losses.  The defendant, who has been in detention since 2016, has admitted to most of the deeds and argues he has co-operated fully with the authorities during the investigation.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/credit-suisse_geneva-ex-banker-accused-of-massive-fraud/43824416?src=ilaw

PANAMA SIGNS FINANCIAL INFORMATION CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT

CCH Daily on 15th January reports that Panama has signed the Common Reporting Standard Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (CRS MCAA) becoming the 98th  jurisdiction to join the CRS MCAA – the prime international agreement for implementing the automatic exchange of financial account information under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance.

https://www.accountancylive.com/cch_uk/cln/news_005344_panama

CALL FOR AUSTRALIA TO DROP ITS NUCLEAR POWER BAN

World Nuclear News on 15th January reported that the Minerals Council of Australia (MCAwhich represents the exploration, mining and minerals processing industry) has repeated its call (in a pre-Budget submission) for the Australian government to lift a ban on the development of nuclear power, and to reform its taxation, industrial relations, environmental and energy policies to shield the nation from future economic downturn and deliver stronger economic growth.   It reports that Australia has 34% of the world’s uranium resources and is the world’s third-largest uranium-producing country, and is home to the 20 MWt Opal research reactor.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Lift-nuclear-ban-MCA-tells-Australian-government-1501187.html

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Thomson Reuters

WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT FINANCIAL CRIME

On 12th January the World Economic Forum website published an article providing background to financial crime, laundering etc.  It reports that every year, an estimated $2.4 trillion in proceeds from activities such as forced prostitution, terrorism, and drug trafficking will be laundered through the world’s financial markets and banking systems.  Currently, only a very small amount of this activity is detected in the global financial system.

See illustration above.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/01/we-need-to-talk-about-financial-crime?src=ilaw

ISRAELI COMPANY FURTHER PENALTY FOR MAKING ILLEGAL PAYMENTS

Globes in Israel reports that, after a $500 million penalty in the US, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries will be fined NIS 75 million in Israel for illegal payments in Russia, Ukraine and Mexico.  In 2016, Teva reached a settlement with the US law enforcement authorities, under which it paid a fine and a forfeit of revenue amounting to $500 million.  he payment of NIS 75 million will end the criminal proceedings against Teva and any company connected with it.

http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-teva-settles-graft-case-with-israeli-authorities-1001219547

UK UPDATES NORTH KOREAN SANCTIONS LISTS

HM Treasury on 15th January issued a Notice saying that the following North Korean sanctions entries have been amended – BILLIONS NO. 18 (Group ID: 13576); UL JI BONG 6 (Group ID: 13577); RUNG RA 2 (Group ID: 13578); and RYE SONG GANG 1 (Group ID: 13579).

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673983/2018.53_final_DPRK.pdf

CHANGES TO USE OF US DRIVER LICENCES FOR AIR TRAVEL

On 15th January, US law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP in a briefing reported that as the US Department of Homeland Security continues to phase in the requirements of the REAL ID Act, some domestic airline travellers may be prohibited from using their state-issued driver’s licence or ID card in order to board their flight.  After January 22nd state-issued driver’s licences and IDs may be used for domestic airline travel only if they were issued by a state which is in compliance with the REAL ID Act or has been granted an extension by the Secretary of Homeland Security.  It reveals that DHS maintains an updated list of states which are currently in compliance with the REAL ID Act or have been granted an extension at https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/your-driver-s-license-is-still-valid-52370/

US MUSEUM EXTENDS REWARD FOR ART WORKS STOLEN 30 YEARS AGO

Fox Rothschild on 15th January reports that the Board of Directors of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has voted to extend the $10 million reward for information leading to the return of 13 art works (valued at half a billion dollars) that were stolen nearly 30 years ago.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/isabella-stewart-gardner-museum-extends-24336/

UK AMENDS ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LISTS

HM Treasury on 15th January issued a Notice notifying changes to the ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions lists – the details for Seifallah BEN HASSINE have been amended and that of Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad HUSSEIN deleted.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673980/2018.50_ISIL.pdf

MAN WHO RAN SERVICES FOR HACKERS PLEADS GUILTY IN UK

On 15th January a news release from the NCA reported that a cyber criminal has admitted running a product-testing service for hackers following a joint investigation by the NCA and cyber security firm Trend Micro.  Goncalo Esteves, 24, from Colchester ran the website reFUD.me, which allowed offenders to test, for a fee, whether their malicious cyber tools could beat anti-virus scanners.  Under the pseudonym KillaMuvz, he also sold custom-made malware-disguising products and offered technical support to users.

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/1271-cyber-criminal-made-thousands-of-pounds-with-product-testing-site-for-hackers

UK FINANCIAL SECTOR FRAUD SOARED IN 2017

Law 360 reported on 15th January that fraud-related losses reported by the UK financial services sector quadrupled in 2017, with much of the rise attributed to tighter regulatory and corporate scrutiny, according to a report published on 15th January by accountancy firm BDO LLP.  The finance and insurance sector saw the value of reported fraud surge to £899.7 million from £214.9 million a year earlier.

https://www.law360.com/articles/1002016

OLAF INVESTIGATION INTO HUNGARIAN LIGHTING COMPANY LINKED TO PM

OCCRP reported on 15th January that OLAF has concluded its 2-year investigation into the Hungarian lighting company Elios Innovativ Zrt., finding evidence of “serious irregularities” and “conflict of interest” in the way it was being awarded government contracts.  Many of these contracts used EU funds.  It claims that at the time when Istvan Tiborcz, the son-in-law of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, controlled the company, Elios won 39 new contracts to modernize street lights throughout the country.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/7498-hungary-serious-irregularities-in-public-lighting-contracts

ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT VOWS TO FIRE CORRUPT MINISTERS

OCCRP reported that the Zambian President has vowed to fire corrupt ministers as he apparently seeks to deflect criticism from his increasingly dictatorial rule.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/7496-zambian-president-vows-to-fire-corrupt-ministers

BUSINESSES UNDER STRAIN BECAUSE OF LENGTHY HMRC INVESTIGATIONS

Businesses are being burdened by increasingly lengthy UK tax investigations carried out by HMRC, Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, has said.  According to data obtained by Pinsent Masons, the average length of HMRC’s tax enquiries during the year ended 31st March 2017 was 34 months, up from 31 months in 2015/16. The upward trend could be attributed, in part, to HMRC’s refusal to back down from arguments over disputed technical points even where they have a weak case, Pinsent Masons said.

https://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2018/january/businesses-put-under-strain-by-increasingly-lengthy-tax-investigations-says-expert/

FISHERIES CRIME TRAINING IN SOUTH ASIA

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and WCO hold training to fight fisheries crime in South Asia.

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2018/January/south-asia_-unodc–world-customs-organization-hold-training-to-fight-fisheries-crime.html?ref=fs3

NORTH KOREA’S CRIME AND CYBERCRIME

On 14th January, The Cipher Brief carries an article that says that, since 2016, the North Korean regime has shown its hand as a state sponsor of cybercrime by targeting international financial institutions, engaging in broad ransomware campaigns, and illegally accruing and laundering cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.  The article also examines its general criminal activities, including drugs trafficking, hacking etc.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/kim-digs-cybercrime-coin-sanctions-cant-snatch

DEPUTY PM SAYS SINGAPORE BANKS CLEARED OF INVOLVEMENT IN RUSSIAN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 15th January, the Independent in Singapore carried an article saying that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam reported on January 8th that no major lapses have been discovered in the investigation into the alleged involvement of Singaporean banks in a multibillion-dollar Russian money laundering scam. In March 2017 OCCRP had reported that between 2011 and 2014, more than US$20 billion had been laundered from 19 Russian banks in 96 countries. US$77 million had reportedly passed through bank accounts in Singapore. Additionally, US$608 million had flowed through Switzerland, US $916 thorough mainland China and US$927 through Hong Kong.

http://www.theindependent.sg/dp-tharman-no-major-bank-lapses-reported-in-russian-money-laundering-probe/

THE FINANCIAL COST OF WORLD CONFLICTS ESTIMATED

On 15th January, the World Economic Forum says that the cost of war is staggering.  It reports that, at the end of 2016, an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world had been forced from their homes – that’s equivalent to the population of the UK.  But as well as devastating lives, communities and countries, war also has a huge impact on the global economy.  The Institute for Economics and Peace estimates that conflict and violence cost $13.6 trillion in 2015.  In 2016 the price tag was even higher, at $14.3 trillion, or 12.6% of global GDP, according to the World Humanitarian Data and Trends report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/01/conflict-costs-global-economy-14-trillion-a-year

OPCW COMMENDS LIBYA’S DESTRUCTION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

Homeland Preparedness reported on 15th January that the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has applauded the complete destruction of Libya’s stockpile of Category 2 chemical materials at a ceremony held recently in Munster, Germany.  The remainder of the country’s chemical agents, approximately 500 tons, was destroyed at a chemical weapons destruction facility operated by GEKA mbH in Munster. The OPCW verified the completed destruction of the materials in November 2017.

https://homelandprepnews.com/stories/26201-opcw-director-general-commends-destruction-libyas-chemical-weapon-stockpile/

ITALY ADOPTS WHISTLEBLOWING LAW IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR

On 15th January, Global Compliance News reports that the Italian Parliament approved a new law extending to the private sector the protection of employees who report unlawful behaviour of which they became aware during their work activities.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/italy-whistleblowing-20180115/

2 NEW UK SANCTIONS NOTICES

On 15th January, HM Treasury issued 2 new sanctions notices –

the following North Korean sanctions entries have been amended

BILLIONS NO. 18 (Group ID: 13576); UL JI BONG 6 (Group ID: 13577); RUNG RA 2 (Group ID: 13578); and RYE SONG GANG 1 (Group ID: 13579).

and notifying changes to the ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions lists – the details for Seifallah BEN HASSINE have been amended and that of Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad HUSSEIN deleted.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/latest?departments%5B%5D=hm-treasury