8th February 2018
HUMAN SMUGGLERS IN LIBYA HAVE LINKS TO SECURITY SERVICES: UN
On 8th February VNE reported that most armed groups involved in human smuggling and trafficking in Libya have links to the country’s official security institutions, sanctions experts said in a confidential report to a UN Security Council committee seen by Reuters, and there are regular violations of the UN arms embargo.
ONLY 5 NATIONS CAN HIT ANY PLACE ON EARTH WITH A MISSILE – FOR NOW
On 8th February the New York Times carried a briefing which remarks that many of the countries that have heavily invested in missiles over the last 2 decades are in well-known hotspots in Asia and the Middle East. Their maximum ranges are overlaid on a map. Countries investing in missiles are often trying to deter regional adversaries. But the effects of this arms race ripples across the globe. It also details the development of the original, rather crude Soviet Scud missile into more advanced types used by North Korea, Iran, Pakistan.
US FIREARMS REGULATIONS AVAILABLE ONLINE
On 7th February Ammoland in the US reported that ATF recently completed its eRegulations project which provides information on regulations implementing the federal firearms and explosives laws, including the Arms Export Control Act, Gun Control Act, National Firearms Act, and federal explosives laws.
See also –
UK DEFENCE FIRMS TOUT TECH TRANSFERS IN ASIA
On 8th February, Bloomberg reported that British defence companies seeking business in Asia are increasingly offering to transfer technology to local contractors, with a senior trade official at the Singapore Air Show downplaying the risk of systems falling into the wrong hands. It says that the U.K. is among countries seeking a greater slice of the procurement business in Asia, including SE Asia, as nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam upgrade or replace outdated equipment and modernise militaries.
ONLINE GUIDE TO AUSTRALIAN AML/CFT LAW
On 8th February, Scoop in New Zealand reported that a guide for compliance with AML/CFT had been published. It is said to be for “gatekeepers” when Tranche 2 of Australia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Funding Act comes into operation.
The guide is available online at –
GREECE PUBLISHES CONSULTATION ON IMPLEMENTING 4th ML DIRECTIVE
On 7th February, Payments Compliance reported that the Greek Ministry of Finance had issued on 6th January a consultation on implementing the EU 4th ML Directive in Greek law.
US BRANCH OF DUTCH RABOBANK TO PAY BIG FOR DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING
Deutsche Welle and others report that Rabobank in California will have to pay $369 million to US authorities after it pled guilty to hiding information from investigators. The bank was part of a money laundering scheme that hid drug money from Mexico. The DoJ said that when Rabobank learned that substantial numbers of its customers’ transactions were indicative of international narcotics trafficking, organised crime, and money laundering activities, it chose to look the other way and to cover up deficiencies. When the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — the primary regulator — tried to investigate the most recent allegations against the bank, several high-level bank executives in 2013 obstructed the probe, provided false and misleading information and fired a colleague who spoke out about the bank’s failings.
MILLIONS FLOW FROM GADDAFI’S ‘FROZEN FUNDS’ TO UNKNOWN BENEFICIARIES
Politico reports that 6 years after Muammar Gaddafi’s death, his regime’s frozen funds in Brussels are generating tens of millions of euros in interest for mystery beneficiaries, despite international sanctions. A POLITICO investigation into €16 billion of the Libyan dictator’s assets held in Belgium discovered big, regular outflows of stock dividends, bond income and interest payments. Legal documents, bank statements, emails and dozens of interviews point to a loophole in the sanctions regime. The interest goes to accounts belonging to the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the country’s sovereign fund, but it is not clear who runs the agency or gets any of the funds sent to its accounts. It is said to be difficult to determine who can access its various accounts. According to one person quoted, so far these funds have been spent on legal cases and on legal feuds within the LIA, nothing went to the people. The continued unrest in Libya with rival claimants for the funds frozen in the EU means the matter has not been finally settled.
ADVANCED BIOFUELS ‘NOT YET VIABLE’, INDUSTRY STUDY WARNS
EurActiv on 8th February reported that less than 1% of projected capacity for advanced biofuel production worldwide has become reality, according to ethanol industry researchers who warned policymakers against placing too much hope in the fledgling technology. Research conducted by Ethanol Europe Renewables Ltd, the operator of Europe’s largest biorefinery, found that less than 1% of announced advanced biofuel capacity was a success, “a volume so small as to be irrelevant”.
JP MORGAN UNDER FIRE OVER ACCOUNT MONITORING FAILURES IN US
Finance Feeds in a report dated 8th February says that JPMorgan may have created AML and KYC programmes that facially met the requirements of the Patriot Act and related regulations, but did not effectively execute those programmes, 246 investors defrauded in a Ponzi scheme say. A group of more than 240 investors in a Ponzi scheme operated by famous Bitcoin fraudster Renwick Haddow, a UK national, allege that the bank was well aware that investors’ funds were going to a fraudster.
IMF, ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND SEEK SOLUTIONS TO REDUCE REMITTANCE COSTS IN THE PACIFIC CAUSED BY AML/CFT ETC
On 8th February, the IMF reported that it and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), held roundtables in Sydney and Auckland to identify practical solutions to address the costs and risks of transferring remittances to Pacific countries and difficulties in undertaking cross-border transactions. Remittance flows and correspondent banking relationships (CBR), including for trade finance, are essential to facilitate trade, promote economic activity and support incomes in the Pacific. However, following the tightening of global standards on AML/CFT, access to cross-border financial services has become difficult for some Pacific Island countries due to high costs and pressure to close the bank accounts of money transfer operators (MTO) who send and receive remittances. As a result, cross-border remittance flows and CBRs have become more concentrated or have been maintained through alternative arrangements in a number of Pacific islands. Possible solutions include greater training and capacity building, and a focus on automation and technology including databases to improve customer due diligence, better information-sharing by regulatory and supervisory authorities, and international financial institutions and training bodies (including the Asia Pacific Group and national regulators) should work together to provide more co-ordinated and targeted assistance to affected countries, regulatory and supervisory authorities, banks and MTO.
TAX AVOIDANCE FIRM DECLARED INSOLVENT AS HMRC PROBES INVESTORS
Wealth Manager on 8th February reported that the company behind a tax avoidance scheme which left hundreds of investors facing possible bankruptcy has been declared insolvent and warned investors they face questions from the HMRC. Future Capital Partners managed the Eclipse 35 film rights scheme and the Elysian biofuel scheme, both of which left investors facing heavy liabilities after being challenged by the taxman.
AUSTRALIAN REGULATOR IMPOSES PERMANENT BAN ON BINARY OPTIONS FRAUDSTERS
Finance Feeds on 8th February reported that Jana Jaros and Jackson Laurence Malcolm Capper, who operated websites like Binary.com, are permanently banned by ASIC from providing financial services or from engaging in any credit activities.
On 7th February the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on Western Sahara. It is a former Spanish colony whose status has been disputed since the Spanish left in 1975. Morocco and Mauritania all claimed an interest in the territory, while the Polisario Front, a leftist national liberation movement, wanted independence and was backed by Algeria. Morocco took de facto control of most of the territory in the late 1970s, after armed conflict with Mauritania. Polisario declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, from its base in exile in the town of Tindouf, in Algeria. There have been clashes and confrontations between Polisario fighters and Moroccan troops , and NGO that both the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario commit human rights abuses.
BREXIT: UK GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES HAULAGE PERMITS AND TRAILER REGISTRATION BILL
A UK Department for Transport news release on 7th February announced that the government had introduced legislation on cross-border haulage as the UK continues its preparations for life outside the EU. It says that it is possible that the future deal with the EU could require a form of permitting system and the government will need to have legal frameworks in place to introduce a new administrative system if required, and this Bill is said to give the government this flexibility. Key elements of the Bill include:
- arrangements to enable a permit scheme if required as part of a deal with the EU – ensuring UK hauliers can obtain the necessary paperwork to provide services to and from EU countries; and
- the establishment of a trailer registration scheme in line with the 1968 Vienna Convention – this will ensure UK operators driving on the continent can comply with the requirements of those EU countries which require the registration of all trailers travelling on their roads.
IAG CARGO TARGETS E-COMMERCE MARKET WITH GLOBAL DELIVERY PLATFORM ZENDA
Loadstar reports that IAG Cargo (IAG owns BA, Iberia etc) has launched a door-to-door cross-border e-commerce delivery platform. Zenda began flying shipments from the US to the UK in the third quarter of last year. It is designed to help shippers book delivery directly, with complete cost transparency at checkout, visibility throughout and with a service comparable with express companies, but at a cost that will allow lower-value goods to be shipped abroad.
EU-CHINA CUSTOMS DATA-SHARING PROJECT
Loadstar reports that a plan to share data between customs authorities is being piloted between the EU and China. The first shipments have already flown from China to Schiphol in the WCO-backed project, called Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL). It should reduce lead times and customs procedures as well as increasing security, as the 2 customs authorities share their data on the lanes. The project makes use of a WCO-maintained encrypted data exchange platform.
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SANCTIONS: LIST OF VESSELS PROHIBITED FROM LOADING OR TRANSFERRING CARGO IN US
Sandler Travis Rosenberg reports on 8th February that the US Coast Guard has posted on its website a list of vessels that are generally prohibited from entering the navigable waters of the U.S. or transferring cargo in the US under a law designed to tighten sanctions against North Korea and those countries that support it. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act amended the Ports and Waterways Safety Act to require the USCG to maintain timely information on the registrations of all foreign vessels over 300 gross tons that meet certain criteria, including being owned or operated by or on behalf of North Korea, and/or facilitate the transfer, transshipment, or conveyance of significant types or quantities of cargo, vessels, or aircraft owned or controlled by persons designated under applicable UN sactions.
The USCG list is at –
NESTLE BOYCOTTS GUATEMALAN PALM OIL COMPANY FACING CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
On 7th February, OCCRP reported that Nestle had announced that it will no longer purchase palm oil from a Guatemalan company that faces corruption allegations from the Central American island’s prosecutor, and that it would end its relationship with Reforestadora de Palmas del Peten S.A. (Repsa) following allegations that it paid bribes to receive tax credits.
BANKS AND BUSINESSES WARNED TO BE ON ALERT TO INVOICE HIJACKING
An article from Out-Law on 7th February says the ease and growth of so-called ‘invoice hijacking’ fraud cases should be seen as a warning by businesses and individuals to be careful before sending fund transfers. An expert from the law firm behind the website was commenting on a recent case in which an individual was defrauded of £103,670 by persons unknown, who had hacked his email account and intercepted a genuine invoice raised by the individual’s builder.
BANGLADESH TO SUE MANILA BANK OVER $81 MILLION HEIST
Geo TV on 7th February reported that Bangladesh’s central bank will file a lawsuit against a Philippines bank over its role in one of the world’s biggest cyber-heists 2 years ago. Unidentified hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Fed in February 2016, using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system. The money was sent to accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp and then disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.
PAKISTAN NAVY SHIP SEIZES HUGE CACHE OF HASHISH IN ARABIAN SEA
Geo TV on 7th February also reported that a Pakistan Navy (PN) ship operating in the North Arabian Sea seized 5 tonnes of hashish while undertaking maritime security operations in Pakistan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
DOPING AT THE OLYMPICS
In the latest TRACE podcast, Richard Conway of BBC Sports describes the vast state-sponsored Russian doping scandal and how the credibility of global sports is being undermined.
EXPERTS ARE QUESTIONING HOW NORTH KOREA PAID FOR ITS SWANKY SKI RESORTS
Business Insider on 7th February posed this question. North Korea has 2 large ski resorts, estimated to have cost millions of dollars to build. The resorts symbolize the disparity between the growing upper-class comprised of those close to the Kim Jong -Un regime and the rest of North Korea. Experts say that when looking into North Korean finances, finding a paper trail can be tricky. It is unclear whether the resort was paid for by the North Korean treasury or by the Kim family itself, which is reported to have at least $4 billion in overseas bank accounts. Most of the labour appears to have been by the North Korean Army.
‘WEAPONISATION’ OF CROSS-BORDER INVESTMENT
On 7th February, Clifford Chance produced a briefing that says that, in response to increased foreign investment in potentially sensitive sectors such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles and cyber, particularly from China, the US Congress is considering legislation to update the rules governing foreign investment in the US. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2017 (FIRRMA) as currently drafted would expand the government’s review of such transactions by, among other things, covering non-controlling investments, creating mandatory filing requirements for investors with government ownership, and applying entirely new controls on technical collaboration between US and non-US companies.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the government has published proposals to strengthen its powers to review, and potentially block or unwind, investments on national security grounds. Clifford Chance has a podcast with one of its partners on this topic.
CITRUS FRUITS, SCURVY AND THE ORIGINS OF THE SICILIAN MAFIA
More on the history of the Mafia, and its 19th Century and the role of citrus fruit…
and more of the mafias –
€4 MILLION SEIZED FROM HEIRS OF LATE PUGLIA MAFIA BOSS
ANSA reports that Italian police seized €4 million in assets from the heirs of a late Puglia mafia boss. Assets including a bar on the Molfetta seafront and the fruit and vegetables firm where boss Alfredo Fiore was shot and killed in 2014 were seized by finance police. The Puglia mafia, the Sacra Corona Unita (United Holy Crown, SCU), is the fourth and smallest of Italy’s four mafias.
POCA: “FAILURE TO DISCLOSE DOES NOT EQUATE TO NEGLIGENCE”
A briefing from law firm Corker Binning sets out to challenge the conventional wisdom that the failure to disclose offences create a criminal liability founded on proof of an accused’s negligence. It contends that they require proof of an accused’s mens rea akin to recklessness. Part 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) creates 3 types of offence all connected with money laundering, and the briefing is concerned with one of these types – where the Act criminalises a failure to report knowledge or suspicion of this activity.
PROPOSED ACT SEEKS TO REQUIRE LARGE COMPANIES OPERATING IN AUSTRALIA TO REPORT ON MODERN SLAVERY
On 7th February, Littler published an article that says that the Australian Government has announced plans to release draft legislation proposing the introduction of a “modern slavery in supply chains” reporting requirement. The proposal is expected to be released in April 2018 and could require all companies operating in Australia and meeting a threshold of $100 million in total annual global revenue to report annually on their efforts to address modern slavery in their operations and “supply chains”.
THE EFFECT OF THE PUGACHEV JUDGMENT
On 7th February, Baker & Partners reported that in October 2017 the English High Court handed down a significant judgment in which it found that the assets of 5 discretionary trusts settled by Russian oligarch, Sergei Pugachev could be used to satisfy claims by Mr Pugachev’s creditors. He was a Russian businessman, and the founder of Mezhprom Bank, which was once Russia’s leading private bank, and which in 2010 collapsed and he fled to London. It was claimed that he had misappropriated approximately $95 million during the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 and settled it on 5 New Zealand law discretionary trusts into which it could be traced. The court found for the claimants in all claims. The article focuses on claims that the trusts were illusory and so Pugachev had not divested beneficial ownership or, alternatively, the trusts were a sham and he remained the beneficial owner of the assets.
NEW FINCEN BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REQUIREMENTS FOR LEGAL ENTITY CUSTOMERS TO BECOME EFFECTIVE IN MAY 2018
Thompson Coburn reports on 7th February that from 11th May relevant financial institutions have to obtain and record beneficial ownership information. The article explains who the relevant financial institutions are and which customers (“legal entity customers”) for whom the information is required. – which includes corporations and LLC, but not such things as sole proprietors, unincorporated associations and individuals. The article explains what is required.
FUTURE RESTRICTIONS IN THE USE OF TRANSFER PRICING FOR CUSTOMS VALUATION?
On 8th February, Baker McKenzie issued a briefing concerned with a recent ECJ case, C-529/16 Hamamatsu Photonics Deutschland. It says that the judgment is unclear. It appears to prohibit the use of transfer prices which may be subject to retroactive adjustments (upwards or downwards) as the basis for the customs value of goods. This would mean that importers must either altogether ignore such adjustments (whether upwards or downwards), or would instead be required to use one of the alternative (and more burdensome) valuation methods to reflect later adjustments. It also says the decision could have more impact in Member States, such as the UK and Germany, which have not traditionally used such the incomplete/ provisional declaration methodology available in other States. The briefing alerts those who might be affected to monitor the situation ad developments.
SEC ACTION AGAINST $600 MILLION ICO MAY HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE COMPANY’S PARTNERS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS
Mayer Brown on 6th February published a briefing that began by reminding one that on January 25th the SEC brought an action against AriseBank, the issuer of an initial coin offering (ICO), and its founders for conducting an unregistered securities offering and making false statements in connection with the offering. Amazingly, the defendants are alleged to have obtained over half a billion dollars through illegal means in just over 3 months’ time. The focus of the article is on the fact that the SEC not only obtained an emergency freeze of the issuer’s assets but also the appointment of a receiver charged with recovering assets on behalf of investors in the ICO. If the seized assets are insufficient to make those investors whole, the receiver may bring actions against parties, such as banks and exchanges that provided services to AriseBank in connection with the ICO. Such suits routinely allege that financial services companies were either negligent in failing to detect and prevent the misconduct or that they aided and abetted the misconduct.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS RENEWAL OF 4 TERRORISM SANCTIONS DESIGNATIONS
On 8th February, the Isle of Man issued a news release confirming final terrorism designations for Khalid Mishaal, Musa Abu Marzouk, Usama Hamdan and Imad Khalil Al-Alami.
ROMANIAN EX-MINISTER FOUND GUILTY OF GRAFT
Balkan Insight on 8th February reported that Romania’s Supreme Court sentenced former finance minister Darius Valcov to 8 years in prison for money laundering and influence peddling, in one of the country’s most high-profile graft cases.
DIAMONDS AMONG £2.5 MILLION OF ASSETS SEIZED FROM VAT FRAUDSTER
STV on 8th February reported that Ronnie Decker was part of a major fraud scheme to cheat the public purse at Glasgow-based Q-Tech Distribution Ltd. The Crown Office had secured a forfeiture of assets order against Decker in April 2016, but the businessman challenged the ruling in court. The case was settled out of court and property handed over – the diamonds and designer watches were sold at auction in London in December, raising £130,000.
SINGAPORE REGULATOR GIVES CUSTOMER ONBOARDING GUIDANCE
Fintech Futures on 8th February reports that the Singapore regulator, MAS, has issued new guidance to financial institutions on the use of technology solutions for non-face-to-face customer onboarding, saying that it encourages them to use technology that helps to increase efficiency and improve the customer on-boarding experience while safeguarding against money laundering and terrorism financing risks.
ART DEALER QUIZZED AFTER BILLIONAIRE’S FRAUD COMPLAINT
On 8th February, Bloomberg reported that Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier has been questioned by Geneva prosecutors over accusations of fraud tied to his sale of more than $2 billion worth of artwork to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a bitter feud said to have existed between them and have been locked in battle since early 2015 when the Russian filed a criminal complaint for fraud against the Swiss that led to Bouvier’s brief arrest. Rybolovlev has that Bouvier misrepresented the original cost of the works and then overcharged him by as much as $1 billion, but Bouvier says he was merely charging top dollar to a willing buyer who wanted a world-class art collection.
OFAC DESIGNATES 3 PAKISTANIS UNDER TERRORISM SANCTIONS
On 7th February, OFAC issued a news release advising that 3 individuals, Rahman Zeb Faqir Muhammad, Hizb Ullah Astam Khan, and Dilawar Khan Nadir Khan, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). They are accused of various support for terrorist bodies, including Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LeT), a designated terrorist organization based in Pakistan.
EX-BANGLADESH PM JAILED FOR 5 YEARS FOR CORRUPTION
OCCRP on 8th February reported that a court in Dhaka sent the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and opposition leader to prison for 5 years for stealing from an orphanage trust. Khaleda Zia, 72, her son Tarique Rahman and 4 of their aides were convicted of stealing $253,000 in foreign donations received by an orphanage trust set up during her 2001 to 2006 term as prime minister.
DANES BAN GAMBLING WEBSITES
Intergame on 8th February reported that the Danish Gambling Authority has succeeded through the courts in banning 24 websites that it contends is offering illegal gambling to the country. A court has backed the demand, forcing the country’s communications companies to block the pages. The request to block the sites was made in September last year as they did not have a licence to offer gambling in Denmark. 6 of the sites are skin betting pages and are said to target players under 18
FUGITIVE MEMBER OF MIGRANT SMUGGLING NETWORK WANTED IN HUNGARY ARRESTED IN TENERIFE
On 8th February, Europol reported that the Migrant Smuggling Unit of the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation is leading a high-profile investigation into an organised crime group (OCG) suspected of being involved in various smuggling incidents for financial gain during the 2015-2016 migration crisis. During the investigation it was established that one Hungarian member of the migrant smuggling ring fled Hungary to an unknown location, fearing criminal charges. A European Arrest Warrant was issued as the fugitive’s whereabouts was unknown, and he has now been arrested by Guardia Civile in Tenerife.
HONG KONG REGULATOR UPDATES AUTHORISATION GUIDELINES ON ‘VIRTUAL BANKS’
Out-Law on 8th February reported that technology companies, as well as existing financial institutions, are free to apply to own and operate ‘virtual banks’ in Hong Kong, a financial regulator in the city has said.
ALGERIAN JEWELLER HOSPITALISED IN ISTANBUL AFTER SMUGGLING 290 BANKNOTES IN ANAL CANAL
On 8th February, Hurriyet in Turkey reported that an Algerian jeweller, who has illegally smuggled 288 banknotes worth €144,200 in his anal canal, has been sent to his home country after undergoing surgery in Turkey. Salah Mennaoui, 67, arrived from Algeria to buy gold. It says that because there was a limit to the amount of money he could carry with him, he had stashed the money in his anal canal. However, when was unable to get the banknotes out, he was rushed to a nearby private hospital after falling ill at his hotel.
EU: REGULATING THE IMPORT OF CULTURAL GOODS
On 8th February, the EU Parliament Think Tank published a briefing that points out that currently, with the exception of 2 specific measures for Iraq and Syria, there is no EU legislation covering the import of cultural goods from third countries entering the EU; and the national legislation in this area introduced by some Member States are divergent. A legislative proposal for a new EU Regulation intends to prevent the import and storage in the EU of cultural goods that have been removed from a third country illegally, and thereby to combat trafficking in cultural goods, deprive terrorists of a source of income, and protect cultural heritage.
GERMANY CLOSES PROBE INTO BALKAN ARMS TRANSFERS TO SYRIA
Balkan Insight on 8th February reported that a German prosecutor will not launch a full investigation into BIRN revelations that Balkan weapons bound for US-backed Syrian rebels passed through Ramstein airbase. It is said that while it did not rule out that weapons bound for Syria had passed through the US airbase , “no indications of concrete arms transports” via Ramstein were discovered, precluding the launch of a criminal investigation. In September 2017, it was claimed that the Pentagon had used misleading end-user certificate for weapons destined for Syria, declaring that the equipment would be used by the “US government” and making no mention of Syria. It did, however, allow for the goods to be transferred to unspecified “partner forces”.
EU-RUSSIA RELATIONS – 5 GUIDING PRINCIPLES
On 8th February, the EU Parliament Think Tank published an updated briefing that began by saying that while EU-Russia relations had long been difficult, in 2014 they took an abrupt turn for the worse, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and fomented separatist insurgencies in eastern Ukraine. The briefing outlines the 5 guiding principles of the EU’s policy towards Russia adopted in 2016. These principles are still the foundation of EU-Russia relations –
- insisting on full implementation of the Minsk Agreements before economic sanctions against Russia are lifted;
- pursuing closer relations with the former Soviet republics in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood (including Ukraine) and central Asia;
- becoming more resilient to Russian threats such as energy security, hybrid threats, and disinformation;
- despite tensions, engaging selectively with Russia on a range of foreign-policy issues, among them co-operation on the Middle East, counter-terrorism and climate change; and
- increasing support for Russian civil society and promoting people-to-people contacts, given that sanctions target the regime rather than Russian people.
INSIDE NORTH KOREA’S HACKER ARMY
On 8th February Bloomberg Businessweek published an article saying that the North Korean regime in Pyongyang has sent hundreds of programmers to other countries. Their mission: Make money by any means necessary. The article outlines what their lives are like.
OPCW FACT-FINDING MISSION INVESTIGATING ALLEGATIONS OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE IN SYRIA
On 8th February, Homeland Preparedness reports that an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission is currently investigating recent allegations about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
ILLEGAL MONEY LENDER FOUND GUILTY TO CHARGES BROUGHT BY UK FCA
On 8th February, Monde Visione reported on the outcome of a court case in which Dharam Prakash Gopee was found guilty of illegal money lending, He described himself as “a lender of last resort” and engaged with consumers who were often vulnerable and in difficult circumstances. He regularly registered charges over the homes of borrowers to enable him to take possession of a property if the borrower failed to pay the debt. During the period from August 2012 to December 2016, he entered into 147 new credit agreements with new consumers, for sums, usually in small amounts, and totalling over £1,000,000.
ISRAEL MAY HAVE BOMBED CHEMICAL WEAPONS SITE IN SYRIA
The BBC reported on 7th February that Israeli warplanes have fired missiles at a Syrian military position near Damascus, according to Syrian media. A monitor said ammunition depots in Jamraya were hit. It is the location of a scientific facility where the West suspects chemical weapons are produced.
NEW YORK AUTHORITIES ISSUE GUIDANCE AND REMINDER OF NEED FOR VIRTUAL CURRENCY OPERATORS TO FOLLOW RULES
On 7th February, Mone Visione reported that the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has issued guidance reminding all virtual currency entities licensed by New York State, including those that hold a money transmitter licence that they are required to implement measures designed to effectively detect, prevent, and respond to fraud, attempted fraud, and similar wrongdoing. In addition, DFS reminded virtual currency companies that they must be especially vigilant against efforts at market manipulation.
AL-QAEDA TRYING TO REGROUP IN TUNISIA AFTER ISLAMIC STATE SETBACKS
Defence Web on 8th February reports that the killing of a senior Algerian militant by special forces soon after he slipped into Tunisia has raised concern that al-Qaeda is trying to regroup in the North African state as rival Islamic State has suffered major setbacks, security sources say. Tunisian special forces killed Bilel Kobi, a top aide to Abdelmalek Droukdel, better known as Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),
LIBYAN SMUGGLERS RESCUE MIGRANTS, THEN LOCK THEM UP
On 8th February, Defence Web reported that about 20 people feared to have drowned on a boat that sank off Libya were rescued by smugglers and are being held at an unknown location. The group includes 8 Pakistanis, one who called officials to say smugglers were holding him in a locked room with other survivors. The fact that he and they were Pakistani might be a surprise, but the article explains that Pakistanis are the third largest national group, after Eritreans and Tunisians. Pakistanis resident in Libya for decades, many working in the gold business, tried to leave because of the collapse in the value of the Libyan dinar and a severe liquidity crisis. Others have found their way to Libya through smuggling networks.
3 INDIVIDUALS INDICTED IN US FOR VISA FRAUD SCHEME FOR PROFIT
On 8th February, the DoJ in a news release reported that 3 individuals – Stella Boyadjian, 47, of New York; Hrachya Atoyan, 30, of Glendale, California; and Diana Grigoryan aka “Dina Akopovna,” 41, of Armenia – were indicted in the Eastern District of New York for their alleged roles in a multi-year visa fraud scheme that brought Armenian citizens into the US for profit. The DoJ says that they allegedly provided Armenian nationals with fake dance certificates and staged photos in traditional costumes.
KENT MAN ON RUN FOR 11 YEARS OVER £4 MILLION FRAUD FOUND IN SPAIN BY POLICE
The BBC on 8th February reported that Jean Paul Dalton, 53, from Kent and wanted by police for 11 years has been found in Spain and charged over a £4 million fraud case. He is accused of working with others to fraudulently obtain credit for goods and fuel, and VAT repayments in the names of companies that were not trading between 2003 and 2008, and has bene on the run since failing to answer bail in 2007.
MAURITIUS – A JURISDICTION IN TRANSITION?
On 18th January, Tax News published a briefing on Mauritius, its government and legal system and its economy and business environment.
STATE REGULATORS AGREE TO MULTI-STATE LICENSING PROCESS FOR MONEY SERVICE BUSINESSES IN US
On 8th February, Ballard Spahr reported that the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) in the US has announced that 7 states have agreed to a multi-state compact that, according to the CSBS, “standardises key elements of the licensing process for money services businesses (MSB)”. The 7 states consist of Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. The CSBS expects other states to join the compact.