Squire Patton Boggs on 26th April reported on an ongoing court case involving Future Bank, formed by Iran’s Bank Melli and Bank Sadarat with Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank in 2004. However, by 2015, Bahraini regulators had placed Future Bank into administration and, by 2016, had closed the bank, on suspicions of money laundering. This prompted Banks Melli and Saderat to bring an action in The Hague, claiming breach of the 2002 Bahrain-Iran Bilateral Investment Treaty for the Promotion and Protection of Investments. They also sought the return of assets they allege were misappropriated by Bahrain. Banks Melli and Saderat also contend that Bahrain’s closure of Future Bank was attributable to political pressure from Saudi Arabia. Both Iranian banks had been designated under US sanctions from 2005. Evidence submitted in the case claims the joint venture afforded Iran “secret access” to the international monetary system in defiance of US and other international sanctions intended to isolate Iran and facilitating $7 billion of trade. It is claimed that, as a result, Future Bank may have facilitated business for purposes of organised crime, arms proliferation and terrorism, with an audit apparently identifying “hundreds of bank accounts tied to individuals convicted of crimes including money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as phantom loans provided to companies that operate as fronts for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
29th April 2018
CHINA TO BAN ONLINE AND MOBILE POKER
The Express Tribune IN Pakistan on 29th April reported that shares in Chinese companies offering online and mobile poker games have shed up to a fifth of their value over a week, following reports in local media that the government would ban all poker-related applications from June 1st. There has been no official statement so far and the ministry did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS BEGIN LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ITALIAN ARMS COMPANY
Ekklesia on 28th April reported that a coalition of human rights organisations from Germany, Italy and Yemen have begun a legal action against a European arms manufacturer and officials in Italy. The legal action is brought by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Yemen-based Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights and the Italian organisation Rete Italiana per il Disarmo. The legal challenge focuses on a particular bombing of the village of Deir al-Jari in Hudaydah, Yemen, which took place on 8th October 2016. On 17th April, the groups filed a complaint with prosecutors in Rome against the Italian company RWM Italia, a subsidiary of German arms company Rheinmetall, and officials in the Italian arms export licensing agency. The complaint asks prosecutors to investigate whether there is liability on the part of the officials and RWM Italia directors over alleged arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.
10 INVOLVED IN HAWALA RACKET ARRESTED IN INDIA
The Hindustan Times in its 30th April edition reported that they were arrested while they were returning by a flight from Dubai. It is alleged that the accused would carry credit cards of international banks and cash to Dubai by flight and hand over the same to an operative who would use the same to fund smuggling of gold and electronic items in the country. To date, 24 people have been arrested in the case and 27 more are wanted.
EGYPTIAN POLICE FOIL 8 ISLAMIC RELICS SMUGGLING RUN TO LEBANON
Al Bawaba on 29th April reported that the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities received 8 ancient Islamic artefacts that have been confiscated at Badr harbour last October. The pieces, which were confiscated during a smuggling attempt to Lebanon, have been put on display in the Islamic Art museum in Bab Al-Khalq, Cairo, according to Ministry of Antiquities Facebook page. The Head of Central Administration of Archaeological Units in Ports said that the confiscated pieces include 6 ceramic artefacts that date back to the 19th Century, including a vase, a tea set and 2 metal punnets on which King Farouk’s crest engraved.
BOSNIA STRUGGLES TO COPE WITH MIGRANTS AS ‘BALKAN ROUTE’ TAKES A NEW TURN
The Irish Times on 29th April reported that Bosnia and international organisations are calling for urgent action to manage a surge in the number of migrants arriving in the country, which people smugglers are now using to bypass tighter borders along the “Balkan route” in the EU. More than 1,800 migrants are said to have entered Bosnia so far this year – well over double the number for the whole of 2017.
UK ANNOUNCES CONSULTATION ON CRACKING DOWN ON SCOTTISH LIMITED PARTNERSHIPS (SLP)
On 29th April, Manx Radio repeated a Sky News story that said that UK Ministers have announced plans to crack down on a business loophole which has been used by overseas criminals to launder dirty foreign money. Government research shows one laundering scheme used 100 SLPs to move up to £60 billion out of Russia. Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLP) were first created in 1907 for farm holdings. The Government is launching a consultation on further measures to prevent their abuse. They include a requirement that users have a real connection to the UK and do business or maintain an address in Scotland, closing a loophole which means they can be used by anyone around the world. It is also proposing that new SLP should be registered through a company formation agent, meaning the “front men” will be subjected to anti-money laundering checks.
RESPONSE TO AN INSPECTION REPORT ON UK EXIT CHECKS
On 28th April, the Home Office published a response to the Independent Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration’s report on an inspection of exit checks, which included achievements and recommendations for improvement.
FINCEN ADVISORY ON THE FATF-IDENTIFIED JURISDICTIONS WITH AML/CFT DEFICIENCIES
On 27th April, FinCEN issued an Advisory containing details of the list issued by FATF on 23rd February.
The BBC reported on 29th April that a judge has warned of “systemic failures” in disclosing evidence after a £500,000 red diesel excise duty fraud trial collapsed. A linked trial also had to be abandoned due to errors on the part of investigating officers from HMRC. HMRC said it accepted the failings and was working with the CPS to learn from the incident. In December 2013, HMRC raided tanker driver Peter Norton’s home. He was charged with others with conspiracy by selling nearly £500,000 of laundered so-called red diesel fuel. Red diesel is only legal for off-road vehicles such as tractors and has a much lower duty rate. The fraud involving the fuel works by removing the red dye to make it look like regular diesel before the fuel is then sold on fraudulently at the higher VAT rate. Peter Norton has always denied any wrongdoing.
The Times of India on 29th April reported that Tramadol, a painkiller pharmaceutical drug, has been declared a “psychotropic substance” by the government and its sale in the country will now be strictly monitored after the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) said it was being internationally smuggled, and had possible supply links to the global terror group ISIS. The synthetic opiate is known to be abused on a wide scale by terrorists of the so-called ISIS to suppress pain and boost strength during injury and hence, is also known as the ‘fighter drug’ among international anti-narcotics authorities.
All Africa on 29th April reported that Somalia will host a 2-day international conference in May aimed at stopping the illegal charcoal trade in the Horn of Africa nation and which will bring together Somali environment experts and international donor partners, will discuss ways of stopping the illegal trade, unsustainable production and use of charcoal in the country. According to the UN, 8.2 million trees were cut down for charcoal in Somalia between 2011 and 2017, increasing land degradation and food insecurity, and illegal trade in charcoal acts as major source of funding for militias and terrorist groups such as al-Shabab.
28th April 2018
ENHANCED UK POWERS TO SCRUTINISE MERGERS ON GROUNDS OF NATIONAL SECURITY
On 27th April, Travers Smith LLP published an article saying that the U K government is to introduce enhanced powers to scrutinise mergers on grounds of national security and is considering further, more substantial such powers. This briefing looks at what these changes are likely to mean and whether they represent a move towards a more protectionist approach.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE BELIZE COMPANIES – DEADLINE 1ST JULY
AGP Law in Cyprus produced a briefing on 27th April explaining changes to Belize company laws. The changes are said to be in in order to achieve full recognition within the evolving international standards of transparency promoted by FATF and OECD. This includes that the Registered Office in Belize will be bound to maintain files with the proper information about the ultimate beneficial owner of companies that they provide services to. Every company which has issued bearer shares shall convert such shares into registered shares and cancel all bearer share certificates, if any.
STOLEN SOMALI WEAPONS FOR SALE ON OPEN MARKET
Defence Web on 26th April reported that at least 600 weapons stolen from a former UAE-run training centre in Mogadishu are for sale in the city, weapons dealers said. The weapons, including new Kalashnikov assault rifles and Chinese versions of them, were stolen by Somali National Army soldiers trained by the UAE at its facility, 3 Somalis who purchased weapons from the soldiers told Reuters. The UAE ended its training programme on April 15th, shortly after security forces at Mogadishu airport seized millions of dollars and temporarily held a UAE plane. The UAE-trained troops began stealing weapons from the facility shortly after the programme was disbanded, dealers said. Soldiers sold guns directly to the dealers and indirectly via their brokers. The looting apparently occurred while the UAE was in the process of emptying its training centre. Meanwhile, a ship docked at Mogadishu port was loaded with equipment from the UAE training centre, including several dozen shipping containers of weapons, dozens of armoured vehicles fitted with anti-aircraft guns and hundreds of cars, a port staff member told Reuters.
PATRICK HO SOUGHT HELP FROM BEIJING TO FIGHT BRIBERY CHARGES, COURT DOCUMENTS SHOW
The South China Morning Post on 28th April reported that that the prosecutor has accused former Hong Kong minister Ho of getting financial support for his legal fees from an unnamed Shanghai-based energy firm.
PHARMACISTS IN IRELAND ALARMED OVER RISE IN ILLEGAL MEDICATIONS
RTE on 28th April reported that there has been a 40% increase in the amount of counterfeit or illegal medications seized in Ireland, according to the Irish Pharmacy Union. Last year almost 1 million medical doses were seized – half of which were steroids. The union fears that many of these anabolic steroids are being used by people to build muscle mass and improve sport performance.
US WHITE COLLAR CRIME ENFORCEMENT LEGAL TRENDS
On 28th April, Harris Beach PLC advised that Harris Beach attorney Brian Mahoney presented a national webinar on “White-Collar Crime Enforcement: Legal Trends and Developments in 2017 and Beyond,” hosted by The Knowledge Group. The article lists the white collar crimes targeted by US prosecutors, and the factors taken into consideration by prosecutors. It also considers trends in FCPS (bribery/corruption) enforcement, and the status of the Yates memo that said that the DoJ would prioritise prosecution of individuals in corporate misconduct investigations.
The webinar itself is available on You Tube –
AUSTRALIA SENDING PLANE TO MONITOR NORTH KOREAN SHIPS’ ‘ILLICIT TRADE’
The Guardian in Australia on 28th April reported that a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft will look for ship-to-ship transfers of goods prohibited under UN sanctions. Apparently, Canada is also send aircraft, and the Royal Navy some ships.
FIFA BANS BRAZILIAN FEDERATION CHIEF OVER GRAFT
Baker McKenzie on 28th April reported that FIFA has banned Brazilian confederation president Marco Polo Del Nero from all football-related activity for life after he was found guilty of receiving bribes.
Guardian on 27th April reports that books of gibberish are listed on Amazon.com for thousands of dollars. “Worthless” books priced at up to thousands, of dollars and which contain only nonsensical text have been identified as possible vehicles for money laundering by an author whose name was, he says, used to send almost $24,000 to an unknown and fraudulent seller. It is relatively straightforward to publish a title that contains any text, provided that this isn’t “placeholder” or dummy text and allowing fake books to be sold on the Amazon website at a price chosen by the seller.