13th May 2018
CHATHAM HOUSE PODCAST: LIBYA’S WAR ECONOMY
In the second part of a podcast from 4th May, 7 years on from the fall of Gadaffi, Tim Eaton is interviewed about his recent report which explores the chaotic war economy that has developed in the vacuum. He speaks about smuggling, tribal factions and what must be done to resolve a growing crisis. Worth a listen to provide useful background to the chaos there.
WILDLIFE NETWORK OF SOUTH ASIAN COUNTRIES TO GET MORE TEETH
The Hindu on 13th May reported that the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), an inter-governmental wildlife law enforcement agency, in its first ever meeting in India, adopted many resolutions to curb wildlife crime in the region. SAWEN was launched in Bhutan in 2011 and in 2016 the Union Cabinet in India gave permission to adopt the statute of SAWEN. A regional director of the organisation is quoted as saying that India is a source country for smuggling of species of both plants and animals. Most of these wildlife products are smuggled to SE Asia and China and the route goes through the country along with neighbouring countries.
EAST AFRICA: 400 TONNES OF CONTRABAND SUGAR DUMPED IN INDIAN OCEAN
All Africa on 12th May reported that the illegal sugar was smuggled to the Mombasa port in Kenya from Dubai. The sugar which was in 16 containers had been declared as machine parts when they were intercepted in February 2016. The authorities said they were doing it to make an example of people like the smugglers by taking the decision to destroy the 400 tonnes by pouring it into the ocean. Another 162 containers of confiscated contraband goods will be destroyed next week.
MAN ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTED SMUGGLING OF RARE ANIMALS INTO JAPAN
Japan Today on 13th May reported that a 61-year-old man has been arrested after he arrived at Narita airport, east of Tokyo, last year with rare animals in his baggage, police and Tokyo Customs said. He was arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle rare animals and birds including 12 spotted owlets and 6 woodland dormice when he arrived from Thailand.
MALTA ISSUES NEW RULES FOR COLLECTIVE INVESTMENT SCHEMES INVESTING IN VIRTUAL CURRENCIES
Dixcart briefing IN527 says that in October 2017 the Government of Malta published a public consultation paper, proposing a new set of rules to regulate collective investment schemes using virtual currency. Further to industry responses, a feedback statement was issued in January 2018. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has developed and published a ‘rulebook’ to regulate Professional Investor Funds (PIF) which propose investing in virtual currency as their main investment objective.
NOTIFICATION OF TOBACCO OR HERBAL PRODUCTS FOR SMOKING
On 11th May, Public Health England published guidance for businesses needing to notify the government that they are placing a tobacco or herbal smoking product on the market in the UK.
ISLE OF MAN AND E-GAMING: SUPPORTING OPERATORS TO RELOCATE
A Dixcart briefing, IN526, says that the Isle of Man has been attracting e-gaming companies to set up their business on island for almost 20 years. It says that the government has created a wide-ranging support package to attract and retain businesses of many types, including e-Gaming. A brief outline of 5 of these initiatives is provided, and case study is also included.
POLICE OFFICER TO REPAY £368,000 MADE THROUGH SELLING ACCIDENT VICTIMS’ DETAILS TO A PERSONAL INJURY FIRM
On 13th May, the Law Society Gazette reported that a former police officer who made fortunes selling accident victims’ details to a personal injury firm manager has been ordered to return the money. Nigel Mungur, a former immediate response officer with Lancashire Police, was ordered to pay almost £368,000 following a proceeds of crime hearing at Chester Crown Court. He had been jailed in October after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, money laundering and unauthorised access to a computer. He had accessed more than 20,000 accident logs over 7 years, selling the information on to John Helton, who was business development manager at Liverpool firm GT Law.
THE MADEIRA FREE TRADE ZONE
Dixcart briefing IN519 provides a potted history and the advantages of the Madeira Free Trade Zone since 1980. Also known as the “Madeira International Business Centre” (MIBC), it was sanctioned by the EU upon Portugal’s entry into the EU, with the aim of diversifying the regional economy which was previously dependent on agriculture and tourism in the 1980s. The MIBC policies, consisting of a set of incentives predominantly of a tax nature, were authorised by the EU for a limited period of time (currently extended to the end of 2027), and granted based on the objective of attracting international and domestic investment into Madeira.
NEW HMRC POWER: DIRECT RECOVERY OF TAX DEBTS
On 11th May, the House of Commons Library produced a briefing paper which discusses the introduction of a new power, initially announced in the 2014 Budget, to allow HMRC to recover debts for both tax and tax credits directly from individuals’ bank and building society accounts.
BRIEFING: REGISTERS OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP
On 10th May, the House of Commons Library published a briefing which looks at the development of beneficial ownership registers in the UK and around the world.
TORY DONOR EMBROILED IN £43 MILLION FRAUD ALLEGATIONS IS NOW ACCUSED OF BRIBING HIGH-RANKING CARIBBEAN POLITICIANS
The Daily Mail reported on 13th May that property tycoon Peter Singh Virdee is accused of bribing the politicians after secretly taped telephone calls emerged in a UK High Court judgment. Mr Virdee and business associate Dieter Trutschler were taped making references to the topic of payments or gifts to government officials. Mr Virdee, 44, runs the £4 billion B&S Property group in Mayfair.
UK EXPORT OF OBJECTS OF CULTURAL INTEREST REPORT 2016/17
On 11th May, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published the 63rd annual report on the Export of Objects of Cultural Interest by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest. Between 1st May 2016 and 30th April 2017, 22 cases were considered by the Reviewing Committee. 15 were deferred by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport following the recommendation of the Committee.
US INVESTIGATING DUTCH BANK EXECUTIVES FOR DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING
OCCRP on 11th May reported that US investigators are looking into how former executives of a Dutch banking giant may have obstructed an investigation into its California branch that laundered hundreds of millions dollars of Mexican drug-cartel money. The DoJ aims to raise charges against ex-CEO John Ryan, Rabobank’s former general counsel and a former compliance chief, for obstructing the investigation into the lender’s failures to prevent money laundering, according to 2 sources. The US Office of Comptroller of the Currency also wants to sanction the executives, said a source. OCC informed the former compliance chief, Laura Akahoshi, that it intends to ban her from banking and fine her.
HOW TECH CAN COMBAT ILLEGAL WILDLIFE CRIME
On 10th May, Tech UK reported that it was to host a roundtable discussion in June with the FCO to discuss how the UK tech sector can support international efforts. The article provides brief details of some of the compelling examples of how technology is making a difference.
BROTHER OF HONDURAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL INDICATED FOR LAUNDERING BRIBES IN NEW ORLEANS
Buckley Sander on 11th May reported that the US DoJ had announced the indictment of a Honduran national, Carlos Alberto Zelaya Rojas, for trying to launder more than $1.3 million in bribes that had been paid to his brother, the former Executive Director of the Honduran Institute of Social Security. The bribes had been paid by 2 Honduran businessmen. The indictment alleges that Zelaya Rojas conspired with his brother to launder the funds through international wire transfers and the purchase of real estate in the New Orleans area.
METHODOLOGY: HOW THEY TRACKED THE ILLEGAL SHIPMENT OF SARIN PRECURSOR FROM BELGIUM TO SYRIA
Bellingcat on 19th April published a piece explaining how the alleged unlicensed export of isopropanol to Syria since sanctions came into play in 2013 was traced and tracked.
MALTA’S GOOD BET
On 9th May, the IMF Blog posted an article saying that Malta has become a hub for gambling and betting companies: nowhere else in the EU does this sector account for such a large part of the economy as on Malta. While the gambling and betting boom contributes to the country’s trade balance and job creation, it also draws attention to a skills shortage and infrastructure gaps the sector is grappling with, a recent IMF Paper shows.
COCAINE SEIZURES DOUBLED IN SPAIN LAST YEAR, FORCING TRAFFICKERS TO SEEK ALTERNATE SMUGGLING ROUTES
Illicit Trade reports that police in Spain seized 32 tonnes of cocaine last year, more than double the 15 tonnes they recovered in 2016, the interior ministry has announced. Spain, which has long been a major entry point for smugglers looking to get their narcotics into Europe, but the crackdown has resulted in traffickers being forced to establish new routes into the continent, through countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands. One “new” technique involves trafficking gangs arranging for drug packages fitted with geolocation devices to be thrown into the sea from merchant ships, which are then recovered from the water by fishing boats or yachts [in fact, an old technique, with even its own name – coopering].
SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE POLICE FIND COCAINE HIDDEN IN FRESH PINEAPPLES
Illicit Trade has reported that a joint operation conducted by Spanish and Portuguese police has resulted in the seizure of 745 kg of cocaine concealed inside fresh pineapples. t is believed the cocaine was smuggled by sea from Panama, before arriving in the port of Lisbon. Raids on the gang’s premises also resulted in the seizure of 3 packing machines, nearly €400,000 in cash and 2 hydraulic presses. In a statement, police said the gang stored its drugs in the Catalonian city of Terrasa, prior to shifting them to its Madrid labs every 15 to 20 days.