25th May 2018
GERMAN FOREIGN FIGHTERS IN SOMALIA 2010-2016
The latest edition of the CTC Sentinel included this article about foreign fighters who travelled from Germany to take part in the conflict in Somalia. The precis says that Somalia became one of the main jihadi destinations for German foreign terrorist fighters in the years 2010-2012. A significant portion of these Somali and non-Somali foreign fighters belonged to a group of al-Shabaab sympathisers that had formed in Bonn before their departure to Somalia. Several of these foreign fighters had kinship ties. For the non-Somali Germans who joined al-Shabaab, Somalia was a secondary option after failed attempts to reach other jihadi arenas. For the majority of those who joined the group from Germany, al-Shabaab turned out to be an unwelcoming host organization, with the majority of German recruits opting to escape Somalia. Recent trials in Germany of these returnees shed new light on their initial mobilization and their experiences in Somalia.
EXPLORING PRO-ISLAMIC STATE INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL ON TELEGRAM
Also in the latest edition of CTC Sentinel, this article dealt with a study of 98 pro-Islamic State channels on the social media tool Telegram containing instructional material collected between June and December 2017. The messaging application Telegram is now the preferred platform of online Islamic State supporters, after replacing mainstream social media applications on the surface web (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). While materials that direct followers toward committing attacks remain a great concern for counterterrorism agencies, dissemination of instructions on cybersecurity and operational security may be equally dangerous.
EXAMINING A FEMALE GUESTHOUSE REGISTRY FROM THE ISLAMIC STATE’S CALIPHATE
A final article from the May edition of CTC Sentinel involves a recently acquired log book from a guesthouse in Syria which provides important and revealing information about 1,100 females who transited the location over the course of 4 months. Analysis of the females’ ages, marital status, countries of origin, and other data points from the log book provides an empirical data point suggesting a diverse array of motivations of women who travelled into the Islamic State and contextualizes these findings for practitioners in the counterterrorism field. The article does caution that not that all women who transited into the caliphate were members of the Islamic State. Rather, this analysis has shown that these women are a diverse group in terms of age, country of origin, and family status. The motivations for their travel are likely to be similarly diverse.
ITALY SEIZES SMUGGLED EGYPT ARTEFACTS
The Middle East Monitor on 24th May reported that Italy has seized 118 ancient Egyptian artefacts which were smuggled out of Egypt, according to an official statement released by the Ministry of Antiquities. The pieces include a collection of pottery vessels, coins and parts of sarcophagi and a few pieces belong to Islamic civilisation.
SMUGGLING OF HAZARDOUS WASTE COMES TO LIGHT IN THAILAND
The Nation on 24th May reported that Chinese investors suspected of dumping electronic waste in Thailand after officials launched inspections at an electronic parts importing company accused of distributing imported hazardous electronic materials to waste management plants. An environmental law expert said that a legal loophole in the Basel Convention banning transnational hazardous waste movements had been exploited by the network of smugglers, with the situation exacerbated by a lack of co-operation between responsible agencies. The Basel Convention allows the importing of electronic parts for second-hand applications, so these companies take advantage of this exemption and falsely declare the environmentally harmful electronic waste as second-hand electronics to avoid the ban. At least up to 96 tonnes of environmentally harmful waste, including e-waste, has been carelessly disposed of in Thailand, the investigation found. The reports says that officers have found that 3 companies – OGI Co Ltd, GPL Metal Group International Co Ltd, and Virogreen – were responsible for importing electronic parts from various places around the globe and transferring them to the recycling company, WMD Thai Recycling Co Ltd. There parts suitable for reuse would be segregated, while the remainder of parts and toxic substances were disposed of by the lowest cost and improper methods at disposal plants.
$28.6 MILLION IN CASH SEIZED IN EX-MALAYSIA PM’S 1MDB-RELATED GRAFT PROBE
WBAL 1090 in the US reported that Malaysian police say the cash stashed in bags at an apartment linked to former Prime Minister Najib Razak and seized amounted to $28.6 million. Police seized 284 expensive designer handbags and 72 items of luggage stuffed with cash, jewellery and watches from an unoccupied apartment at a high-end Kuala Lumpur condominium.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg on 24th May published a short catch-up reminder of the 1MDB scandal.
PILATUS: MALTA BANK WAS SET UP WITH ‘CRIMINAL PROCEEDS’, SAY PROSECUTORS
The FT.com and Times of Malta on 25th May reported that the Pilatus private bank in Malta was set up using money from Iran and Venezuelan sanctions-busting, according to US prosecutor claims in an indictment, and then used to launder funds linked to high-ranking government officials.
NEW RESEARCH INTO DISRUPTING WILDLIFE-LINKED ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS IN EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
On 24th May, the Royal United Services Institute announced that it will launch of a new research and training programme focussed on disrupting the illicit funds earned from illegal wildlife trade in East and Southern Africa, with a focus on Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. ‘Following the Money II: Disrupting Wildlife-Linked Illicit Financial Flows in East and Southern Africa’, funded by the UK government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, which aims to enhance global efforts to tackle wildlife trafficking. The project will culminate in the production of rapid reference guides and e-learning courses to disseminate best practice in ‘following the money’.
LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN CLASS ACTIONS, MULTI-CLAIMANT ACTIONS, AND CROSS-BORDER LITIGATION IN THE EU AND US
Law firm Hogan Lovells has published a report saying that when it comes to collective actions, legal boundaries in Europe have been blurring for years: now they are blurred. Collective actions across the EU have evolved and are still doing so. EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) already provides for a European right to collective action. The reports says that it is important to have a jurisdictional overview of the collective actions happening in the EU Member States, and an overview of one of the most recent class action cases in the US, with a focus on jurisdictional issues. This document captures the most essential collective action developments across the EU Member States and the US.
APPEAL COURT TO HEAR FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY’S REVISION PETITION SEEKING RELEASE IN AVANT GARDE CASE ON MAY 31ST
Colombo Page on 25th May reported that the Sri Lankan Court of Appeal has fixed the hearing of a revision petition filed by the former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa requesting the court to release him and 7 other defendents from the charges filed by the bribery Commission over the floating armoury of the Avant Garde Maritime Services. The defendants are accused of causing a financial loss to the Government by paving the way for the operation of a floating armoury. The application is on a technical point, that the Director General of Bribery Commission had not obtained a written approval from the Commission before taking legal action against him and the other suspects.
MNANGAGWA TARGETS HIGH-PROFILE GRAFT CASES
News Day in Zimbabwe on 25th May reported that the justice minister has revealed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s move to set up a special anti-corruption unit in his office came after realising that other State security agencies were reluctant to tackle high-profile graft cases.
FIRST CANADIAN CANNABIS BUSINESS LISTING ON NYSE
On 24th May, law firm Gowling WLG reported that Canada’s largest cannabis company has became the first marijuana producer to be approved for listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The listing of Canopy Growth Corporation, with a market capitalisation of C$7.74 billion, represents another milestone as major Canadian investment dealers and US stock exchanges are demonstrating a willingness to wade into the cannabis industry for the first time. In January/February, the Bank of Montreal (BMO) co-led Canopy’s C$200 million bought deal public offering, the first time a major Canadian bank-owned dealer had accepted an engagement from an issuer with marijuana-related activities.
INTERPOL GOES PUBLIC WITH RED NOTICE FOR UK “MOST WANTED” MURDER SUSPECT
On 25th may, Interpol issued a news release saying that, at the request of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Manchester, INTERPOL has made public extracts of the internationally wanted persons Red Notice for Shane O’Brien, chief suspect in the 2015 murder of 21-year-old Josh Hanson. It also says that an illustration of the important role the general public can play in helping police detect fugitives globally, extracts of more than 6000 Red Notices are currently available for public consultation on INTERPOL’s public web page. While some member countries choose to make an extract publicly available, most Red Notices are restricted to law enforcement use only.
CONSPIRACY TO SMUGGLE DRUGS WORTH £2 MILLION INTO NORTH WALES
The Leader on 24th May reported that a conspiracy to smuggle drugs worth nearly £2 million, often using phoney business fronts, into North Wales from China and Hong Kong was discovered in parcels seized by customs officers and sparked an investigation by North Wales Police – Operation Fasti – which unearthed a sophisticated plan to produce and supply steroids which would have netted the criminals a profit of £1.2million.
COSTA RICA ARRESTS POINT TO SECURITY FORCES’ GROWING DRUG TRADE TIES
Insight Crime on 24th May reported Authorities in Costa Rica have arrested several members of a drug trafficking network led by former security officials, highlighting a trend of deepening security force corruption in the Central American nation fuelled by its expanding role as a drug transhipment point. Costa Rican authorities have arrested 22 alleged members of a transport group headed by former members of the country’s coast guard and police. The recent arrests in Costa Rica suggest that current and former security forces there are also now playing a more central role in aiding transport groups.
2018 AFP PAYMENTS FRAUD AND CONTROL SURVEY
The latest survey report from the Association of Financial Professionals in the US reports that payments fraud activity at a record high in 2017. Cheque fraud continues to be the primary target, while Business Email Compromise is of increasing concern. As businesses are investing heavily in security measures, attacks against payments systems continue to persist, often shifting to the businesses’ less-protected, alternative payment methods.
HMRC NATIONAL IMPORT RELIEFS UNIT
On 25th May, HMRC released updated information on its NIRU which controls imports on certain goods from outside the EU. It is the single national office responsible for the control of imports from outside the EU, where any of the following procedures and reliefs have been used: Inward Processing (IP) using an authorisation by declaration; Community System of Duty Reliefs (CSDR); Outward Processing Relief (OPR) using an authorisation by declaration; Returned Goods Relief (RGR); End-Use using an authorisation by declaration; and Onward Supply Relief (OSR).
GROUNDING OF REGIONAL AIRLINE SA EXPRESS SAID TO BE “IMPACT OF CORRUPTION AND MALFEASANCE”
Defence Web on 25th May reported that the grounding of State-owned regional airline SA Express was described by the Public Enterprises Minister as “a classic example of the impact of corruption and malfeasance on South Africa’s national assets”. The airline was grounded after the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) suspended its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and Certificate of Airworthiness (COA) and grounded 9 of its 21-strong fleet of aircraft. The minister also referred to the safety operation of the airline being compromised and actions of the previous executive management that resulted in looting of resources without being held accountable during their tenure in the airline.
INCREASING NUMBER OF STATES USING ARMED UAV
Defence Web on 25th May reported that over the last 5 years the number of countries actively using armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has quadrupled, according to new research. A new report published this month by Drone Wars UK entitled ‘Drone Wars: The Next Generation’ shows that from just 3 states (US, UK and Israel) in 2013, there are now a further 9 who have deployed armed drones, or UAV, in a variety of roles including for armed conflict and counter-terror operations. The report also shows that a further 9 states are very close to having armed drone capabilities.
The report is at –
Its content includes looking at the main control mechanisms that exist to control proliferation of armed drones (the UN Armed Trade Treaty, MTCR, the Wassenar Arrangement on dual-use goods, and the Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by 53 states in 2016) and looks at efforts to develop a drone specific control regime. It begins with a summary of the current relevant international agreements, and then examines 2 recent initiatives to develop further controls on proliferation and use of armed drones.
TAX FRAUD: STANDARD PROVISION AGREED FOR AGREEMENTS BETWEEN EU AND THIRD COUNTRIES
On 25th May, a news release from the EU advised that the EU Council had adopted conclusions on the EU standard provision on good governance in tax matters for agreements with third countries.
OECD COUNTRIES AGREE TO INVITE COLOMBIA TO JOIN AS A MEMBER
On 25th May, the OECD agreed to Colombia becoming its 37th member state. As part of its accession process, Colombia has been subject to in-depth reviews by 23 OECD Committees and has introduced major reforms to align its legislation, policies and practices to OECD standards, including on labour issues, the reform of its justice system, corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, anti-bribery, trade as well as new national policies on industrial chemicals policy and waste management.
LONDON POLICE SEIZE BITCOIN WORTH $667,000 FROM HACKER
The Seattle Times on 25th May reported the the police in London have seized half a million pounds worth of bitcoin from a prolific computer hacker, Grant West, 26, in a case described as the first of its kind in the UK. West has been sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in prison for attacking some 100 companies worldwide, largely using ‘phishing’ email scams to obtain financial data which he would then sell on the dark web.
LAUNDERETTE-BASED INSURANCE GHOST BROKERS JAILED
Insurance Age on 25th May reported that 2 fraudsters involved in an elaborate ghost broking operation run from their launderette in Tottenham have been jailed for conspiracy to defraud insurance companies. What looked like a legitimate laundry business hid an insurance fraud scam. Visitors to the premises were getting fraudulent motor cover using fake names and addresses. Over 100 policies to the scam and thousands of quotes were uncovered during the investigation.
UK: WARNING TO HOLIDAYMAKERS OF MODERN SLAVERY RISKS
On 25th May, the FCO and Border Force announced a Border Force operation designed to protect young holidaymakers travelling to Majorca from the risks of labour exploitation has been launched. Research found that more than 80% of British prisoners on the Spanish island are former “public relations” (PR) workers – those employed to attract people into the bars and clubs they work for.
US IMPORT/EXPORTS: ACE AND AUTOMATED SYSTEMS
In the US, the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is the primary system through which the trade community reports imports and exports and the US government determines if goods should be allowed into the country. US Customs and Border protection has a website providing the latest news, updates, infographics and general information.
POLISH OFFICIALS SEIZE MILLIONS OF CONTRABAND CIGARETTES FROM CHINA
Radio Poland on 24th May reported that police and customs officers have seized 18 million contraband cigarettes which arrived in Poland aboard 2 ships from China.
HOME OFFICE CRITICISED FOR FAILURES IN REFORMS TO CRIMINAL RECORDS VETTING
The Guardian on 25th May reported that the Home Office has been accused of running a “masterclass in incompetence” over its attempts to improve the criminal records checking scheme, with the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee saying that a programme to modernise the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has been marred by poor planning, delays and spiralling costs. It is more than 4 years late and costs are expected to be £229 million more than initially planned.
EX-ARMENIAN ENVOY AND RUSSIAN NATIONAL CHARGED IN ROLLS-ROYCE BRIBERY CASE
On 25th May, Baker McKenzie reported that a former Armenian ambassador and a Russian national were charged by US prosecutors in a corruption probe alleging a conspiracy involving bribes and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc for more than a decade. Azat Martirossian, 62, a citizen of Armenia who formerly served as that country’s envoy to China, and Vitaly Leshkov, 50, a citizen of Russia, were charged in an indictment in federal court in Ohio on one count of conspiracy to launder money and 10 counts of money laundering. They are believed to be living outside the US
IRAN LIKELY TO INCREASINGLY RELY ON CHINA AS MAJOR TRADING PARTNER TO WITHSTAND STRENGTHENING US SANCTIONS
Janes.com on 25th May reported that Iran will probably become increasingly reliant on China, its largest trading partner; and Chinese companies will likely be supported by the Chinese state in legally obviating US sanctions for Iranian business deemed strategically important.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND ILLEGAL ASSETS TOP SWISS MUTUAL ASSISTANCE ISSUES
Swissinfo on 25th May reported that unlawfully acquired assets and human rights were 2 top issues in international mutual legal assistance for 2017, a report has revealed. And a high-profile case involving suspected members of the Italian mafia has come to end.
THE CRIMINAL FINANCES ACT 2017; WHY UWO AND TAX EVASION ARE NOT WHAT REALLY MATTER
Corker Bining on 25th May published an article which starts by declaring that the Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA) is probably the most significant statute in relation to criminal fraud since the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). The article says that, judging by the number of articles written about the CFA, Chapter 1 of Part 1 and Part 3 of it are regarded as its most important provisions – those dealing with unexplained wealth orders and the corporate criminal offence of facilitation of tax evasion. However, the article predicts that neither of these provisions will be the subject of substantial litigation. The author contends that Chapter 3 of Part 1 will come to be regarded as the most important or far reaching – particularly section 16 (Forfeiture of money held in bank and building society accounts). It provides law enforcement with an extended power through the magistrates courts which hitherto was only available to it via a Crown Court restraint order.