22nd June 2018
IRANIAN INDICTED IN CHICAGO CHARGED WITH EXPORT OF ALUMINIUM TUBING USED IN MISSILE INDUSTRY
The Chicago Tribune on 21st June reported that an Iranian businessman, Saeed Valadbaigi, 56, attempted to illegally export from Illinois aluminium tubing used in the missile and aerospace industries, the size and type of aluminium was subject to US regulations for nuclear non-proliferation purposes. A warrant for Valadbaigi’s arrest was issued in 2016 and remains outstanding. Valadbaigi illegally exported to Iran titanium sheets from a company in northern Illinois and the material was routed through the Republic of Georgia, UAE and Malaysia, all locations where Valadbaigi controlled companies, prosecutors alleged. Valadbaigi also ordered acrylic sheets from a company in Connecticut in 2012 and falsely claimed they would be used in Hong Kong but later arranged for them to be shipped to Iran. In 2015, Nicgolas Kaiga was imprisoned for the use of his company, Industrial Metals and Commodities, as an intermediary to export the aluminium tubing to Belgium and then Malaysia.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT PLEADS GUILTY IN LA TO TURTLE SMUGGLING
2 News on 22nd June reported that US federal prosecutors say that Huaqian Qu, a Chinese national, and a flight attendant for China Eastern Airlines has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle nearly 2-dozen spotted and box turtles in a carry-on bag from Los Angeles to China.
MALAYSIA: SYNDICATE SMUGGLED IN OVER 100,000 WORKERS FROM BANGLADESH
The Star Online on 22nd June reported that a human trafficking syndicate, spearheaded by a Bangladeshi businessman with alleged political connections with the Home Ministry, smuggled in from Bangladeshi workers looking to land jobs in Malaysia.
JAPAN BANKS TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS MONEY TRANSFERS WITH NORTH KOREA
Asahi Shimbun on 22nd June reported that Japan’s financial regulator has told the country’s banks to report any suspicious money transfers involving 10 Japan-North Korea joint ventures. The Mainichi reported that there are suspicion that they may be involvement in illicit diversion of funds to North Korea, citing a UN Security Council investigation. These 10 companies include those handling stainless steel tubes used in the manufacturing of semi-conductors and sound equipment, a piano manufacturer and a company promoting the energy policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Those on the Japanese side included trade firms and food businesses based in the Kanto and Kansai regions, a building materials firm, and a company operating under the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).
US IMPOSES VISA BAN ON SEVERAL D R CONGO OFFICIALS
Reuters on 22nd June reported that the US has imposed visa bans on several senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for corruption tied to the country’s electoral process to send a “strong signal” about the need for a peaceful transfer of power, but the State Department did not name the individuals concerned.
BREXIT: CUSTOMS AND REGULATORY ARRANGEMENTS
The House of Commons Library published its latest briefing paper on 22nd June which considers the proposals the UK Government has made to satisfy the simultaneous objectives to leave the EU Customs Union, but have a cooperative ‘customs arrangement’ following Brexit; and to leave the Single Market, but maintain trade that is ‘as frictionless as possible’ following Brexit.
UK BANKING PROTOCOL “STOPS £25 MILLION OF FRAUD AND LEADS TO 197 ARRESTS”
On 22nd June Mortgage Finance Gazette reported that the Protocol, aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch and which enables bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch is hailed in an article. It is claimed that since the introduction of the Banking Protocol, 3,682 emergency calls have been placed and responded to through the scheme, with the average prevention per call equating to £6,720. In May 2018 the scheme prevented over £3 million in fraud – a monthly record – while 17 arrests were made. The scheme was first introduced as a pilot in London during October 2016, before a national roll-out began in May 2017. Since March of this year it has been implemented by all 45 police forces in the UK.
UK BORDER FORCE SEIZES 7 KG BANNED IVORY IN ANTI-WILDLIFE CRIME OPERATION
On 21st June, Border Force has seized almost 7 kg of banned ivory as part of an international operation against the illegal trade in wildlife and timber, as part of the 6-week global Operation Thunderstorm. Border Force officers at ports and airports across the country intensified their activity to coincide with the international operation and the news release lists an impressive haul of CITES items. Border Force has also supported an ivory surrender, led by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and ran from mid-July last year to the end of January but continues to receive support from the public. In April, Border Force officers from the Heathrow CITES team took receipt of more than 118 kg of voluntarily-surrendered ivory which was subsequently destroyed at a secure location.
SCOTTISH CHARITY REGULATOR (OSCR) NEW GUIDANCE FOR SCOTTISH CHARITIES ABOUT HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF FRAUD
On 6th June, the OSCR reported that it had produced new guidance which highlights some of the risks of fraud to which charities are vulnerable and provides practical advice for trustees on how to tackle it. The guidance tells trustees what their legal duties are, how they can reduce the risk of fraud. and how OSCR will consider instances of fraud in charities.
VAT: EUROPEAN COMMISSION WELCOMES ADOPTION OF NEW TOOLS TO COMBAT FRAUD IN THE EU
On 22nd June, a news release says that the Commission has welcomed the political agreement reached by EU Member States on new tools to close loopholes in the VAT system. These inconsistencies are said to lead to large-scale VAT fraud causing losses of €50 billion for national budgets of Member States each year. More use will be made of IT systems which should replace the manual processing of data. VAT information and intelligence on organised gangs involved in the most serious cases of VAT fraud will now be shared systematically with EU enforcement bodies. Finally, improved investigative coordination between tax administrations and law enforcement authorities at national and EU level will ensure that this fast-moving criminal activity is tracked and tackled more quickly and more effectively. The new measures will give a major boost to our ability to track and clamp down on fraudsters and criminals who steal tax revenues for their own gain. The new rules will be published in the Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later; but as the implementation of the automated access to the information collated by the customs authorities and to vehicle registration data will require new technological developments, their application will be deferred until 1st January 2020.
3.4 TONNES OF SEIZED GLASS EELS REINTRODUCED TO NATURAL HABITAT IN EU
On 22nd June, Europol issued a news release that during 2017/18 European law enforcement was able to seize 3,394 kg of smuggled glass eels with an estimated value of €6.5 million. 53 suspected smugglers were arrested and all seized eels have since been reintroduced into their natural habitat, which is crucial for the survival of the species.
ISRAEL’S CRYPTO REGULATIONS DRAMA DRAGS ON
Banking Tech on 21st June reported that Israel’s parliament decision to postpone the law regulating cryptocurrency exchanges by 4 months has ignited a lively debate in the country. The original law was to take effect on 1st June and the decision meant financial services providers and Israeli companies are without any regulation for these exchanges.
INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST IUU FISHING
ENACT Observer reported that on 5th June the first International Day the Fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing (IUU fishing) took place. It aims to raise awareness about UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. It remined one that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is affecting livelihoods and fuelling transnational organised crime at sea. SDG 14 calls for an end to IUU fishing by 2020.
US LAWMAKERS URGE OFFICIALS TO CONSIDER SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE YEVTUSHENKOV
Rferl on 22nd June reports that 2 US lawmakers have urged the Trump Administration to consider hitting Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov with sanctions and examine whether he has engaged in corruption. It was reported that Yevtushenkov’s holding company, AFK Sistema, would build medical facilities in Crimea. AFK Sistema controls Russia’s largest mobile-phone operator, MTS, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The lawmakers’ letter also cites a US corruption probe involving MTS activities in Uzbekistan.
RUSSIAN POLITICAL PARTIES AND OTHERS ADDED TO UKRAINE SANCTIONS LIST
On 22nd June, Rferl reported that Ukraine on 22nd June has added 30 legal entities and 14 individuals to its blacklist of those sanctioned over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s backing of a separatist campaign in eastern Ukraine. The list now includes 1,759 individuals and 786 legal entities. The new additions include Russian political parties and other institutions that were involved in the conduct of Russian elections in the annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea. The list (in Ukrainian) is at –
GUARDIAN PODCAST: HOW BRITAIN LET RUSSIA HIDE ITS DIRTY MONEY
On 22nd June, the Guardian published a podcast saying that for decades, politicians have welcomed the super-rich with open arms – now they’re finally having second thoughts, but is it too late?
FATF-MENAFATF JOINT PLENARY WEEK – 24th-29th JUNE
On 21st June, FATF reported that FATF and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) will meet for 6 days of meetings to discuss important issues to protect the integrity of the global financial system and contribute to safety and security. The meetings will involve delegates from the 203 jurisdictions of the FATF Global Network, as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other partners. The topics identified include counter-terrorist financing: discussing the actions that FATF is taking in response to the changing terrorist financing threats, and in line with the counter-terrorist financing operational plan adopted in February 2018.
SETBACK FOR INDIA AS ITALY REFUSES TO EXTRADITE AGUSTAWESTLAND MIDDLEMAN
DNA on 22nd June reported that Italy has refused to extradite Carlo Gerosa, an alleged middleman in AgustaWestland bribery scandal, saying it did not have any mutual legal assistance treaty with India. Carlo Valentino Ferdinando Gerosa, 71, an Italian and Swiss national, was believed to be a key player in the bribery scandal.
TAIWAN ARRESTS 8 BITCOIN TRADERS ON SUSPICION OF FRAUD
Focus Taiwan on 22nd June reported that 8 people suspected of having amassed nearly US$49.55 million in illegal assets through a Bitcoin investment scheme have been arrested. The group running the scam has allegedly defrauded over 1,000 people in Taiwan with the promise of a large-yield return of as high as 355% after a year of investment in Bitcoin.
EAST TIMOR: 11 MINISTERS REJECTED DUE TO GRAFT PROBES
The Bangkok Post on 22nd June reported that the president of East Timor has refused to swear in 11 cabinet ministers because of corruption investigations in a rocky beginning for a new government formed after a protracted political stalemate. The President said that 8 nominated ministers, including those of finance and defence, and 3 vice-ministers cannot be sworn in because the public prosecutor’s office is investigating corruption cases against them. Some also have previous corruption convictions, he said.
UK PAYMENT REGULATOR TO PROTECT AGAINST PUSH PAYMENT SCAMS
Law 360 on 22nd June reported that the Payments Systems Regulator said it wants to make it harder for criminals to trick victims into sending them money and reduce the impact of these scams through initiatives that include stronger background checks on fraudsters before allowing them to open accounts.
TAX-EVADING CHINESE CRIMINAL GROUP OPERATING IN SPAIN IS DISMANTLED
On 22nd June, Europol reported that the Spanish Guardia Civil, in collaboration with the Spanish Tax Agency and supported by Europol, has dismantled a Chinese criminal organisation that fraudulently imported goods into the EU from China. The group made €40 million, evading tax on 75% of the profits, with the illicit benefits covertly transferred to China through different channels.
CAN I TAKE MY MEDICINE ABROAD?
Useful NHS webpage saying you need to, and helping you to, check what rules apply to taking your medicine out of the UK and into the country you’re going to. It, for example, reminds you that some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that additional legal controls apply to these medicines and you may need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad.
COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER: CTC SENTINEL (JUNE/JULY 2018)
The latest edition of this online magazine from the CTC at West Point has been published and it includes –
The Surabaya Bombings and the Evolution of the Jihadi Threat in Indonesia
On May 13th, 3 churches in Surabaya, Indonesia, were targeted by suicide bombers comprising one single family of 6. These are the first suicide bombings involving women and young children in Indonesia, thus marking a new modus operandi. They also show an increased capability among Indonesian Islamic State supporters when compared to previous attacks. The article says that the attacks also bring to the fore the role of family networks and the increased embrace of women and children in combat roles.
Children at War: Foreign Child Recruits of the Islamic State
The 2016 French Female Attack Cell: A Case Study
An all-female cell allegedly planned several attacks in France over a matter of days in September 2016, including an attempt to blow up gas cylinders near Notre Dame Cathedral. The suspected plotters were largely radicalized online, and social media was integral to both their recruitment and plotting. One of the Islamic State’s ‘virtual entrepreneurs,’ Rachid Kassim, helped guide their activities. Though the alleged plots failed, Kassim exploited the dedication shown by these women to shame males into attempting a subsequent wave of attacks.
PRIME MINISTER OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC “IS THE CONTROLLING PERSON OR BENEFICIAL OWNER OF AGROFERT”
On 22nd June, Transparency International reported that Transparency International Czech Republic has found in the Slovak Register that Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, is shown as the controlling person (beneficial owner) of Agrofert a.s. and say that the findings may have serious implications for the areas of conflict of interest and EU funding policies. As the EU has ruled before that businesses owned by the politicians should not receive EU subsidies, there is a question of whether Agrofert’s eligibility to use public funds should be re-examined. The article mentions public proclamations made by Babiš that Agrofert was his former business and says that Babiš still dominates and controls Agrofert and so there is conflict of interest. Agrofert is a Czech-based conglomerate that operates in the agriculrural, food, chemical, construction, logistics, forestry, energy and media sectors and was founded by Babiš in 1993.
MARITIME INDUSTRY CONFRONTS CYBER RISK AND CHALLENGES WITH COMPLIANCE
Homeland Security Today in a report on a conference in London said that a shipping legal expert told the European Maritime Cyber Risk Management Summit that port officers cannot be expected to accurately gauge cyber compliance of ships, thus a system may develop of mariners carrying compliance certificates similar to oil-pollution prevention certification. The article notes that the EU Network and Information Security Directive gave Member States until May 9th to meet “certain national cybersecurity capabilities” while promoting information-sharing and mandating “national supervision of critical sectors” including transportation and water. The vice-president of sales and applications at Inmarsat Maritime told the conference that global cyberattacks cost $3 trillion to the world economy, 90% of crew at sea have never received cybersecurity training or guidelines, 95% of breaches came as a result of human error and 43% of crew have sailed on a ship that’s been compromised in a cyber incident of some kind.