24th June 2018
AUSTRALIA: MAN CHARGED WITH SMUGGLING DRUG PRECURSOR IN BOARD GAMES TABLE
ABC News reported on 24th June that a man has faced court for allegedly trying to smuggle 2 kg of pseudoephedrine, a chemical used to make drugs, into Australia inside a Ludo table. Pseudoephedrine can be used to produce the drug methamphetamine.
AUSTRALIA: ILLICIT TOBACCO SMUGGLING RING ‘DISMANTLED’ AFTER 6 CHARGED
The Sydney Morning Herald on 23rd June reported that 6 people have now been charged over a multimillion dollar tobacco smuggling syndicate through Melbourne Airport after an Australian Border Force operation. 94 passengers were detected with illicit tobacco and were deported from Australia between June 2017 and May 2018, as part of the operation. More than 2.7 million cigarettes worth nearly $2 million in evaded duty have been detected. The 6 arrested are all Chinese nationals.
FRAUDSTERS ‘TURNING DUBAI INTO THE NEW COSTA DEL CRIME’
The Observer on 24th June carried an article linked to the recent OCCRP report on laundering through the Dubai real estate market saying that fraudsters involved in scams costing HM Treasury almost £100 million have bought a string of luxury apartments in Dubai. All the men are accused of being involved in so-called “carousel” fraud (aka MTIC fraud) involving VAT and carbon credits, which is estimated to have cost the UK £16.5 billion in tax revenues between 2005 and 2016.
HOW THE MEGA-RICH FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN AND HIS SONS HAVE PLOUGHED MILLIONS INTO LONDON’S SWANKIEST ADDRESSES TO AMASS A VAST PROPERTY EMPIRE
The Daily Mail on 23rd June carried an article saying that Avenfield House is where Pakistan’s super-rich former PM, Nawaz Sharif, has lived when in London, since 1993, and he has knocked 4 luxury flats together to make a single mansion, now worth at least £7 million. The family are also accused of using dirty money to buy at least 21 other UK properties, most at equally grand Central London locations – Mayfair, Chelsea and Belgravia. The total value of the properties is estimated to be at least £32 million.
ISRAEL IS GUNNING FOR ITS GATEKEEPERS
On 24th June, Haaretz reported that the Israeli government is proposing a Bill that would in effect let cabinet members choose their ministries’ legal advisers, part of the coalition’s programme to eliminate checks on its power. It says that instead of a public selection process that ensures that the appointments are professional, free of political considerations and independent of the ministers, each appointment would be carried out by a selection committee whose composition would be dictated by the minister, in effect giving each minister the power to hire the ministry’s legal adviser. The article says that the Bill seeks to eliminate the gatekeeper function of the legal adviser, which is to protect human and minority rights, fighting corruption and damage to proper public administration. It is said that the Attorney General opposes the Bill, stressing that it could “change the ‘operating code’ of the institution of attorney general and attitudes toward it, and could even cause damage whose severity is difficult to gauge”.
RUSSIA & INDIA DITCHING US DOLLAR IN DEFENCE DEALS
Customs Today on 23rd June reported that Russia and India are seeking to bypass US sanctions by using the rupee and the rouble in facilitating military deals, according to Indian daily, the Economic Times. The newspaper reports that US sanctions are hampering $2 billion in defence deals between Russia and India, as payments are getting stuck. India is one of the largest buyers of military equipment from Russia. Since the 1960s, the countries have signed military contracts worth $65 billion.
NEW PANAMA PAPERS DOCUMENTS SHOW POROSHENKO’S OFFSHORE FIRM TARGETED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
The Kyiv Post on 24th June reported that the BVI Financial Investigation Agency has investigated President Poroshenko’s Prime Asset Partners offshore company in 2016/2017 suspecting it of money laundering, according to a leak of documents from Panama’s Mossack Fonseca. The Panama Papers in 2016 led to suspicions that Poroshenko was seeking tax benefits when setting up Prime Asset Partners in the BVI in 2014, shortly after being elected president. The article notes that as many as 643 Ukrainians feature in the Panama Papers – including Valeria Gontareva, ex-head of the National Bank of Ukraine; Odesa Mayor Hennady Trukhanov, tycoon Rinat Akhmetov’s brother Igor, ex-lawmaker Borys Kolesnikov, Poroshenko’s former Chief of Staff Boris Lozhkin, ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s son Oleskiy and others. They deny the accusations of wrongdoing.
AFGHANISTAN CALLS ON THE US TO EXEMPT IRAN’S SOUTH-EASTERN PORT OF CHABAHAR FROM A NEW WAVE OF ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
The Iran Daily on 24th June that the Head of the Press Department of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said his country relies heavily on the Iranian port of Chabahar to improve its economy. The article explains that Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean it has devised plans to turn it into a transit hub for immediate access to markets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia and aims to create a reliable transport corridor between Afghanistan, India, and Iran.
NIRAV MODI CHARGED WITH CUSTOMS DUTY FRAUD
WION in India on 24th June reported that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has issued an arrest warrant against Nirav Modi for the diversion of imported duty-free cut-and-polished diamonds (CPD) and pearls. 3 companies controlled by Modi — Firestar International, Firestar Diamond International and Radashir Jewellery — are said to have been involved. Modi is already wanted for matters relating to fraud at the PNB Bank, has left India and is reported to have been in the UK.
ING BELGIUM ACCUSED OF HELPING RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS AVOID TAX
The Brussels Times on 24th June reported claims that ING Belgium, via its office in Geneva, is accused to offering tax evasion schemes to among others Russian oligarchs in the gas and petrol industries, using strawman companies registered in in Panama and the BVI tax havens, but consist of nothing more than a post box address, according to the latest Panama Papers. The article says that in May 2016 ING representatives testified before parliament that the bank was opposed to any sort of financial structures in tax havens.
GULNARA KARIMOVA INDICATES SHE IS OPEN TO ‘CONCESSIONS’
Rferl on 24th June reported that the defence attorney for Gulnara Karimova, elder daughter of the late Uzbek President Islam Karimov and once viewed as a possible successor, has said she is but not doing so well in a prison outside Tashkent and that she is willing to make some concessions if a reasonable solution to her legal problems can be reached. In the article it is said that an interview with the attorney discussed developments in a Swiss money laundering investigation into her business dealings that led to the seizure of more than $700 million that could soon be repatriated to the Uzbekistan. It mentions that Swiss federal prosecutors involved in the money laundering probe centred on Karimova and 5 other defendants took control of the funds seized from accounts in Geneva and Zurich, and the Swiss government issued orders in May for the money to be repatriated to Uzbekistan. The article also says that, in addition to the Swiss money laundering case, Karimova has also been tied to some of the largest corruption cases in recent history in both Europe and the US, which are referred to in the article. It concludes by saying that Uzbek prosecutors have said they were seeking to repatriate $1.5 billion worth of assets owned by Karimova in the UK, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UAE; and have alleged that Karimova illegally obtained assets worth more than $590 million and received some $870 million in kickbacks.