IRAN REOPENS URANIUM FEEDSTOCK PLANT IN PREPARATION TO BOOST ENRICHMENT
Reuters on 28th June reported that Iran has reopened a nuclear plant idle for 9 years, according to its atomic energy agency (AEOI). This could be used to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA. The AEOI said that a plant for the production of UF6, the feedstock for centrifuge machines that enrich uranium, had been relaunched and a barrel of yellow cake has been delivered.
29th June 2018
ILLEGAL CIGARETTES IN AND FROM LIBYA
Ozy.com on 29th June reported that Libya has emerged as Africa’s leading importer of rolled tobacco, according to the World Bank. From 2014 to 2016, those imports totalled $485 million, 50% more than second-place Morocco. However, ordinary Libyans aren’t smoking more – it is estimated that 93% is used to make contraband cigarettes. Instead, it says, most of Libya’s cigarette market is illegal, with fakes produced and smuggled by militias to keep their campaigns — and the war — alive. In 2016, the highest number of illegal cigarettes in the Maghreb region were consumed in Libya — 6.44 billion, or 93% of all cigarettes smoked in the country, according to KPMG. Tunisia was next, with 4.64 billion. Libyan groups smuggling contraband cigarettes aren’t just targeting the domestic market, but also Tunisia and Niger.
SMUGGLED, UNDER-INVOICED TILES FROM IRAN HURTING PAKISTAN’S LOCAL INDUSTRY
The Pakistan Observer on 29th June reported that around 1.2 to 1.3 million square meter tiles per month are being smuggled from Iran whereas a mere 10,000 square meter tiles per month are being officially being imported from Iran on lower tariff valuation, damaging the local industry.
SUSPECTED PEOPLE SMUGGLERS ARRESTED AFTER SCAM TO ENTER BRITAIN ILLEGALLY VIA IRELAND
The Irish Times on 28th June reported that 7 suspected members of an international people trafficking gang, all from Georgia, said to be using Ireland as a route into the UK have been arrested after a joint operation between the Garda, police in England and the PSNI. They are accused of facilitating other Georgians in travelling to the Republic and then on to Britain illegally. Garda fear not only an increase in the routing after Brexit, but that it could lead to an increase in the number of people claiming asylum in Ireland then vanishing from the system – in 2017, more than 300 Georgians claimed asylum here, more than any other nationality except Syria. Before 2017, the numbers from Georgia were negligible.
MALTA: 3 JAILED AND FINED NEARLY €500,000 EACH ON CIGARETTE SMUGGLING CHARGES
The Malta Independent and others on 28th June reported that 3 men involved in a cigarette smuggling racket have been jailed and fined nearly half a million euros each, 2 other men were acquitted due to lack of evidence. Police had been alerted by an informant that a consignment of cigarettes was to arrive in Maltese by a fishing boat under cover of darkness in July 2013. The court also ordered the confiscation of the vessel as well as the contraband cargo seized by the authorities.
HOBBY LOBBY’S ILLEGAL ANTIQUITIES SHED LIGHT ON A LOST, LOOTED ANCIENT CITY IN IRAQ
KCBX in the US carried on its website on 28th June an article about the case involving Oklahoma-based arts and craft chain, Hobby Lobby, and the illegal import of antiquities – shipped from the UAE and Israel without declaring their true Iraqi origin. Hobby Lobby agreed to forefeit the items and pay a $3 million fine and, in May, about 3,800 objects were handed back to the Iraqi embassy and will be returned to Iraq later this year. Looting intensified in the security vacuum after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and, apart from the loss of the artefacts themselves, crucial information placing them in the context of where they came from is also lost when undocumented objects are removed from their original sites. Looting is sure to remain a problem, experts say, as most of Iraq’s archaeological sites are unprotected and other large markets remain outside the US. Archaeologists believe many private collectors of looted Mesopotamian antiquities are wealthy Gulf Arabs.
2 ARRESTED AT AMBULANCE SCOTLAND FIRM AMID ALLEGATIONS OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX OFFENCES
The Daily Record on 29th June reported that HMRC had raided the headquarters of Ambulance Scotland – which won a lucrative contract covering the country’s biggest indoor arena, the SSE Hydro, last year – and arrested 2 members of staff. HMRC confirmed arrests had been made following an operation carried out with the assistance of Police Scotland. Ambulance Scotland provides private emergency vehicles and medical staff for major events and also provided private ambulances for the NHS.
ASTROLOGY IRELAND PSYCHIC CHARGED WITH FRAUD AND MONEY-LAUNDERING OFFENCES
The Irish Independent on 28th June reported that Simon Gold, 53, a psychic turned financier charged with fraud and money-laundering offences has been further remanded in custody. He is best known for his firm Astrology Ireland and has billed himself as “Ireland’s Leading 7th Generation Psychic Astrologer & Tarot Master”. He was charged with money laundering by allegedly possessing €800,000 in proceeds of criminal conduct at a bank in Dublin in 2012. In addition to the money laundering allegation he was also charged with deception.
REAL ESTATE INVESTIGATION IS NEXT FOR AUTHOR OF CASINO MONEY LAUNDERING REPORT
The Star in Vancouver on 28th June reported that the Attorney general of British Columbia is to follow up his report on money laundering through casinos in the province with a second report on its real estate sector. A 2016 Transparency International Canada study found that 45% of the most valuable residential properties in Greater Vancouver are held through corporate structures.
CAVEATS – THE SCOTTISH EARLY WARNING SYSTEM FOR CERTAIN COURT ORDERS AGAINST YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS
On 28th June, Brodies asked in a briefing: “Did you know it was possible in Scotland to receive advance notice of someone trying to raise certain court orders against you or your business, in the form of a caveat?”. In Scotland, caveats can be lodged at the Court of Session and at any of the Sheriff Courts (broadly equivalent to County Courts in England) on behalf of companies, individuals, firms, partnerships and trusts. They last for 1 year and can be renewed every year for as long as required. The court must give a party’s solicitor advance notice (although this may only be 24 hours or so) before any application for an interim court order against that party can be heard, so that the party has the chance to attend the hearing and oppose the order – except in the case of appointments of administrators or receivers.
On 27th June, Edmonds Marshall McMahon published 2 articles on the subject of private prosecutions. Firstly, on the duty of candour when applying for a summons and the information does a private prosecutor have to put forward to get a proper summons issued.
The second article provides what is described as the investigator’s view and the need for a high standard of evidence. What, it asks, is an “investigation” in the context of a private prosecution?
FCA FINES CANARA BANK FOR SERIOUS AML FAILINGS RELATING TO TRADE FINANCE ACTIVITIES IN THE UK
DAC Beachcroft on 28th June published an article detailing the background to the FCA Final Notice explaining the grounds upon which it fined Indian bank, Canara, £896,100 (reduced from £1,280,175 (30% reduction due to early settlement) and imposed a restriction on it accepting deposits from new customers for 147 days as a result of long term serious AML failings. It seems that in 2012 there was no evidence that risk assessments or sanctions checks had been carried out for trade finance customers and that there was limited evidence that trade-based money laundering risks were being considered or documented. However, in 2015 the FCA again found that there was no evidence that AML risks were being taken into account and managed at any level within Canara, with a lack of action on the findings from the 2012/2013 visits despite assurances given. Therefore, the FCA appointed a skilled person to report on Canara’s AML and sanctions systems and controls. There is no suggestion that Canara’s AML failings led to any instances of money laundering being allowed to take place in the UK.
MALAYSIA’S 1MDB TASK FORCE FREEZES BANK ACCOUNTS OF FORMER PM NAJIB RAZAK’S PARTY
Business Times on 29th June reported that a taskforce investigating a multibillion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) said that it had frozen bank accounts belonging to the political party of former prime minister Najib Razak. The United Malays National Organisation (Umno) is believed to have received funds from 1MDB.
FORMER ICE CHIEF COUNSEL SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON
The Daily Caller in the US on 28th June reported that the former Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief counsel, Raphael Sanchez, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for charges related to wire fraud and an identity theft scheme, according to the DoJ. He obtained private information, forged Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, which were later used to open credit card and bank accounts under the names of the aliens.
UK: THE IVORY BILL
On 28th June, the House of Commons Library published an updated briefing paper on the Ivory Bill. It is the Government proposal to ban the commercial use of elephant ivory, with some exceptions. The paper also includes background information on the ivory trade, its impact on wild elephant populations and international efforts to address this. The Bill has its Report Stage in the House of Commons on 4th July.
CONSULTATION ON UK SOCIETY LOTTERY REFORM
On 29th June, the UK launched a consultation to 7th September on changes to Society lotteries, which play a vital role by enabling charities and other societies, such as sports clubs, to run lotteries for good causes. The amount a society can raise is currently subject to limits of £4 million sales per draw, £10 million sales per year and a maximum prize of £400,000. The government’s preferred options would allow a tenfold increase in the amount that a large society lottery can raise per year, bringing the annual limit to £100 million. The per draw sales limit would rise to £5 million and the maximum prize to £500,000.
EDINBURGH ‘CURRY KING’ IN HOT WATER OVER £229,000 TAX BILL
Edinburgh Evening News on 29th June reported that Scotland’s “curry king” Tommy Miah has been barred from being a company director for 7 years after running up a tax debt of £229,000. He and his wife Anwara, failed to keep accounts for the company behind award-winning eatery The Raj in Blackhall. The Evening News says that it understands Miah, 59, now faces being stripped of his MBE and the threat of criminal proceedings and a fine or even prison.
TURKISH POLICE BUST IRAQ CAR-SMUGGLING GANG
Customs Today on 29th June reported that 5 suspected members of an organised crime ring that was smuggling stolen cars into Iraq have reportedly been arrested in Turkey. Police detained 3 members of the gang, one of them a Greek national, at a customs office in Istanbul after they cleared a luxury Jaguar through customs. They later detained a Turkish national and the Iraqi leader of the group in a raid on a villa. According to Hurriyet, the leader of the is understood to be a prominent figure in Iraq’s automobile market, owning many auto galleries in the country.
AUSTRALIA WINS TOBACCO PLAIN PACKAGING CASE AT WTO
On 29th June, TJI reported that a panel of judges at the WTO has rejected arguments brought by Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, ruling in favour of Australia in the landmark trade dispute over plain packaging for tobacco. The ruling rejected arguments made by the 4 countries that plain packaging unjustifiably infringed on trademarks and violated intellectual property rights.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS SEIZES 29 TONNES OF ENDANGERED WOOD IN SHIPPING CONTAINER FROM HONDURAS
Yahoo News on 28th June carried a South China Morning Post report saying that the haul of suspected Guatemalan rosewood was the 5th major wood-smuggling case detected by customs officers in the city this year, bringing the total seizure of high-value wood in 2018 to 114 tonnes. That represents a 170% increase compared with the 42 tonnes seized in the whole of last year. In Hong Kong, importing or exporting an endangered species without a licence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a HK$10 million fine.
NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY TUTORIAL
NTI offers a free, interactive tutorial online on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (also known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
ISLE OF MAN: CONSULTATION RESPONSE ON CORPORATE GOVERNANCE CODE OF PRACTICE FOR INSURERS
On 28th June, the Financial Services Authority provided details of the consultation feedback received in relation to its proposals to enhance the existing Code, which was issued in October 2017. It says that a number of detailed and informative responses were received from interested parties and the FSA responses include details of changes that have been made following the consultation exercise and indicate where the FSA will engage further with the non-life insurance industry in relation to certain aspects of the draft updated Code.
EU LEADERS ENDORSE NEW SANCTIONS REGIME TARGETING CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Rferl on 29th June reported that the leaders endorsed a statement calling for “adoption as soon as possible of a new EU regime of restrictive measures to address the use and proliferation of chemical weapons”. The move comes 3 months after a chemical-weapons attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.
WHAT WE KNOW – AND DON’T KNOW – ABOUT RELIGIOUS CIVIL WARS
ETH Zurich has published on 29th June an article which says that ongoing civil wars in Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Uganda illustrate the need to better understand religious dimensions of armed conflicts. New data on religion and conflict worldwide – during the time period 1975-2015 – helps inform understanding of the religious dimensions of armed conflicts. Drawing on the data and findings, the article sheds light on 3 widely held beliefs concerning religious conflicts – armed conflicts between actors from different religious identities are becoming more common; Islamist armed conflicts are increasing; and religious claims cannot be negotiated.
INTERNATIONAL MEETING IN BRUSSELS TO END TRADE IN TORTURE INSTRUMENTS
On 29th June, the EU reported on a meeting of the countries involved in the UN Alliance for Torture-free Trade to share expert information and exchange best practices related to the control of the trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment. Nearly 60 states are now members of the Alliance. The Alliance aims to make it harder to trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment, to co-ordinate rules between countries and to exchange best practices. The participating countries have committed themselves to several goals, including controlling and restricting exports of items used for torture such as batons with metal spikes, electric shock belts, grabbers that seize people while electrocuting them, chemicals used to execute people and the forced injection systems that go with them. They also committed to set up a platform for customs authorities to monitor trade flows and identify new products on the market, to put appropriate legislation in place and to exchange practices for its efficient enforcement.
CHINESE-OWNED BORDEAUX VINEYARDS SEIZED IN FRAUD INQUIRY
RFI on 29th June reported that 10 Chinese-owned Bordeaux wine châteaux – which are not big-name Bordeaux producers – have been seized as part of an investigation into alleged fraud relating to their purchase, police in the region confirmed. The initial inquiry started 4 years ago was into 24 châteaux, all of which had been purchased for €55 million by the Haichang group, which has holdings in marine transport, real estate, amusement parks and other sectors, with allegedly operations between offshore companies and French ones that have no connection with each other, as well as a loan of €30 million from the Paris branch of China’s ICBC bank using fake deeds.
PNB FRAUD: HONG KONG BANKING REGULATOR CRACKS DOWN ON INDIAN LENDERS
First Post on 29th June reported that the banking regulator in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) has initiated a clean-up operation by subjecting banks to rigorous reviews, including on-site examinations and a review of their credit risk management processes. This followed concerns raised by the newspaper about links to, and operations in, Hong Kong connected to the PNB Bank fraud in India.
DID SUSPECTS WANTED BY INTERPOL RECEIVE BULGARIAN PASSPORTS?
Novinite in Bulgaria on 29th June claimed that senior state officials and at least 1 minister and 1 deputy prime minister are allegedly involved in a corruption scheme for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship. More than 114 people wanted by Interpol received Bulgarian passports and lawyers prepared the application documents for amounts between €500 and €3000. The website cited French newspaper, “Nouvel Observatory”, and claims that had been repeated in the parliament.
ABACHA LOOT: NIGERIAN GOVT NOT HANDLING REPATRIATED FUNDS TRANSPARENTLY
The Daily Post in Nigeria on 29th June reported that the Swiss ambassador has decried what it termed lack of transparency in the Nigerian Government’s handling of repatriated $1 billion funds looted by late Head of State, Sani Abacha. He made the statement at a forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the embassy to discuss issues surrounding the late Abacha’s recovered assets.
DANISH HEAD OF A PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY PLEADS GUILTY TO IMPORTING COMMERCIAL QUANTITIES OF ILLEGAL ANABOLIC STEROIDS
An NCA news release on 29th June reported that Jacob Sporon-Fielder, 37, a Danish national who had been living in India, has admitted conspiracy charges relating to Class C substances worth more than £80 million. He was arrested after arriving at Heathrow Airport in March 2015 on suspicion of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent importation of a prohibited drug, namely Class C steroids. 3 other men appeared alongside him and they all pleaded not guilty. They will stand trial in February and April 2019. 2 others have been charged.
HACKERS STEAL $31 MILLION IN CRYPTOCURRENCY FROM BITHUMB IN KOREA
On 29th June, Robinson & Cole Data Privacy and Security Insider published a report that Bithumb, the 7th largest cryptocurrency exchange and located in South Korea, has confirmed that it was hacked and lost approximately $32 million in coins.
RARE BIRD EGGS IMPORTATION PREVENTED BY BORDER FORCE AT HEATHROW
A Border Force news release on 29th June reported that officers seized 19 eggs containing rare and endangered bird species, 2 of which had already hatched. A man who had arrived on a flight from South Africa was questioned and searched, 19 bird eggs were found concealed within a body belt, as well as 2 newly-hatched vultures. Border Force specialist officers identified that the eggs were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). A 56-year-old Irish national was arrested.
AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LOTTERY BETTING BAN
i-Gaming Business on 29th June reported that Australia’s parliament has given its formal approval for a national ban on lottery betting websites. The ban will come into force from January 1st and applies to all websites that accept bets on the outcome of lottery draws. The federal government was persuaded to take action following a long-term campaign by newsagents, pubs and clubs that feared losing lottery ticket sales.
GUILTY PLEA IN HONDURAN SOCIAL SECURITY SCANDAL – IN THE US
Baker McKenzie on 29th June reported that a figure in a social security scandal in Honduras has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in New Orleans. Carlos Zelaya, 47, pleaded guilty in the laundering of more than $1.3 million in bribe payments. His brother, brother, Mario Zelaya, was the director of the Honduran Institute of Social Security, from 2010 to 2014.
CONSULTANCY COMPANY TOPS HMRC TAX DEFAULTER LIST OWING £10.6 MILLION
Accountancy Daily on 29th June reported that HMRC’s latest list of major tax defaulters is topped by a consultancy contracting company owing £10.6 million on £12.5 million unpaid tax, followed closely by a retail mail order house owing £5.2 million, with a raft of restaurants and takeaways, as well as an accountant, also in the list.
USCG DETAINS VESSEL WITH 80 TONS OF SALMON FOR SUSPECTED ILLEGAL FISHING IN NORTH PACIFIC
Homeland Security Today reported on 23rd June that the US Coast Guard detained the fishing vessel Run Da suspected of illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing activity in international waters 860 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan. The fishing vessel is suspected of violating the worldwide driftnet moratorium called for by the UN General Assembly Resolution 46/215. The USCG transferred custody of the Run Da and its crew to the PRC Coast Guard, which will escort the Run Da back to China for prosecution. China has jurisdiction for any enforcement actions taken upon the vessel, master and owner. The US and China have an MoU for co-operation at sea to enforce the controls.
UK RATIFIES GLOBAL TREATY TO TACKLE ILLEGAL TOBACCO TRADE
On 29th June, HMRC announced that the UK has ratified an international agreement aimed at significantly reducing the illicit tobacco market, both in the UK and worldwide. The UK is the 40th country to ratify the agreement, thus bringing it into international law. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products provides a blueprint for the regulation of tobacco production and distribution, as well as international co-operation between enforcement authorities. The UK ratified the FCTC in 2004 and is one of 181 parties to have done so. The Protocol is said to represent a significant move towards a new global standard in tobacco control, with international partners working together to tackle the problem. Most of the requirements of the Protocol have been in place in the UK for some time as part of its tobacco anti-fraud strategy. These include requirements for registration of tobacco factories and licensing for tobacco manufacturing machines, which was the final outstanding requirement in the UK and the government laid regulations before Parliament to achieve this in January 2018.
MICHAEL ADAMS: MEMBER OF NOTORIOUS CRIME FAMILY CHEATED HIS WAY AROUND £300,000 TAX
The London Evening Standard on 29th June reported that Michael Adams, 53, was sentenced to 38 months in prison after hiding hundreds of thousands of pounds, including more than £200,000 in cash which was stashed in a chest of drawers at his partner’s mother’s flat. He hid the funds over 8-year period. The Judge noted that Adams had no relevant previous convictions and that his last conviction was more than 30 years ago.
CRASH FOR CASH: 77 SENTENCED IN HUGE CAR INSURANCE SCAM, 158 CONVICTIONS SO FAR
The BBC on 29th June reported that a massive car insurance scam which netted £2 million for the ringleaders has seen more than 150 people convicted for submitting bogus claims. At Newport Crown Court, the final 3 people were sentenced, so the scale of the fraud can now be revealed. Fake crashes were concocted and bogus compensation claims submitted from 2009-2012 and the total number of people involved has now reached 158. All those involved admitted or were convicted of conspiracy to defraud, in cases that began in 2011.
OFAC REMOVES 21 COLOMBIAN ENTRIES FROM ITS COUNTER-NARCOTICS SDN LIST
On 29th June, a news release advised the removal of a number of persons and entities from its SDN lists. It also advises a number of changes to other entries.
NEW BRIEFING PAPER ON TRIPOLI’S ARMED GROUPS IN LIBYA
On 29th June, Small Arms Survey released a new SANA Briefing Paper which says that the history of Tripoli after the fall of Qaddafi is one of conflict, shifting control, fractured alliances, and the quest for power and influence. Central among the players in this quest have been the militias controlling the capital’s territory. A new Briefing Paper from the Security Assessment in North Africa project traces the genesis of the 4 militias involved and explores how they exercise their power now, and what dangers the Libyan capita l— and the country — face in the future.