10th July 2018
IRELAND’S LARGEST CANNABIS SEIZURE LINKED TO EUROPEAN DRUG GANG
ITV News on 9th July carried an article on the seizure of 66 kg of herbal cannabis found inside a fuel container and seized in March. The haulier accused of being the “organiser” of the operation, James McAleese, 42, has applied for bail. He and another man are said to have taken the drugs from Dublin into Northern Ireland.
ICE SEIZES ADIDAS, APPLE AND CHANEL COUNTERFEITS
World Preview on 9th July reported that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized more than 181,000 counterfeit merchandise products worth $43 million last month in Laredo, Texas. It detained a total of 795 boxes of trademark-infringing merchandise. The boxes included fake goods which featured trademarks owned by Adidas, Apple, Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Samsung, Rolex, and Marvel Comics. The merchandise is believed to have been shipped from China and has an estimated street value of the items totals more than $42.9 million. A separate seizure in May uncovered $16.1 million worth of counterfeit merchandise due to travel from Laredo to Mexico and it is believed that the same criminal organisation, based in Laredo, is responsible for the goods in both seizures.
SCATHING CRITICISM OF AUSTRALIA’S MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS IN REPORT
On 10th July, The Australian carried an article saying that AUSTRAC, the country’s AML/CFT body, conducted a self-assessment of its weaknesses in partnership with policing watchdog, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. The report said “highly organised” terrorists and criminals were using technology, social media, crowd-funding platforms and NPO to conceal their work, which was a challenge for AUSTRAC to regulate under current legislation – and that existing AML/CFT legislation in Australia is increasingly unfit for purpose in the face of emerging technology. The report also flagged issues with AUSTRAC’s current resourcing.
MANCHESTER BUSINESSMAN ENJOYED LAVISH LIFESTYLE AFTER TURNING OLD POST OFFICE INTO A FRONT FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
The Manchester Evening News on 9th July reported that a gang, led by Choudry Yayha and his brother Shahbaz Ali, who have now been jailed for more than 26 years, used the money service bureau, SINA Exchange Ltd, which Yahya set up after the post office in Longsight (which Yayha had run) closed, as part of a organised crime group which took in hundreds of thousands of pounds of dirty money before laundering it using sophisticated methods. During their investigations, police said that the 4 members of the gang were found with about £818,000 in cash in total.
STUDY: 75% OF EU-IMPORTED IVORY IS ILLEGAL
EU Observer on 10th July reported that a study by an Oxford University’s carbon testing unit has shown that of a sample of 109 items bought in 10 EU countries by the campaign group Avaaz, 81 were found to be from after 1947, making their sale illegal without government-issued certificates. 19.3% dated from after 1989, when the global ivory trade was banned.
PAKISTAN: MONEY LAUNDERING SCAM: NOTICES ISSUED TO FORMER PRESIDENT AND SISTER
On 10th July, The News in Pakistan reported that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued notices to former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur, in connection with an inquiry into multi-billion money laundering scam. According to FIA, 32 people are being investigated for laundering billions of rupees through fictitious bank accounts.
BIGGEST COLOMBIAN COCAINE CARTEL “CLOSE TO SURRENDER”
On 10th July, Bloomberg reported that the so-called “Gulf Clan” cocaine cartel (aka the Urabenos, Clan Usuga and the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces) is close to handing itself in to Colombian authorities after President Juan Manuel Santos signed a law which would allow them to benefit from reduced sentences. The leader of the cartel, known by his alias Otoniel, released a video last year saying that the group was prepared to lay down its weapons.
WILL US PROBE PROMPT GLENCORE TO RETHINK RISK-TAKING BUSINESS MODEL?
Business Day in South Africa posed this question in an opinion piece on 10th July. It reminds one that since its creation 44 years ago Glencore has become the biggest commodity trader in the world. As well as being a major miner, the article says, it is the ultimate middleman, moving millions of tonnes of commodities across the globe, linking the suppliers of raw materials — often in developing countries — with consumers in wealthy and fast-growing ones, earning wafer-thin margins on large volumes along the way. If the DoJ goes ahead with an investigation, which analysts and lawyers say is likely, Glencore could be hit with a hefty fine or even criminal prosecutions – the company could also face intrusive monitoring by the DoJ that could restrict its ability to do business. The article summarises the risk-taking attitude of the company, from its growth grew out of Marc Rich & Co (Marc Rich was a fugitive from the US and was controversially pardoned by President Clinton in 2001). An example of its appetite for risk is illustrated by Glencore and its biggest shareholder, Qatar Investment Authority, striking a deal in December 2016 to buy a 20% stake in Rosneft — which was under Ukraine-related sanctions — from the Russian state. However, the article says that it is Glencore’s role in the DRC and the company’s relationship with Dan Gertler, an Israeli businessman who was placed on a US sanctions list in December for his “corrupt and opaque mining deals in the DRC” that appear to have brought things to a head. In June, Glencore agreed to pay Gertler in euros to avoid falling foul of US sanctions – but shortly after the US announced sanctions on 14 companies linked to Gertler, and the company announced the DoJ subpoena soon afterwards.
FRANCE: FRAUD PROBE FINDS SPANISH WINE BEING PASSED OFF AS FRENCH
Decanter on 10th July reported that an investigation by France’s anti-fraud watchdog has found millions of bottles-worth of Spanish wine either being falsely passed off as French or poorly labelled to make French consumers think it is homegrown, say officials.
SINGAPORE: MORE POWERS FOR CUSTOMS OFFICERS TO SEIZE GOODS THAT INFRINGE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Customs Today on 9th July reported that customs officers will be given more powers to seize goods that may infringe IP rights at the point when they are being brought into or sent out of Singapore. They will also be able to pass on the information of people who are connected to the seized goods to the IP rights owners, who can then pursue the matter in court.
UK FINANCIAL SERVICES REGISTER WILL BE COMPLEMENTED BY NEW DIRECTORY OF STAFF
Out-Law on 9th July reported that a new directory of those working in financial services will be introduced alongside the existing financial services register, the FCA has announced. The publicly accessible directory will list both senior managers, who are approved by the FCA, and staff certified by their firms as being ‘fit and proper’ under the Certification Regime.
GERMANY BANS TURKISH-NATIONALIST BIKER GANG
Mail Online on 10th July reported that Germany has banned a Turkish-nationalist biker gang, Osmanen Germania BC, on allegations it is involved in organised crime and represents a threat to the general public. In addition to allegations the gang is involved in organised crime, German authorities have said the group is believed to have ties to the party of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and has been involved in intimidation in Germany of his critics.
THE SCOURGE OF CROOKED OFFICIALS IN ROMANIA IS FINALLY TOPPLED
Bloomberg on 10th July reported that Laura Codruta Kovesi’s role in Romania, one of the most corrupt countries in the EU. Complying with a Constitutional Court decree, the President fired Kovesi, the country’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor. A staunch opponent of government initiatives seen as damaging to the rule of law, he had tried to shield her. He finally bowed under the threat of suspension from the ruling party. Among the 28 Member States, Romania ranks better than only Hungary and Bulgaria in Transparency International’s annual graft index. In the past 5 years, Kovesi and her 330 staff have investigated 60 top-ranking officials, including a prime minister, and more than 40 lawmakers and other wealthy Romanians, and netted more than €2 billion of assets and made her a household name.
INTERNATIONAL CRYPTOCURRENCY REGULATION
HFW on 10th July published a briefing paper which looks at the current status of the international cryptocurrency market and provides a perspective on the need for further regulation, based on recent experience. It briefly summarises how a cryptocurrency works and the state of regulation (or not) in Switzerland, UK and other states.
GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION IN SIERRA LEONE TO BE INVESTIGATED
Defence Web on 10th July reported that Sierra Leone is to have a commission to investigate accusations of widespread corruption under the government of the previous president. A report released last week accused former President Koroma of taking the economy to the brink of collapse – though the former leader’s APC party dismissed it as a witch-hunt.
POLICE AND CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT 1984 (CODES OF PRACTICE) (REVISION OF CODES C, E, F, AND H) ORDER 2018
This UK SI (SI 2018/829) brings into force 4 revised Codes of Practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) –
- Code C, which deals with detention and questioning under PACE. The main revisions to PACE Code C concern safeguards for vulnerable suspects, voluntary interviews, and amendments to PACE introduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017;
- Code E, which deals with audio recording of interviews of suspects. Revisions to Code E introduce substantial changes to the approach to audio and visual recording of suspect interviews. The new and revised provisions cover all interviews for all types of offence, for all suspects – whether or not arrested and irrespective of the case disposal outcome;
- Code F, which deals with visual recording of interviews of suspects. Code F mirrors the revisions in Code E by setting out the requirements and modifications that apply exclusively for the purposes of making a visual recording with sound in the context that the police are under no obligation to make such a visual recording; and
- Code H, which deals with detention and questioning under terrorism legislation. Revisions to Code H are confined to mirroring those in Code C where appropriate.
The changes will bring the Codes in line with changes in legislation, policy, operational policing practice and case law. Codes C and H were previously revised in February 2017, Code E was last revised in February 2016 and Code F was last revised in October 2013. PACE requires that where the Home Secretary wishes to issue a revised code, a statutory consultation must first be carried out. This has been carried out. The Order comes into force on 11th July.
FORMER HEAD OF BRITISH COLUMBIA’S ILLEGAL GAMBLING ENFORCEMENT TEAM BLAMES RCMP, B.C. LIBERALS FOR INACTION AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING
Global News in Canada on 10th July reported that the former head of B.C.’s Integrated Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team (IIGET) says the former provincial government didn’t crack down on money laundering in casinos because they didn’t want to disrupt the flow of money. They all knew what was going on in those casinos and racetracks. Primarily casinos, in particular, the big ones. It was wild west in those large casinos, he is quoted as saying.
THE DOWNFALL OF MOSSACK FONSECA
On 10th July, German newspaper published a feature on the downfall of the firm at the heart of the Panama Papers affair.
US ENVOY CALLS FOR GERMANY TO BLOCK IRAN CASH WITHDRAWAL
Reuters on 10th July reported that the US ambassador to Germany has called on Berlin to block an Iranian bid to withdraw large sums of cash from bank accounts in Germany before the re-imposed US sanctions can take effect. A German Finance Ministry spokeswoman had said German authorities were examining the Iranian request to withdraw €300 million from bank accounts held in Germany and to transfer the cash to Iran.
GAMBLING OPERATOR FINED €410,000 FOR TARGETING DUTCH PUNTERS
Calvin Ayre on 10th July reported that German online gambling operator, Bet-at-Home has incurred €410,000 in financial penalties from Netherlands gaming regulators who say the company explicitly targeted Dutch punters without a local licence.
EU PARLIAMENT REFUSES TO SEPARATE TAX AND AML BLACKLISTS
Law 360 on 10th July reported that the EU European Parliament has said that it will not separate the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions from that of AML-deficient countries, as was proposed by the EU Commission. Whilst it acknowledged that countries outside the EU that are blacklisted for one deficiency do not always have failings in the other area, it both types of risk represent equal threats to Europe’s financial system.
SERBIAN MINISTER MUST RETURN ILLEGALLY ACQUIRED LAND
OCCRP on 10th July reported that the Appellate Court in Belgrade upheld a verdict ordering former mayor and current Minister of Finance Sinisa Mali to return illegally acquired land back to the government. Mali acquired the land through the company, Compost Group. The land is located outside of Vrsac, a town known for its viticulture, close to the Romanian border.
NEW OBSTACLES FACING ISRAELI NATURAL GAS EXPORTS
A paper from the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University says that 2 recent developments threaten to reduce significantly the possibility of exporting Israel’s natural gas. One is Erdogan’s victory in the Turkish elections and the expansion of his powers, which reduce and perhaps eliminate the chances of an underwater gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey. The second is initial reports regarding new gas reserves off the coast of Egypt, which threaten the existing deal to export gas from Israel to Egypt, as well as Israel’s plan to make use of Egypt’s liquefaction facilities to export liquid gas to Europe. If the gas export deal with Egypt does not materialize, the gas partners will become dependent on the relatively small export deal with Jordan. The paper suggests that Israeli should still opt for the Egyptian option, although Turkey is the simplest and most profitable export destination for Israeli natural gas.
ETHIOPIA ASKS FOR ERITREAN SANCTIONS TO BE DROPPED
Janes.com on 10th July reported that Ethiopia has officially submitted a request to the UN Secretary General asking for the 2009 UN sanctions imposed on neighbouring Eritrea (after Eritrea was accused of supporting the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab, and including an arms embargo, as well as travel bans and asset freezes targeting Eritrean leaders) to be lifted. This follows the settlement of the dispute between the two states.
US UNLIKELY TO PERMIT AIRFRAME COMPANIES TO SUPPORT IRAN-OWNED AIRCRAFT
Flight Global on 10th July reported that a top US official has made clear that the US government is unlikely to issue any licences that would allow companies like Airbus and ATR to continue supporting aircraft in service with Iranian airlines.
REVISION OF THE EXPLOSIVES PRECURSORS REGULATION
On 10th July, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing which provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s impact assessment (IA) accompanying the proposal for an EU Regulation on the marketing and use of explosives precursors (and repealing Regulation 98/2013/EU – see below). Explosives precursors are chemical substances that can be (and have been) misused to manufacture homemade explosives (HME). EU Regulation 98/2013/EU has, since September 2014, regulated them.
See also (for background on EU Regulation 98/2013/EU) –
WCO PUBLISHES GLOBAL STANDARDS ON E-COMMERCE
On 10th July, the World Customs Organisation published its Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce. The Framework of Standards sets out baseline global standards on cross-border e-commerce. It contains 15 Standards that are concise, progressive and focused on the e-commerce environment, with a view to providing pragmatic, fair and innovative solutions whilst taking into account the diverse expectations and concerns of Customs administrations and stakeholders. The core essence of the Framework is the exchange of advance electronic data for effective risk management and enhanced facilitation of growing volumes of cross-border small and low-value business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) shipments, and the adoption of simplified procedures with respect to clearance, revenue collection and return, among other things, in close partnership with e-commerce stakeholders. It also encourages the use of non-intrusive inspection (NII) equipment, data analytics and other cutting-edge technologies to support safe, secure and sustainable cross-border e-commerce.