18th August 2018
ZAMBIA: 6 BALES OF USED UNDERWEAR CONFISCATED
The Lusaka Times on 18th August reported that the Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency has destroyed 6 bells of second hand underwear and 40 boxes of condoms that were confiscated from illegal traders in Lusaka. It says that the sale of second hand underwear continues to grow on the streets of Lusaka in spite of the health concerns which the practice poses to members of the public. The government has issued a statutory instrument banning the sale of second hand underwear in the country.
FISHY TALE OF CIGARETTES SMUGGLED TO UK HIDDEN IN AQUARIUM PUMPS
The UK Directory on 17th August reported that 2 men and a woman, who smuggled cigarettes into the UK hidden among fish pumps, table tops and cigarettes among packaging for army toys, and dummy camera boxes have received sentences totalling more than 10 years in jail after an investigation by HMRC. Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport, discovered hidden tobacco that had arrived from China and referred it to HMRC for investigation. They used lock-ups at 6 storage facilities across London to store the illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, evading £475,000 in unpaid excise duty in the process.
PHILIPPINES: SMUGGLED SUGAR RECOMMENDED FOR AUCTION
Business World in the Philippines reported on 18th August that authorities plan to auction over a million kilograms of smuggled refined sugar in the custody of the Bureau of Customs. The sugar, misdeclared as packaging materials, kitchen utensils and kraft paper, were seized early this month from 45 20-feet containers. It is said to consist of of 2,914 bags of 50 kg each from Thailand and 2,167 bags of 30 kg each from Korea.
SOUTH AFRICAN PORTS A CONDUIT FOR DRUG SMUGGLERS
On 17th August, IOL reported that, according to Mast (Maritime Asset Security and Training), a risk management and security company, the volume of heroin being trafficked through southern and East Africa’s coastal countries has risen dramatically in recent years. Another research paper undertaken for Enact – Enhancing Africa’s Response to Transnational Organised Crime – which is funded by the EU, referred to the eastern seaboard of Africa as the Heroin Coast. Furthermore, n 2015 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said South Africa was the regional hub for drug trafficking. While most of this heroin was destined for Western markets, there was a spin-off trade for local consumption.
NEW ZEALAND: PLUMBER DECLARES $1,000 INCOME, POLICE SEIZE $5 MILLION OF HOMES
On 18th August, the New Zealand Herald reported that a global investigation into wealthy businessman Edward Gong probes his links to New Zealand and the tax affairs of his brother in Auckland. An Auckland plumber who declared less than $1000 in income over 5 years but Yu Ping Gong and his company earned $2.1 million in that time, according to the police, and he now has lost nearly $5 million worth of property following an investigation into his tax affairs. Police claimed undeclared income paid for a property portfolio worth more than $9m. 8 properties were frozen by the High Court under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act, Gong denied tax evasion but agreed 6 of the 8 Auckland properties, worth $4.9 million, can be sold in a deal made with the police. His brother, Xiao Hua Gong (aka Edward Gong), was accused of running a $202 million pyramid scheme in China. He was arrested in Canada and charged with fraud and money laundering in December. It was discovered he had transferred $77 million – allegedly profits from the pyramid scheme – into New Zealand bank accounts over 7 years and nearly $70 million has been frozen under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act – easily the largest amount since the law came into force in 2009.
DR CONGO MUST STEP UP EFFORTS TO TACKLE ECONOMIC CRIME SAYS THINK-TANK
Public Finance International on 15th August reported that efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing in the DRC are inadequate, according to report from The Sentry. The country’s “rampant illicit finance problems” put the financial system at risk as corrupt individuals use the weak law enforcement, inadequate legal framework and the largely cash-based economy to launder money. One quote is that systemic corruption continues to eat at the Congolese state’s ability to effectively serve its people, as well as fuelling violent conflict.
The report can be accessed at –
ARGENTINA’S BIGGEST-EVER CORRUPTION CASE COULD ALTER POLITICAL SYSTEM FOREVER
i24News on 18th August carried an article saying that Oscar Centeno, a former driver of Argentina’s Deputy Infrastructure Minister minutely detailed hundreds of illegal payments he personally delivered from several local companies and businessmen to different addresses in Buenos Aires, including the residence of former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner and the Government House, among others – as a sort-of self-insurance policy for his witness to an extensive network of Argentine black money. The ‘Notebooks Gate’ continues to explode as other alleged participants in a network of corruption under Fernandez de Kirchner voluntarily approach the courts, seeking ‘forgiveness’. The judiciary has also come under pressure as they pursue witnesses.
UK: NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS ACT 2018
On 17th August, a House of Commons Library briefing paper discusses the background to and content of the Bill that became the 2018 Act, and details the Bill’s progression through the legislative process. It explains that nuclear safeguards are measures to verify that countries comply with their international obligations not to use nuclear materials for nuclear weapons. Safeguards were introduced as part of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (aka the NPT Treaty) where the nuclear weapon states (China, France, Russia, UK and US) undertook not to transfer nuclear weapons or support manufacture or acquisition of weapons by non‐nuclear weapon states. As a result, non-nuclear weapons states undertook to have international monitoring of their nuclear material by the IAEA and nuclear weapons states voluntarily accepted the same monitoring. Since becoming a Member State, the UK has been part of the EU Euratom organisation and one of Euratom’s roles is to implement safeguards on nuclear material across Member States. The 2018 Act makes provision for nuclear safeguards after the UK leaves Euratom.
JERSEY: RETAILERS RENEW CALLS FOR GST TO BE APPLIED TO ALL IMPORTS
The Jersey Evening Post reported on 18th August that members of the Jersey Retail Association have called for GST to be charged on all goods going into Jersey – saying that Jersey Post manages to collect VAT on behalf of the UK government on goods being shipped out of Jersey, so a similar system could be used to charge 5% on those coming in.
GUERNSEY – “CANNABIS TRADE BODY IS NOT WORKING WITH STATES”
Guernsey Press on 18th August reported that the Government’s Health & Social Care has distanced the States government from claims by a cannabis trade body to be working with it – but has confirmed it is exploring the opportunities of establishing a hemp and medical cannabis industry in the island. It said that the Cannabis Trades Association UK has made statements claiming to be authorised by the States, incorrectly stating that the CTA are involved in the ongoing work being undertaken by the States in respect of the hemp and medicinal cannabis industry.
US AGENCIES ARREST SCAMMERS AFTER REPORT ON MEDICARE FRAUD
OCCRP on 17th August reported that, in the wake of a report earlier this month that reported on massive fraud in US hospice services, US government agencies have announced a new strike force that would deal with the problem and brought several scammers to justice. It reports that the largest fraud case was in Florida, where the FBI arrested 8 men who set up a slew of pharmacies that scammed the government and private insurers out of $100 million in the course of 4 years.
20 FACTS ABOUT CHINA’S “BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE”
Port Technology on 16th and 17th August published 2 articles saying that whilst the initiative i is still in its early stages, there are facts about the road that you should know. Each article provides 10 facts about the “Belt” (the maritime element) and the “Road” (the landbased element).