4th September 2018
COCAINE SMUGGLING IS CORRUPTING ANTWERP POLITICS, SAYS MAYOR
The Guardian on 3rd September carried an article saying that the scale of cocaine smuggling at the port of Antwerp – through which half of Europe’s supply of the drug reportedly passes – is so vast that corruption of local politics is inevitable, the city’s mayor has said. In 2013, police in Antwerp intercepted more than 4,000 kg of cocaine. Last year that figure rose to 40,000 kg, worth more than €1.5 billion.
SECRET OIL SHIPMENTS COULD HELP IRAN CUSHION US SANCTIONS BLOCK
The Times of India on 3rd September reported that Iran may resort to discounts, bartering and smuggling of oil exports to evade US sanctions, and that almost 200,000 barrels a day could be undisclosed. China, Turkey and India will likely continue to buy Iranian oil after 4th November, with China’s smaller refineries taking some of the undisclosed exports.
SOUTH KOREA: INCIDENTS OF FAKE CASINO CHIPS IMPORTED FROM CHINA
Casino News on 4th September carried an article about South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos and how a state-owned corporation responsible for printing and minting banknotes and coins is to produce chips for a Seoul casino. It cites a 2008 case where fake casino chips were brought in from China, and 3,700 chips were seized by police from 4 individuals who were found to be part of an international crime gang.
THAILAND’S AML AGENCY TO BUILD WALLET FOR BITCOIN SEIZED FROM ILLEGAL SOURCES
BC Focus on 3rd September reported that the AML agency is planning to close a loophole which would allow cyber-criminals to be penalised for illegal activities, but would let them maintain their digital asset holdings. The government agency is planning on setting up its own cryptocurrency wallet for the purposes of tackling crime relating to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Currently confiscation is limited only to physical assets. Cyber-criminals in the country have either been arrested or deported, which usually leaves their digital assets untouched. Recently, an operator of a website dealing with child porn was arrested, but his Bitcoins were not seized.
PAKISTANIS OWN $150 BILLION ASSETS, PROPERTIES IN UAE ALONE
The Daily Times in Pakistan reported on 4th September reported that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Monday informed the Supreme Court that Pakistanis own properties and assets worth $150 billion in the UAE alone. The agency said it had taken cognizance of 2,750 undisclosed properties belonging to Pakistani nationals in the UAE.
UK’S NEW ECONOMIC CRIME FIGHTING CENTRE SET TO OPEN
The FT on 3rd September reported that the UK’s new command centre for fighting economic crime will begin operations this Autumn, as the government seeks to counter the City of London’s growing reputation as a haven for illegal money. It brings together police, SFO, NCA, HMRC, FCA and the specialist officers of the City of London Police.
INTERCARGO CALLS ON IMO TO ACT ON AMMONIUM NITRATE
Maritime Executive on 3rd September reported that in August 2017, the 2012 built supramax bulk carrier M/V Cheshire, en route from Norway to Thailand, fully loaded with cargo declared by the shipper as being “Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer (Non-hazardous)” was lost after it suffered cargo decomposition that led to rising temperatures in the cargo holds and the generation of toxic gases. The report on the loss, published by the Isle of Man Ship registry, makes recommendations. Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer (non-hazardous) is currently designated in the IMSBC Code as a group C cargo – these are cargoes that that do not liquefy (group A) nor possess chemical hazards (group B). However, Intercargo (the international association of dry cargo shipowners) is quoted as saying that it is clear from this incident that this cargo, or at least some of the ammonium nitrate based fertilizers shipped as this cargo, should not be treated as group C.
IRELAND: HIGH TIME TO REVIEW PROHIBITION ON LITIGATION FUNDING
On 31st August, an article from law firm Arthur Cox said that the Irish Supreme Court has again urged the legislature to consider whether the outright prohibition on professional litigation funding and the assignment of bare causes of action continues to be warranted as the ever-increasing cost of litigation is putting access to the courts beyond the reach of many. The article explains that “maintenance” is the funding of litigation (normally by paying the costs) by someone with no legitimate interest in the litigation; and that “champerty” is where someone with no legitimate interest in the litigation funds the litigation in return for a share of the spoils. Since the 1600s, maintenance and champerty have been criminal offences and torts in Ireland. The rationale for the prohibition on maintenance and champerty is to uphold the integrity of the litigation system, to prevent trafficking in litigation for profit, and to prevent people with an improper motive influencing litigation. However, the article says, many argue that the prohibition restricts access to justice.
US EXPORT CONTROL REFORM 2.0
On 21st August, Hogan Lovells provided a guide to the Export Control Reform Act 2018, saying that after nearly 20 years of promulgation by executive orders, bipartisan export control reform legislation has re-established a permanent statutory basis for the control of commercial and dual-use items licensed by the Department of Commerce. The the new Act repeals most of the Export Administration Act of 1979, which lapsed in 2001, and provides a permanent statutory basis for the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The EAR regulate the export, re-export, and in-country transfer of most commercial and dual-use items. The Act also establishes an interagency process to identify emerging and foundational technologies. Amongst other things, the Act also requires a review of licensing requirements for exports, re-exports, and in-country transfers of items to countries subject to a comprehensive US arms embargo within 270 days of the Act coming into force on 13th August.
EU RAPS GUATEMALA FOR ‘STEP BACKWARD’ ON CORRUPTION
EurActiv on 3rd September reported that the EU has accused the Guatemalan government of President Jimmy Morales of taking a “step backward” by shutting down a UN mission investigating corruption in the Central American country.
NEW ZEALAND: POLICE RAID HARNESS RACING PROPERTIES AS PART OF ALLEGED RACE-FIXING INVESTIGATION
News Hub on 4th September reported that the ongoing investigation into alleged race-fixing within the harness racing industry began in April last year and police have raided harness racing stables and dwellings at 10 properties across the country. The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) sparked the investigation by supplying information to police.
AUSTRALIA: FOOD FRAUD AFFECTS MANY SUPERMARKET STAPLES
In the wake of the adulterated honey fraud revealed in Australia, ABC News on 4th September published an article explaining “food fraud”, which could be through substitution, dilution, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, ingredients or packaging; and is likely becoming more common due to potential profits and complexities of the modern food supply chain. High-value and high-demand foods, and leading brands, are particularly at risk of counterfeiting.
RUSSIA’S OIL COMPANIES THRIVE AMID SANCTIONS
Oil Price on 3rd September claimed that despite US and EU sanctions, and although the economy has suffered with the ruble falling by 50% against the US dollar, the oil industry, as strange as it may seem, has benefited from these developments. It seems that Russia’s 5 biggest oil companies booked a combined profit increase of 50% to $18 billion.
UK: TRAVEL PASS FRAUDSTERS BUSTED AFTER £50,000 SCAM
The Express & Star on 4th September reported on a case where a couple produced and sold hundreds of fake bus and train passes in a £50,000 fraud – but were caught after railway officials noticed that the passes were too wide for new ticket machines at stations. Police found bundles of counterfeit tickets and passes for use on buses, trams and trains, along with a printer, shredder and a series of incriminating lists and notes, it was heard. Some of the passes were being sold to friends and contacts of the couple for £40 – less than half the price of some genuine travel passes, which can cost at least £100.
RUSSIA: IMPORTANT AMENDMENTS TO THE PROCEDURE FOR PROSECUTING COMPANIES FOR BRIBERY
Baker McKenzie on 3rd September reported that companies in Russia may avoid liability in domestic bribery cases if they assist in identifying the offence (e.g. by disclosing information), assist in investigation of the bribe, or if the bribe has been extorted. The Law also allows courts to freeze the property of suspect companies during bribery investigations. The article says that it remains to be seen how effective the new leniency grounds will be in facilitating the discovery of, and reducing the amount of, corruption in the conduct of business in Russia. The introduction of freezing orders, however, only reinforces the importance of having a robust anti-bribery program, well documented and effectively enforced.
SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF CHINA’S 21ST CENTURY MARITIME SILK ROAD
On 4th September the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a new report into the security implications of China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road: “The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road: Security implications and ways forward for the European Union”. examines the impact of the two most strategic maritime spaces that the initiative traverses: the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean Region. It assesses the implications of the project for EU foreign and security interests. The Road will expand China’s maritime strategic space far beyond its adjacent waters. The Road in its current incarnation may pose more security challenges than solutions for the EU, and according to the report, this particularly applies to freedom of navigation.
SOCIETE GENERALE EXPECTS TO PAY ABOUT $1.3 BILLION IN PENALTIES TIED TO US SANCTIONS
The Wall Street Journal on 3rd September reported that in June the French bank said it would pay penalties relating to alleged manipulation of Libor rates, transactions involving Libyan counterparts. It now says that it expects to pay roughly €1.1 billion in penalties.
IRAN TRIES TO SAVE $1 BILLION DEAL WITH SWISS OIL TRADER
The Wall Street Journal on 31st August reported that Iran’s state-run oil company, National Iranian Oil Co, is in talks to salvage a $1 billion oil deal with Swiss trader Vitol Group, one of its most profitable oil deals, as companies sever ties with the Islamic Republic ahead of US sanctions.
DANISH BANK SCANDAL GROWS TO ‘GIGANTIC’ PROPORTIONS
EU Observer on 4th September reported that Danske Bank handled up to €28 billion of dodgy Russian funds in just one year, in what has the makings of the biggest money-laundering scandal in European history. The latest chapter in the unfolding story follows a report by Promontory Financial, a US-based consultancy hired by Danske Bank to look into the affair.
BANK EXECUTIVES TARGETED IN DANISH CRACKDOWN ON OFFSHORE UNITS
Baker McKenzie on 4th September reported that Denmark’s government wants to introduce stricter laws to target bank executives and make sure top management can be held accountable for misdeeds conducted anywhere in an organization, including all its international units.
SWISS SET TO EASE ARMS EXPORT RULES DESPITE SYRIA GRENADES REPORT
Defence Web on 4th September reported that Switzerland looks set to loosen arms export rules – a move proposed in June after the nation’s weapons industry asked for the changes – that would allow sales to countries embroiled in civil wars. This is despite a newspaper report that Swiss-made hand grenades probably made their way into the hands of militants in Syria, and arms maker RUAG Holding acknowledged that grenades it sold to the UAE 15 years ago likely found their way to the militants.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE ON FATF OFFERED TO PAKISTAN’S NEW GOVERNMENT: UK HIGH COMMISSIONER
The Associated Press of Pakistan reported on 4th September that the British High Commissioner Thomas Drew has said that the UK had offered Pakistan’s new government the technical assistance to address the issue of FATF and meet the required criteria for coming off of the grey list.
THOUSANDS BELIEVED SWINDLED IN SUSPECTED FLIGHT SCAM TO UKRAINE HOLY SITE
The Times of Israel on 4th September that 3 people have been arrested on suspicion of swindling thousands of people by offering to sell airline tickets to a popular Jewish pilgrimage site in Ukraine, and then invalidating the tickets a day before the flights were due to leave. Some 2,000 people are believed to have purchased tickets to the city of Uman in the scheme, valued at around $1.3 million.
JUST HOW SAFE IS THE PROTECTION PROVIDED TO THOSE FILING A SAR IN THE US?
On 4th September, Ballard Spahr published a briefing looking at the protection offered against civil or criminal comeback against those who file a SAR in good faith, focussing on a recent court case in Massachusetts. In the case, AER Advisors Inc filed a complaint alleging that Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC falsely implicated them in a SAR, a SAR that was filed in bad faith. As a result, AER claimed it was subject to multiple investigations by state and federal agencies. Fidelity sought to dismiss the complaint, arguing that it had complete immunity from any liability for any SAR it filed. The court agreed. Apparently, the “good faith” is not a given though Congress is contemplating inserting a provision into the law requiring good faith in submitting a SAR.
FUGITIVE NIRAV MODI MAY HAVE HIDDEN MONEY IN NEW YORK
On 4th September, Baker Mckenzie reported that Indian diamond mogul, Nirav Modi, accused of orchestrating the $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, may have used his New York City apartment to launder money.
JAPAN: 59 BANKS CANCELLING GANG-LINKED ACCOUNTS
The Japan News on 4th September reported that at least 59 of 120 banks nationwide are in the process of cancelling accounts that anti-social forces, including organised crime syndicates, opened before the introduction of provisions aimed at eliminating transactions involving gang groups. About 1,300 contracts were cancelled by the end of May.
5 SENTENCED IN SECOND-LARGEST FCA PROSECUTION
On 4th September, the FCA announced that 5 individuals have been sentenced to a total of 17½ years imprisonment for their roles in a share fraud carried out through a series of boiler room companies which led to the loss of more than £2.8 million of investors’ money. A 6th defendant who was the controlling mind, instigator and the main beneficiary of the fraud will be sentenced later in the month. Operation Tidworth involved fraudsters who callously targeted investors who were often elderly and vulnerable, lying to them to get them to part with significant sums of money.
FBI LAUNCHES EDUCATION FOR PUBLIC ON RECOGNISING, COMBATING FOREIGN INFLUENCE
On 30th August, Homeland Security Today reported that the FBI had launched a new website containing information provided to educate the public about the threats faced from disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks, and the overall impact of foreign influence on society. The FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating foreign influence operations. The Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) was established last year to identify and counteract malign foreign influence operations targeting the US.
The website is at –
MALAYSIAN AL-QAEDA SCIENTIST WHO TRIED TO PRODUCE WMD TO BE RELEASED FROM JAIL NEXT YEAR
Homeland Security Today on 30th August reported that Yazid Sufaat, 54, a Malaysian scientist and Al Qaeda operative who helped set up a laboratory in Kandahar, and who once led its quest to produce WMD in Afghanistan will be released from prison next year, according to Malaysian police, who warn that he remains a security risk. He is said to have tried to cultivate anthrax. The report say that he has been jailed 3 times by Malaysian authorities for terror-related offences in the past 16 years.