16th September 2018
US: GAO REPORT ON MONITORING THE POTENTIAL SPREAD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND MATERIALS
On 14th September, the US Government Accountability Office directs the President to submit a plan to Congress for monitoring the potential spread of nuclear weapons and materials. As with the 2016 and 2017 reports, the report for 2018 does not meet requirements and the 2018 plan did not include information on its cost over the next 10 years.
AUSTRALIAN SAILOR CAUGHT SMUGGLING RARE COINS WHEN RESCUED ‘MURDERED WIFE AND SANK CATAMARAN TO INHERIT HER ESTATE’
Yahoo News on 15th September reported that Lewis Bennett, 41, a British-Australian of Poole, England, and a former Australian Gold Coast business owner, is alleged to have murdered his wife before sinking her body in his catamaran to end his troubled marriage and gain financially from her estate. He was sailing with his partner, Isabella Hellmann, to their Florida home in May last year when he contacted authorities with an SOS call to say his wife was unaccounted for after their vessel began to sink. Bennett, was discovered to be smuggling stolen rare coins when he was rescued off the coast of Cuba by a helicopter. Ms Hellman’s body has never been found and the FBI has since charged Bennett with second degree murder. Prosecutors believe his wife’s potential discovery of the English and Canadian coins he was smuggling, valued at $53,000, may have led to her death.
MALAYSIA BEING USED AS HUB TO SMUGGLE PEOPLE TO AUSTRALIA
Malaysiakini on 16th September reported an ABC News story that Malaysia is being used as a regional hub to smuggle people into Australia, with smugglers capitalising on the relaxed visa agreement between the countries. The report claims that fake Malaysian documents, obtained through smugglers, are used to enter the country – with an estimated 10,500 ‘Malaysians’ residing in Australia unlawfully. This largely involves the citizens of Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, who are commonly subject to more rigorous checks when attempting to enter Australia. Malaysians can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa online to travel to Australia, which can be granted in a few hours. It is one of only 8 countries to be granted this service.
ARREST WARRANT FOR PAKISTANI MODEL FOR CASH SMUGGLING
Desiblitz on 15th September reported that Ayyan Ali has been once again issued arrest warrants by a court in Rawalpindi for not appearing at her hearing for her cash smuggling case from 2015. The case relates back to March 2015 she was arrested at the VIP lounge of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad, for trying to take $506,800 tucked in her luggage out of the country without the permission on a flight to UAE. Under Pakistani law, a person cannot take over $10,000 on a flight. She was sent to jail and her name was added to the Exit Control List (ECL), which stops anyone from leaving the country but she was subsequently released and removed from the ECL.
THE INFORMAL SECTOR PLAYS AN IMPORTANT BUT UNRECOGNISED ROLE IN THE MAGHREB
Arab Weekly on 16th September carried a feature saying that the informal economy in Tunisia is estimated to account for at least one-third of gross domestic product. Algeria and Morocco also have large informal economies and Libya’s is even bigger, in view of the chaotic situation in that country. It says that 2 types of informal sector activities exist in the Maghreb: survival activities and unofficial business earning activities – split between criminal and non-criminal. In Tunisia, gunrunning and drug trade across borders, notably with Libya, have been added to more traditional smuggling activities. Smuggling has long existed between Algeria and Tunisia and Algeria and Morocco. Libyan petrol, which is a fraction of the cost of Tunisian petrol, is freely on sale in southern Tunisia, and Algeria petrol found its way into Morocco and Tunisia until a few years ago.
SMUGGLING DEPRIVING LEBANON OF BADLY NEEDED REVENUES
Arab Weekly on 16th September reported that large quantities of gasoline are smuggled through a border area that is largely controlled by Hezbollah. However, the effect of contraband is felt in many sectors, from the tobacco industry to agriculture and pharmaceuticals. Tobacco and cigarettes is said to be smuggled into Lebanon by air, sea and land through the border with Syria; with a claim quoted that more than 30% of the tobacco products in the Lebanese market are contraband, and that smuggling of tobacco and imported cigarettes has increased from 15% only 2 years ago. In addition, “suitcase smugglers” buy medicines in Turkey and transport them in their personal luggage to sell to their neighbours, friends and relatives. The licit trade through Beirut harbour is said to have reduced due to the level of smuggling.
SRI LANKAN DIPLOMAT ARRESTED IN ITALY FOR HUMAN SMUGGLING
Colombo Page on 15th September reported that Border Police in Milan have arrested a Sri Lankan diplomat who attempted to illegally smuggle 4 individuals to Italy. It is said that the diplomat arrived from Doha with his wife at the Malpensa International Airport, and presented himself to the passengers’ control, handing over the passports of 2 girls and 2 boys, declaring that they were relatives. Attentive Border Police staff noticing that something was not in order have carefully checked the passports. In the hand luggage of the diplomat, the police found the original passports of the 4 young Sri Lankans used at Colombo airport to get out of Sri Lanka.
BELIZE BROKERAGES NAMED IN FIRST FATCA CONVICTION
The Reporter in Belize on 14th September reported that an investigation by US authorities into stock fraud involving multiple Belize-based brokerages has resulted in the first ever conviction for violation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), enacted in 2010. A UK citizen and CEO of offshore Loyal Bank Ltd, Adrian Baron, 63, was convicted of setting up multiple opaque bank accounts for a purported stock fraudster in order to evade detection by US authorities. Baron plead guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the US.
BRITISH FINANCIER FACING PRISON AND FORFEITURE FOR CORRUPTION CHARGES IN MAJORCA
On 15th September, the Majorca Daily Bulletin reported that Michael Brown, a financier who was a donor to the Liberal Democrats, faces trial in Palma, with he and his wife accused of money laundering. In addition, the prosecution is demanding the payment of €15 million in fines. The prosecution maintains that he acquired assets in Majorca with money obtained from fraudulent activity in the UK and it is estimated that he netted some €56 million. He was sentenced to 7 years in 2008 but fled to the Caribbean. 4 years later, he was arrested in the Dominican Republic and extradited to the UK. It is said that it is highly unlikely that he will appear in a Palma court (though his wife may) but a seizure of his assets in Majorca could be ordered.
US MAY WAIVE SANCTIONS FOR INDIAN-BUILT IRANIAN PORT LINKING TO AFGHANISTAN
Customs Today on 14th September reported that the US is reportedly considering granting a waiver to the Iranian port of Chabahar that would permit trade there despite the return of US sanctions against trading with Iran. India has invested hugely in the port, and it’s expected to become the key to mineral extraction in Afghanistan. Chabahar is Iran’s southernmost city, its only deep-water port and the anchor of the Chabahar-Hajigak corridor, a road and rail connection between the Indian Ocean and central Afghanistan.
ILLEGAL SAND MINING IN INDIA IS WRECKING RIVERS AND LIVES
the Deccan Herald in India carried a report on 16th September saying that Karnataka is one of the leading states, after Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, to witness the devastating effects of rampant sand mining. Between 2015 and 2018, the state has officially registered 20,779 cases of illegal sand mining. A huge profit margin with no control over the price by any government agency is one of the main reasons why illegal mining of river sand continues unabated in the state. The sand mafia in the state is largely controlled by politicians and their close inner circle
NIGERIA: OIL MARKETERS AND COMPANIES ARRAIGNED FOR STEALING GAS OIL WORTH $8.4 MILLION
On 16th September, Sahara Reporters reported that 2 individuals and 5 companies (Trafigura Beheer BV, Trafigura PTE Ltd, Mettle Energy and Gas Ltd, Renbrandt Ltd and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd) are to be arraigned on a 3-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony, stealing and receiving stolen property, the offences said to have taken place in 2008. The charges allege that they fraudulently converted 6.4 million metric tonnes of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) belonging to Nadabo Energy Ltd. It is also alleged that another company — Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd — fraudulently received the stolen AGO.
AUSTRALIA: POLICE CAN SEIZE MONEY FROM ‘CUCKOO SMURFING’ VICTIMS
The Sydney Morning Herald on 16th September reported that the Australian Federal Police can pocket dirty money from bank accounts even when it belongs to people who have committed no crime, the NSW Court of Appeal has held in 2 cases. The decisions have consequences for at least a dozen other matters around the country involving a total of $50 million to $100 million dollars, according to one barrister. Both cases hinged on a tactic known as “cuckoo smurfing”, where international crime syndicates hijack legitimate money transfers, swapping their proceeds of crime for clean cash. None of the parties has been charged with any crime, nor were they shown to have knowledge of a crime. But the money paid into their accounts came from the same criminals, who deposited it in amounts less than $10,000, below the level at which crime authorities are notified.
ISRAEL SEEKS EXTRADITION OF 2 ISRAELIS WANTED ON TAX OFFENCES IN FRANCE
On 16th September, the Times of Israel reported that David Blomberg and Michael Aknin are sought by French authorities on suspicion they concealed €51 million from tax authorities. According to the French extradition request, between 2008 and 2009 the men ran several companies with the intention of carrying out large-scale tax fraud. The case is being handled in co-operation with the Israel Police and Interpol.
A NEW FINANCIAL CENTRE TO BE BUILT ON A CHINESE-FUNDED ‘PORT CITY’ RECLAMATION PROJECT IN COLOMBO WILL FUNCTION UNDER NEW LAWS
Customs Today on 14th September reported that a new financial centre to be built on a Chinese-funded ‘Port City’ reclamation project in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo will function under new laws to ensure policy consistency but stay within the constitution, a policymaker said.
OVER 110 UKRAINIANS IMPRISONED IN GREECE ON CHARGES OF SMUGGLING OF MIGRANTS
Customs Today on 14th September reported a claim that, according to available information, there are 161 Ukrainians in prisons in Greece, and 112 of them are imprisoned on charges of transporting illegal migrants.