17th November 2018
US: JORDANIAN MAN CONVICTED IN ARMS-SMUGGLING SCHEME
41NBC in the US on 16th November reported that a Jordanian-born Rami Najm Asad-Ghanem, 52, a naturalised US citizen, faces at least 25 years in federal prison after being convicted in connection with an illegal arms smuggling scheme that included plans to sell surface to-air missile systems and other military equipment to groups in countries that included Libya, the UAE, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in Greece in 2015. It is said that he sought to broker and transfer anti-aircraft missiles between 2013 and 2015 to clients around the world, as well as procured the services of mercenary missile operators to a Libyan militant faction.
CORRESPONDENT BANKING CONTINUES ITS DECLINE
PYMNTS.com on 16th November reported that amid stricter checks for money laundering, banks are moving away from international money transfer by correspondent banking, saying that this could possibly cause payments to move underground and particularly impact nations that are dependent on remittances. Correspondent banking decreased by 4.1% in 2017 – and 15.5% from the beginning of 2011. A survey recently reported the steepest decline in correspondent banking activity in sub-Saharan Africa, with 35% of banks in the region reporting a drop in such relationships.
IRANIAN SUSPECTED OF HALF-BILLION RAND FRAUD IS LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA ‘ILLEGALLY’
IOL on 17th November reported that Jalil Motazedi, the Iranian former director of Electio Global Investments – the company accused of defrauding South Africans out of an estimated half a billion rand – is suspected of residing illegally in the country. The rare metals investment firm promised massive interest rates on investments, using boiler-room style tactics to aggressively sell “baskets” of earth metals allegedly stored in Dubai. On November 6th, Motazedi was arrested alongside 3 former colleagues.
BULGARIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION SEEKS TO SEIZE PROPERTY OF FORMER MINISTER OF ECONOMY
Novinite on 17th November reported that the Commission has requested the court to seize the property of Traicho Traikov, former Minister of Economy, it having found that the he could not prove the origin of the property.
OECD SAYS EFFORTS SPEARHEADED BY BEPS TO CURB HARMFUL TAX PRACTICES AND PREVENT THE MISUSE OF PREFERENTIAL TAX REGIMES ARE HAVING A TANGIBLE IMPACT
Accountancy Daily on 17th November said that an OECD report on assessments undertaken by the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP) found 18 regimes where jurisdictions have delivered on their commitment to make legislative changes to abolish or amend the regime; 3 others have designed new or replacement regimes; and an additional 17 regimes that have been brought into the FHTP review process. The review process has now reviewed 246 regimes – 3 were judged to be harmful, 3 as potentially harmful and 5 as potentially but not actually harmful.
The report is at –
POWERFUL KUWAITI IOC MEMBER TO BE TRIED IN SWITZERLAND FOR FORGERY
The Mail Online on 17th November reported that Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, a former Kuwaiti minister and one of the most powerful officials in international sports, has been charged in Switzerland with forgery with 4 others, over a forgery scheme linked to his efforts to prove that Kuwait’s former prime minister and speaker of parliament were guilty of coup-plotting and corruption.
LAW FIRM WINS CHALLENGE TO HMRC INFORMATION NOTICE OVER ADVICE ON OFFSHORE COMPANIES AND TRUSTS
Out-Law on 17th November published an article sayinf that a judge in the First-tier Tax Tribunal had quashed an information notice issued by HMRC to Wilsons Solicitors, ruling that the firm’s duty to keep records under the Money Laundering Regulations did not make it a “relevant data holder” from which HMRC could demand information under Schedule 23 to the Finance Act 2011. Schedule 23 gives HMRC broad powers to require “relevant data-holders” to provide it with “relevant data”. The records involved included “details of beneficial owners of offshore companies and persons who have beneficial interests in offshore partnerships, trusts and other like entities” which the firm had been involved in creating, as well as specific information about each of the offshore entities. The notice excluded information that was protected by legal professional privilege.
KREMLIN WARNS IT MAY ACT IF UKRAINE SEIZES SHIPS IN AZOV SEA
Rferl on 16th November reported that Russia has warned Ukraine that it may take measures to protect Russian ships crossing the Sea of Azov should Kyiv stop or seize any. On November 15th, a Ukrainian border security spokesman said that Ukrainian authorities had seized or imposed restrictions on 15 ships heading for Crimean ports. It was not clear how many of those ships were Russian, but he claimed the seized ships were illegally operating in Ukrainian waters. The Sea of Azov borders Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea. Russia has control over access to the Sea of Azov as it controls the Kerch Strait between Crimea and Russia, and Ukraine accuses Moscow of harassing ships heading for ports in Ukraine, such as Mariupol or Berdyansk.
CHINESE AUTHORITIES TIGHTEN PORT RESTRICTIONS TO CONTROL COAL IMPORTS
Hellenic Shipping News on 17th November reported that sources claim that China’s National Development and Reform Commission has imposed further port restrictions on coking coal and thermal coal until the end of 2018 at ports across China. Sources said the restrictions were because NDRC aims to control the total volume of imported coal into China. Controlling imports may help support domestic coking and thermal coal prices.
REPORT CLAIMS ISLAMIC STATE FUNDING FOR DR CONGO REBEL GROUP
Defence Web on 16th November reported that an Islamist rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is said to have received money from a financier linked to Islamic State, suggesting tentative ties between the Congo insurgents and other jihadists in Africa and beyond. Islamist “financial facilitator” Waleed Ahmed Zein paid the Allied Democratic Forces at least once said the report from New York University’s Congo Research Group and the Bridgeway Foundation. Zein is on a US sanctions list and was arrested in Kenya in July for links to Islamic State. ADF was set up by Ugandan Muslims in the 1990s purporting to fight for the rights of the Tablighi Jamaat sect, although it turned to banditry after crossing Uganda’s western border with Congo.
SPANISH POLICE ARREST ALLEGED LEADER OF DRUG-SMUGGLING GANG CLOSE TO GIBRALTAR
Customs Today on 16th November reported that Spanish police have arrested a man alleged to be one of the biggest drug smugglers operating on the violence-ridden stretch of southern coast close to Gibraltar. The man has been named by local media as Antonio Tejón, one of the two brothers who head the Castañas gang, which allegedly brings huge quantities of hashish over from Morocco on powerful speedboats.