22nd November 2018
2 SONS OF FORMER PANAMA PRESIDENT MARTINELLI DETAINED IN US
The Times Union newspaper and others reported on 21st November that 2 sons of former President Ricardo Martinelli have been detained in the US. Ricardo Martinelli Linares and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares had been detained in Miami and were being held pending deportation. Both their visas were revoked in 2017, and they have been unlawfully present in the US since that time. Both are said to be sought on corruption charges in Panama, and their father was extradited from the US earlier this year to face political espionage and embezzlement charges.
OECD REMOVES PANAMA FROM CASH-FOR-CITIZENSHIP BLACKLIST
Law 360 on 21st November reported that the OECD had removed Panama from the list of countries that it advises financial institutions to scrutinise for potentially abusive programmes offering citizenship or residency following changes made, including clear identification of when citizenship or residence is granted under such programmes – thus allowing for adequate due diligence to be undertaken.
SMUGGLING PROBE LAUNCHED AS LOOSE BARGE WITH MILLIONS OF CIGARETTE PACKS WASHES ASHORE NEAR ODESA IN UKRAINE
UNIAN reported on 21st November that a storm in the Black Sea forced a Ukrainian tugboat to send a Mayday signal and unhook a barge that appears to have been transporting millions of packs of cigarettes in what could be the largest-ever smuggling operation revealed in Ukraine. It is thought that the cigarettes could have been brought from the Russia-annexed Crimea to be smuggled to the EU.
MALTESE CUSTOMS BUST €4.5 MILLION COCAINE CONSIGNMENT SMUGGLED INSIDE FRIDGE
Malta Today on 21st November reported that Customs had seized over 40 kg of cocaine coming from Ecuador, heading to Cyprus, in a container selected for scanning following risk analysis carried out using the new Nutech scanner by the department’s Container Monitoring Unit.
SWITZERLAND HANDS OVER 26 ANTIQUITY ARTEFACTS TO EGYPT
Egypt Independent on 21st November reported that Swiss authorities say that 26 small artefacts dating back to ancient Egypt will be handed back, including a statue of the god Anubis, an Ushabti statue, a number of smaller Ushabti statues and some Pharaonic amulets. Egypt signed an agreement with Switzerland in April 2010 that entered into force in 2011 to prevent illegal trafficking in cultural holdings and return them to their homeland.
EEL TRAFFICKING IN THE EU, THE WORLD’S ‘BIGGEST WILDLIFE CRIME’
Free Malaysia Today on 21st November reported that billions of euros worth of critically endangered eels are being trafficked each year from Europe, ending up on tables in China and Japan in what campaigners say is “the largest wildlife crime on Earth”. Stocks of European eel (anguilla anguilla) have plummeted 90% in 3 decades. Despite growing alarm from conservationists, hundreds of tonnes of eels are still legally and illegally fished each year chiefly in France. EUROPOL estimates as many as 100 tonnes of baby eels — known as glass eels for their translucent skin — are trafficked abroad each year: equivalent to around 350 million fish.
VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: STAFF CONCLUDING STATEMENT OF IMF MISSION
On 21st November, a news release from the IMF following the conclusion of an Article IV review of St Vincent and the Grenadines including the comment that progress has been made in addressing remaining legal deficiencies in the AML/CFT framework, and that last year, the government amended several AML/CFT-related laws, which helped close many of the deficiencies identified in the 2010 AML/CFT assessment. The authorities should now focus on ensuring the effectiveness of AML/CFT preventative measures, and to this end, the National Risk Assessment should be completed by September 2019.
BRAZIL: NEW MINISTER OF JUSTICE WANTS TO TARGET MONEY LAUNDERING
Folha de Sao Paolo reported on 21st November that Sergio Moro, who previously lead Operation Carwash, says he wants to kill Brazilian’s organised crime funding. Moro’s priority are said to be assets owned by criminals, a strategy used by Operation Carwash, the corruption probe led by Moro, and it will be used against drug dealers. Moro will also propose legal changes to give more the Department of Asset Recovery and International Legal Cooperation more autonomy, to more effectively fight money laundering.
TAX HAVENS AND BRAZILIAN AMAZON DEFORESTATION LINKED
Mongabay on 21st November reported that money flowing from secretive tax havens is fuelling deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and threatening fish stocks, according to a report published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. One example is that only 4% of all registered fishing vessels are flagged in a tax haven, but 70% of the boats implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are, or have been, flagged under a tax haven jurisdiction.
The report is available at –
HOUSEBUILDER BERKELEY GROUP BOSSES WERE ACCUSED OF ENGAGING IN YEARS OF BRIBERY
The Guardian on 21st November reported that bosses at the housebuilding firm Berkeley Group were accused of engaging in years of bribery with a partner at a major estate agent, according to papers filed in a pair of lawsuits brought against the company by a former finance director in 2014 and 2015. Berkeley paid £9.5 million in an out-of-court settlement, according to the company’s annual report.
KOSOVO HITS SERBIA AND BOSNIA WITH 100% CUSTOMS FEES
EurActiv on 22nd November reported that Kosovo raised customs tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian goods from 10 to 100% after Serbia blocked its former province from joining Interpol – although Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia – along with Albania, Montenegro and Moldova – are part of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) set up to help the ex-communist states harmonise their economic and legal systems with EU demands.
CAN THE ILLEGAL ABALONE TRADE BE STOPPED?
Defence Web on 21st November reported that corruption is one of the primary enablers of wildlife crime as it prevents the problem from being effectively tackled. The excessive poaching of abalone has colossal ecological, social, economic and political consequences for South Africa. While abalone can be found in other countries, the South African species is the most sourced in the illegal market. Why? While there are 56 species of abalone in the world, 5 of these are found in South Africa. Of those 5, the Haliotis midae is regarded as one of the tastiest and the most expensive. The primary destination of the abalone is the Asian market where its meat is considered a delicacy and its shells are used for decoration. Abuses include at least 4 break-ins and theft of seized abalone in government storage facilities in one year. In some instances, government officials were implicated. Senior government officials have also been involved in colluding with criminal syndicates. The article says that a concerted effort by various stakeholders is required to curb the illegal abalone trade. Thus far the failure to address the issue has been a combination of poor policy, lack of resources in addressing the criminal elements and corruption. Unless a holistic approach that targets all three aspects is adopted, there will be little impact in preventing abalone from becoming extinct.
VAT FRAUD ENDS IN 11-YEAR BAN FOR DIRECTOR
Commercial Motor on 21st November reported that David Cooper from Blyth, Northumberland, was a director of CFM Transport (CFMT), based in Chester Le Street, and a haulier who falsified his firm’s tax returns in an effort to keep afloat has been banned from being a director for 11 years. The Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Cooper, after he admitted knowingly creating and submitting false returns to reclaim VAT to which the company was not entitled.
FRENCH BANKER ON TRIAL IN GREEK CORRUPTION CASE GOES MISSING
KYC 360 on 22nd November reported that Jean Claude Oswald, a French banker on trial for money-laundering in Greece over arms procurements went missing from home arrest after breaking his electronic tag, the Greek justice ministry said.
AFRICAN RESISTANCE TO EXPANDING THE DEFINITION OF CONFLICT DIAMONDS COULD JEOPARDISE THE MARKET FOR MINED GEMS
On 15th November, ENACT Africa reported on the recent meeting of the Kimberley Process. It points out that almost all the global NGO that originally participated in the Kimberley Process have pulled out. Many left in disgust after June 2010 when the process decreed that Zimbabwe could continue selling rough diamonds from its Marange fields, despite evidence that the army had violently expelled artisanal miners from the diggings to grab the diamonds themselves. Many of the NGO, Western governments and much of the diamond industry called for a wider definition of a conflict diamond than the current narrow one of ‘rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments’. However, most African governments, notably South Africa, resisted the demand for a wider definition to include government violence.
RUSSIA ALLOCATES MONEY FOR LEGAL FEES OF RUSSIANS TRIED IN US, INCLUDING VIKTOR BOUT
Moscow Times on 19th November reported that the Russian government has earmarked funds to help pay the legal fees of Russian nationals standing trial in the US in the wake of several high-profile legal cases. The subsidy will pay the Russian nationals’ legal fees, transportation, accommodation and other needs related to court proceedings. It will also, according to a new decree, also guarantee to shoulder the costs of future class-action lawsuits. Drug-trafficking convict Konstantin Yaroshenko, arms-smuggling prisoner Viktor Bout and suspected foreign agent Maria Butina as the likely beneficiaries of the new appropriation.
HOW UKRAINIAN PROFESSIONAL BANK (UPB) WAS LOOTED
112UA on 22nd November reported on an investigation that has officially filed charges against Oleksiy Kargapolov, former deputy chairman of the board of the Ukrainian Professional Bank (UPB), who was heading it at the time of the introduction of the provisional administration in May 2015. He is accused of more than $220 million fraud. However, people are interested if businessman and real owner of the mentioned bank, Anatoliy Yurkevych, is to be punished. Anatoliy Yurkevych tried to prove in court that he was not a part of UPB, although the National Bank called him the real owner of a financial institution, and it was Yurkevych’s company, Milkiland-Ukraine, that was a guarantor of a stabilisation loan.
EU GENERAL COURT UPHOLDS EU COUNCIL’S DECISION TO FREEZE ASSETS OF MEMBERS OF THE MUBARAK FAMILY, ON THE BASIS OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO MISAPPROPRIATION OF EGYPTIAN STATE FUNDS
A news release from the CJEU on 22nd November reported that the General Court had ruled that the EU Council had sufficient information at its disposal with regard to the political and judicial context in Egypt, and the judicial proceedings to which members of the Mubarak family were subject, to adopt the decision. The original decision was in 2011 and, in the context of this case, affected Ms Suzanne Saleh Thabet, the wife of the former Egyptian President Mr Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, their sons, and their sons’ wives, on the ground that they are subject to judicial proceedings initiated by the Egyptian authorities for misappropriation of State funds.
FORMER THAI HONORARY CONSUL HELD FOR SELLING COUNTERFEIT VISA STAMPS TO RUSSIANS
The Nation in Thailand in its 23rd November edition reported that police have arrested a former honorary consul for allegedly producing counterfeit entry visa stamps and immigration documents and selling them to Russians wishing to come to Thailand. Thailand often appoints local people as honorary consuls in different countries to help facilitate immigration work. The man had held the position in Vladivostok but his appointment was revoked by a Cabinet resolution in 2006., but police found that he ran a website where he advertised his services, claiming that he was still authorised to do immigration processes, such as stamping visas and certifying documents.
COULD ISRAEL FACE REPERCUSSIONS OVER FAILURE TO HONOUR OECD AGREEMENT?
Arutz Sheva on 22nd November reported that Israel could face international sanctions for failure to comply with an OECD anti-corruption agreement. It was supposed to implement the OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS) agreement by September, which it has failed to do. Also, the Knesset Finance Committee chairman has refused to allow the advancement of the FATCA CRS agreement until regulations protecting certain haredi charities from FATCA are passed. Israel’s AML authority has warned that charitable institutions such as the haredi can be used for money laundering and tax evasion schemes.
SWIFT INDIA ADOPTS TRADE FINANCE ANTI-FRAUD BLOCKCHAIN
The Paypers website on 22nd November reported that SWIFT India has announced a partnership and pilot blockchain with MonetaGo for trade finance. The anti-fraud solution logs invoices and e-way bills which are used for the movement of goods, and enables other banks to confirm whether or not these items have already received trade finance and thus prevents fraud through double financing. SWIFT India is a joint venture between the international SWIFT organisation and India’s main banks.
EX-SOLICITOR DREW UP FAKE CONTRACT TO HELP FRAUDSTER DIRECTORS
On 22nd November, the Law Society Gazette reported on the case of David Borland (t/a DAB Legal Services), a former solicitor who helped directors fraudulently remove value from their failing company and has now been banned from running a business. The fake contract enabled a claim to ‘retention of title’ on the company’s stock that should have been used by the liquidator to repay creditors and was falsely back-dated to 2010 – 2 years before the company went into liquidation, and was proved to be fraudulent as one of the copies included the liquidator’s address, despite them only being appointed in 2012.
CYPRUS: TAXMAN ON BRINK OF BUSTING HUGE VAT EVASION NETWORK
The Cyprus Mail on 22nd November reported that the tax department is said to be on the brink of busting one of the biggest VAT-dodging network on the island dealing with intra-community trade.
“PEOPLE-SMUGGLING RINGLEADER” ARRESTED IN UK-BELGIUM OPERATION
On 22nd November, an NCA news release reported that Sudanese national Abdulrahman Omer Saleh, 29, the alleged ringleader of an organised crime group thought to be behind attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK has been arrested by NCA and appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Prosecutors in Belgium believe Saleh, has been involved in at least 18 smuggling operations to date whereby the migrants pay the crime group between €500 and €2,500 per person to enter the UK illegally.
FIFA REMOVES ETHICS JUDGE FOLLOWING CORRUPTION ARREST
OCCRP reported on 22nd November that a deputy chairman of the FIFA ethics committee was suspended from his position after his arrest in his native Malaysia for suspected financial wrongdoing. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating allegations that Sundra Rajoo exploited his job leading an arbitration service for financial favours.
HOW ROMANCE FRAUDSTERS TARGET THE VULNERABLE ON DATING PLATFORMS
On 20th November, Illicit Trade published an article saying that a growing number of online dating services have become home to romance scammers looking to take advantage of people who are desperate to find somebody to build a relationship with. It says that they are often based in countries such as Thailand or Nigeria, they routinely target western victims with false personas designed to appeal to men and women who might recently have gone through a divorce or bereavement. A report in May found that US and Canadian victims had lost an estimated $1 billion to dating fraudsters over the course of the proceeding 3 years – but the true figure is likely to be much higher as many victims feel too embarrassed to report their losses to police.