28th December 2018
SOMALIA ‘CRUCIBLE OF INNOVATION’ GUIDES MARITIME STRATEGIES
In its end-of-year round-up, Homeland Security Today highlighted an article from 2nd March which said that a study of maritime security issues that arose from the battle against Somali pirates revealed a pattern of best practices countries can take in the face of “a new wave of violence against shipping” along with wider crime and safety issues on the high seas. It reported a new toolkit based on research in the West Indian Ocean from Lesotho up to Pakistan from December 2016 on.
The best practice toolkit itself is available at –
29th December 2018
3 POLES, A RUSSIAN SAILOR, A MYSTERY WEST AFRICAN … AND BURIED $130,000
The New Zealand Herald on 29th December carried an article telling a story about drug smuggling involving a Polish father and son working for a mystery West African man, a Russian sailor-cum-cocaine smuggler and $130,000 buried in Auckland. It says that phone taps and covert surveillance tracked hundreds of thousands of dollars and a scheme to flood New Zealand with cocaine and ecstasy, in a plot stretching from across New Zealand, Germany, eastern Europe, Ecuador and Venezuela.
CHARGES STAYED IN ANOTHER MAJOR BRITISH COLUMBIA INTERNATIONAL CRIME CASE
On 28th December, the Vancouver Sun reported that charges have been quietly stayed in another major case allegedly linked to the international drug trade. In October 2017, RCMP said 2 Vancouver residents had been charged with importing cocaine and trafficking fentanyl after a large drug shipment sent through the Port of Vancouver was seized. RCMP seized 132 kg of cocaine smuggled inside a container arriving from Brazil, as well as 40,000 fentanyl pills found during a subsequent search of an apartment.
MONEY LAUNDERING IN GABON THRIVES
Africa News on 26th December reported that the Action Group against Money Laundering in Central Africa denounced the extent of corruption and money laundering activities in the real estate sector in Gabon.
16 VIETNAMESE NATIONALS NABBED IN ALLEGED TELECOM FRAUD IN TAIWAN
Focus Taiwan on 29th December reported that 16 Vietnamese nationals were arrested along with 3 Taiwanese in central Taiwan on suspicion of telecommunications fraud that targeted people in Vietnam. It says that 14 of the Vietnamese suspects are runaway immigrant workers and 2 are fake tourists who strayed from their tour groups. Authorities said the ring had swindled some $490,700 from 200 victims over the past 3 months.
AUSTRALIA: FORMER EDUCATION MINISTER HAS $700,000 SUPER ACCOUNT FROZEN BY PROSECUTORS
The Sydney Morning Herald on 29th December reported that prosecutors have frozen $703,000 held in a superannuation account belonging to former education department boss Nino Napoli, who is facing trial next year for allegedly conspiring to steal millions of dollars from the public school system 2007-2014. His brother Robert Napoli, sister-in-law Dominica Napoli and cousin Carlo Squillacioti have also been charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime.
SEYCHELLES ENACTS BEPS LEGISLATION
Tax News on 28th December reported that Seychelles has enacted numerous legislative amendments that are intended to enable Seychelles to comply with the OECD’s base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) minimum standards. Seychelles is to be peer-reviewed on its compliance with the BEPS minimum standards and other standards and, in 2020, it will be reviewed on its implementation of recommendations on improving dispute resolution mechanisms.
AUSTRALIAN BORDER FORCE CHARGES 3 MEN IN RELATION TO BULK ILLICIT CIGARETTES SEIZURE
Customs Today on 28th December reported that 3 men have been charged in relation to an alleged importation of 9.5 million illicit cigarettes into Western Australia in October. The illicit tobacco market in Australia is worth about $600 million a year in evaded revenue.
US, REVERSING COURSE ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS, AND TESTING NEW ONES IN ISRAEL
On 28th December, Pass Blue described “cluster munitions” as a term generally used to describe a weapon launched, dropped or fired from the ground, air or sea that disperses or releases sub-munitions, or bomblets. It reports that the Trump administration has decided to reverse a policy instituted in 2008 by President George W. Bush (and carried out by President Obama) to end the use of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1% (“duds”), and in 2016, US companies stopped producing cluster munitions. One risk from their use is that they can leave unexploded ordnance that can detonate years if not decades after their release. The weapon has been banned by more than 100 countries through the Convention on Cluster Munitions – but the US has not signed nor ratified the treaty – signed by 107 nations, it entered into force in 2010. The article says that the US is testing the new cluster munition, the M999, in Israel, and made by an Israeli company, IMI Systems.
For more information on the Convention see –
EU: NEW RULES ON REINFORCED SCHENGEN INFORMATION SYSTEM (SIS) ENTER INTO FORCE
On 28th December, a news release from the EU advised that new rules to strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS) had come into force. The upgraded database will help border agencies to better monitor who is crossing the EU’s borders; support police and law enforcement in capturing dangerous criminals and terrorists; and offer greater protection for missing children and vulnerable adults, in line with the new data protection rules. Under the new rules new functions to be introduced over the next 3 years include the following –
- national authorities are obliged to create a SIS alert for all cases related to terrorist offences – in line with data protection under the GDPR;
- will allow SIS alerts to be issued for unknown persons who are wanted in connection with a crime;
- authorities will be able to issue preventive alerts on persons who are in need of protection, in addition to existing alerts on missing persons; and
- it will be compulsory to insert into SIS any entry bans issued to third-country nationals preventing them from entering the Schengen area.
COMPLEX WEB OF INTERNATIONAL BANKS, SHELL COMPANIES, HELPS NORTH KOREA GAIN ACCESS TO FUNDS
On 29th December, CNBC published a report linking to a Wall Street Journal article that reveals some claimed details of the means used by North Korea saying, for example, that little currency used to fund government activities sits in North Korean banks, but instead moves around global financial firms and corporations. North Korea uses proxies with hidden government ties across the globe to facilitate moving those payments, according to the report.
CZECH POLICE CHARGE 5 PEOPLE WITH €50 MILLION EU SUBSIDY FRAUD
Radio Praha on 29th December reported that police have charged 5 people with EU subsidy fraud in connection with an EU grant of €50 million for the construction of a 5-star hotel and wellness centre near Hluboká Castle in south Bohemia.
INDIA: RACING CANCELLED AS POLICE SWOOP ON BOOKMAKERS IN ANTI-CORRUPTION OPERATION
The Racing Post on 29th December reported that racing was cancelled at Mahalaxmi racecourse in Mumbai after police swooped on 18 bookmakers operating at the track following claims of fraud and tax evasion. They seized c. £160,000 and arrested the layers for allegedly failing to record all bets taken, in the process hiding their true turnover and thus avoiding paying a licensing fee or tax to the government.
UK: TAX PROBE EXTENDS TO RUGBY FOOTBALL
On 29th December, The Rugby paper reported that, having clawed back over £300 million from the football industry since 2015/16, HMRC has turned its attention to rugby as part of a crackdown on improper payments to players. It claims that 48 clubs at National One and Two level are being investigated, with scrutiny set to be expanded into the Premiership and Championship.
THAILAND LEGALISES MEDICAL CANNABIS
On 28th December, Jurist reported that the Thailand National Legislative Assembly had passed amendments to the Bill permitting the production, import, export, possession and use of cannabis and kratom for medical purposes – only organisations and people approved by the public health minister will be licensed for production, import, export, sale and possession of cannabis and kratom. Kratom is a tropical tree native to SE Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have psychotropic effects.
MEDVEDEV ANNOUNCES RUSSIAN BAN ON UKRAINIAN GOODS
Rferl on 29th December reported a ban on Ukrainian goods, including agricultural and industrial products, days after adding Ukrainian firms and individuals to Russia’s sanctions list.
EU STEPS UP WTO ACTION AGAINST CHINA OVER TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS
On 28th December, EU Business reported that the EU is stepping up its challenge in the WTO to practices that force European companies to give up sensitive technology and know-how as a precondition for doing business in China, building on a case first launched in June and “in the light of additional findings concerning the incompatibility of the Chinese measures on the approval of investments and the protection of foreign companies’ intellectual property rights with the agreed multilateral rules”.
DELIVERY OF CARGO WITHOUT PRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING
On 29th December, Hellenic Shipping News published a warning from the TT Club warning to shipping not to succumb to any commercial pressure to release goods without the appropriate documents. Under no circumstances, it says, accept faxed or photocopied bills of lading or guarantees and only act upon receipt of original documents. It warns that, as the original bills represent surety for the purchase price, if the carrier hands the goods over to an unauthorised party who does not hold the original, he is effectively denying the legitimate holder the security the original bills represent, by virtue of preventing that entity from themselves surrendering the bill and collecting the goods from the carrier.
ASIA’S IRAN CRUDE IMPORTS HIT MORE THAN 5-YEAR LOW AS SANCTIONS BITE
Hellenic Shipping News reported on 29th December that imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit their lowest in more than 5 years in November as US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports took effect, government and ship-tracking data showed. China, India, Japan and South Korea imports last month were down 12.7% from the same month a year earlier. However, it notes that Asia’s Iranian oil imports are set to rise from December after the US granted 8 countries waivers from sanctions against Iran’s oil exports for 180 days.