HAPPY NEW YEAR!
31st December 2018
EXPERTS MULL LAOS’ RISK FROM MONEY LAUNDERING
The Vientiane Times reported that the National Committee for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) is continuing to assess Laos’ risks from money laundering and terrorist financing, after Laos graduated from the “grey list” of FATF last year, and as it held its second annual meeting. It reports that the main sectors vulnerable to risk are banking, the stock market, insurance, casinos, real estate, financial institutions and money exchange units. In 2019 the Committee will prepare Laos’ mutual evaluation report for AML/CFT for 2020-2021 by the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (the regional FATF-style body), as the World Bank reported recently that Laos is scheduled to undergo an evaluation under international standards for technical compliance and effectiveness of its AML/CFT framework in October 2020.
SPANISH GUARDIA CIVIL BREAK UP MONEY LAUNDERING GANG AND CLOSE COMPANIES THAT SUPPLIED BOATS
On 30th December, Euro Weekly reported that the Guardia Civil had closed 2 companies in the nautical sector whose administrator is being held in custody awaiting trial. The operation began as a result of 2 seizures of 5.5 tonnes of hashish in Malaga and Cadiz, for which 20 people were arrested, with then an investigation into the finances of 2 companies that supplied high-powered boats to the drugs smugglers.
PAKISTAN: 172 INDIVIDUALS ON EXIT CONTROL LIST (ECL) IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
Pakistan Today on 31st December reported that the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) expressed anger at the placement of 172 individuals on the Exit Control List (ECL), as the courts resumed hearing a long-running mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case. A joint investigation team (JIT) probing the money laundering case had held the Zardari Group, Omni group and Bahria Town responsible. The names added to the ECL included Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, party’s Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, presidents of a number of local banks, and other former ministers and bureaucrats. It says that the case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Zardari. Besides the ex-president and his sister, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz’s son-in-law Zain Malik and 14 other bankers and businessmen have been named in the case with 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts, while others have been detained for their alleged involvement in facilitating the transactions.
US DoJ LASHES OUT AT QUI TAM ABUSE
A guest blog post on Drug & Device Law on 31st December said that the US DoJ recently took the relatively unusual step of seeking the dismissal of 11 pending False Claims Act (FCA) cases that had been filed throughout the country by relators under the qui tam provisions of the FCPA against 38 pharmaceutical manufacturer defendants, and involved data being collected by subterfuge for use in qui tam complaints filed through pseudonymous limited liability companies. They involved alleged scheme of using false pretences to obtain information to be used as the basis for qui tam FCPA suits. Qui tam is a writ whereby a private individual who assists a prosecution can receive all or part of any penalty imposed – no longer available (since 1951) in England and Wales, it is available for use in the US in FCPA cases.
UKRAINE MAY LOSE 25% OF TRADE TURNOVER WITH RUSSIA BECAUSE OF NEW SANCTIONS
Customs Today on 31st December reported that Ukraine may lose up to 25% of trade turnover with Russia in 2019 because of Moscow’s new sanctions, the director of energy programs at the Center of World Economy and International Relations at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences said. On December 29th, Russia banned import of more than 50 types of goods from Ukraine, including wheat, cooking oil, vegetables, fruits, beer, wine, tractors, paper, turbines, furniture and other goods.
BRAZIL: ISRAELI HEAD OF GLOBAL DRUG SMUGGLING NETWORK ARRESTED
Customs Today on 31st December reported that Dany Treyger, 32, an Israeli drug dealer who leads a smuggling network was captured in Brazil after trying to escape extradition. It is said that Treyger intended to establish a base of operations between Paraguay and Bolivia, where women would be recruited to smuggle drugs to Israel, according to the ABC Color news website.
NEW ZEALAND: 1.5 MILLION SMUGGLED CIGARETTES AND $2 MILLION CASH SEIZED
Customs Today on 31st December reported that about 1.5 million smuggled cigarettes and more than $2 million cash have been seized in what Customs says is New Zealand’s largest-scale alleged tobacco fraud. 5 garbage bags full of cash were discovered by investigators, alongside 1.5 million cigarettes, when search warrants were executed at multiple Auckland addresses.
THE COMPREHENSIVE AND PROGRESSIVE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
On 30th December, Gowling WLG published an article saying that the Agreement entered into force on December 30th for 6 countries – Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. The article provides a link to a briefing explaining the Agreement, and comparing it to the former Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
FCA TO PUBLISH NEW PLANS FOR WHISTLEBLOWER REGIME
KYC 360 on 31st December reported that the FCA is to unveil an overhaul of the treatment of whistleblowers in the UK’s financial services sector, according to media reports. It says that plans, which are expected to be unveiled in the new year, will likely focus on issues such as whistleblower confidentiality and the enhancement of senior oversight of investigations.
PIRATES RULE OFF NIGERIA’S COAST
An article on Hellenic Shipping News on 31st December said that piracy off Nigerian waters is now a constant threat to international shipping. It says there has been a sudden increase in private activities of pirates around the Bayelsa axis, entirety due to the absence of the navy; with gun-wielding youths invade fishing trawlers onboard speed boats. Insurance firms have consequently increased the premium on ship coming to Nigeria. The International Maritime Bureau now regards the territorial waters as one of the most dangerous and has advised all ships accordingly.
UN FOOD AGENCY DEMANDS ‘IMMEDIATE END’ TO FOOD AID FRAUD IN YEMEN
On 31st December, IRIN reported that diversion is preventing food aid from reaching people who need it in Yemen, including “many” in the Houthi rebel-controlled capital Sana’a, the World Food Programme said, calling it an “outrage” that aid was being siphoned off with the involvement of local officials. The UN’s agency said it uncovered the misappropriation in a review during recent months, when it found that “at least one partner organisation” affiliated with the Houthi Ministry of Education in Sana’a was committing fraud.
TAIWAN: NEW LAW BACKS CRACKDOWN ON MONEY LAUNDERING IN 2018
Baker McKenzie reported on 31st December that money laundering has emerged as the third largest category of economic crime in Taiwan in 2018 following a crackdown on the practice driven by a legal revision passed in 2017, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said. A total of 501 money laundering cases involving 1,337 suspects and some US$68 million were dealt with in the first 11 months of 2018, compared to only 51 money laundering cases involving 274 suspects during the same period of 2017.
ATTACK IN NORTH CHAD GOLD-MINING REGION
Janes.com on 31st December reported that at least 30 gold miners were killed and 200 wounded in Chad’s northern Tibesti region by Arab fighters who crossed into the territory from southern Libya.