OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 13

13th January 2019

ISRAELI ARRESTED IN BULGARIA OVER BRIBERY SUSPICIONS IN GUATEMALA

Y Net News on 13th January reported that Israeli national Azaria Levi, 70, a senior official in SBI Infrastructure, a subsidiary of Shikun & Binui real estate, was arrested in Bulgaria at the request of Guatemala.  Several of its employees were arrested in 2018 for suspected bribery and levi is suspected of giving $6.1 in bribes to government officials.

https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5445784,00.html

BBC PODCAST: THE HISTORY OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

A BBC Radio 4 programme examines the motivation of chemists like Dr Fritz Haber, who first encouraged the German military to deploy chlorine gas in WW1 for the sake of “The Fatherland” and of Dr Gerhard Schrader, who, in his hunt for an effective pesticide, accidentally discovered a new class of lethal nerve agents for Nazi Germany.  It asks how science educators can prepare young chemists for the moral hazard posed by this particular class of weapon.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0001zwz

PROPERTY AGENCY BOSS ARRESTED IN HONG KONG FOR ALLEGED FRAUD IN US

Factwire on 13th January reported that Hong Kong police have arrested 5 people from one of the largest Hong Kong real estate agency specialised in overseas properties, including its managing director, after at least 28 people in Hong Kong accused the company of mislead them into buying derelict houses at inflated prices in the US.  Between 2012 and 2015 Premier Capital sold nearly 600 homes at 7 residential developments across Houston to investors in Hong Kong and mainland China, who paid around $340 million in total.  Investors were offered to buy foreclosed luxury houses at prices ‘lower than construction costs’, with the promise of guaranteed 16% rental return for the first 2 years.

https://www.factwire.org/single-post/2019/01/13/Property-agency-boss-arrested-for-alleged-fraud-in-US

INDIA: RUNAWAY DUBAI PRINCESS ‘SWAPPED’ FOR BRITISH ARMS DEALER

Stuff in New Zealand on 13th January claimed that Christian Micehl, a British arms consultant at the centre of a bribery scandal over a helicopter deal in India, was exchanged for a runaway Dubai princess in a quid pro quo extradition.  Michel was extradited from the UAE to India.  He was exchanged for Princess Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, who was intercepted by the Indian Navy during her attempt to flee the UAE in a yacht last year.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middle-east/109894146/runaway-princess-swapped-for-british-arms-consultant

RUSSIA: MAMMOTH HUNTERS PROBE PERMAFROST FOR ‘ETHICAL IVORY’

On 11th January, Rferl published a video report saying that, in Russia’s remote Sakha-Yakutia region, the frozen ground is studded with the remains of prehistoric mammoths.  Their tusks are worth a fortune to traders in China, where the sale of elephant ivory was banned in late 2017.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-siberia-yakutia-mammoth-ivory/29703761.html

NOW A MEMBER OF AML BODY FATF, HAS ISRAEL TRULY CLEANED UP ITS ACT?

The Times of Israel carried an article on 13th January posing this question.  It says that Israel was blacklisted 16 years ago, and despite joining FATF new immigrants can bring in unreported income for 10 years and vast scams go unprosecuted.  It also mentions ghost apartments (apartments that remain empty for most of the year) in the country, sales of very high-end cars, and only mild punishment for offenders, as well as complaints from other countries over lack of co-operation.  Furthermore, up to 25% of the economy is “off the books”.  Israel, it says, also appears to continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s semi-underground investment scam industry, which defrauded victims all over the world out of billions, and also serves as a conduit for criminals to move their money around the world under the guise of online trading.  A critic is quoted as saying that there are certain branches of large Israeli banks that have developed a reputation among newcomers for looking the other way.  It also touches on an entire “high-risk payment processing” industry that has popped up that allows criminals and shady online actors to get their ill-gotten gains into the global payments system by masking and disguising their identities so that credit card companies and banks perceive them as legitimate.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/now-a-member-of-anti-money-laundering-body-has-israel-truly-cleaned-up-its-act

FUGITIVE ITALIAN MILITANT ARRESTED IN BOLIVIA

RTE on 13th January reported that Cesare Battisti, a former Italian communist militant sought by Rome for 4 murders in the 1970s, has been arrested in Bolivia where he faces extradition to Brazil and then likely to Italy.

https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2019/0113/1022921-cesare-battisti

WE’LL HELP WITH RUSSIA SANCTIONS FALL-OUT, GERMAN MINISTER TELLS BUSINESS

Customs Today on 12th January reported that the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said Germany will try to protect German and European companies from some potentially “massive collateral damage” if Washington levies further sanctions against Russia.  Maas was speaking at a new year reception of the German Committee on East European Economic Relations, an industry group.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/well-help-with-russia-sanctions-fall-out-german-minister-tells-business/

MALAYSIA: NATIONAL FINANCIAL CRIME CENTRE TO BE FULLY OPERATIONAL BY JUNE

On 12th January, Customs Today reported that the National Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) is expected to be fully operational by June this year, said National Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) director-general Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.  The NFCC, which is one of the initiatives under the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023 (NACP), will act as a task force whereby all relevant agencies will work from one place and look at the same target criminal activities.  The NFCC, will comprise several agencies including the Royal Malaysian Customs, Immigration Department, Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Companies Commission of Malaysia, Inland Revenue Board and Royal Malaysian of Police.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/national-financial-crime-centre-to-be-fully-operational-by-june/

2 ARRESTS IN NEWRY FOLLOWING HMRC RAID OVER “MULTI-MILLION POUND” FUEL FRAUD

The Newry Times on 13th January reported that a suspected fuel laundering plant was dismantled and 45,000 litres of fuel seized, along with specialised equipment thought to be being used in the laundering process.  The plant had the potential to produce in excess of 10 million litres of illicit fuel a year, with the potential loss of £6.5 million in revenue.  A HMRC spokesman is quoted as saying that HMRC now believes that criminals are now experimenting with processes that carry a risk of explosion as they seek to defeat fuel markers.

http://newrytimes.com/2019/01/13/two-arrests-in-newry-following-hmrc-fuel-fraud-raid

CONVERTING MERCHANT SHIPS TO MISSILE SHIPS FOR THE WIN

The US Naval Institute has published an article saying that the US Navy wants and needs more capability to ease the strain on its slowly growing fleet, a strain amplified by global great-power competition, and the pace of the 30-year shipbuilding plan as envisioned falls short.  The article proposes that the Navy should acquire and arm merchant ships, outfitting them with modular weapons and systems to take advantage of improving technology and shipping market conditions while providing capability more rapidly and less expensively than traditional acquisition efforts.  It could convert readily available merchant hulls into missile-armed Navy ships.  Options mentioned include IMO–compliant double-hull tankers and container ships, and either type probably could accommodate tactical ballistic missiles in addition to ship-launched cruise missiles.  Container ship conversion into a “missile merchant” would be easier and probably less costly if VLS modules were housed in special boxes or stacked in container cells.  The article says that the Navy should start experimenting with the concept immediately.

https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2019-01/converting-merchant-ships-missile-ships-win

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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