19th January 2019
IS SPACE THE NEW CYBER? UK DEPENDENCIES AND VULNERABILITIES
On 16th January, RUSI held a conference saying that, when space-based communication and services are critical to much of business-as-usual across government departments, as well as being fundamental requirements for contingency response, commercial operations and the UK prosperity agenda, there seems to be little understanding over vulnerabilities. Importantly, but not widely acknowledged, space is also a key element of UK Critical National Infrastructure. Despite the UK Space Policy published in 2017, there is an absence of anything beyond a broad set of disparate policy goals – coherence and understanding across government is severely lacking. A 41-minute video contains a series of presentations given at the event.
EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF THE US TREASURY’S BITCOIN SANCTIONS
On 2nd January, RUSI published a commentary saying that the US government’s move against 2 alleged cyber-criminals serves as a warning sign to the cryptocurrency community. The community may choose to respond by cloaking itself in an even heavier mantle of anonymity, or it may just understand that it stands to gain from policing its activities.
It also provides a link to the FAQ issued by OFAC last year and about cryptocurrencies.
BALLISTIC MISSILE PROLIFERATION AND THE ROLE OF THE SMALLER STATE
On 19th January, the Daily News in Sri Lanka published an article that reviews this topic as the “Dealing with the missile threat in South Asia” regional seminar is held in the country. It usefully explains a few key aspects of the 2002 Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC) in relation to small states (with special reference to Sri Lanka). One point it makes is that, more so than nuclear-armed ones, ballistic missiles with chemical warheads are now a danger to third world countries. It explains that the HCOC commitments encompass pre-launch notification of missiles and test flights, annual declarations of country’s policies on ballistic missiles launched during the preceding year, number and generic class of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles etc, but violations can only result in political repercussions. There are 139 signatories to the HCOC.
CHINA: HOW DUAL-USE TECHNOLOGIES ARE ADAPTABLE AND USED TO SUPPORT ITS NAVAL EXPANSION
An article from the Maritime Executive on 18th January on the rapid building of new ships by China (or “dumping dumplings into soup broth” as the Chinese apparently say…). Describing China as the world’s largest commercial shipbuilder, it also constructs increasingly sophisticated models of all types of naval ships and weapons systems; and asks what made this possible, and what does it mean? It looks briefly at the history of naval construction in China, fleet modernisation and its shipbuilding strengths. It highlights the use of dual-use technologies and systems. High-tech, high-value-added, and high reliability commercial shipbuilding — e.g. of LNG and LPG tankers, very large crude carriers (VLCC), high-capacity container ships carrying more than 10,000 20-feet equivalent units (TEU), and even cruise ships — can be directly relevant to warship production in a way that building simple ships like bulk carriers is not. It says that, as a result, the PLAN (the navy) is “not receiving junk” from China’s shipbuilding industry but rather increasingly sophisticated, capable vessels.
CHINA IN STEADY PURSUIT OF SPACE CAPABILITIES TO OUTMATCH US
Space News on 16th January carried an article about a US Defense Intelligence Agency report which says that China’s military is becoming increasingly adept at militarising commercial space technologies and is conducting “sophisticated satellite operations and probably is testing on-orbit dual-use technologies that could be applied to counterspace missions”. It remarks on China’s growing arsenal of counterspace capabilities such as directed-energy anti-satellite weapons and satellite jammers. It mentions an earlier report that said that China has military units that have begun training with anti-satellite missiles, and Russia is reportedly developing an airborne laser weapon system intended for use against space-based missile defence sensors. That earlier report alos said that the increasingly frequent application of dual-use space technologies makes it more difficult for the US to discern between peaceful and potential hostile activity. For example, future satellite servicing and recycling incorporate a variety of technologies, such as robotic arms to inspect, repair, or dispose of damaged satellites. The same technologies have “inherent counterspace capabilities that could be used to inspect non-consenting satellites or to cause physical damage”.
IRISH ‘MASTERMIND’ BEHIND 7 MILLION CIGARETTES ILLEGALLY SMUGGLED INTO UK JAILED FOR 18 MONTHS
The Irish Sun on 18th January reported that James Duffy, 48, from Dundalk, and another man, had been caught unloading the 7 million cigarettes at a storage unit in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in June 2016. Duffy was the brains behind the plot as he arranged the smuggling and delivery of the illegal goods, the court heard.
PAKISTAN: BID TO SMUGGLE 106 CONTAINERS OF INDIAN CLOTH FOILED IN KARACHI
ARY News on 18th January reported that the Indian clothes were smuggled into Pakistan by repackaging in Dubai. Sources said 6 importers bought the clothes from different cities of India and then imported them to Dubai and forged documents were used, showing the clothing had been made in China.
BRAZILIAN ENFORCEMENT IN 2019: WHAT TO EXPECT
In an article dated 21st January, a Brazilian law firm predicts what enforcement will be like in the country in 2019, in the light of it still addressing the widespread corruption scandal in the wake of Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato), and the new government’s minister of justice being the main judge to oversee the Operation Car Wash investigations since they started in early 2014. It says that federal prosecutors will undoubtedly continue to provide the high-intensity enforcement activities that they have put into practice over the past few years – particularly since the launch of the Operation Car Wash investigations and other ongoing high-profile investigations.
FOOTBALLER SAM SODJE ‘VERY RELIEVED’ AFTER HE’S CLEARED OF MATCH-FIXING, MONEY LAUNDERING
On 19th January, Score Nigeria reported that former Nigeria international Sam Sodje has been cleared of charges of match-fixing and money laundering case dating from 2013 in the UK.
QATAR DONATES ARMOURED VEHICLES TO SOMALIA
On 18th January, Defence Web reported that Qatar has donated 68 armoured vehicles – Storm armoured personnel carriers made by Qatari company Stark Motors – to Somalia, to be used to fight al Shabaab militants and other terrorist organisations. It is said to be a sign that Doha is pushing for influence in Somalia with the role of its Gulf rival, the UAE, under strain – in April 2018, Somalia disbanded a UAE programme to train some of its troops.
WIFE OF MISSING EX-INTERPOL CHIEF CLAIMS ASYLUM IN FRANCE
Deutsche Welle on 19th January reported that she has formally requested refuge from French authorities as she is afraid she may be kidnapped. Her husband, Meng Hongwei, went missing in September after travelling to his native China.
CURACAO PUTS OFF SELECTING OIL-REFINERY OPERATOR PENDING PROBE
Reuters on 18th January reported that the choice of refinery until a probe into corruption allegations involving the search for an operator has concluded. The new operator is to replace corruption-racked Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA. Reuters says that an investigation into the bidding process was opened in November after the refinery’s supervisory board received unspecified allegations about the bidding.
DRIVING IN THE EU AFTER BREXIT
On 18th January, the UK Department for Transport published information on what private and commercial drivers from the UK may need to do to drive abroad when the UK leaves the EU on 29th March. For example, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU and EEA.
UK: 43 YEARS PRISON SENTENCES FOR 3 MEN WHO SOLD FENTANYL ON DARK WEB
A NCA news release on 18th January advised that 3 men who ran a dark web business selling the potentially lethal drugs fentanyl and its analogue carfentanyl to customers across the UK and worldwide, have been jailed for a total of 43½ years. The gang mixed fentanyl – which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine – and its analogue carfentanyl – which is 10,000 times stronger, with bulking agents at an industrial unit in Leeds. They sold 2,853 items to 443 customers worldwide with 172 in the UK. Between December 2016 and April 2017 they turned over £163,474.
MALAYSIA “CAN’T FIND BUYER FOR 1MDB FRAUDSTERS $130 MILLION YACHT”
Kenneth Rijock in his blog on 18th January says that it seems Malaysia is having a lot of trouble finding a buyer willing to pay a fair price for 1MDB fugitive fraudster Jho Low’s mega-yacht. Malaysia is said to be paying the equivalent of over $750,00 per month to maintain the the luxury yacht.
UK: LENGTHY JAIL TERMS FOR SCAMMERS WHO TRIED TO BRIBE BANK STAFF
On 17th January, the CPS published a news release said that 2 accomplices who offered bribes to bank staff in an attempt to swindle hundreds of thousands of pounds have been jailed. Using his inside knowledge, a former RBS employee and an associate asked 2 ex-colleagues who still worked at the bank to make a number of illegal transfers of £200,000 each time. The money would go from RBS’s ‘suspense’ accounts – where more than £3 billion of invalid payments were held – into accounts under their control, with the men claiming they had bank contacts in India to assist in the crime. One was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months in prison, while the other was jailed for 30 months.
UK: OPEN JUSTICE WINS OUT AS COURT RELEASES TOBACCO CASE PAPERS
Litigation Futures on 17th January reported that another third-party bid to see documents used in a high-profile piece of litigation, this time involving the tobacco industry, has been successful. The MoJ consulted last year on steps to clarify open justice requirements in relation to hearings in private and reporting restrictions – the outcome has not yet been announced. In the latest case, a representative of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (a US-based NGO) then sought disclosure of various court documents, supported by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) intervening. The NGO said disclosure of various pieces of evidence used in the cases would aid the understanding of the legal and factual issues surrounding the question of standardised packaging and would promote debate. The article said that the decision in favour of disclosure was also strengthened by WHO guidelines urging a “proactive” approach to transparency in dealing with documentation and reporting by the tobacco industry.
GERMANY: ARMS EXPORTS APPROVALS DOWN 23%
On 17th January, Deutsche Welle reported that the Economy Ministry has reported a 23% fall in arms exports approvals in 2018, one of the biggest in years. A moratorium on all arms exports to Saudi Arabia was a major factor in the significant decline. However, total arms exports approvals still amounted to €4.82 billion. A downward trend has been recorded every year since 2015, when Germany exported a record-breaking €7.86 billion in arms. But there was an increase in exports of light arms.
MYTHS AND REALITIES ABOUT INCENDIARY WEAPONS
Human Rights Watch published this article on 14th November, a memorandum to Delegates of the 2018 Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It says that such weapons are regulated by Protocol III to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but that instrument has loopholes that reduce its legal and normative power. The article seeks to rebut common myths about incendiary weapons and the law that regulates them. It says that they inflict exceptionally cruel injuries; have been used repeatedly in recent armed conflicts, most notably in Syria; Protocol II contains 2 loopholes that interfere with its ability to protect civilians; it excludes multipurpose munitions, such as those containing white phosphorus – and humanitarian harm caused by white phosphorus munitions outweighs their potential usefulness on the battlefield, and less dangerous alternatives exist; strengthening Protocol III, which requires only small changes to the text, would be legally and procedurally straightforward; and closing the loopholes in Protocol III will better protect civilians by more strictly regulating states parties’ use of incendiary weapons and by creating a more powerful norm against their use.
US AIR FORCE 3D PRINTS METAL PARTS TO KEEP F-22 FIGHTER REPAIR COST DOWN
Flight Global on 18th January reported that, for the first time, the USAF has 3-D printed and installed a replacement titanium part on a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor as part of a greater effort to shrink repair costs and time.
THE NEW UK NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRIME CENTRE AND ECONOMIC CRIME STRATEGIC BOARD – WHAT WILL THEY BRING TO THE TABLE?
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 18th January says that it seems that one particular focus for the ESCB will be SAR reform. The ECSB follows the new multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) hosted in the NCA to task and co-ordinate the law enforcement response, working in the closest possible partnership with the private sector. The article says these 2 public-private partnerships follow the model of previous working groups such as the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT) set up in 2015 and are part of a wider global trend towards such arrangements. The article says that, with its high-profile cabinet minister co-chairs, it will be interesting to see whether the ECSB prompts the government to take more ownership for tackling financial crime.
BULGARIAN POLICE MAKE TERRORISM FINANCING ARRESTS
Rferl on 18th January reported that Bulgarian special police forces have dismantled a suspected terrorism financing ring and detained 43 people in co-ordinated raids across the country. One of the suspects was a Syrian citizen permanently residing in Bulgaria who allegedly transferred money to people abroad linked to militant groups. The announcement did not reveal the names of the groups or the countries where they allegedly operate, but explained that the funds had been sent through the traditional Muslim hawala system that uses individual brokers rather than banks.
CAMEROON: COMPANY LOSES CONTAINER PORT CONCESSION
On 9th January, it was reported that the Douala Port Authority published 5 shortlisted companies to run the Douala International Terminal from 2020, excluding current operator Bolloré. The reason for Bolloré’s exclusion were not disclosed. However, Hellenic Shipping News mentions that the French company operates 17 ports across West and Central Africa and has been embroiled in a series of corruption investigations regarding its business practices in the region.
PARAGUAY BANS ENTRY OF LARGE TRUCKS FROM BRAZIL
On 9th January, it was reported that Paraguay had blocked access by large trucks from Brazil. Brazilian soy bean producers in Mato Grosso state use Concepcion port in Paraguay for shipping, which is likely to be affected by Paraguay’s decision.
SOUTH AFRICA: AUTHORITIES SEIZE 706 KG OF COCAINE FROM SHIP IN TRANSIT BETWEEN BRAZIL AND SINGAPORE AND INDIA
On 8th January, it was reported that the vessel had arrived from Brazil and was due to dock in Singapore before reaching its final destination of India. The drugs were concealed on the bottom floor of the ship under more than 3,000 containers.
CANADIAN PRETENDED TO BE BRITISH BILLIONAIRE TO DEFRAUD US INVESTORS
On 28th December, the Seattle Times carried the story of Keenan Alexander Gracey who, it says, swanned around Seattle and Los Angeles in Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis and hosted gatherings at multi-million dollar mansions. He claims a long pedigree of wealth and privilege — his great grandfather, he said, had co-founded General Dynamics and Lloyd’s of London. He was arrested by the FBI in December and charged with defrauding at least 25 investors of more than $3 million starting in mid-2016 – the mansions, it turned out, were mere rentals, in one case booked online at a rate of $7,500 a day.