28 February 2019
ACCOUNTANT IN £280,000 PENSION FUND FRAUD
Accountancy Daily on 28 February reported that an accountant, Roger Bessent, who treated a pension scheme, Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme, for which he was a trustee and administrator like a ‘personal piggy bank’ has been found guilty of fraud for transferring more than £280,000 of funds to support his own businesses and investments
MONTENEGRO ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR EX-RULING PARTY ALLY
KYC 360 on 28 February reported that Montenegro has issued an international arrest warrant for a fugitive banker who is a former close ally-turned-foe of long-serving President Milo Djukanovic. Dusko Knezevic, is said to be in London, according to local media, after fleeing Montenegro to avoid detention on suspicion of money laundering and fraud.
BIOMETRICS KEY TO WHITE HOUSE STRATEGY ON COMBATING TERRORIST TRAVEL
On 25 February, Homeland Security Today reported on the US National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel. The whole-of-government approach aims to equip state, local and tribal partners with “terrorism-identity and travel data, as well as the tools and technology necessary to identify terrorists at the earliest opportunity,” the strategy said.
COUNTERFEIT SEIZURES IN BRAZIL
On 19 February, an article from Mayer Brown reported that the Federal Revenue Office of Brazil confiscated approximately US$800 million in illegal products in 2018. This total represents an increase of approximately US$180 million in confiscated products since 2017, and is said to demonstrate that Brazilian Customs and Border Protection is making strides in combating counterfeiting. It says that it is recommended recommended for companies to seek IP protection by investing in training sessions with Customs, staff and distributors as well as creating tools to distinguish genuine from counterfeit goods and providing such information to Customs.
FORMER SIG SAUER EXECUTIVES MAKE COURT DEAL IN US OVER COLOMBIA GUN EXPORTS
ABC News on 27 February reported that 3 former executives at German gun-maker Sig Sauer likely won’t go to prison after reaching a deal over allegations they illegally exported arms to Colombia. The trial centred on the shipment of tens of thousands of semi-automatic pistols from Sig Sauer’s factory in Germany to its sister company in New Hampshire between 2009 and 2011. Prosecutors said most of the SP 2022 pistols were subsequently forwarded to Colombia, in breach of an export licence Sig Sauer had received from German authorities.
JAPAN: REPORTS OF DIRTY MONEY BANK TRANSFERS HIT RECORD IN 2018
The Asahi Shimbun on 28 February reported that Suspicious financial transactions suspected of money laundering hit a record in 2018, according to the National Police Agency. It said that banks and other financial institutions reported 417,465 such money transfers last year. Reports filed by cryptocurrency exchange service operators accounted for 7,096 cases, a more than 10-fold increase over the previous year.
THE CASH CONTROLS (AMENDMENT) (EU EXIT) REGULATIONS 2019
On 28 February, HMRC issued a news release about this SI which amends retained EU law to ensure that it works to collect information from individuals who are carrying cash in excess of £10,000 into or out of the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
THE ECONOMIC WAR ON SYRIA: WHY EUROPE RISKS LOSING
An article from ETH Zurich on 27 February says that the US and the EU have imposed new punitive economic measures on Syria. These measures aim to ensure that Western actors do not help strengthen the reconstituted order in Syria under President Bashar al-Assad. Further, they seek to pressure the Syrian government into behavioural change in return for sanctions relief and reconstruction aid. However, Samaha contends that the sanctions are only likely to strengthen al-Assad’s regime rather than serve Western interests, while also having a detrimental impact on the most vulnerable in Syria.
FAKE FRENCH ‘MINISTER’ DEFRAUDS TURKISH TYCOON
Daily Sabah in its 1 March edition reported that the con man asked the tycoon asked him to help France to secure the release of hostages captured by a terrorist group, the fake – complete with a prosthetic face mask resembling the original minister sitting in his “office” – persuaded Kıraç to give the French government €4.1 million.
4 CORRUPTION SCANDALS SWIRLING AROUND BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, EXPLAINED
PBS on 28 February reported that scandals have engulfed Netanyahu’s family and his inner circle, with at least 3 former close confidants turning state’s evidence and testifying as a witness against him. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit says he has sufficient evidence to press charges against Netanyahu in 3 separate cases. The article looks at the current cases facing the longtime Israeli leader.
UK: DAY OF ACTION CO-ORDINATED BY THE NEWLY FORMED NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRIME CENTRE (NECC) WILL SEEK TO FREEZE 95 BANK ACCOUNTS CONTAINING AN ESTIMATED £3.6 MILLION
A news release from the NCA on 28 February said that the money in the accounts is suspected to be either the proceeds of crime or intended to be used for criminal purposes. The accounts are held mainly by overseas students studying in the UK who may be unaware that operating a bank account in this manner is potentially illegal. The accounts were identified by a bank as part of their AML processes and officers from the NECC assess that the students are likely to have been targeted by organised crime groups, specifically to launder the proceeds of crime.
NETHERLANDS: “TERRIFYING” ONLINE GAMBLING PENALTIES PLANNED
Calvin Ayre on 28 February reported that online gambling operators serving Dutch customers without Dutch permission will face “terrifying” new financial penalties as gaming regulators prep for the country’s new liberalised online market. The KSA regulatory body announced that it was increasing the ‘starting’ financial penalty for unauthorised online gambling from its current €150,000 to €200,000 from 1 March.
GIBRALTAR: COMMAND PAPER ON IVORY TRADE
On 27 February, Gibraltar published a news release about a Command Paper on a draft Bill to make provision for the prohibition of dealing in ivory. The Bill provides for a prohibition on “dealing” in ivory, and defines this as buying, selling or hiring ivory, or offering to do so, keeping ivory for sale or hire, or exporting or importing ivory from Gibraltar for sale or hire, or for personal possession. The ivory ban will not affect ownership of items made of or containing ivory, including inheriting or gifting.
UPDATE: UAE EMBARGO IN RELATION TO QATAR
On 28 February, Ince Gordon Dadds published an update intended to clarify the position regarding the UAE embargo in relation to Qatar; and, in particular, the confusion seems to center around the question of whether the UAE now permits shipment of Qatari cargo to the UAE and vice versa.
WORKING GROUP LISTS ETHICAL PRINCIPLES FOR FACIAL RECOGNITION POLICY
On 27 February, Police Professional reported that a report for the Home Office had identified 9 key areas were identified by the Facial Recognition Working Group of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG) – formerly the National DNA Database Ethics Group) – to inform policy and trials of the technology. The working group is monitoring developments and advising Home Office ministers on the ethics of the technology’s deployment.
LEBANON’S FIRST STEPS IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY
King & Spalding has published a chapter it contributed to Pratt’s Energy Law Review which outlines the main challenges facing the development of the hydrocarbons’ sector in Lebanon. It also offers a brief overview of the legal framework regulating Lebanese petroleum activities as well as a succinct timeline of the events that paved the way to Lebanon’s ﬁrst steps in the offshore energy industry. It starts by saying that Lebanon is the latest country to join the race for oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The signiﬁcant natural gas ﬁelds discovered over the past decade in the Levant and Cyprus basins have sparked increased interest in the potential oil and gas resources contained in the Eastern Mediterranean sea. After more than 3 years of delay due to political deadlock, Lebanon has ﬁnally re-launched its ﬁrst licensing round stalled since 2013.