2 March 2019
EU COUNTRIES REVOLT AGAINST COMMISSION’S DIRTY MONEY LIST
On 1 March, Politico reported that the Commission last month published a list of 23 countries that it says are too lax on money laundering, including Saudi Arabia, Panama, and several US territories such as the US Virgin Islands. The list, which needs the support of both the European Parliament and Council of the EU to come into effect, generated intense backlash and behind-the-scenes lobbying from the US and Saudi Arabia. EU government representatives agreed to block the blacklist when they meet at a Council meeting. EU ambassadors will formalise that decision next week. The EU home affair ministers would then sign off on the rejection when they meet next.
IRANIAN COMPANY WINS $87 MILLION FRAUD CLAIM OVER OIL RIG DEAL
On 2 March, the Fars News Agency in Iran reported that a court in London had handed a victory to an Iranian oil and gas engineering company on Friday, accepting its claim that it was a victim of a fraud. It says that in 2011, sanctions made it difficult for Iran to rent oil drilling rigs, so the Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Co (IOEC) approached one of the defendants and asked him to find one to buy. The deal had to be routed through a trading company registered in Turkey. Even though the rig was never delivered to Iran, IOEC ended up paying out all of the $87 million – including a $20 million premium because of the cost of evading sanctions.
MEXICO FREEZES SUSPICIOUS UNIVERSITY FUNDS RECEIVED VIA SWITZERLAND
On 2 March, Swissinfo reported that Mexico has frozen $156 million of a large public university’s funds (The Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo) while it investigates suspected money laundering. The university received the money via Switzerland from accounts in 22 countries, according to a government agency. In addition to Switzerland, the remittances came from Spain, UK and other countries.
US DOJ IS FURTHER DELAYING ENFORCEMENT OF ITS NEW OPINION ON THE SCOPE OF THE WIRE ACT
Calvin Ayre on 2 March reported that the US Department of Justice is further delaying enforcement of its new opinion on the scope of the Wire Act to give online gambling operators more time to bring their operations into compliance – extending its original 15 April deadline by 60 days.
SYNTHETIC ‘PINK COCAINE’ CROSSING FROM ARGENTINA INTO URUGUAY
On 1 March, Insight Crime reported that Anti-drug officials in Uruguay are warning citizens about the arrival of a new kind of alleged pink cocaine from Argentina, underscoring how the synthetic drugs market in Argentina may be spreading to neighboUring countries. The drug is actually a synthetic drug known as 2C-B, a stimulant and hallucinogenic drug similar to MDMA. It says that the emergence of synthetic drugs in Argentina and Uruguay follows a regional trend of criminal groups adapting to the growing demand of such drugs – although Argentina has not been a flashpoint for their consumption, its local drug market is following regional shifting dynamics. Argentina has increasingly become a key transshipment link for South America’s cocaine trade, domestic trafficking, and local consumption have also increased.
WHY THE EU’S TOBACCO TRACK AND TRACE SYSTEM FAILS TO LIVE UP TO WHO REQUIREMENTS
On 26 February, an article from Illicit Trade said that the EU is set to implement a system to track and trace tobacco products all along the supply chain this May, in line with the Tobacco Products Directive 2014. The EU also maintains that the system fulfills the requirements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, to which the EU is a party. However, criticism has come from from MEPs and public health bodies, who argue that the scheme is not independent from the tobacco industry.