16th March 2019
TURKEY: 3 DETAINED FOR SMUGGLING ARTEFACTS AND RADIOACTIVE CALIFORNIUM
On 15th March, Brinkwire reported that Turkish gendarmerie had seized 7 grams (0.24 oz) of radioactive californium and 1,195 historical artefacts during an anti-smuggling operation in south-eastern Diyarbakir province. Californium is a radioactive chemical element first synthesised at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of California University in 1950. It is considered to be highly hazardous and is used in nuclear reactors as well as oil wells.
JADE AND GEM SMUGGLING COSTS MYANMAR BILLIONS
The Diplomat on 15th March reported that, according to a new report by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Myanmar’s poorly-regulated jade and gemstones production means up to two-thirds of all the country produces is possibly not subjected to tax, and also suffers from chronic undervaluing of registered jade and gemstones. Myanmar produces 90% of the world’s jade and is a leading producer of rubies, sapphires, and other varieties of coloured gemstones. China buys most of Myanmar’s jade, with high-end jade sometimes exceeding the price of gold.
UK: LEGAL REGULATORS OUTPERFORMING ACCOUNTANCY ON AML SUPERVISION
On 15th March, the Law Society Gazette reported that, according to OPBAS, regulators of law firms have had more success than their accountancy counterparts in ensuring that AML rules are observed. However, it also concludes that almost half of legal regulators are not doing enough supervision. 54% of accountancy regulators and 44% of legal regulators did not have sufficient supervisory activity, the report said, and many had ‘underdeveloped, or neglected, procedures for reporting and escalating potential AML issues’.
SWEDBANK LAUNDERING CASE GROWS AS $10 BILLION FOUND IN REVIEW
Bloomberg Law on 15th March reported that Swedbank AB, which dominates financial markets in the Baltic region, and which is Sweden’s oldest bank, may have handled considerably more in suspicious transactions tied to an Estonian money laundering scandal than first reported. This was according to Sweden’s main television broadcaster, SVT, which cited a 2018 internal review by the bank.
CONVICTED BIRMINGHAM FRAUDSTER ORDERED TO PAY £1.52 MILLION
Birmingham Press on 15th March reported that the SFO has secured the forfeiture of over £1.5 million from convicted fraudster Nisar Afzal, 61, and which came from the sale of 2 properties in Birmingham, which Afzal originally bought with the funds from a series of long-firm frauds. He had been convicted in 2011.
PWC INVESTIGATION FINDS $7.4 BILLION ACCOUNTING FRAUD AT STEINHOFF
Reuters on 15th March reported that South African retailer Steinhoff said an independent report had found it had overstated profits over several years in a $7.4 billion accounting fraud involving a small group of top executives and outsiders.
SINGAPORE: 6,000 CARTONS OF CONTRABAND CIGARETTES HIDDEN IN GAMING MACHINES
On 15th March, Customs Today reported that the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) confiscated 6,000 cigarettes hidden in gaming machines at a warehouse, hidden in 10 “Game Machines” in a 40-foot container at the warehouse.
ARREST OF ELN ARMS DEALER IN COLOMBIA REVEALS GLOBAL NETWORK
Insight Crime on 15th March reported on an intricate international arms trade extending from the US to Colombia. José Alexander Peláez Mejía, aka “Zeus” or “Mono,” was arrested March 8th at Bogotá Airport after being deported from Honduras, where he lived. He is accused of being the top arms dealer for members of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) in the Colombian department of Antioquia. His arrest was part of an operation co-ordinated by Interpol, which concluded with 560 arrests in 8 countries of Latin America.
WILL US EXTEND IRAN OIL WAIVERS?
On 13th March, the Center for a New American Security provided a link to an interview on S&P Global Platts with Elizabeth Rosenberg, director of the energy program at CNAS and a former senior sanctions adviser at the US Treasury. She predicted continuing significant reduction exemptions to China and India because it would be economically and politically difficult, perhaps impossible, for them to get to zero.
LEBANON SPEEDS UP MEASURES TO CREATE ‘NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION’
Asharq Al-Awsat on 16th March reported that the Lebanese Parliament is expected to give the green light to the creation of a National Anti-Corruption Commission after it was approved by both the Finance and Budget, and Administration and Justice Committees. It will the power to prosecute those engaged in corruption offences, and it has the right to impose travel bans and lift bank secrecy in cases where corruption is detected.
VIETNAM: FORMER ANZ BANK EMPLOYEE TO STAND TRIAL IN $4 MILLION FRAUD CASE
On 16th March, VN Express reported that Nguyen Pham Gia Tho, and his sister-in-law Nguyen Tuong Vi, director of an agricultural product export/import company, have been charged in connection with for allegedly falsifying customers’ signatures and misappropriating over $4 million. He was head of customer relations at ANZ’s in Saigon.
GLOBAL WITNESS: CROWN DEPENDENCIES ‘PROVIDE GETAWAY CARS FOR TERRORISTS’
On 16th March, the Guernsey Press reported that the NGO, Global Witness, which campaigns against corruption, has said that Guernsey and the other Crown Dependencies can act as ‘getaway cars for terrorists, dictators, money launderers and tax evaders all over the world’, and had been a jurisdiction of incorporation for companies that the NGO had investigated and it urged the Prime Minister to act over financial transparency rules and the plan to create a public beneficial ownership register.
CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT ALLOWS LAWSUIT AGAINST FIREARMS MANUFACTURERS OVER SANDY HOOK MASSACRE
Jurist on 15th March reported that the Connecticut Supreme Court had reversed a lower court decision to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the families of victims from the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting to sue firearms manufacturers.