OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 16

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.

http://en.brinkwire.com/news/turkey-three-detained-for-smuggling-artifacts-californium/

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.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/jade-and-gem-smuggling-costs-myanmar-billions/

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’.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/legal-regulators-outperforming-accountancy-on-aml-supervision/5069639.article

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.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/white-collar-and-criminal-law/swedbank-laundering-case-grows-as-10-billion-found-in-review

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.

http://thebirminghampress.com/2019/03/convicted-birmingham-fraudster-ordered-to-pay-1-52-million/

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.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-steinhoff-intln-accounts/pwc-investigation-finds-7-4-billion-accounting-fraud-at-steinhoff-company-says-idUKKCN1QW2C2

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.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/ica-seizes-6000-cartons-of-contraband-cigarettes-hidden-in-gaming-machines/

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.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/colombia-arrest-eln-arms-dealer/

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.

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/podcasts/spotlight/031519-ceraweek-fuel-diversity

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.

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1636596/lebanon-speeds-measures-create-‘national-anti-corruption-commission

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.

https://e.vnexpress.net/news/business/companies/former-anz-employee-to-stand-trial-in-4-million-fraud-case-3895508.html

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.

https://guernseypress.com/news/2019/03/16/crown-dependencies-provide-getaway-cars-for-terrorists/

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.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2019/03/connecticut-supreme-court-allows-sandy-hook-shooting-victims-families-to-proceed-in-firearms-industry-lawsuit/

 

CANADA TO SET UP NEW AML TASK FORCE TO IMPROVE INVESTIGATIONS AND SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTIONS

The Province on 16th March reported that the forthcoming Budget will include funding for a new task force that will bring together several federal agencies – RCMP, Canadian Revenue Agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing, justice department and the FINTRAC FIU.

https://theprovince.com/news/local-news/feds-to-launch-anti-money-laundering-task-force-as-part-of-2019-budget/wcm/cbb446ea-8bca-4033-bd41-44e46230f47f

JERSEY: COURT GRANTS ANONYMITY TO COMPANY CEO IN PROCEEDS OF CRIME JUDICIAL REVIEW HEARING

On 16th March, the Jersey Evening Post reported that anonymity has been granted to a CEO, who has declined to provide evidence about the origin of assets suspected to be the proceeds of crime, as it would stain his business reputation ‘immeasurably’.  The company has had its funds effectively frozen by the States police and he argued that publicity would cripple the business’s day-to-day operations.  The company is said to be an adviser to a hedge fund, and already been named in civil class actions in the US in which they are alleged to have been involved, along with others, in a series of manipulative share issuance.  The CEO is a discretionary beneficiary of a Jersey proper law trust which through a wholly-owned BVI company has invested in, and received dividends, from the hedge fund.  The Jersey administrators of the BVI company filed a SAR and the States police decided to withhold consent to the normal operation of its accounts; and the CEO applied for judicial review of that decision.

https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2019/03/16/court-grants-anonymity-to-company-ceo/

PRESIDENT MADURO LINKED TO UGANDAN GOLD PROBE

On 15th March, OCCRP reported that Ugandan authorities are investigating unexplained imports of 7.4 tonnes of gold worth $300 million that is suspected of originating with President Maduro’s regime in Venezuela.  The investigation is centred on African Gold Refinery (AGR), the country’s largest refinery.  It says that Uganda has become a regional smuggling hub for gold with corruption and widespread mismanagement, and that previously AGR was accused of facilitating gold smuggling from conflict regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/9381-maduro-linked-to-ugandan-gold-probe