12th May 2019
SUDAN SEIZES MOROCCO PLANE FILLED WITH GOLD
The Middle East Monitor on 11th May reported that Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces have seized 241 kg of gold from a Moroccan aircraft flying from the country’s River Nile state, which landed in the capital, Khartoum. It is said that while only 93 kg of the gold on board the plane has an export licence, while the legal status of the remaining quantity has not been clarified. It says that Moroccan news website Hespress reported that the aircraft was loaded with gold belonging to Moroccan company MANAGEM, which has long been active in the mining industry across the African continent. The website says that Sudan produces 100 tonnes of gold every year and gold mines are a major source of foreign currency in the country. However, it is believed that about 70% of Sudan’s gold production is being smuggled out of the country, as producers try to circumvent regulations requiring gold to be sold to the central bank in local currency at a price much lower than that which can be reached on the black market.
SUDAN DENIES RUMOURS ABOUT MOROCCO’S MANAGEM GOLD SMUGGLING
Morocco Wolrd News on 11th May reported that, contrary to previous news, the gold load belonging to Morocco’s mining company Managem was transported with due administrative export authorisation. A Sudanese official has denied reports that the shipment of gold belonging to Managem, Morocco’s leading mining company in a number of sub-Saharan countries, was unauthorised.
CHINESE WOMAN’S SECRET ARREST IN US HINTS THAT SANCTIONS PROBE GOES BEYOND JUST HUAWEI
The Japan Times on 12th May reported that an employee of an unidentified Chinese technology company was arrested while on vacation in California, and Liu “Willow” Yang, 29, ultimately pleaded guilty and went back to China. Newly unsealed portions of the case and court transcripts reviewed by Bloomberg News, suggesting that the US may be pursuing a wider crackdown on sanctions violations than was previously known following the arrest of a top Huawei executive in Canada. The prosecution of Yang is the third known instance of the US going after Chinese technology companies or their employees for trading with Iran and other countries blacklisted by the U.S. on terrorism, national security or human rights grounds.
JAPANESE MAN JAILED IN ECUADOR FOR TRYING TO SMUGGLE OUT INSECTS
Japan Today on 11th May reported that the defendant was arrested at the international airport in Quito in March with 248 spiders, cockroaches, wasps, bees and butterflies in his suitcases, the environment ministry said in a statement. The smuggler was jailed for 2 years and also fined $4,000 and ordered to make a public apology in a national newspaper.
DUBAI’S DIAMOND INDUSTRY
An article from Thomson Reuters’ Zawya on 9th May looks at the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), which has a vision of becoming the largest hub for trading diamonds in the world. In 1997, diamond trading in Dubai was virtually non-existent, but by 2003 trade in rough and polished stones had increased to $3.6 billion and by 2017 it had risen to $28 billion. Now the exchange is planning to renovate its trading floor and, once complete, it will be the biggest tender floor in the world. DDE will encourage mining companies to bring their diamonds to Dubai to sell directly to buyers, as the industry reduces its reliance on brokers in favour of open, competitive sales processes. The majority of the world’s diamonds are mined in Africa or Russia, while around 11 of every 12 rough diamonds is cut and polished in India, making Dubai a convenient middle ground. One problem mentioned is a fraud called “round-tripping” – the practice of shipping a single stone multiple times between various companies, and borrowing against the multiple fake invoices generated. This was alleged in the case against jeweller, Nirav Modi, in India. However, a spokesman is quoted saying that Nirav Modi was in the business of defrauding banks and the diamond business was just the underlying vehicle, not the root cause.
SEC FINES TELEFONICA BRASIL OVER WORLD CUP FCPA ALLEGATIONS
A post on the FCPA Blog on 10th May reported that the SEC has fined Telefônica Brasil SA (a unit of Spain’s Telefónica) $4.125 million for providing soccer tickets and hospitality to government officials who could help the company’s business. The SEC charged the company with violating the FCPA’s internal accounting controls and recordkeeping provisions. It spent $5.5 million to buy 2014 World Cup tickets and 2013 Confederations Cup tickets as “Publicity Institutional Events” and “Advertising & Publicity”; and World Cup tickets and hospitality went to 93 government officials and Confederations Cup tickets to 34 government officials, the SEC said. Brazil hosted both tournaments.
SWISS ATTORNEY GENERAL ACCUSED OF INFORMAL MEETINGS TIED TO BRAZIL GRAFT PROBE
Swissinfo on 12th may reported that a newspaper in Switzerland reported that the Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber had participated in informal, undocumented meetings related to proceedings over the Petrobas corruption case. Recently, Lauber has been fighting accusations of wrongdoing over his use of informal undocumented meetings in probes into alleged misconduct at FIFA. Lauber has repeatedly stressed that complex proceedings such as those related to FIFA and Petrobras could not be conducted efficiently without informal talks.
8-YEAR NCA INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN MULTI-MILLION POUND ASSET RECOVERY INCLUDING LUXURY HOTEL AND £100,000 BENTLEY
A NCA news release on 12th May reported that around £6 million worth of assets including an award winning luxury hotel and a £100,000 Bentley were recovered. The haul was recovered from 3 defendants, including a practising barrister who agreed to hand over assets rather than face a 15-day trial, and associated companies. The orders are the culmination of a complex 8-year civil recovery investigation into businessman Jonathan Nuttall, 46.
LOTTO WINNER AMANDA NUTTALL FORFEITS ASSETS
The BBC reported on 12th May that a millionaire Lotto winner has been ordered to hand over assets as part of a money laundering probe. The NCA said 3 people had been told to forfeit a combined £6 million of assets as part of an investigation into businessman Jonathan Nuttall. The NCA said Mr Nuttall’s alleged illegal activities first came to light during another investigation involving convicted drug smuggler Amir Azam, from whom £4 million of assets were recovered.