28th May 2019
INDONESIA: TACKLING CIGARETTE SMUGGLING IN FREE TRADE ZONES
On 28th May, the Jakarta Post reported that the government has decided to lift the cigarette and alcohol excise tax exemption for the free trade zones of Batam, Bintan and Karimun in the Riau Islands and the free port of Sabang at the northern tip of Sumatra, because it turned out that it was being abused. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) found that the excise tax exemption had been abused to smuggle cigarettes and alcohol from the free trade zones to other regions; and that an estimated 1 billion cigarettes were smuggled last year out of Batam alone, causing losses of about $35 million in state revenue.
CANADA: MAN CAUGHT SMUGGLING NEARLY 5,000 LEECHES IN LUGGAGE FINED
On 27th May, CBC News reported that a man has been fined $15,000 after he was caught flying into Canada with a suitcase full of leeches from Russia in October. A ministry spokesman says this was its first large-scale leech import seizure. DNA sequencing of their stomach contents and found they were caught in the wild.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: POLICE BUST MONEY LAUNDERING CELL CONNECTED TO DRUG TRAFFICKING BETWEEN SPAIN & MOROCCO
The North Africa Post on 27th May reported that authorities in the Dominican Republic have deported a French national, Michel Pierre Vincent Loubet, described as the boss of a network accused of laundering money from drug trafficking activities between Spain and Morocco. He had been arrested together with 4 Spanish nationals. Security forces seized sizable amount of cash: in euros, pesos, US dollars and Moroccan dirhams. Loubet was sent to Madrid, where it is said he was detained.
BRAZILIAN PETROCHEMICALS PRODUCER APPROVED AGREEMENT TO PAY $101 MILLION TO SETTLE INVOLVEMENT IN THE ‘CAR WASH’ CORRUPTION CASE
KYC 360 on 28th May reported that the board of Brazilian petrochemicals producer Braskem SA has approved an agreement with authorities to pay $101 million to settle its involvement in the ‘Car Wash’ corruption case. Braskem and engineering group Odebrecht pleaded guilty in 2016 in US federal court to conspiring to violate the FCPA, and agreed to pay US, Swiss and Brazilian authorities $3.6 billion to settle the case, and, a US judge sentenced Braskem to pay a $632.6 million criminal fine.
MEXICAN STEELMAKER AHMSA SAYS ACCOUNTS ‘IMPROPERLY’ FROZEN BY GOVERNMENT
On 28th May, KYC 360 reported complaints by AHMSA that the Finance Ministry’s FIU had “improperly” frozen its bank accounts. It was reported in August that AHMSA paid $3.7 million to a shell company allegedly set up by Brazil’s scandal-hit builder Odebrecht.
NEW €100 AND €200 BANKNOTES START CIRCULATING
On 28th May, the EU issued a news release and factsheet saying that the banknotes use new and innovative security features and are easy to check using the “feel, look and tilt” method.
SIERRA LEONE: AFRICAN FOOTBALL CHIEFS ACQUITTED AFTER CORRUPTION TRIAL
On 28th May, Game Yetu in Kenya reported that 2 former heads of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) were cleared of corruption charges. Ex-SLFA president Isha Johansen and former general secretary Chris Kamara had faced an array of charges for misappropriation of funds. They had been replaced in their jobs as the case went ahead, FIFA had suspended the SFLA from its ranks on the grounds of government interference, and Sierra Leone’s qualifying matches for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations were scrapped.
NORTH KOREANS SURVIVE BY PAYING BRIBES: UN REPORT
The Strait Times on 28th May reported on a UN report which says that North Koreans are forced to pay bribes to officials to survive in their isolated country, where corruption is “endemic” and repression rife. North Korea blames the dire humanitarian situation on UN sanctions imposed for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes since 2006, but the report said that the military receives priority funding amid “economic mismanagement”. Many North Koreans pay bribes of cash or cigarettes not to have to report to state-assigned jobs where they receive no salary, thus allowing them to earn income in rudimentary markets, the report said; and others bribe border guards to cross into China, where women are vulnerable to trafficking into forced marriages or the sex trade, it added.
BRAZIL EX-BILLIONAIRE BATISTA FINED $134 MILLION FOR INSIDER TRADING
Al Arabiya on 28th May reported that Eike Batista, 62, once the richest man in Brazil, has been fined around $134 million for insider trading, the securities commission said, as the ex-billionaire remains under house arrest pending an appeal against a 30-year jail sentence. He was also was banned for 7 years from running a publicly traded company.
INDONESIA: AUTHORITIES DETAINS POWER COMPANY CHIEF IN POWER PLANT BRIBERY CASE
The Jakarta Globe on 28th May reported that corruption investigators have decided to detain Sofyan Basir, the suspended president director of state utility firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara, on bribery allegations involving the Riau-1 coal-fired power plant project.
US EXPORTS TO VENEZUELA SUBJECT TO NEW RESTRICTIONS
On 27th May, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has issued a final rule that, with effect from May 24th, amends the Export Administration Regulations to impose restrictions on exports, reexports, and in-country transfers to Venezuela.
SETTLING DISPUTES: WHY, WHEN AND HOW?
On 28th May, Gowling WLG published a briefing on the basic behind this question. It says that the overwhelming majority of disputes are resolved by some form of negotiated compromise between the parties, rather than by a final decision from a court or other tribunal – and that finding a workable commercial compromise is only the first step in settlement. This insight looks at the key considerations in reaching, documenting and enforcing settlement of disputes.
PLASTIC WASTE FROM BANGLADESH FOUND SHIPPED INTO MALAYSIA
The Star online on 28th May reported that plastic waste from Bangladesh has been found to be shipped into Malaysia, as a container of waste was among nine opened and displayed to the media. Malaysia would be sending back 450 metric tonnes of plastic in 10 containers, with an inspection process on another 50 containers brought in illegally still ongoing. A total of 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste from 60 containers is expected to be shipped back, once the inspection process is fully completed. Previously, 5 containers were sent back to Spain on April 29th. Most of the plastic scrap coming into the country is contaminated and low-quality plastic from developed countries that is non-recyclable.
ARGENTINA’S CORRUPT FEDERAL POLICE: A FEW BAD APPLES?
Insight Crime on 27th May reported on the arrest of the federal police chief in Argentina’s strategically located province of Santa Fe on drug trafficking. Authorities deny that corruption is endemic among security forces, blaming only a “few bad apples”.
ONLY INTERNATIONAL ACTION WILL STOP INCREASE IN SEA PIRACY
On 28th May, Hellenic Shipping News reported that BIMCO, the world’s largest international shipping association, says that turning the tide of piracy and attacks is not a difficult operation in terms of military and law enforcement. The will to act and get both local and international involvement and cooperation on the other hand, may be. An annual report from the International Maritime Bureau shows that attacks in West Africa helped push piracy numbers up in 2018. In terms of military and law enforcement, an international operation is not complicated, so what is needed above all is the will to act. According to the IMB report, there were 201 incidents in total reported to the bureau last year – a rise from 180 incidents in 2017 and from 191 in 2016.
STATE STREET BANK AND TRUST COMPANY VIOLATED US IRAN SANCTIONS
On 28th May, OFAC reported that the company had violated the sanctions regulations by acting as a trustee for a professional customer’s employee retirement plan between January 2011 and September 2015 and involving $11,365.44; with a participant in the plan who was a US citizen residing in Iran.
SEC $4.5 MILLION WHISTLEBLOWER AWARD
On 28th May, the Wall Street Journal reported that a former orthopaedic surgeon notified the SEC about an alleged kickback scheme in Brazil. The SEC announced the award, but the regulator didn’t identify the company or the whistleblower – but the company is reported to be Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc.
NORTH KOREAN SHIP ARRIVES IN VIETNAMESE PORT
NK Pro on 28th May reported that the Sinwon arrived in Vietnam’s Hai Phong Port, marking a rare occasion of a DPRK-owned ship making stops in countries other than Russia or China.
ISIS CLAIMS IT IS BEHIND A SERIES OF WILDFIRES IN IRAQ AND SYRIA
Homeland Security Today on 28th May reported that ISIS claims it is behind a series of wildfires in Iraq and Syria, as a cheap terror tactic that requires little skill. ISIS also emphasised the economic impact of the fires, noting “many agricultural lands have been destroyed” and “tons of crops,” including wheat and barley, went up in flames in the jihadists’ “harvest of another kind”.