On 12th June, the US Treasury added the SOUTH WEALTH RESOURCES COMPANY and 2 individuals to its sanctions lists. The company is said to be an Iraq-based Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) financial conduit which has trafficked hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to IRGC-QF-backed Iraqi militias. The 2 individuals and the company are said to have covertly facilitated the IRGC-QF’s access to the Iraqi financial system to evade sanctions.
Global News in Canada on 12th June reported that the law firm of Richmond Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido facilitated a secretive financial transaction that might have helped an alleged Chinese cartel “drug boss” launder his unexplained wealth through a Metro Vancouver condo development – in a so-called “bare trust” joint venture. It is said that bare trust deals have become extremely controversial in the midst of the province’s money laundering scandal because the transactions allow investors to hide their ownership of land in documents only accessible to lawyers.
On 11th June, the Cayman News Service reported on a case where prosecutors allege that 2 Venezuelan nationals charged with smuggling $135,000 in cash found hidden in a private plane at Owen Roberts International Airport on 30th May have direct “connections to the criminal underworld” across the Caribbean and the US. An ongoing investigation continues into the cash found hidden under electrical panelling in the floor of the aircraft, as well as the transfer of some $6 million worth of gold through the Cayman Islands to Switzerland over the last 2 weeks of May. One man has a previous conviction for money laundering and the other is also wanted in the US on other conspiracy charges relating to the smuggling of cash, drugs and gold.
On 12th June, in a response to a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report, RUSI published a statement after the Committee described the UK’s position on post-Brexit sanctions as unclear, fragmented, incoherent and risks national security. RUSI says that the UK will need to be much clearer in its sanctions strategic intent, how sanctions will be used to address both state-based and criminal threats. The report is said to claim that the Foreign Office has given muddled and contradictory accounts of whether it has to wait for Brexit before it can enforce asset freezes against human rights abusers such as Russian oligarchs, Saudi security staff or Syrian military leaders, and the Committee accuses ministers of obfuscation over the issue. It also says UK sanctions policy is incoherently implemented, with little co-ordination between those who devise policy in the Foreign Office and those who implement it in the UK’s financial regulatory bodies. The Guardian says the Committee particularly criticised the lack of action over human rights abusers and the so-called “Magnitsky” sanctions.