6th July 2019
HOW DID HUNGER FOR THE HUMBLE VANILLA POD LEAD TO GREED, CRIME AND RICHES?
In the June/July edition of The Economist 1843 magazine is a fascinating article (especially for those of us hooked on vanilla ice cream) about the history of vanilla in Madagascar, and the problems facing the industry, and the ordinary people of Madagascar. It mentions that Indonesia, Uganda and Papua New Guinea are all planting vanilla, and US agriculture researchers are exploring ways to genetically engineer a more labour-efficient plant.
LATVIAN FINANCIAL REGULATOR AND DEPUTY QUIT WITH GOLDEN HANDSHAKES
LSM, the national broadcaster in Latvia, confirmed on 5th July that Financial and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) Chairman Peters Putniņš and his deputy Gunta Razāne both handed in their submitted their resignations on July 4th.
EMILIO LOZOYA: FORMER MEXICAN OIL CHIEF ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION
On 6th July, the BBC reported that an arrest warrant has been issued for Emilio Lozoya, former chief executive of Mexican state oil company Pemex. He is accused of taking $10 million in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, and his wife, sister and mother are wanted in the same corruption case.
IRISH CHARITY SEEKS €2.5 MILLION IN DAMAGES FROM FUNDRAISER IN US THEFT CASE
The Irish Times on 6th July reported that the American Ireland Fund (AIF) is seeking damages of $2.9 million against Karla Stover, the charity’s former fundraising director in Texas, alleging theft and fraud against her in a US court case.
CROSS-BORDER SHOPPERS DECLARE GOODS VIA SWISS CUSTOMS APP
Customs Today on 3rd July carried an article saying that some 90,000 people have downloaded QuickZoll app, a mobile phone app to speed them through customs when they declare goods at the Swiss border. Swiss customs said the innovation had netted them $1.1 million in duties since it was launched a year ago, with more than 13,000 declarations since spring 2018.
WHAT IS THE MOST DANGEROUS DRUG?
On 25th June, The Economist carried an article saying that some drugs classified as highly dangerous are less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. A report published by the Global Commission on Drug Policy asks why alcohol is legal, while other more harmful intoxicants are not. It blames the UN’s drug classification system, which sorts some 300 psychoactive substances into “schedules” according to their harms and benefits. Some, such as morphine, have medical uses. Others, such as psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms), are used mostly recreationally. Drugs without any apparent medical utility are automatically placed in the most dangerous category—and subjected to the strictest criminal penalties—regardless of the risk they pose.
INDONESIAN COAL COMPANY USED TAX HAVEN SUBSIDIARIES TO MOVE MILLIONS OFFSHORE
On 4th July, Global Witness claimed that Adaro Energy, one of the world’s largest coal companies, has been moving vast amounts of profit to a growing offshore network – that may have helped it avoid or minimise the tax it pays in Indonesia. It says that the Indonesian company cultivates a proud image of contributing to the nation, but might have reduced the amount of tax it would otherwise pay in Indonesia by $125 million between 2009 and 2017 using its tax haven network.
SAUDI ARABIA STILL HOLDS ON TO IRANIAN OIL TANKER THAT BROKE DOWN AFTER 2 MONTHS
On 5th July, Insurance Marine News reported that Saudi authorities are refusing to allow an Iranian oil tanker, which broke down off the coast of Jeddah early in May, to leave the port, despite the fact that Iran has paid for the cost of the repairs. Saudi Arabia has reportedly asked the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) for an additional $200,000 cost per day for maintenance.
US GOVERNMENT DEMANDS $12.7 BILLION FROM “EL CHAPO”
The Daily Mail on others on 6th July reported that, following his conviction, drug trafficker Jaoquin Guzman now faces a demand for $12.7 billion – the amount the government says his cartel made.
GUINEA PRESIDENT TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION OVER ALLEGATIONS IN BOLLORE FRAUD CASE IN FRANCE
The Sowetan Live in South Africa on 6th July reported that Guinean President Alpha Conde has said that he would file a complaint in the French courts over allegations raised in a corruption case embroiling French billionaire Vincent Bollore. Conde who is said to be close to industrialist Bollore also took aim at the Guinean press for, in his view, failing “to defend the nation”. Bollore, 66, head of the Bollore Group, was charged after authorities launched an investigation into how its African logistics subsidiary secured contracts to run Lome port in Togo and Conakry port in Guinea, and if Bollore Group’s communications arm, Havas, undercharged Conde and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe for work on their campaigns as a sweetener for the contracts.
FREE PORTS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FREE-TRADE ZONES
On 6th July, the Guardian published a Q&A feature as it says Boris Johnson is said to be considering establishing free ports in the UK if he succeeds Theresa May as UK prime minister. Belfast, Teesside and Aberdeen are among potential sites for the tax-free economic zones.
SON OF HAMAS FOUNDER SPLITS FROM ORGANISATION OVER RAMPANT CORRUPTION AND RACISM
On 6th July, a post in Kenneth Rijock’s blog reports news (also seen in Israeli media) that Suheid Yousef, whose father is Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, has publicly broken with the organisation, and fled the Middle East, due its systemic corruption. He described Hamas to media, during a TV interview, as “a racist, terror organisation” which is basically working for Iran, and not for the goal of Palestinian independence.
ALMOST $400 MILLION OF THE DRUG ICE FOUND HIDDEN IN CONTAINER AT SYDNEY PORT
On 6th July, Customs Today reported that last month a container declared as containing clothing to the attention of Australian Border Force authorities at the Sydney Container Examination Facility near Port Botany. When they dismantled the container they found 500 kg of methamphetamine, in 500 packages spread across 6 of the 10 pallets, with a street value of $375 million.
AFRICAN FREE TRADE ZONE EXPECTED FROM 2020
On 6th July, Customs Today reported that a landmark African free trade zone due to be ceremonially launched at a summit in Niger is expected to take effect from July 2020, the African Union (AU) trade commissioner has said. The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) — 17 years in the making — will be the major focus at the AU summit. According to the AU, the zone, bringing together Africa’s 1.2 billion people into the world’s largest trade bloc, could increase intra-African trade by 60% by 2022. Some have feared that cheaper imports will hit small manufacturers and farming families.
SRI LANKA’S LARGEST METHAMPHETAMINE HAUL BUSTED AT CENTRAL MAIL EXCHANGE
On 5th July, Customs Today reported that 5,500 Methamphetamine pills hidden inside a subwoofer speaker were smuggled into the country from Belgium.
77% OF DRUG TRAFFICKERS ARE US CITIZENS, NOT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
The CATO Institute in the US on 3rd July published an article saying that when people think of drug smugglers, they often imagine illegal immigrants sneaking into the US across the southwest border. But the reality is that the vast majority of drug smuggling occurs at ports of entry (including airports), and the vast majority of traffickers are US citizens. US citizens had 77% of federal drug trafficking convictions in 2018 (up from 69% in 2012). It points out that most drug trafficking occurs at ports of entry because most drugs — other than marijuana — are easier to conceal in legal luggage than while crossing the Rio Grande or the desserts in Arizona. As a result, officers at ports and airports seized between 80% and 90%t of every major drug type except for marijuana.
ZIMBABWE: POLICE AND AGENCIES TO BE GIVEN POWERS TO SEIZE WEALTH IF OWNERS FAIL TO EXPLAIN HOW THEY ACQUIRED IT
Pindula News on 6th July reported that the government has gazetted the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill (2019) that seeks to give the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) powers to seek explanations from people who exhibit wealth without the means of obtaining it.
This blog is primarily for my own use, to keep informed and up to date. However, if you would like to say thank you (and perhaps help me get a new, better laptop when I am away…) you can “buy me a coffee” at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y