21st August 2019
SUSPECTED NORTH KOREAN COAL SMUGGLER SHIPS MADE 8 PORT CALLS IN JAPAN
The Nikkei Asian Review on 21st August reported that 3 vessels banned by South Korea for illegally transporting coal from the North were found to have docked in Japan at least 8 times over the past year, raising questions as to whether DPRK is using Japanese ports to dodge UN sanctions. The ships are thought to have sent coal via Russia to disguise its origin and evade the embargo. The Togo-flagged Ga Hong (formerly the Belize-flagged Shinning Rich), Belize-flagged Jin Long, and Sierra Leone-flagged Rich Glory, are named.
BRAZIL: MAJOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN SMUGGLING RING DISRUPTED
A news release on 20th August from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that an international human smuggling ring based in Brazil has been disrupted with the arrests of 3 alleged human smugglers on Brazilian federal charges, following an extensive investigation coordinated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the DoJ and Brazilian police. The human smuggling organisation targeted is alleged to be responsible for the illicit smuggling of scores of individuals from East Africa and the Middle East, into Brazil, and ultimately to the US. The 3 arrested were an Algerian, a Somali and an Iranian national.
US: MAN CHARGED OVER ATTEMPT SHIP PROHIBITED METALS-PROCESSING MACHINES TO IRAN
The Courthouse News Service on 20th August reported that Mehdi “Eddie” Hashemi, 46, a dual citizen of the US and Iran, is accused of participating in a scheme to export computer numerical control machines to Iran, which are used to convert raw materials like metals to certain standards. It is said that Hashemi bought the machines from suppliers in the US and Canada and shipped them to the UAE using forged invoices and packing slips; and from there they were shipped to Iran.
HALF OF COMPANIES EXPECTED TO BE WIPED OFF UNDER BAHAMAS REGISTER CLEAN UP
International Investment on 20th August reported that the Bahamas’ registrar general is striking thousands of companies from the register because as just 50% of companies are thought to be “active”. Most of the companies being wiped off from the register have been inactive for over 20 years or have not complied with the rules on fees and filings for many years. There are about 80,000 companies on the registry.
INDIA: ACCUSED ALLEGED TO HAVE BOUGHT TENNIS CLUB IN SPAIN, UK COTTAGES WITH SCAM FUNDS
The Times of India on 21st August reported on the INX Media bribery and money laundering case. P Chidambaram and his son Karti are to be questioned over the purchase of a tennis club in Spain, cottages in the UK and several other properties in India. The father is also accused in the Aircel-Maxis 2G scam case.
For more on the INX Media case, see –
WIFE OF EX-PRESIDENT OF HONDURAS CONVICTED IN CORRUPTION CASE
KYC 360 on 21st August reported that a Honduran court convicted the wife of former President Porfirio Lobo on graft charges, including siphoning funds from programmes designed to help poor children. Rosa Elena Bonilla was found guilty of diverting $779,000 in public funds plus international donations that were originally earmarked for social programmes.
MEXICO PREPARES NEW CHARGES AGAINST FORMER PEMEX BOSS
On 21st August, KYC 360 reported that Mexican authorities are preparing to file more criminal charges against the former head of state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Emilio Lozoya, the former CEO. He allegedly receiving more than $12 million in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht and Mexican steelmaker Altos Hornos de México, or Ahmsa, and he is now also alleged to have received some $2.8 million in bribes linked to Pemex’s 2015 purchase of Grupo Fertinal, a troubled fertiliser company.
UK TIER 1 INVESTOR VISA: AML PROVISIONS
On 14th August, Richmond Chambers published a briefing on the UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa the processes involved, and the evidence required. All Tier 1 Investor visa applicants are required to provide the Home Office with evidence of the source of their wealth. The briefing contains a response to an allegation in a TV documentary that “overseas tycoons can exploit the so-called golden visa system to buy the right to live in Britain even if they have links to the Russian President Vladimir Putin or provide critical components to the Chinese military”, saying that the Home Office has available to it a veritable armoury of legal provisions that it can deploy to defend our shores against international money laundering.
WORLD BANK AND THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (AFDB) SANCTION AND BLACKLIST MORE COMPANIES AND CONSULTANTS OPERATING IN NIGERIA
The Premium Times in Nigeria on 21st August reported that the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have sanctioned and blacklisted more companies and consultants operating in Nigeria for various breaches of their contracting processes considered fraudulent and corrupt. It says that similar sanctions were issued to several contracting firms and individual consultants in other jurisdictions around the world.
The World Bank blacklist is at –
US: CUSTOMS BROKERS WILL HAVE TO GET TO KNOW IMPORTERS BETTER
American Shipper on 20th August reported that the trade body for forwarders and customs brokers welcomed a recently proposed rule from US Customs that requires customs brokers to have a more complete identification of their importer clients. The proposed rule requires customs brokers to collect more detailed information about their import clients, including non-residential importers. It will require customs brokers to identify the client’s name and date of birth; physical address and telephone number, email and business website; government-issued photo identification; business identification number; recent credit report; copy of client’s business registration and license with state authorities; and authorisation to carry out power of attorney on the client’s behalf. The customs authority believes that most customs brokers already verify the identity of their prospective importer clients, but the agency estimates that about 5% of importers are “not currently verified or are only minimally verified”. The challenge for some customs brokers with implementing the proposed rule will be the potentially time-consuming requirement of going back through their list of existing importers to update their records. There are about 350,000 importers actively transacting customs business with the agency through about 2,090 permitted customs brokers. Once the final rule is published, the trade association will likely create a tool kit, set up webinars to both the customs brokerage and importer communities, and prepare written guidance to assist its members with meeting the new requirements.
US: MILITARY SCIENTISTS HARNESS AI TO FIGHT SYNTHETIC OPIOIDS
On 20th August, Defense One carried an article saying that a Defense Intelligence Agency team is using artificial intelligence to map the shadowy production-and-distribution networks of synthetic drugs. It is said that tracking fentanyl and other synthetic drugs, which can be made almost anywhere, is harder than tracking cocaine, which is processed by relatively few cartels in relatively few places in South America. It says that a program, called SABLE SPEAR, ingests data from 43 million websites, 8 million of the cargo receipts dubbed “bills of lading,” a billion satellite images, and about 20 other data sources. Algorithms help researchers to draw connections that would otherwise be invisible.
US: JUDGE AGREES TO DELAY BRIBERY TRIAL OF BRITISH FORMER ALSTOM EXECUTIVE BUT SAYS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS HAVEN’T BEEN VIOLATED
On 20th August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Lawrence Hoskins, a former Alstom senior vice-president, failed to show that years of delays to his trial had violated his Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights as well as the Speedy Trial Act. He was arrested in 2014, and is charged with helping organise a scheme from 2002 to 2004 to bribe Indonesian government officials to win a $118 million power contract for Alstom. He had asked for more time to review new evidence obtained by prosecutors and the trial date has been pushed back nearly 2 months to October 28th.
PODCAST: THE CHINA-CANADA FINANCIAL WEB
In the latest TRACE podcast, Bob Mackin, a multimedia journalist based in Vancouver, discusses the extradition case involving Meng Wanzhou of Huawei, the proposed new beneficial ownership registry for real estate in British Columbia and the occasionally shady influence of Chinese money in Canada.
US: CUSTOMS DELIGHTED WITH NEW-GENERATION SCANNING EQUIPMENT FOR TRUCKS – IMPROVED EQUIPMENT FOR AIR CARGO STILL A LONG WAY OFF
On 21st August, Loadstar reported that US Customs & Border Protection agents are delighted with new-generation scanning equipment for trucks – non-intrusive inspection equipment to scan full trucks – and is in the process of rolling out new units to replace ageing equipment at ports and border crossings. However, the article says that similar advances for air cargo, exacerbated by the boom in e-commerce-fuelled shipments, is some way off. Instead, in the interim at least, CBP has come to look increasingly to advance cargo data submission for air cargo, possibly processed with artificial intelligence, to identify questionable shipments for individual inspections. Over the past year, CBP has run an advance data pilot with air, ocean and rail carriers. The article says that canine inspections are emerging as a second major pillar of air cargo security efforts in the US, with private sector canine units involved.
US AIR FORCE STARTS USING FIRST CERTIFIED 3D-PRINTED AIRCRAFT PARTS
Defence Web on 21st August reported that the USAF 60th Maintenance Squadron has become the first field unit in the Air Force to be certified with an industrial-sized 3D printer that is authorised to produce non-structural aircraft parts. It is using a Stratasys F900 3D printer, which is capable of printing plastic parts and uses a material called Ultem 9085 that is more flexible, dense and stronger than typical plastic.
INDIA’S FORMER FINANCE MINISTER ARRESTED
The BBC and others reported on 21st August that a former Indian finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, 73, has been arrested on charges of corruption and money laundering. He is being investigated over allegations that he cleared foreign investments in exchange for bribes while he was finance minister. He is accused of clearing foreign direct investment worth tens of millions of dollars to the INX Group in 2007 when he was finance minister.
CYPRUS: STATE-OWNED COMPANY TOLD – AGAIN – TO COME CLEAN OVER LOANS TO PEP
On 21st August, the Cyprus Mail reported that the Attorney Ggeneral has reaffirmed a state-owned asset management company’s obligation to hand over information as part of a probe into the possibility of the former co-op bank affording favourable treatment to politically exposed persons (PEP) in terms of loan restructuring – information concerning loans belonging to PEPs that were taken over by Hellenic Bank in 2018 after a decision to shutter the co-op.
HIDING A SUPERTANKER IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
On 21st August, Rferl carried an article saying that experts have warned in the past of Iranian efforts to hide shipping activities to evade notice, including stepping up those tactics ahead of the re-imposition last year of unilateral US sanctions. They also say that following the precise movements of even a massive tanker like the Adrian Darya 1 (the former Grace 1 detained in Gibraltar) is more difficult than people might think.
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