27 September 2019

The Assad regime used chemical weapons in May

The Wall Street Journal has reported confirmation of such use, saying that the episode took place in May near the village of Kabana as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces sought to subdue resistance in Latakia province.  It says that the incident would mark the first confirmed violation of chemical-weapons accord since a 2018 US military strike on Syria over its alleged poison-gas use.

The role that UK companies have in North Korean efforts to evade international sanctions

RUSI has issued the latest paper in its Project Sandstone series about North Korea, which uncovers North Korea’s links with UK companies.  It suggests that UK shell companies are used to disguise a network of commercial cargo vessels exporting North Korean coal in violation of UN and EU sanctions.  It names ships owned by UK front companies, registered at ‘unit’ addresses in London, with owners and operators in China.

EU and UK adds 7 names to Venezuela sanctions lists

On 27 September, HM Treasury issued a Notice saying that 7 names had been added to the sanctions Consolidated List following EU Regulation 2019/1586/EU.  7 members of the Venezuelan security and intelligence forces. 

Russia detains (another) 262 North Korean sailors for illegal fishing in its waters

On 27 September, NK News reported that in the second such incident in the month, Russian authorities detained a large number of North Koreans for illegal fishing in Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Allegation that BNP Paribas Helped Prop Up Sudan Regime 

On 27 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that human rights groups representing victims of the Darfur genocide filed a criminal complaint against BNP Paribas SA alleging the French bank provided financial services to Sudan that propped up its regime.

ABN Amro Group faces criminal probe in Netherlands over a lack of AML/CFT  controls

On 27 September, the Wall Street Journal reported allegations made that the bank had not carried out client due diligence sufficiently, was insufficiently monitoring bank accounts and did not report unusual transactions, or reported them too late.

Denmark proposing steps to protect bankers amid evidence that they regularly receive threats for exposing clients involved in suspicious dealings

On 27 September, KYC 360 reported that the news follows the focus on banker safety that comes as the financial industry digests news of the death of the former head of Danske’s Estonian unit, Aivar Rehe.

Supply chain and compliance in the agricultural sector

On 23 September, the Red Flag Group issued an article on developing a robust due diligence and risk-management framework, saying that this is particularly true in developing economies, where the agricultural sector’s added value in terms of share of GDP reaches up to 50% and contributes as much as 30% to the national GDP in certain countries.  It looks at the 2 sides of the supply chain – producers of agricultural inputs or technologies; and those involved in transportation, handling, processing etc. Given the complexity of chains, it says that an appropriate assessment of the potential risks that may surface along the agri-food business supply chain should take into account its specific structure, as well as the behaviour and performance of each partner in the chain.  It looks at common risks, including social issues over human rights and exploited labour issues etc. It also considers environmental and economic issues, and considers some case studies.

Operation in Mediterranean Detects Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters

On 24 September, Homeland Security Today reported that a maritime border operation co-ordinated by INTERPOL – Operation Neptune II, which ran during July, August and September – has detected more than a dozen suspected foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) travelling across the Mediterranean.  The Operation focused on the threats posed by suspected FTF potentially using the maritime routes between North Africa and Southern Europe during the busy summer tourist season. The intelligence-led operation also targeted criminal networks involved in human trafficking, people smuggling, firearms trafficking and the drugs trade.  It involved officials at 7 seaports in the 6 participating countries – Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia.

Threats against anti-corruption framework in Brazil multiply

On 23 September, an article from Transparency International starts by saying that 9 in 10 Brazilians see corruption in the public sector as a major problem – although petty corruption seems to affect relatively few people, with the third lowest bribery rate in the region at 11% for bribes paid to access basic public services.  However, it says that expectations have soured, however, since the election, with several developments threaten not only Lava Jato (Car Wash), but also the important progress Brazil has achieved in its anti-corruption legislative and institutional frameworks.

British-flagged Stena Impero tanker has left Iran

On 27 September, Defence News reported that the tanker seized in July had left Iran en route for Dubai.

5 people sentenced for distributing and selling an estimated 4.8 million litres of illicit fuel to motorists and haulage companies across the SE England

On 27 September, Forecourt Trader reported that 5 people, including the former owners of a Sussex petrol station, have been sentenced for distributing and selling an estimated 4.8 million litres of illicit fuel to motorists and haulage companies across the south-east of England.  They illegally mixed kerosene with diesel and sold it as legitimate road fuel to motorists at petrol stations – and later switching from kerosene to biodiesel in an attempt to further their deception. VAT was also evaded.

Drug smuggling duo from Liverpool hid huge haul of cocaine on board a yacht 

On 27 September, a news release from the NCA advised that 2 men who hid £60 million worth of cocaine on a yacht travelling from South America to the UK in August 2019 have been convicted of drug smuggling.

Amazon acquires US customs broker

On 27 September, Lloyds Loading List reported that Amazon has acquired US customs broker, INLT as it seeks to expand the services it offers merchants on its online marketplace.  INLT is based in Los Angeles and Philadelphia and employs around a dozen staff. It makes software for sellers to manage costs and customs clearance of cross-border shipments.

US Achieves Overhaul of International Postal Rates at UPU Congress

On 27 September, Sandler Travis Rosenberg published an article explaining the changes at the Universal Postal Union Congress – only the third-ever congress in the history of this specialised United Nations agency.  It says that, according to press reports, the congress resulted in an agreement by acclamation that will allow high-volume importers of mail and packages to begin imposing “self-declared rates” for distributing foreign mail from January 2021, with a 5-year period for phasing in new fees.

Hong Kong-bound passenger detained with 49 kg peacock feathers at a Delhi airport

Times Now News on 26 September reported that officials apprehended a passenger travelling with peacock feathers from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport to Hong Kong – he having 3 bulky bags in his luggage.  The export of peacock feathers is prohibited since peacocks are protected under Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act. The article also mentions previous large seizures of peacock feathers.

US customs officers have seized counterfeit jewellery imitating $90 million of genuine products

The World Intellectual Property Review on 26 September reported the discovery of a “cache of more than 3,200 fake Cartier bracelets” worth $42 million at the Deer Park Community Church in North Carolina, and the arrest of North Carolina pastor Jiangang Lan.

Mexican former state attorney general jailed 20 years for drug trafficking

On 27 September, Reuters reported that the former attorney general of Mexico’s Pacific coast state of Nayarit – Edgar Veytia, who was Nayarit’s top law enforcement official from 2013 until his arrest in San Diego in 2017 – has been jailed for 20 years.

US Senate Earmarks $2 million To Combat Trade-Based Money Laundering

On 27 September, Baker McKenzie reported that the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Committee earmarked $2 million in Trad- Based Money Laundering (TBML) risk assessment funding in the FY 2020 budget.  It would allow FinCEN to analyse the threat TBML poses on national security. TBML encompasses cartels and terrorist organisations’ hijacking international trade networks to transfer funds across international borders. A senator who helped frame the move is quoted as saying that trade-based money laundering is America’s biggest national security threat that almost no one is paying attention to.

SEC charges Canadian clean fuel technologies company and former CEO with FCPA violations

On 27 September, an article on Mondo Visione said that the SEC announced that Westport Fuels Systems, Inc, a Canadian clean fuel technology company and Nancy Gougarty, of Leesville, South Carolina, have agreed to pay more than $4.1 million to resolve charges that they violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to a foreign government official in China.

UN Secretary-General Calls for Ending Country’s Designation as Terrorist-Supporting State and Immediate Lifting of Sanctions

On 27 September, the UN announced that UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ had made the remarks at the high‑level event on Sudan in New York.

A 12,000-Mile Voyage Could Be in Vain Due to Iran Oil Sanctions

Hellenic Shipping News on 27 September reported on the 2months and 12,000 miles journey of the tanker Da Yuan Hu, which left Singapore and headed to Mexico to pick up a shipment of crude oil.  However, the The White House has announced penalties against the vessel’s owner, China’s COSCO Shipping Tankers (Dalian) Co, in connection with violating sanctions by shipping Iranian crude.

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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