24th October 2018
2 TEXAS WOMEN INDICTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME LINKED TO ROMANCE SCAMS
On 23rd October, a news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement reported that Pamela Sue Hannan, 66, and Pamela Sue Jennings, 68, both from Texas, were indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. They are alleged to have laundered funds received from romance scam victims and from victims of other fraudulent schemes on behalf of their co-conspirators, who were based outside of the US. In order to facilitate this scheme, Hannan and Jennings opened bank accounts in the names of businesses which purported to provide legitimate services. They are said to have received more than $880,000 from victims of the scheme, with the majority of the funds they received being subsequently transferred overseas to their co-conspirators.
NOVICHOK POISON USED IN RECENT ATTACK ON RUSSIAN SPY MAY SOON BE BANNED
Science magazine in the US on 23rd October reported plans to amend the Chemical Weapons Convention for the first time since it was launched in 1977. The Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the body that administers the treaty, has reviewed a revised proposal from Russia that would bring Novichoks (aka fourth-generation nerve agents), under the treaty’s verification regime, along with a class of potential weapons known as carbamates. It reports that countries have long resisted adding Novichoks to the CWC Schedule 1 list of chemical weapons, which compels signatories to declare and destroy any stockpiles, worried that a listing would force them to regulate ingredients that could hamper the chemical industry and might provides clues to how to make the agent. The magazine also reports that at the Council meeting Russia and its allies are likely to continue to resist efforts to eliminate a treaty provision permitting use of aerosolised incapacitants for domestic law enforcement. In 2002, Russia use 2 powerful opioids, remifentanil and carfentanil, to subdue armed terrorists in a Moscow theatre and killed scores of hostages along with the terrorists.
WHY DO SO MANY MIDDLE EAST FACTIONS USE CHINESE GUNS?
On 23rd October, an article in National Interest in the US posed this question, saying that Chinese-made weapons include affordable originals and copies of other weapon systems. Chinese guns are rapidly increasing their “market share” of the battlefield, it says, and probably the most common Chinese weapon in the Middle East is the Type 56 rifle, a variant of the ubiquitous AK or Kalashnikov. A surprisingly common weapon, it says, is the Norinco CQ, a Chinese copy of the American M16, the standard US Army weapon, and much cheaper. It gives the example of one pistol which resembles Western guns, and has been re-stamped to help it pass off of such.
LATVIA FIU FROZE PROCEEDS OF CRIME WORTH €212.5 MILLION IN JANUARY-SEPTEMBER 2019
On 23rd October, LETA 100 reported that in January-September this year, the FIU issued 266 orders to freeze possible proceeds of crime of €212.5 million in total – 2.8 times or €137.5 million more than in the first 9 months of 2018. It also received 3,968 reports of suspicious transactions and 21,627 reports of unusual transactions, 10 reports of possible terrorist financing instances and just 1 report about possible proliferation financing. It sent 153 cases to law enforcement authorities for further investigation, an increase of 12% over same period of 2018, and in 88 cases, the authorities initiated criminal proceedings. It received 516 inquiries from foreign agencies and sent 627 inquiries to foreign financial units – with the main countries of cooperation are Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Poland, UK, Czech Republic, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
HUNDREDS OF SMUGGLED CROCODILES SEIZED ON CHINA-VIETNAM BORDER
On 23rd October, Xinhua reported that Customs in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region said they seized 806 smuggled live Siamese crocodiles, a protected species, on the China-Vietnam border. 16 suspects were reportedly caught, including 14 Vietnamese who had illegally crossed the border.
FRENCH BANKING REGULATOR POINTS OUT GROUP-LEVEL AML COMPLIANCE DEFICIENCIES AMONG BANKS
On 24th October, Mayer Brown published an article saying that the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution or ACPR) had published its report on banking and insurance groups’ consolidated controls for managing AML/CFT controls. The ACPR acknowledged efforts made by such groups under its supervision but noted shortcomings, and the ACPR has given formal notice to groups to comply to AML/CFT provisions by remediating these deficiencies or face potential disciplinary action. The article says that French banks as well as foreign banks with activities in France must remain vigilant in implementing and enforcing their AML/CFT compliance programmes and internal risk management processes.
REPORT: WHERE THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME ENDS UP IN THE UK
On 24th October, KYC 360 reported that Transparency International had released a report that analysed 400 cases with a British link over the last 30 years, where researchers found that illicit funds had moved through 86 banks and financial institutions, 81 law firms, 62 accountants, and more than 2,200 companies in Britain and its overseas territories. It is said that researchers tracked suspect money to the purchase of luxury items, and a corporate box at Stamford Bridge, the home stadium of the Chelsea FC, bought by a shell company for £126,000.
CYPRUS TO PROBE HOW CAMBODIAN ELITE OBTAINED EU PASSPORTS
On KYC 360 reported on 24th October that Cyprus is to investigate the circumstances under which relatives of Cambodia’s prime minister were granted citizenship and did not rule out revoking passports if necessary. This followed claims that that family members and allies of long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen have overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars, and have used their wealth to buy foreign citizenship.
AUSTRALIA: PLAN TO CRIMINALISE CASH PAYMENTS OF $10,000 OR MORE CLEARS FIRST HURDLE IN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT
KYC 360 on 24th October reported that legislation introducing offences for those who make or accept cash payments of more than $10,000 passed the Lower House of Parliament.
NIGERIAN PRIVATE MARITIME SECURITY COMPANIES (PMSC) RECEIVES NEW PATROL VESSELS
On 23rd October, Defence News carried an article about the receipt by one of the few indigenous PMSC of 2 new Damen FCS 3307 Patrol vessels, which will be deployed in the Gulf of Guinea to protect and support the offshore assets of the company’s clients. The 33-metre, 29-know vessels can carry up to 6 crew and 12 security personnel they can remain at sea for up to 4 weeks and travel 1,200 nautical miles in and around Nigeria’s coastal and offshore oil fields. Unable to carry weaponry, the bridges are bullet proof and armoured ‘citadels’ within the hulls protect non-combatants. They also feature a cargo deck for use in the support role.
US: DAMNING REPORT OF SITUATION IN PUBLIC COMPANY ACCOUNTING OVERSIGHT BOARD (PCAOB)
On 23rd October, ICAEW reported that 2 US senators have written to the audit regulator, which is overseen by the SEC, following a damning internal whistleblower report written by a number of current and former PCAOB employees, painted a picture of “internal feuding and personnel issues”, and saying that the regulator had conducted 27% fewer audit inspections this year and jettisoned experienced senior management.
UK YOUTH GAMBLING SURVEY
On 23rd October, Calvin Ayre reported that the UK Gambling Commission Young People and Gambling report examined gambling trends among local 11-16-year-olds and revealed that gambling participation by UK youths has fallen 3% over the past year and that rate could keep falling if regulators take a tighter stance on video game loot boxes. Around 1.7% of youths were deemed to be problem gamblers, unchanged from the 2018 report, while 2.7% were classified as ‘at risk’ of becoming problem gamblers, up from 2.2% in the 2018 report. The most popular form of youth gambling was private bets with friends (5%), with fruit/slot machines ranked second with 4%, online gambling (including the National Lottery) ranked third with 3%, up from just 1% in 2018. The report showed 52% of respondents were aware of in-game items and of this group, 44% had paid money to open loot boxes; and around 6% have used in-game items for betting, either with third-party websites set up for that purpose or privately with friends.
The report can be found at –
CFTC ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST TREASURY VAULT LLC OF UTAH FOR ACTING AS AN UNREGISTERED RETAIL FOREIGN EXCHANGE DEALER
An article on Mondo Visione on 23rd October reported that from September 2017 Treasury Vault began offering through its website certain services in off-exchange forex trading to US retail customers who were not eligible contract participants. The retail forex transactions were in Vietnamese Dong and/or Iraqi Dinar. The CFTC order requires Treasury Vault to cease and desist from further violations, and to pay a civil monetary penalty of $75,000.
OIL COMPANY FACES LEGAL ACTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS IN UGANDA
On 23rd October, an article on Ekklesia reported that a group of NGO are taking Total to court for its failure to elaborate and implement its human rights and environmental vigilance plan in Uganda, in the first-ever legal action of its kind – seeking emergency proceedings against Total for non-compliance with its legal obligations under the 2017 French duty of vigilance law, which aims to address corporate negligence.
US CUSTOMS OFFICIALS SEIZE SHIPMENT OF COUNTERFEIT BATTERIES
On 23rd October, American Shipper reported that US Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico, seized 1,072 rechargeable deep cycle lead batteries said to be worth about $208,000 and that were found to be counterfeit. Lead batteries are highly sought after in Puerto Rico for their use in solar energy backup systems. A spokesman for the battery industry said that it was definitely seeing an increasing trend in counterfeits, and a majority of those products appear to be coming from China.
AMAZON SELLS CLOTHES FROM FACTORIES OTHER RETAILERS BLACKLIST
On 23rd October, the Wall Street Journal reported that clothing from dozens of Bangladeshi factories that most leading retailers have said are too dangerous is nevertheless found on the Amazon website. After a 2013 factory collapse killed more than 1,100 people in Bangladesh, most of the biggest US apparel retailers joined safety-monitoring groups that required them to stop selling clothing from factories that violated certain safety standards but Amazon did not join. Amazon said it inspects factories that supply its own brands to ensure they are in line with international safety standards similar to those of the safety-monitoring groups and the newspaper did not find Amazon-owned brands made in banned factories.
THE FINANCIAL REPORTING COUNCIL’S NEW STEWARDSHIP CODE ASKS ASSET OWNERS, MANAGERS TO CONSIDER ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE FACTORS
On 23rd October, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FRC in the UK had launched a new code for asset owners and managers, asking them to consider environmental, social and governance factors at companies in which they invest. From 1st January, those who sign the code would be required to report annually on their stewardship activity. Under the new code pension funds, insurance firms, fund managers and other service providers must take into consideration a range of factors when they place their investments – and among the factors are potential effects on the environment, in particular on climate change.
UK MAKING BETTER LICENCE APPLICATIONS (MBLA) COURSE
On 8th November, the UK Export Control Joint Unit is hosting a half-day course in London aimed at reducing the number of Requests for Further Information (RFI) and withdrawn/stopped cases returned to licence applicants.
UK: POLICE DATABASE QUARANTINED 9,000 CYBERCRIME REPORTS AS ‘SECURITY RISK’ AND TOOK NO ACTION
On 24th October, the Guardian and others reported that thousands of reports of cybercrime and suspected fraud – some of them dating back to October 2018 – were quarantined on a police database instead of being investigated because software designed to protect the computer system labelled them a security risk. The reports had been made to Action Fraud and handed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), run by the City of London police. The problem was revealed in an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) on how forces were responding to cyber-dependent crime.
HUMAN RIGHTS BREACHES IN EGYPT, UGANDA AND INDONESIA
A news release from the EU Parliament on 24th October advised that the Parliament had adopted 3 Resolutions taking stock of the human rights position in the 3 countries. On Egypt, MEP argue that the human rights situation in the country requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations, which should be restricted to primarily support civil society. On Uganda, MEP expressed their deep concern at the possible resurgence of the anti-homosexuality law in the Ugandan political debate, which would, if introduced, include the death penalty for “aggravated acts of homosexuality”. On Indonesia, MEPs said they were deeply concerned about the provisions in Indonesia’s draft revised criminal code, which allows for discrimination on the basis of gender, religion and sexual orientation, as well as of minorities.
EUROPEAN BORDER AND COAST GUARD AGENCY BEGINS TO RECRUIT BORDER GUARDS FOR ITS OWN STANDING CORPS
On 24th October, the EU advised that the Agency had begun the recruitment process to establish a standing corps of 10,000 border guards – ready to be deployed to support Member States at any time, and replace the 1,300 officers from a variety of European countries currently deployed by the Agency at the external borders. The standing corps will assist in conducting identity and document checks, border surveillance and return of people who no longer have the right to stay the EU. The first border guards will be ready to take on their new tasks in January 2021.
UK: NEW REGULATIONS REMOVE THE TEMPORARY POWER FOR HM TREASURY TO MAKE IN A PUBLIC NOTICE A PROVISION IN RELATION TO VAT, CUSTOMS OR EXCISE DUTY DUE TO THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE UK FROM THE EU
On 24th October, the UK published the Cross-border Trade (Public Notices) (EU Exit) (Revocation) Regulations 2019 which revoke the Cross-border Trade (Public Notices) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Powers under the revoked regulations would have provided HM Treasury with a temporary power for 6 months to issue public notices on the basis of recommendations made by the Commissioners for HMRC, to suspend, relieve, and in some cases, modify obligations and associated sanctions arising under customs, VAT and excise regimes. After they were laid before Parliament, concern was expressed over the legality of the regulations as drafted and on review HM Treasury and HMRC considered it appropriate to revoke them. The revocation has effect from 25th October.
FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMENIAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ARRESTED
PanArmenian on 24th October reported that he is accused of committing fraud and assisting in the embezzlement of power.
HOW AUTHORITIES IN KYRGYZSTAN HANDED OVER A VALUED PUBLIC PARK TO WEALTHY AND WELL-CONNECTED INDIVIDUALS
OCCRP has published an article on 23rd October saying that between 2000 and 2008, authorities in Kyrgyzstan divided up a large swath of Ataturk Park, a green space in the country’s capital, Bishkek, and handed it out to 173 people — many of them wealthy and well-connected. Land grants were made with no oversight or public explanation, and the names of the beneficiaries were never released. Ordinary citizens in Bishkek only realized this was happening when parts of the park were suddenly fenced off, and the dust and noise of construction on private villas began to blow through what had been verdant land open to all. Investigators bought hundreds of records from the national land registry, reviewed thousands of pages of decrees, court records, and other government documents, filed more than 60 information requests with the government, interviewed dozens of people; and even went undercover to get a glimpse of the park’s new crop of mansions and villas. They found that most of the recipients — even the very wealthy — got the land for free, and nearly half of the recipients were government officials, public figures, and businessmen, or their close relatives. But only a fifth of these new owners kept the land, with most of them selling it at a substantial profit. The article lists the recipient.
MODERN SLAVERY: 5 QUICK CHECKS TO FIND IF A COMPANY IS SERIOUS ABOUT TACKLING IT
On 24th October, the Rights Info website published a feature about the risk of modern slavery, an umbrella term for forced labour, child labour, human trafficking, and other forms of labour abuse. The article provides 5 quick ways to figure out where businesses stand on modern slavery – all in the time it would take to add a couple of items to your shopping cart –
OFAC EXTENDS TIME LIMIT ON ANOTHER VENEZUELAN SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSE
On 24th October, the US Treasury announced that General License 5 was replaced and superseded by General License 5A, which now has a delay in effectiveness until January 22nd 2020. Both are concerned with CITGO shares serving as collateral for the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) 2020 8.5% bond.
ICAO: URGENT NEED TO ACT ON AIRLINE SECURITY CHECKS
On 22nd October, Homeland Security Today reported that the International Civil Aviation Organization Secretary General, at the INTERPOL General Assembly in Santiago, had declared that UN Security Council Resolutions on foreign terrorist fighters are achievable, but only if states implement ICAO and INTERPOL provisions fully and effectively. However, he said that the implementation of the relevant provisions by states is currently insufficient. For example, she reminded the assembly that over 50% of international travellers are crossing borders by air today, and in order to ensure that fraudulent, counterfeit, stolen, or lost travel documents are effectively invalidated and removed from circulation, ICAO’s Annex 9 requires that States report these via INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document database – but not all countries systematically query travelers’ documents against the INTERPOL databases. She also mentioned the importance of the establishment of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data systems – but only 27 states currently have a PNR data system in place. Another thing mentioned was that states were still not taking full advantage of the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) for ePassport data authentication.
ARRESTS FOR MASS HUMAN TRAFFICKING OPERATION IN UKRAINE
On 22nd October, Homeland Security Today reported that the Ukraine Ministry of Social Policy and the National Police of Ukraine revealed the details of a shocking case of mass trafficking during a press conference in Kyiv on October 18th. Over 80 jobless Ukrainians from the Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk regions were lured to work at a farm by promises of free accommodation and meals, as well as salaries of $170 per month (well below the average salary in Ukraine which is equal to $400). It also reported that from January to June 2019, the International Organization for Migration Mission in Ukraine identified and assisted 600 victims of trafficking – and almost 70% of them were men. Since the start of its reintegration activities in Ukraine 19 years ago the Mission has assisted close to 16,000 trafficked persons.
UN STUDY ON WHY PEOPLE ILLEGALLY MIGRATE FROM AFRICA
On 24th October, Defence Web reported that a landmark UN migration study – “Scaling Fences: voices of irregular African migrants to Europe” – attempts to find out why those who put themselves in the hands of people smugglers and other vulnerable positions to cross borders make the decision to avoid formal immigration procedures. It contains information obtained from 1,970 migrants from 39 of Africa’s 54 countries. More than 90% of African migrants who embark on the perilous and sometimes fatal journey to Europe in search of a better life would do it again to escape poverty and the uncertain future in their countries of birth.
The report is available at –
NORTH KOREA COULD GIVE CHINA RARE EARTH MINING RIGHTS IN SWAP FOR SOLAR POWER
On 24th October, The Mainichi in Japan reported that North Korea has proposed allowing China to mine rare earths in the country in return for building solar power plants there, a Chinese industry group said.
SWISS INVESTIGATE J SAFRA SARASIN BANK AMID BRAZILIAN ‘CAR WASH’ PROBE
On 24th October, Reuters reported that Swiss federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation of private bank J. Safra Sarasin as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe surrounding Brazilian state oil company Petrobras and construction firm Odebrecht, with allegations that weaknesses in the bank’s internal organisation had failed to prevent complicity in bribery of foreign officials and aggravated money laundering.
JERSEY: COURT UPHOLDS ATTORNEY GENERAL NOTICE FOR DISCLOSURE OF DOCUMENTS FROM TCSP
On 24th October, a news release from the States of Jersey advised that the Royal Court had issued a decision in respect of a challenge against a notice seeking disclosure of documents issued by the Attorney General, and an application for Judicial Review has failed. The case concerns the decision of the Attorney General to maintain in force a notice originally issued in 2015 to Volaw Trust & Corporate Services Limited and the notice was maintained notwithstanding Mr Larsen’s acquittal by a Norwegian court of appeal in 2016 of charges of fraud and tax evasion. Volaw had resisted complying with the Attorney General’s notice on grounds that it violated its privilege against self-incrimination but the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had dismissed such arguments in its judgment refusing Volaw’s appeal in June 2019. Mr Larsen had also applied for judicial review in order to challenge the notice, but this too has now been rejected.
CIGARETTES AND MEDICINE THE TOP COUNTERFEIT GOODS ENTERING THE PHILIPPINES
On 24th October, Business World reported that cigarettes and alcohol remain the top counterfeit goods being smuggled into the Philippines, followed closely by fake medicines and personal care products, according to the International Property Office of the Philippines. The article notes that in the Property Rights Alliance’s 2019 International Property Rights Index, the Philippines ranked 67th among 131 countries, 3 places higher than its position at number 70 last year. Within the Asia and Oceania regional grouping composed of 21 countries, the Philippines remained at 14th.
FIRST CHINESE FREIGHT TRAIN ARRIVES IN BELGRADE AFTER MONTH-LONG JOURNEY
On 24th October, Rferl reported that rail is one of the central traffic modes of China’s Global Belt and Road Initiative, and the high-speed rail line from Belgrade to Budapest, as part of Rail Corridor 10, is a project that sees Serbia joining the initiative. This first train took a month for the freight train to cover the 10,500 km trip between the Chinese city of Jinan and the Serbian capital. The train brought more than 500 tons of construction equipment to be used by Chinese companies building a high-speed rail line between Belgrade and Budapest.
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