28th November 2019
ECUADOR SPECIFIC TASK FORCE AND THE CUSTOMS SURVEILLANCE CORPS TO COMBAT COUNTERFEITING AND SMUGGLING
An article from Corral Rosales on 27th November says that local production of counterfeits in Ecuador, especially luxury brands and electronic products, is low. Therefore, most are manufactured outside Ecuador and their entry into the country is almost always illegal. It says that the National Customs Service of Ecuador created the “Specific Task Force”, made up of inspectors of the highest rank and proven reputation inside and outside the institution.
NEW UK LEGISLATION IN THE PIPELINE — WATCH LIST FOR CORPORATE CRIME LAWYERS
On 26th November, BCL Solicitors produced a briefing saying that the October 2019 Queen’s Speech included a significant number of Bills impacting the work of corporate crime lawyers. It warns that the announced Bills may be resurrected dependent upon the result of the forthcoming General Election. It highlights Brexit-related Bills that would have a knock-on effect, as well as others non-Brexit ones. Implementation of the 5th Money Laundering Directive is seemingly assured, but without continuing membership of Europol and Eurojust, Joint Investigative Teams and with changes (or loss?) of European arrest warrants – though the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill is intended to plug at least part of the gap in relation to the latter.
MALTA: 61 YORGEN FENECH-CONNECTED COMPANIES UNDER SCRUTINY BY FIAU
On 28th November, KYC360 reported that the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has launched a massive hunt for information regarding any possible financial transactions made by former Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech or any of the 61 companies connected to him over the past years.
9 MORE ARRESTED IN YORKSHIRE OVER DUBAI MONEY-SMUGGLING PLOT
On 27th November, the BBC reported that the number of people arrested in the case involving the transport of suitcases of cash to Dubai had now reached 23. The further 9 were arrested after NCA raids in various parts of Yorkshire. The NCA said £2.3 million has been seized as part of the wider investigation said to involve the money being exchanged for gold and converted back into cash, which is then transferred to bank accounts around the world.
CHINA’S ONCE-BOOMING P2P LENDING INDUSTRY MUST CLOSE WITHIN 2 YEARS
The South China Morning Post on 28th November reported that the industry has been rocked by pyramid-scheme scandals and absent bosses, sparking public anger as well as a government crackdown; and only 427 P2P firms were still operating by the end of October, down from 6,000 at their 2015 peak. A new notice says those left must become small loan providers within 2 years, and need to clear outstanding loans in less than 1 year (or 2 years for those with larger loan books) before switching to small loans.
US-BASED SEMICONDUCTOR TECHNOLOGY GROUP MOVING TO SWITZERLAND OVER TRADE CURB FEARS
On 28th November, Business World reported that a US-based foundation overseeing promising semiconductor technology developed with Pentagon support will soon move to Switzerland after several of the group’s foreign members raised concerns about potential US trade curbs – to ensure that universities, governments and companies outside the US can help develop its open-source technology. The article quotes a former Clinton Administration official as saying that the foundation’s move from Delaware to Switzerland may foreshadow further technology flight because of US restrictions on dealing with some Chinese technology companies.
US ASSURES BANKS ON TRANSACTIONS WITH CHINA COMPANY AFFECTED BY IRAN SANCTIONS
On 28th November, Business Standard reported that the Trump administration has assured US banks that they can temporarily process dollar transactions on Dalian units of Chinese shipping company COSCO, which it had previously sanctioned for allegedly transporting oil from Iran, in a move meant to blunt the impact of the sanctions on global shipping markets.
SUDAN MILITIA LEADER ALLEGEDLY PART OF ILLEGAL GOLD SALES
On 27th November, Defence Web reported that a Reuters investigation is said to have found that even as militia chief Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo sympathised with protesters in the recent coup that ousted the President al-Bashir, and was accusing Bashir’s people of enriching themselves at public expense, a company that his family owns was flying gold bars worth millions to Dubai. It is claimed that, in 2018, Bashir gave Hemedti free rein to sell Sudan’s most valuable natural resource through the family firm, Algunade. At times Algunade bypassed central bank controls over gold exports, at others it sold to the central bank for a preferential rate. The article says that Hemedti’s grip on Sudan’s gold trade illustrates the scale of the challenge to rescue an economy broken by decades of mismanagement, corruption and war.
DOES AN EU SHIPOWNER NEED A SHIP RECYCLING POLICY?
On 26th November, law firm HFW published a briefing saying that the entry into force of the European Ship Recycling Regulation 1257/2013 (the SRR) on 31st December 2018 once again brought ship recycling back into the limelight; and recent prosecutions and investigations by national environment agencies into the activities of ship owners and insurers have reinforced the need for awareness of the complex regulations affecting the area. The briefing sets out to consider why a ship recycling policy is essential for all prudent shipowners by first examining recent developments and then moving on to the regulatory landscape.
US USES FAKE UNIVERSITY TO FIGHT VISA FRAUD
The Jerusalem Post on 28th November reported that the US authorities used the fake University of Farmington to lure hundreds of international students in a fight against visa fraud. The University offered a “pay to stay” scheme, whereby the “students” paid to enrol in order to maintain their student status to remain in the US. 8 people are alleged to have assisted for acting as “recruiters”, helping at least 600 to remain in the US under false pretences.
KAZAKHSTAN: EX-FIRST DEPUTY HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL-EXECUTIVE SYSTEM CONVICTED FOR BRIBERY
TAG News on 28th November reported that the ex- first deputy head of department of criminal-executive system in the Kyzylorda region has been convicted for bribe taking. He was of being bribed by his subordinate for patronage and promotion.
CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR: RISK AVERSION OF CORRESPONDENT BANKS IMPACTING HEAVILY ON MALTA
Following a recent statement on the subject by the St Lucia prime minister, on 28th November, Malta Today reported that the central bank governor said that Maltese banks were facing a more rigorous and intrusive supervisory approach coupled with more rigorous standards of AML rules, and alternative products by fintech players which operate with a lower cost base and hail from a less intrusive regulatory environment. He also said that said the risk aversion of correspondent banks was impacting more heavily on smaller jurisdictions like Malta.
DELOITTE CANADA ACQUIRES CANNABIS CONSULTANCY
On 27th November, ICAEW reported that Deloitte Canada has bought Ontario-based consultants, Cannabis Compliance Inc (CCI), in a major move that will see its growing cannabis consulting arm double in size. It says that CCI was set up in 2017 ahead of Canada’s legalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes, and has become a trusted advisor to many Canadian cannabis leaders.
NETHERLANDS DELAYS NON-EU EXPORTER RESTRICTIONS
On 25th November, VAT Live reported that the Netherlands has postponed from 1st December until 1st April 2020 changes to prevent non-EU businesses acting as the exporter of record for customs declarations. It also says that Germany, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have already imposed the restriction or announced plans to do so.
THEFT OF £1 MILLION WORTH OF ADULT TOYS FROM A LORRY IN A LAYBY
On 28th November, Commercial Motor reported on the theft of £1 million worth of adult toys from a lorry in a layby in September. The lorry had travelled from Felixstowe and the driver had parked up in the layby for the night before taking the freight to sex toy manufacturer Rocks Off in Kettering.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES 154 POUNDS OF PROHIBITED BOLOGNA
On 22nd November, the US Customs and Border Protection blog carried a post saying that Agriculture Specialists working at the El Paso area port of entry seized 14 rolls of Mexican bologna. Bologna is a prohibited product because it is made from pork and has the potential for introducing foreign animal diseases to the US pork industry.
US STATE DEPARTMENT AND PENTAGON TEAMS TO UAE AND SAUDI ARABIA TO INVESTIGATE CLAIMS THAT US-MADE WEAPONRY HAS BEEN TRANSFERRED TO REBEL FIGHTERS AND SEPARATIST MILITIA IN YEMEN
On 26th November, CNN reported that the State Department and Pentagon are sending teams to the UAE and Saudi Arabia to investigate CNN’s findings that American-made weaponry has been transferred to rebel fighters and separatist militia in Yemen. It was alleged that that US-made armoured vehicles (known as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAP) which were sold to the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been transferred – in violation of their agreements with Washington – to groups including al Qaeda-linked fighters, Iranian-backed rebels and separatist militias.
OVER $5 MILLION SEIZED IN GLOBAL OPERATION TARGETING CASH SMUGGLING
A WCO news release on 28th November announced that 19 countries – all from the WCO Asia/Pacific region except for the US – recently participated in a ground-breaking international operation, code-named TENTACLE, targeting the smuggling of cash and other valuables, and leading to over $3.7 million in cash being seized as well as approximately 28.5 kg of gold worth $1.3 million. It ran in August-October 2019. It was aimed detecting the movement of concealed or undeclared currency and bearer negotiable instruments, as well as gems and precious metals, which were being smuggled via commercial air and other cross-border transport modes.
GLOBAL TERRORISM INDEX 2019
The Institute for Economics and Peace has produced the 7th edition of the GTI. The report provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 50 years, covering the period from the beginning of 1970 to the end of 2018, and placing a special emphasis on trends since 2014, which corresponds with the start of the fall of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It notes that deaths from terrorism fell for the fourth consecutive year, after peaking in 2014. The decline in deaths corresponds with the military successes against ISIL and Boko Haram. Total deaths from terrorism are now down over 52% from their peak in 2014. However, 103 countries recording at least one terrorist incident in 2018. Other than the top country, Afghanistan, only 3 other countries recorded a substantial increase in deaths from terrorism in 2018: Nigeria, Mali, and Mozambique. The global economic impact of terrorism was estimated at $33 billion in 2018, 38% lower than in 2017 – though terrorism is a small percentage of the total global cost of violence, which was equal to $14.1 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2018. It also says that one of the more worrying trends is the surge in far-right political terrorism over the past 5 years, although the absolute number of far-right attacks remains low when compared to other forms of terrorism; and far-right terrorism is also more likely to be carried out by individuals unaffiliated with a specific terrorist group.
VIETNAM AML/CFT ASSESSMENT MUTUAL EVALUATION ON-SITE VISIT
On 27th November, FATF-style regional body APG announced that the onsite visit for Vietnam’s 2nd mutual evaluation was conducted from 4th to 15th November in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam’s mutual evaluation report will be considered and adopted at the next APG Annual Meeting in July 2020.
FOREIGN INFORMATION REQUESTS RELATING TO TAX OFFENCES RECEIVED BY UK GOVERNMENT ROSE 44% LAST YEAR
The Law Society Gazette on 28th November reported this rise in requests – from 103 in 2017 to 148 in 2018. Requests can be for businesses or individuals to provide documents, such as transaction histories or bank statements, within a certain time period, or for people to give evidence in court. A tax expert at Thomson Reuters is quoted as saying that tax authorities globally are increasingly working together to stamp out tax evasion.
ANTIGUA PM LOBBIES FOR CFATF TO ASSIST SMALL ISLANDS TO IMPLEMENT AML/CTF POLICIES
On 28th November, the Daily Observer in Antigua reported that, at the opening ceremony for the 50th Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) plenary and working group meetings the Prime Minister Gaston Browne spoke persuasively advocating for it to make considerations for small islands which do not have the resources to implement AML/CFT recommendations. He said the small nations do not have to human or financial resources to carry out some of these recommendations but, because we do not wish to be blacklisted, they have to use resources that ordinarily would have been used in social and economic development.
BANKS ARE EXPOSED TO RISING SWIFT PAYMENT MESSAGING FRAUD
On 28th November, Retail Banker International reported that a new study had surveyed 200 banks, and found that two-thirds of banks said that fraud attempts have been increasing since 2016 – and only 40% of banks expressed confidence that they identified every electronic SWIFT fraud in the last 3 years. It was also reported that found that the industry has incurred at least $380 million in combined losses due to SWIFT payment fraud.
UK: MAN JAILED FOLLOWING MULTI-MILLION POUND MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATED BEHIND FRONT OF LEGITIMATE MONEY TRANSFER BUSINESS
A news release from Leicestershire Police on 28th November reported on the 8-year jail sentence for Chauhan Vijay Yogendrasinh, 55, the director of Rushi Investments Limited – a company which appeared to be a legitimate money transfer service, but was actually found to be a money laundering operation transferring criminal money overseas. It is said that more than £11,000,000 had gone through the business which was ran from Canon Street in Leicester, being a mix of legal and illegal funds.
MALDIVES EX-PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 28th November, the Malay Mail (and others) reported that a court in the Maldives had sentenced former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen to 5 years in prison for money laundering. He had governed the Maldives with an iron hand for 5 years, before he unexpectedly lost an election last year and has since faced investigations over a number of deals sealed during his time in power.
ILLEGAL CARIBBEAN CBI PAYMENTS FROM A NON-EXISTENT BANK “WERE FACILITATED BY SWITZERLAND”
On 28th November, a post on Kenneth Rijock’s always interesting blog is about a New York court case involving the non-existent “Bank of Dominica” and where an Italian-American businessman, who holds a diplomatic passport from Dominica under a Citizenship by Investment (CBI/CIP) programme is suing over a a multi-million “finder’s fee” that he was allegedly denied. It is claimed that money was transferred from Dominica, via Switzerland, to the UAE, despite the Dominica “bank” being bogus.
RUNAWAY POLITICIAN ACCUSED OF GRAFT TO RETURN TO UKRAINE
On 28th November, OCCRP reported that Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a wealthy Ukrainian lawmaker and Olympic show jumper, who fled the country after he was accused of corruption 3 years ago, is said to be planning to return in December and face charges of fraud and money laundering. It is reported that Ukrainian authorities announced in November they were close to getting Onyshchenko extradited from Spain in December.
ROMANIAN FUGITIVE FORMER CHIEF PROSECUTOR RE-SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS
On 28th November, OCCRP reported that Alina Bica, Romania’s fugitive former chief prosecutor has lost her final appeal in a corruption case and has been sentenced to 4 years in prison. However, having already fled to Costa Rica, she is nowhere to be found. She had been detained in Costa Rica, but then released after an extradition request was cancelled.
UK WILL TAKE BACK 42 CONTAINERS OF WASTE SENT TO MALAYSIA ILLEGALLY
On 28th November, Insurance Marine News reported that the UK is to take back 42 containers filled with plastic waste that had been illegally shipped to Malaysia. The article reminds one that, after China imposed a ban on scrap imports, Malaysia last year became the world’s main destination for plastic waste. Last month Reuters reported that more than 300 containers carrying plastic waste were being held at Penang. Malaysia said earlier this year that it would send plastic waste back to the source country, and get them to pay for the transportation costs.
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