21st November 2019
3 TONNES OF COCAINE SEIZED IN MONTEVIDEO
The Straits Times on 21st November reported that Uruguayan authorities had confiscated over 3 tonnes of cocaine from an Africa-bound rice container in the port of Montevideo. The container was originally from Paraguay and was set to stop in Tenerife before finally arriving in Benin. The drugs were said to have been discovered after being identified by a new scanner bought after a container ship that went through the port was found by German customs to have carried over 4 tonnes of cocaine in August.
TICKETS TO PYONGYANG SOLD OUT IN RUSSIA AS NORTH KOREAN WORKERS RUSH HOME BEFORE SANCTIONS DEADLINE
Radio Free Asia on 20th November reported that, as the deadline under UN sanctions to return home draws near for North Korean workers in Russia, train tickets between the Moscow and Pyongyang are selling out. The sanctions mean that no new work visas are to be issued to North Koreans to work abroad, and all current workers must return to North Korea by late December.
OFAC SANCTIONS ON GUPTA FAMILY FOR BRIBERY, CORRUPTION AND MISAPPROPRIATION OF SOUTH AFRICAN STATE ASSETS
On 20th November, the National Law Review carried a short article about the OFAC sanctions imposed on the Guptas under the US Global Magnitsky Act.
NORTH KOREA BOOSTS FISHING SECTOR DESPITE UN SANCTIONS
On 20th November, the Kharon Brief reported that North Korea continues to promote its seafood industry despite UN sanctions and that it found more vessels conducting “apparent fishing activity” using maps from Global Fishing Watch, a non-profit that promotes ocean sustainability and tracks fishing vessels through satellite technology. It is also said that More North Korean fishing vessels are sailing into Japanese, South Korean, and Russian waters, as the Chinese fishing vessels are crowding the North Korean waters, and Russia in September detained 3 North Korean vessels in Russia’s exclusive economic zone.
ECB: MALTA’S BANK OF VALLETA FAILED TO DETECT MONEY LAUNDERING RISKS
On 21st November, PYMNTS.com reported on a leaked Reuters story saying that Malta’s biggest bank failed for years to detect or address thousands of payments that may have been involved in money laundering or other illegal activities. The banks stands accused of failing to act on a variety of risk management issues, despite warnings since 2015. The bank said that it was in the process of boosting its risk controls, governance structure and anti-financial crime defences.
NICARAGUA: 2019 ARTICLE IV MISSION COMMENTS ON AML/CFT ETC
On 21st November, the IMF released the Staff Concluding Statement of the 2019 Article IV Mission to Nicaragua. It says that ongoing concerns over Nicaragua’s AML/CFT framework could negatively affect the financial sector, increase pressures over correspondent banking relations, and more generally deteriorate the business climate, and that Nicaragua will need to show that significant progress has been achieved to address the shortcomings highlighted in its Mutual Evaluation Report. It noted a new AML/CFT law and a new law for the FIU, saying that other implementation efforts are underway and could be strengthened. It says that improving the understanding of corruption risks among public officials and private agents, updating related policies and strategies, and enhancing dialogue and institutional co-ordination for increased prevention, investigation, and prosecution of cases would help to fight corruption.
FATF SUSPENDS AML/CFT EVALUATION OF AUSTRALIA
On 21st November, KYC 360 reported that FATF has suspended evaluations of financial crime laws mid-way through an examination of Australia’s progress in the area. It was announced that FATF has decided to temporarily pause the start of all scheduled follow-up assessments pending the outcomes of the strategic review of FATF currently underway, and that the next FATF Plenary will discuss aspects of this review at its next meeting in February 2020, with new dates for the start of follow-up assessments, including for Australia, are still to be finalised. A FATF’s 2018 report found Australia non-compliant or partially compliant with 14 of the 40 FATF recommendations.
VLADIMIR ANTONOV, RAIMONDAS BARANAUSKAS AND LITHUANIA’S AB BANKAS SNORAS
On 21st November, KYC 260 carried an article saying that the bank collapsed in 2011, In November 2011, Antonov, a Russian, and Baranauskas, a Lithuanian, were arrested, interrogated and released on bail in London on a Europe-wide arrest warrant issued in Lithuania. By 2015, by which time Lithuania had prevailed after more than a 3-year extradition battle, both had fled to Russia. Antonov’s legal representative later said the banker ran away “due to fears for his life”. Vladimir Antonov ran Snoras with his father, Alexander. Antonov’s prize asset was Portsmouth FC, acquired in 2011. The article says that the Antonovs had dealings with Austria’s Meinl Bank, which itself has had its ECB licence recently suspended.
EX-CEO OF BRAZIL’S BRASKEM PETROCHEMICAL COMPANY ARRESTED ON US CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 21st November, KYC 360 reported that Jose Carlos Grubisich has been charged with conspiracy to violate a U.S. foreign corruption law and with a money laundering conspiracy in a newly unsealed indictment in federal court in the US. Grubisich was CEO of Braskem from about 2002 to 2008 and went on to hold various positions with its affiliated construction company Odebrecht SA (the company at the heart of the sprawling “Car Wash” scandal). He later became CEO of pulp maker Eldorado Brasil Celulose SA, which he left in 2017.
MALAYSIA DETAINS 680 IN CHINA-BASED ONLINE SCAM SYNDICATE
On 21st November, the Mail Online reported that Malaysia´s Immigration Department says it has broken up a China-based online investment scam syndicate with the arrest of 680 suspected Chinese citizens after storming a building where they were operating, but another 100 managed to flee. 603 men and 77 women were detained.
RUSSIA OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO SPACE CENTRE FRAUD
Reuters on 21st November reported that Russian investigators were said to have opened 2 criminal cases into the management of a company involved in building the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space centre in the country’s Far East. Construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome began in January 2011, part of a plan for Russia to reduce its dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A presidential spokesman claimed that £133 million of funds allocated to the project had been stolen.
IRELAND: ‘GHOST BROKERS’ LEAVE THOUSANDS OF MOTORISTS UNINSURED
On 21st November, RTE reported that a leading insurance company has claimed that more than 10,000 motor insurance policies have been taken out by so-called “ghost brokers”.
THE OPCW ROLE IN CHEMICAL SECURITY
On 18th November, VERTIC published a briefing which looks at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and outlines the key OPCW goals in terms of chemical security activities; examines the general institutional framework for nuclear security within the IAEA, and how it changed over time; and reviews a selection of IAEA initiatives. It makes a number of recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the OPCW.
INSECURITY IN SAHEL SET TO WORSEN IN COMING YEARS
On 21st November, Control Risks reported that a series of setbacks for counter-terrorism operations by the G5 Sahel states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – has exacerbated spiralling insecurity in the Sahel since early 2019. This, it says, will have severe stability impacts for Mali and Burkina Faso in particular.
PODCAST: FIVE YEARS AFTER CRIMEA, HOW IS RUSSIAN TRADE DOING?
A podcast from the Carnegie Moscow Center says that, 5 years after the annexation of Crimea, Russia is moving away from the West and trading less with the EU, while increasing the share of its trade with Asia, in particular with China.
US CONGRESS MOVES TO SANCTIONS RUSSIANS FOR MERCENARY SURGE IN LIBYA
On 19th November, Real Clear Defense reported that the US Congress is preparing bipartisan sanctions on Russian mercenaries and other suspected human rights violators in Libya. The Bill would require President Trump to slap visa bans and freeze US property for arms traffickers, those illegally exploiting Libya’s vast supplies of crude oil and human rights abusers.
NIGERIA TO FORM BORDER FORCE WITH NEIGHBOURS TO FIGHT SMUGGLING – AS 10% TO 20% SMUGGLED TO NEIGHBOURS
On 14th November, Reuters reported that Nigeria and neighbouring countries Benin and Niger have agreed to set up a joint border patrol force to tackle smuggling between the West African countries. Nigeria launched a partial border closure in August to tackle smuggling of rice and other goods. And last month the head of customs confirmed that all trade via land borders had been halted indefinitely. Some 10-20% of Nigerian fuel is then smuggled to neighbouring countries, according to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, as gasoline is heavily subsidised in the country and prices are higher in neighbouring countries.
DDoS-FOR-HIRE BOSS GETS 13 MONTHS SENTENCE IN US
A post on the Krebs on Security blog on 20th November reported that Sergiy P. Usatyuk, a 21-year-old Illinois man, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for running multiple DDoS-for-hire services that launched millions of attacks over several years. He admitted to owning, administering and supporting illegal “booter” or “stresser” services designed to knock websites offline.
DELIVERY OF CARGO WITHOUT PRODUCTION OF BILLS OF LADING: A RECAP
On 21st November, Insurance Marine News said that P&I Club Steamship Mutual has noted that a recent case in which cargo was delivered against fraudulent Bills of Lading, saying that this illustrated the risks of agreeing charter party clauses that obliged an owner to discharge and deliver cargo without presentation of the bill of lading, against a charterer’s letter of indemnity (LOI).
UK (AND ISLE OF MAN) RENEWS TERRORISM ACT DESIGNATIONS FOR 2 ORGANISATIONS
On 21st November, HM Treasury announced that it had renewed the designations under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC). The Isle of Man followed suit the same day.
OFAC AMENDS VENEZUELAN SANCTIONS REGULATIONS
On 21st November, OFAC announced that amendments had been made to the regulations governing the Venezuela sanctions regime. The amendments, which take effect from 22nd November, incorporate additional Executive orders, add a further general licence authorising US Government activity, and add an interpretive provision.
US ADMINISTRATIVE SETTLEMENT WITH AEROVIRONMENT INC OVER EXPORT VIOLATIONS
ON 20th November, a news release announced that the State Department had agreed a settlement with the California company over alleged unauthorised exports of defence articles, including technical data; the failure to properly maintain records involving ITAR-controlled transactions; and violations of the provisos, terms, and conditions of export authorisations. A civil penalty of £1 million, with half suspended, is agreed after voluntary disclosure by the company. The violations involved included the failure to properly maintain records involving ITAR-controlled transactions, and unauthorised exports to Australia, France, Canada and Thailand; as well as unauthorised exports of UAV to the UK.
SWITZERLAND LARGELY ADOPTS OECD TAX TRANSPARENCY RECOMMENDATIONS, BUT WILL NOT INCLUDE NON-PROFITS
The STEP website reported on 21st November that the Federal Council of Switzerland has adopted amendments to the Federal Act on the International Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters, with the aim of implementing the recommendations of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. It says that Switzerland has been implementing the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) standard since 1st January 2017. However, at least for the time being, non-profit associations and foundations will not be required to exchange of account information.
ISRAEL’S NETANYAHU INDICTED ON GRAFT CHARGES
On 21st November, it was announced that Israel’s attorney general had indicted Benjamin Netanyahu on a range of corruption charges. Netanyahu is not legally required to resign until he is convicted and all appeals are exhausted, but political pressure is likely to be intense. However, it has been suggested that he may now ask the Knesset, to grant him immunity from prosecution. The charges relate to alleged bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
3 OTHER KEY INDIVIDUALS ALSO INDICTED IN NETANYAHU CASES
On 21st November, Haaretz reported that Arnon Noni) Mozes, the publisher of Israel’s largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, is indicted for bribery; and Shaul and Iris Elovich are indicted for bribery, obstruction of justice and obstruction of the investigation. However, in February the attorney general had announced the closure of cases involving several other suspects in the Netanyahu cases; among them his wife Sara, Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Knesset member Eytan Cabel.
EU SANCTIONS: THE NEW COMMISSION AND THE USE OF SANCTIONS
On 21st November, RUSI published a Commentary reflecting on moves in the new EU Commission, saying that a change is part of a focus on stricter sanctions enforcement within the EU, but could also lay the groundwork for redefining the role and impact of EU sanctions. The change is said to be to ensure that EU sanctions are properly enforced, and the body now responsible is the Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA), which also has the ability to launch cases against those member states who fail to implement sanctions Regulations properly. The Commentary says that the portfolio switch takes place amidst a wider ambition to strengthen the EU’s economic posture, and this is likely to affect sanctions in 2 ways – to reduce the extraterritorial impact of US sanctions on Europe, and to strengthen the euro as a strategic asset.
KYRGYZSTAN – PLUNDER AND PATRONAGE IN THE HEART OF CENTRAL ASIA
On 21st November, OCCRP released 3 stories about –
A man who claimed to have funnelled $700 million dollars out of Kyrgyzstan, but then was murdered;
How that launderer collaborated with the investigation before he was killed; and
Links to the property market in Dubai.
EU COURT SUSPENDS REVOCATION OF BANKING LICENCE OF ANGLO-AUSTRIAN BANK
On 21st November, OCCRP reported that the General Court of the European Union has giving a reprieve to Austria’s former Meinl Bank (now the Anglo Austrian Bank), allowing it to keep its banking licence pending further court action. The ECB had announced revocation of the licence the previous week. It was alleged that Meinl Bank had facilitated a system used by bankers in 3 Eastern European countries to move assets from their banks, bypassing regulation and hiding the dealings from local authorities.
PHILIPPINES CUSTOMS ORDERS PORTS TO BLOCK ENTRY OF VAPE PRODUCTS AFTER DUTERTE BAN
On 21st November, GMA News Online reported that the Bureau of Customs said it has ordered its enforcement team on all ports to block the importation of vape products in the country.
MALTA: NEARLY 3 MILLION CIGARETTES SEIZED BY CUSTOMS
On 21st November, the Times of Malta reported that close to 3 million undeclared cigarettes were seized by Customs at the Freeport – in a full load 40-foot container en route from Russia to an EU state.
HAWALA: WHY IT IS USED AND WHAT FAMILY PRACTITIONERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT
An interesting article from Family Law Week saying that, from the perspective of family law proceedings Hawala provides a mechanism for parties in financial remedy proceedings to transfer money abroad without any trace of the transfer or record of the recipient. Given the lack of awareness about it, it says, Hawala offers an effective method of anonymous international money transfer that will usually go unchallenged in the proceedings. It says that the original intention of the Hawala system was to facilitate international trade with origins dating back to around the 8th Century, used as a method of conducting international business alongside the growth of Islam; and that every year billions of pounds are transmitted across continents and countries using this informal money transmission system and yet it is something rarely asked about in financial remedy proceedings. The article provides tips on indications that hawala may be involved.
MADURO SAYS VENEZUELAN OIL IN STORAGE TANKS TO BACK SANCTIONED CRYPTOCURRENCY
On 21st November, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said some 30 million barrels of oil sitting in storage tanks would serve as backing for the OPEC nation’s state-run cryptocurrency, the petro, which has been sanctioned by the US.
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