14 December 2019

Northern Irish woman arrested in Turkey after police seize 45 guns

On 14 December, the Irish Sun reported that Turkey security forces seized the cache of illegal weapons in an anti-smuggling operation in south-western Turkey’s coastal town of Bodrum, in a UK-licensed vehicle, which was later found to have left from the Bodrum harbour area for the Greek island of Kos.

Former Sudan president found guilty of money laundering and corruption

On 14 December, ITV News and others reported that Sudan’s former president Omar al Bashir has been found guilty of money laundering and corruption by a court in Khartoum, and sentenced to 2 years in custody.

Mysterious Australian gambling mastermind who bet $100 million a year pulls out saying new taxes make it too hard to turn a profit

On 14 December, the Mail Online reported that a man, known only as Dr Nick, who ran a betting syndicate said to have contributed 6% of the industry’s turnover in Australia, have pulled out.  He is rumoured to be Australian but lives in Guernsey.

Is a contract is maritime or non-maritime – something critical to the application of contractual indemnity and insurance provisions

On 13 December, HFW published a briefing saying that further guidance has been made available on the In re Larry Doiron decision that provided a simplified test to determine whether a contract is a maritime contract.  The new case providing the guidance is Barrios v. Centaur LLC.  In this new case, a court found that the indemnity provisions were ultimately enforceable because the mixed contract was “maritime” in nature, and therefore governed by federal maritime law.  In US law, an indemnity clause that is invalid under a state’s anti-indemnity statute might be enforceable under federal maritime law if the contract is a maritime contract.

Illegal Fireworks Entering Netherlands Through Drug Channels

Customs Today on 14 December reported claims by the police that the bigger chance of fireworks sent by mail being intercepted, means that these traders are looking for other ways to distribute illegal fireworks.  The illegal fireworks trade via the internet has declined sharply, according to the police.

Hong Kong customs has made the largest seizure of counterfeit Chinese herbal and Western medicine in a decade 

On 14 December, Customs Today reported that 7 people were arrested in raids across the city.  It is said that the bogus medicine was supplied by a local syndicate, which sold the fakes mainly to cross-border parallel-import traders from mainland China via pharmacies.

UN Panel of Experts Briefs Security Council’s Central African Republic Sanctions Committee

On 13 December, a UN news release advised that UN CAR Security Council committee held informal consultations to consider the final report of the Panel of Experts.  The report observed that actions by armed groups continued to weaken the Peace Agreement, and for instance, a key strategy of some armed groups continued to be centred on strengthening control over various territories in the country.  It was said that armed groups also continued to acquire weaponry in order to maintain a strong military position in the lead-up to the upcoming elections. Central African Republic authorities continued to capture only a small percentage of the revenues generated by the exploitation of natural resources, with less than 10% of the national production of gold and rough diamonds exported officially.

US Homeland Security seizes $250 million from convicted ex-Venezuelan treasurer

On 14 December, the Stars & Stripes reported that federal agents have seized $250 million from convicted ex-Venezuelan national treasurer Alejandro Andrade, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his central role in a $1 billion money laundering scheme.



13 December 2019

IAEA received the second and final shipment of low-enriched uranium (LEU) at purpose-built facility in Kazakhstan housing the IAEA LEU Bank

On 10 December, the International Atomic Energy Association reported the receipt at the IAEA LEU Bank, which was established to provide assurance to countries about the supply of nuclear fuel, owned by the IAEA and hosted by Kazakhstan.  The uranium originated from Kazakhstan and was enriched at a facility in neighbouring Russia. The IAEA LEU Bank is to serve as an assurance of supply mechanism of last resort for Member States that experience a supply disruption due to exceptional circumstances and are unable to secure nuclear power fuel from the commercial market, State-to-State arrangements or by any other means. It is a physical reserve of 90 tonnes of LEU, the basic ingredient to fabricate fuel for nuclear power plants.


On 13 December, OFAC issued 3 new counter-terrorism FAQ – numbers 812 to 814, including for the art community and holding an artwork in which a designated person has an interest.  It also added a number of new individuals and entities to its terrorism sanctions, as well as a Maltese-flagged pleasure craft linked to one of the designated individuals. Those added to the sanctions list are said to be prominent Lebanon- and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)-based money launderers and their affiliated companies, which acted for Hizbollah and others.

Latvian government seizes control of main ports after US sanctions 

On 13 December, KYC 360 reported that the parliament had passed legislation to take control over the Baltic country’s two biggest ports in an effort to keep them open after US sanctions against a Latvian oligarch Aivars Lembergs threatened operations.  Ownership of the two ports was previously equally split between the local municipality and the central government.


On 13 December, OFAC announced that Aero Sky Aircraft Maintenance Inc, a Texas company located in San Antonio, negotiated and entered into a contract and contingent contract with Mahan Air in 2016 in violation of the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations.  OFAC said that if the company had not become bankrupt and been dissolved it would have been liable to a penalty.

Rise and Fall of CICIG – groundbreaking anti-corruption agency’s demise showed that impunity won’t die quietly

On 11 December, Americas Quarterly published an article about the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG which, for  nearly a decade a handful of technocrats took on powerful criminal networks entrenched in Guatemala’s government, and, for some time, were winning. However, in the end, the anti-CICIG camp won the battle.  On the other hand, it says that it has inspired similar anti-corruption commissions in El Salvador, Ecuador and Honduras, and in Guatemala, meanwhile, a small but energised class of lawmakers has appeared.

Ukraine’s SBU prevents smuggling of military aircraft components into Russia

On 13 December, UNIAN reported that, using forged shipping documents, they illegally registered military aircraft units at the customs and cargo warehouse of Kyiv International Airport, in an attempt to ship  components for An-72 and An-74 military transport aircraft.

Panamanian court closes case against former Ukraine President Poroshenko

The Kyiv Post on 13 December reported that a court in Panama has completely closed the case initiated by former deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office Andriy Portnov against former President Petro Poroshenko.  Portnov had alleged that companies linked to Poroshenko legalised criminal proceeds.

EU Commission notifies Panama over the need to step up action to fight against illegal fishing

On 13 December, The European Sting reported on the risk of Panama being identified as a non-cooperating country in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.  It had already received a “yellow card” warning in November 2012, which was then lifted in October 2014. It is said that the EU decision is based on the identification of various shortcomings that constitute significant backtracking compared to improvements observed from 2012 to 2014, and which undermines the country’s ability to comply with its duties under international law as flag, port, coastal and market state.

Trade groups in the US try to revert export restrictions

The Institute of Export & International Trade in the UK on 13 December said that the Trump administration is considering significant changes to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), but that trade associations have warned ‘Creating a special rule for one set of targeted entities sets a dangerous precedent for future rules, while also increasing the compliance risk for U.S. exporters, big and small’.

US DoJ restructuring the way it treats voluntary self-disclosures of export control and sanctions violations in a bid to encourage more companies to step forward

On 13 December, Bloomberg reported that an updated enforcement policy document from the National Security Division (NSD) clarifies that self-reporting and co-operative companies should receive a non-prosecution agreement in most instances.

North Korean man likely to face money laundering charges in the US after extradition from Malaysia

On 13 December,  the Asia Times reported that Mun Chol Myong is likely to face money laundering charges in the United States after a Malaysian court approved his extradition.  He is accused of leading a criminal group that violated sanctions by supplying luxury goods to North Korea and laundered funds through front companies. He was arrested in May.  The article notes that a Singapore court recently jailed the director of a trading firm for nearly three years for supplying $4.4 million worth of goods – ranging from alcohol to cosmetics and watches – to North Korea.

EU online portal provides businesses with guidance on how to check the sources of the metals and minerals entering their supply chains 

On 20 November, the EU announced its “Due Diligence Ready” online portal designed to help businesses ensure that their use of raw materials respects human rights while improving transparency and accountability across their value chains.


FATF has released a short briefing pamphlet saying that FATF has taken action to respond to the very real risk that legitimate services offered by virtual asset service providers will be abused by criminals and terrorists to launder money and finance terrorist acts.

2 Computer Programmers Plead Guilty in Connection with Operating 2 of the Biggest Illegal Movie and Television Show Streaming Services in the US

A news release from the US DoJ advised that 2 men had pleaded guilty in connection with the running of iStreamItAll, one of the biggest illegal television show and movie streaming services in the United States, and helping to build Jetflicks, a similarly large illegal television show streaming service.  Other defendants in the case are scheduled to go to trial starting on 3 February. 

Greece: Self-professed billionaire Sorras gets 6-year term for fraud

On 13 December, Ekathimerini reported that a Greek court has given a 6-year prison sentence to Artemis Sorras, the founder of the ultra-nationalist fringe part Convention of Greeks, after finding him guilty of attempting to defraud the state. However, the court cleared 22 defendants also facing fraud charges in connection with Sorras’ organisation after accepting the prosecutor’s proposal that there was no evidence that they formed part of a broader criminal organisation.

China detains Canadian CEO of US-listed company Fincera for alleged financial crime

The Globe & Mail on 13 December reported that Li Yonghui, a Canadian national, is said to be suspected of illegally accepting public funds.  Police said they also detained Fincera’s legal representative Shen Hui and several other people.

2019 has seen a drop in online gambling account set-up fraud

On 13 December, Calvin Ayre reported on a report from a company called Jumio which looks at how prevalent account fraud is across multiple industries.  Whilst such fraud appears to be still increasing, the report indicates that at least the online gambling industry appears to have achieved some control on the problem.  It also noted that the UK accounted for a new account fraud rate in the gambling market at just 1%, less than half of the global figure. The article says that the global decline can obviously be partially attributed to the sharper decline in the UK, and the reason for the fall in the UK is said to be the improved and tightened regulations regarding KYC procedures that have been implemented by the Gambling Commission.

Northern Ireland man masterminded attempt to smuggle hundreds of thousands of fake pound coins 

A NCA news release on 13 December advised that a man has been jailed for more than 4 years for masterminding an attempt to import almost half a million fake pound coins into the UK, and which were manufactured illegally at the European Central Mint (ECM) in Westpoort, near Amsterdam.  He worked with a corrupt haulier to smuggle a consignment from the Netherlands in 2012. In November 2013, ECM was raided and shut down by Dutch law enforcement and 2 men would later convicted in the Netherlands in connection with counterfeiting offences.

UK: Islamist fighter’s wife guilty of £34 terror donation  

On 12 December, the BBC reported that a Liverpool woman who married an Islamist fighter online has been convicted of funding terrorism.‎  She was convicted of donating £34 to terrorist group The Merciful Hands on 23 May 2018.

Butterflies, Beetles and Spiders: Costa Rica’s Smaller Eco-trafficking Targets

An interesting article on Insight Crime on 13 December says that recent raids have shown how its butterflies, beetles, wasps and spiders can also fetch startling prices on the international black market.  Authorities conducted 5 raids on residences and a butterfly farm in Puntarenas in search of evidence to support wildlife trafficking allegations which had been tracked since March 2018.  The family involved has a permit from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy to operate a butterfly farm, but the Attorney General’s Office is investigating allegations that the farm served as a cover for illegal exports.

Chemical Weapons and public health: assessing impact and responses

On 5 December, the Journal of Public Health carried a paper which says that the recent use of chemical weapons in armed conflicts and terror attacks highlights the importance of understanding their full impact in order to inform an effective response.  This paper argues that while the consequences of such weapons on individual health have dominated understanding of the impact of these weapons, far less attention has been directed to their impact on public health – and is said to highlight the importance of supporting future research on the topic and proposes a framework for assessing the public health impact of chemical weapon use.

Major US hotel chains sued for failing to prevent sex trafficking in their rooms for decades

On 11 December, Illicit Trade reported that US lawyers are suing 12 major hotel chains on behalf of women who claim the firms have profited from allowing sex trafficking and prostitution to take place in their properties.  In total, 13 women have accused hotel brands including Best Western and Hilton of failing to prevent sex trafficking from taking place in their rooms, alleging that the companies have made money from trafficked women and children being sexually exploited.

The Great $50 million African IP Address Heist

On 11 December, a post on the Krebbs on Security blog claimed that a top executive at the non-profit entity responsible for distributing Internet addresses to businesses and other organisations in Africa has resigned his post following accusations that he secretly operated several companies which sold tens of millions of dollars worth of the increasingly scarce resource to online marketers.

Asia piracy incidents still in decline, although at a slowing rate

On 13 December, Insurance Marine News reported that between January and November 2019 there were 70 incidents (comprising 61 actual incidents and nine attempted incidents) reported in Asia68 were incidents of armed robbery against ships and 2 were piracy incidents that occurred in the South China Sea and in the Pacific Ocean.  This represented a 4% decrease in the total number of incidents reported compared with January to November 2018, with a decrease of the number of incidents at ports and anchorages in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, and no incidents reported in Bangladesh.

Christmas lights shine a light on shifting trade patterns

On 13 December, American Shipper reported that analysis shows that Cambodia is basically taking over in supplying the US with Christmas tree lights from China.  It is said that this illuminates the fact that, during the first 9 months of 2019, while seaborne containerised imports from Asia to the US were up 1%, they were down 7.3% from China but up 31.6% from Vietnam and up 32.8% from Cambodia.


On 12 December, law firm Ince released a set of Q&A on the effects of Brexit on immigration, tax, corporate law and passporting rights.