Again, apologies for a more limited service…
17 December 2019
US: Man Sentenced to 78 Months for Trying to Buy Lethal Dose of Radioactive Material
On 16 December, Homeland Security Today reported that Bryant Riyanto Budi, 28,from North Carolina, had been sentenced to serve 78 months in prison followed by 2 years of supervised release, for attempted possession of radioactive material with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to another person. It is said that in 2018 Budi attempted to possess radioactive material, and did so with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to another person. Court documents show that Budi contacted an FBI online covert employee via the internet to purchase a lethal dose of a radioactive substance.
UK Guidance: Am I dealing with a sanctioned entity?
On 17 December, the blog from the Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation in the UK offered a posting giving tips on cases where it can be more difficult to establish if a company is subject to financial sanctions, such as where some companies have more complicated ownership structures. They may be owned by a designated person (someone subject to financial sanctions) and checks beyond the scope of OFSI’s consolidated list are required to establish who owns them.
Claim that Mormon Church has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund
The Washington Post on 17 December carried a report that a whistleblower, described as a former investment manager, had told the IRS that the church has amassed about $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes. The allegations involve misleading members — and possibly breaching federal tax rules — by stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses.
UK: SFO charges 2 Serco executives with fraud over electronic tagging contract
On 16 December, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SFO had charged 2 former executives with fraud and false accounting and participating in an alleged scheme to overcharge the UK government for an electronic monitoring contract.
SEC charges former Goldman Sachs partner over 1MDB
On 16 December, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC had charged Tim Leissner with allegedly obtaining millions of dollars by paying bribes to government officials to secure contracts for Goldman from the Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB.
FATF: Turkey AML/CFT Assessment Report
On 16 December, FATF released its mutual evaluation report on Turkey highlighting serious shortcomings, including the need to improve measures for freezing assets linked to terrorism and proliferation of WMD. The report, which follows an on-site visit in March, also points out that, due to its geographic location, the country faces the greatest money laundering risks from drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking and fuel smuggling. The country also faces significant terrorist financing risks from both national and international threats. Turkey has been placed in the so-called enhanced follow-up process and has to report back in a year on progress in addressing the identified shortcomings. Turkey got the lowest marking (“Low”) on 2 of the crucial 11 Immediate Outcome ratings for effectiveness of controls.
Albania’s biggest cocaine bust and why the suspect got away with it for too long
On 16 December, KYC 360 carried an article linked to an OCCRP report revealing how the suspect behind Albania’s biggest drugs bust of over 600 kg of cocaine in February 2018 evaded capture since at least 2015, when he became a fugitive in Ecuador (also for cocaine smuggling to Albania using bananas as cover) and even received substantial EU funds in a grant for an agricultural business.
Pirates kidnap 20 seafarers from tanker off Togo
On 16 December, Seatrade News reported that 6 pirates are reported to have boarded a Marshall-Islands registered, chemical/product tanker, taking 20 Indian-national seafarers hostage, leaving just 1 crew member behind, who is reported to be a Nigerian.
The EU as a maritime security provider
The EU Institute for Security Studies has produced a report saying that maritime security is one of the fundamental strategic interests of the EU. As a global trading power, the EU is vitally dependent on free, open and safe maritime shipping: 90% of its external and 40% of its internal trade is seaborne. The value of goods transported by sea is 1.8 times higher than that of goods transported by air and almost three times higher than that of goods transported overland. The report asks how realistic is the EU’s ambition to become a maritime security provider in the region and how might it go about accomplishing this? The purpose of this Brief is to look into why, where and how Europe could contribute to improving the maritime security environment in the Indo-Pacific. The report includes an examination of the current security position in the Indo-Pacific area.
The French Financial Markets Authority released its new guidelines on AML/CFT
On 10 December, an article from White & Case says that the AMF has just carried out a complete overhaul of its doctrine on AML/CFT and published its new guidelines setting out the obligations imposed on professionals subject to AML/CFT and placed under its supervision. The objective is to support them in the development and implementation of their AML/CFT preventive measures. AMF released a series of 4 new guidelines tackling topics that had never been addressed by the Authority, such as the risk-based approach, due diligence on funds’ assets, due diligence with respect to clients, the outsourcing regime or the use of automated devices.
European rights watchdog: Greece needs to do more to counter bribery
On 18 December, Swissinfo reported that Greece has toughened laws against bribery offences but more work is needed to restore the ability of its criminal justice system to counter corruption, the Council of Europe’s GRECO watchdog said. In June, Greece downgraded bribery of public officials from a felony to a misdemeanour, softening sanctions for such crimes, a move which prompted strong disapproval from GRECO and OECD – criticism which led to Greece’s reintroduction of stronger criminal legislation on bribery offences in November. GRECO also urged Greece to comply with international standards against money laundering and combating financing of terrorism, “in relation to a recent initiative to amend the money-laundering legislation”.
Poland: anti-corruption experts report “globally unsatisfactory” compliance
On 16 December, a report from the Council of Europe’s GRECO watchdog organisation says that Poland has been ranked as “globally unsatisfactory” in a follow-up assessment on corruption concerning members of parliament, judges and prosecutors.
FATF: AML/CFT Assessment of Russia
On 17 December, FATF published its mutual evaluation report on the AML/CFT system in Russia which highlights the need for it to enhance its approach to supervision and prioritise the investigation and prosecution of complex money laundering cases, especially concerning money being laundered abroad. FATF, the Eurasian Group and MONEYVAL jointly carried out the evaluation. One point made is that, given that Russia is a significant centre for mining precious metals and stones, this sector’s understanding of risk is not in line with the country’s risk assessment. The report says that, since its last assessment in 2008, Russia has strengthened its understanding of the money laundering and terrorist financing risks it faces and has developed a robust legal framework to address them. The country has taken a number of actions that have delivered concrete results – but, the country needs to address the areas of weakness this report has identified. Interestingly, Russia scored better than many other countries in the 11 Immediate Outcomes that measure the effectiveness of controls.
Claims manager fined £70,000 as new regulator flexes muscles
On 17 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that a claims management company has been fined £70,000 for misleading consumers through its websites and printed materials in the first such action by the FCA as it took over from the MoJ as the sector’s regulator. Professional Personal Claims (PPC) Limited websites and printed materials prominently displayed the logos of 5 major banks, suggesting to consumers that their claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) were going directly to the banks, when they were not and PPC would be claiming a success fee for any repayment.
Owner of Purported UK Investment Firm and 2 US Men Charged for Roles in Investment Fraud Scheme in US
A DoJ news release on 17 December advised that Brian Michael Bridge, 46, of London, the owner of Chimera Group Ltd.; James Michael Johnson, 68, and James Leonard Smith, 54, were each charged in an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Virginia with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. Johnson and Smith made their initial appearances in Richmond. Bridge remains at large. The indictment alleges that the defendants stole at least $6.2 million from their victims.
US IMPORTER ARRESTED FOR MANUFACTURING COUNTERFEIT SUPER MARIO AND POKEMON TOYS
Nintendo Life on 17 December reported that the owner of a toy import business has been charged with manufacturing and possessing more than $1.4 million in counterfeit goods. The two Nintendo franchises mentioned above were targeted, alongside others like Hello Kitty, Angry Birds, and Lego Ninjago. Wan Piao who has been charged with 7 felony counts of counterfeit offences including an allegation of “taking more than $500,000 through fraud and embezzlement”.
Heathrow security worker among 3 charged over £2 million cocaine smuggling attempt
An NCA news release on 17 December advised that an airport security worker is among three people charged in connection with an attempt to smuggle cocaine worth more than £2 million into the UK via Heathrow airport.
A Dublin casino has closed due to Ireland’s new gambling rules
On 17 December, Calvin Ayre reported that the Fitzwilliam Casino & Card Club announced that it would be immediately closing its doors after 16 years of operation, throwing 78 local residents out of work. A new gambling law contains language that the Club claims has effectively made it impossible to continue operating.
JAPAN PROBING CHINESE GAMBLING COMPANY OVER SUSPECTED ILLEGAL MONEY TRANSFERS
On 17 December, Calvin Ayre reported that police in Japan had raided the homes of two former aides to a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who are are suspected of bringing large amounts of cash into the country without declaring the currency to customs officials. Police are also said to have raided the offices of a NASDAQ-listed Chinese company linked to a bid to develop an integrated resort casino in Hokkaido.