THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 1

HAPPY 2020 FROM PANAMA!

Still operating away from “home” and a proper/decent PC and Internet connection…

1st January 2020

 

PODCAST: HOW CRIMINALS JUSTIFY THEIR CONDUCT

In the first TRACE podcast of the new year, it is re-posting an interview with Shaul Shalvi on his research into what motivates criminals.  This, it says is because compliance professionals showing increased interest in behavioural ethics and asking not just how employees and others engage in misconduct, but also why.

https://traceinternational.org/bribe_swindle_or_steal

 

DETERMINING THE “ORIGIN” OF PROCESSED DIAMONDS FOR CUSTOMS PURPOSES

An alert from Crowell & Moring on 31 December was concerned with how US Customs and Border Protection categorised rough diamonds mined in Botswana and shipped to the US where they are evaluated for size, shape, and brilliance, then shipped to China where they are sawn and blocked, and then sent on to India where they are cut, faceted, and polished, suitable for the use in manufacture of jewellery, but remained unmounted at the time of importation into the US.  In this case, it was held that the cutting and polishing of the rough diamonds in India was a significant manufacturing operation which has the effect of changing the character of the outer surface of the rough diamond, resulting in a substantial transformation of the product.  Therefore, the country of origin of the cut and polished diamonds is India.  This highlights the importance, and potential difficulty, of determining the proper customs status of goods processed or reprocessed before final importation into the destination country – and which could affect what import duties and/or preferential rates are available.

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2019/12/customs-ruling-of-the-week-country-of-origin-and-substantial-transformation-of-cut-and-polished-diamonds

 

PAKISTAN: CLAIMED 10,000% INCREASE IN THE TERRORISTS’ FROZEN AND CONFISCATED FUNDS IN 1½ YEARS

In its 2 January edition, the Pakistan Observer reported claims by the Pakistan government in the National Assembly that due, to the strict interrogation policy of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), a substantial increase has been made in the terrorists’ frozen and confiscated funds.

https://pakobserver.net/10000pc-increase-made-in-terrorists-frozen-funds-na-told

 

CORRUPTION WHISTLEBLOWER LAW ENTERS INTO FORCE IN UKRAINE

On 1 January, UNIAN reported that Ukraine’s new law amending anti-graft legislation and introducing “corruption whistleblowers” has entered into force.  The law is set to protect and provide financial incentives to whistleblowers who report corruption-related offences.  The Ukrainian government will provide a monetary reward to whistleblowers for important tips that will help investigate high-profile corruption-related crimes where damage incurred to the state budget.
https://www.unian.info/politics/10816274-corruption-whistleblower-law-enters-into-force-in-ukraine.html

 

INDIA: FISH-FARMING FRAUD

The ANI news agency in India reported on 1 January that the Enforcement Directorate had attached (restrained) assets relating to the alleged IDBI fish farming loan fraud case.

https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/fish-farming-fraud-ed-attaches-assets-of-pappu-singh-family-worth-rs-5143-cr20200101210753

 

ALGERIA’S RICHEST MAN WALKS FREE ON TIME SERVED AFTER RECEIVING 6-MONTH SENTENCE

News 24 on 1 January reported that Algeria’s richest man Issad Rebrab, 74, head of Algeria’s biggest privately-owned conglomerate Cevital – who was one of several tycoons arrested in April as part of a sweeping corruption investigation – walked free on time served after a court sentenced him to 6 months for tax, banking and customs offences.  In the same case, Jordan-based Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, which was also prosecuted and was fined, along with Cevital subsidiary Evcon.  Forbes magazine lists Rebrab as Algeria’s richest man and the sixth-wealthiest in Africa.

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/algerias-richest-man-walks-free-on-time-served-after-receiving-6-month-sentence-20200101

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/algeria-s-richest-man-freed-after-conviction-for-financial-crimes-1.958661

 

SUDAN’S MINISTER OF RELIGION ORDERS GRAFT PROBE IN HIS MINISTRY

On 1 January, OCCRP reported that, after having detected contract irregularities and theft in the Sudan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments, the Minister announced that a special team of investigators will comb the department dealing with endowments and pilgrimages to Mecca.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/11372-sudan-s-minister-of-religion-orders-graft-probe-in-his-ministry

 

 

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 31/JANUARY 1

31st December 2019

 

PANAMA: NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL HERALDS SWIFT ACTION IN MAJOR CORRUPTION CASES

Newsroom Panama reported on 30 December that “Quick and urgent” judicial audits of large scale corruption cases like Odebrech, FCC, and others will be one of the first acts of Panama’s new Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa when he takes office on  January 2.  He also said that he was willing to review the agreement agreed with Odebrecht because there could be information that the company did not provide – such as its activities under previous administrations prior to that for which it has been penalised.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/new-attorney-general-heralds-swift-action-in-major-corruption-cases

 

GERMANY CALLS FOR EUROPEAN FIREWALL AGAINST US SANCTIONS

On 31 December, KYC 360 reported a Wall Street Journal article in which German politicians have called on Europe to adopt protective measures against US sanctions after it managed to halt completion of the Nord Steam 2 pipeline.  Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas Group S.A. to stop work on the $10 billion pipeline, just weeks from completion.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/germany-calls-for-european-firewall-against-u-s-sanctions/

 

MALAYSIA TO APPLY FATF AML/CFT STANDARDS TO VIRTUAL ASSET SERVICES

On 28 December, Regulation Asia reported that the Payment Services Act 2019 will come into operation on 28 January, applying AML/CFT measures to 3 classes of payment service providers: holders of a money-changing licence, standard payment institutions, and major payment institutions – including services of account issuance, domestic money transfer, cross-border money transfer, money-changing, and DPT (digital payment token).  It is said that MAS considers that DPT transactions carry higher inherent money laundering and terrorism financing risks due to their anonymity, speed and cross-border nature.

https://www.regulationasia.com/mas-amends-ps-act-to-incorporate-fatf-standards-on-vasps/

https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/bank-negaras-revised-antimoney-laundering-guidelines-take-effect-tomorrow

 

OFAC: REMOVAL OF SANCTIONS ON VENTSPILS FREEPORT AUTHORITY POSSIBLE AFTER MEASURES TAKEN BY LATVIAN GOVERNMENT

On 20 December, the Baltic Times reported that OFAC had removed its sanctions that had been imposed on the Ventspils Freeport Authority after sanctions target Aivars Lembergs resigned from the the Ventspils Freeport Authority and the Latvian government took measures effectively ending Lembergs’ control of the port.

https://www.baltictimes.com/removal_of_sanctions_from_ventspils_freeport_authority_became_possible_after_measures_taken_by_latvian_government_-_ofac/

 

INDIA: BANK FRAUDS RISE BY 74% DURING FY 2018-19

On 26 December, SS Rana & Co published an article saying that the Annual Report of the Reserve Bank of India for the Financial Year 2018-2019 reported that bank frauds have increased close to 74%, with 6,801 frauds reported, and public sector banks the most affected, accounting for 90% in value, though only 55% in number. It is said that he major components of fraud were cheating and forgery, followed by misappropriation and criminal breach of trust, with card and Internet fraud representing only a tiny percentage of the total – with most bank frauds involving loans advanced by the banks. The report also said that there had been a rise in detection of counterfeit banknotes.

https://www.lexology.com/library/document.ashx?g=56204a9d-ad77-4586-bdea-ca74ea88cec4

 

MICROSOFT TAKES DOWN HACKING GROUP TARGETING GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, THINK TANKS, UNIVERSITY STAFF MEMBERS AND INDIVIDUALS WORKING ON NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION ISSUES

On 31 December, Tech Portal and others reported that the so-called Thallium group had been taken down.

https://thetechportal.com/2019/12/31/microsoft-takes-down-50-domains-operated-by-hackers/

 

ETHEREUM FOUNDATION RESEARCHER VIRGIL GRIFFITH HAS NOW BEEN RELEASED ON A $1 MILLION BOND OVER NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS CASE

On 30 December, the Coin Telegraph reported that a New York court had granted a $1 million bail and ordered him released, on the condition that he stay with his parents in Alabama.  He was arrested in November for reportedly traveling to DPRK to deliver a presentation on how to dodge sanctions via cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/1m-bond-to-keep-alleged-north-korea-sanctions-violater-griffith-in-alabama-for-now

 

US OFFICIALS SAY BLACKWATER FOUNDER ERIK PRINCE MAY HAVE VIOLATED VENEZUELA SANCTIONS

On 30 December, The Hill reported that unnamed US officials have claimed that Blackwater founder Erik Prince may have violated US sanctions on Venezuela with a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, with the country’s vice-president, Delcy Rodríguez, a sanctioned ally of President Nicolás Maduro.  An attorney for Prince told the news outlet that his client’s meeting was not business-related and that no violation had occurred.

https://thehill.com/policy/international/476300-us-officials-say-erik-prince-may-have-violated-venezuela-sanctions

 

ADDITIONAL LINE TO TURKISH STREAM PIPELINE WOULD FACE US SANCTIONS

On 30 December, EurActiv reported that US sanctions will apply to any additional lines added to the Russia-sponsored pipeline Turkish Stream. Serbia has already competed and Bulgaria is building expensive infrastructure to import gas from Turkish Stream and carry it to Hungary and Austria.  Serbia has already reported having completed the pipeline section across its territory, leading to Hungary.  Bulgaria is calling “Balkan Stream” the continuation of Turkish Stream across its territory and does not seem to be concerned by the threat of US sanctions.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/additional-line-to-turkish-stream-would-face-us-sanctions/

 

BARBADOS AND TURKMENISTAN ADDED TO THE NETHERLANDS’ TAX BLACKLIST

On 31 December, Tax News reported that the 2 countries had been added to the  list of low-tax jurisdictions for the purposes of enforcing certain anti-tax avoidance rules and which have corporate tax rates of less than 9%.  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Belize have been removed from the list.  Currently listed are Anguilla, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, BVI, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Cayman Islands, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Vanuatu, and UAE; with American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, Fiji, Guam, Oman, and Trinidad and Tobago also listed by virtue of being on the EU list of low-tax jurisdictions.

https://www.tax-news.com/news/Netherlands_Adds_To_Tax_Blacklist____97478.html

 

ANGOLA COURT ORDERS SEIZURE OF ISABEL DOS SANTOS’S ASSETS

On 31 December, the BBC reported that a court has ordered the seizure of the assets and bank accounts of the billionaire daughter of ex-President José Eduardo dos Santos, which appears to be part of an anti-corruption drive by the current government.  She is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of $2.2 billion, and lives abroad, saying she moved from Angola because her life had been threatened.  She runs a huge business empire with stakes in companies in Angola and Portugal, where she has shares in cable television firm Nos SGPS.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50956370

 

SOUTH KOREA INDICTS EX-JUSTICE MINISTER FOR CORRUPTION

On 31 December, Deutsche Welle reported that Cho Kuk, a former presidential aide, has been indicted on 12 charges, including bribery, and linked to family investments and university admissions for his children.

https://www.dw.com/en/south-korea-indicts-ex-justice-minister-for-corruption/a-51843054

 

ISLE OF MAN LONG-TERM INSURERS – AML/CFT GUIDANCE

On 31 December, a news release from the Financial Services Authority advised that revised Guidance Notes on Anti-Money Laundering and Preventing the Financing of Terrorism – for Insurers (Long Term Business) have been published, dated January 2020.   It says that the FSA has been engaged with representatives of the long-term insurance sector for some time to develop a revised guidance document for the sector.  Work is said to continue in relation to the re-drafting of the entire AML/CFT Handbook to reflect the amendments brought in by the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Code 2019 and the FSA said that it is aiming to publish the re-drafted AML/CFT Handbook by the end of Q2 of 2020.

https://www.iomfsa.im/media/2655/long-term-insurers-aml-cft-guidance.pdf

 

GREECE SAYS 8 ABDUCTED AS TANKER STORMED OFF CAMEROON

On 31 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that 8 people were abducted and 1 person injured during an armed raid on a Greek-registered tanker Happy Lady anchored off Cameroon.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/greece-says-eight-abducted-as-tanker-stormed-off-cameroon/

 

EUROPEAN MONEY INTENDED FOR LIBYAN MIGRANTS BEING DIVERTED AND LAUNDERED

On 31 December, AP published an article about an investigation it had carried out in Libya which had revealed, inter alia, that huge sums of EU money have been diverted to intertwined networks of militiamen, traffickers and coast guard members who exploit migrants.  It says that, in many cases, the money goes to neighbouring Tunisia to be laundered, and then flows back to the militias in Libya.  This is said to be despite the EU’s own documents, dating back to as early as 2017, showing that it was aware of the dangers of effectively outsourcing its migration crisis to Libya.

https://apnews.com/96b2bb5097321a749dd1dca13aeb5bf3

 

AFRICA’S LARGEST MOBILE OPERATOR MTN ACCUSED OF VIOLATING US ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS

On 31 December, IT Web reported that the company said it is reviewing allegations that it paid protection money to militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan. This was claimed in a complaint filed in a US federal court on behalf of families of US citizens killed in attacks in Afghanistan, with 5 other companies also named in the filing.  The complaint alleges MTN paid bribes to al-Qaida and the Taliban to avoid having to invest in in expensive security for their transmission towers.

https://www.itweb.co.za/content/mYZRXM9PVVm7OgA8

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50952001

 

EXXON WINS US SUIT OVER $2 MILLION UKRAINE-SANCTIONS FINE

On 31 December, Bloomberg reported that the fine was imposed after the company allegedly violated Ukraine-related sanctions with a series oil and gas deals in Russia.  A court reported that Exxon was not given sufficient notice that the 2014 contracts with a powerful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin would violate restrictions put in place after Russia annexed the Crimea.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-31/exxon-wins-lawsuit-challenging-2-million-ukraine-sanctions-fine

 

COLOMBIA: TOP ORGANISED CRIME PROSECUTOR ASSASSINATED

On 1 January, OCCRP reported that 2 assassins have killed Alcibiades Libreros, Colombia’s top prosecutor, on the street in the city of Cali.  He was in charge of many investigations against the country’s leading organised crime groups.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/11370-colombia-a-top-organized-crime-prosecutor-assassinated

 

VIETNAM COURT SENTENCES 14 PEOPLE WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE MOBIFONE CORRUPTION SCANDAL

On 31 December, Jurist reported that this concluded Vietnam’s largest corruption investigation since the government began its anti-graft campaign, and involved a deal in which state telecommunications company MobiFone overpaid for a 95% stake in the TV provider Audio Visual Global JSC, paying about $380 million and involved a number of government officials to facilitate the deal.  Those sentenced included former ministers and officials.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2019/12/vietnam-court-sentences-14-in-mobifone-corruption-case/

 

 

EXXON WINS US SUIT OVER $2 MILLION UKRAINE-SANCTIONS FINE

On 31 December, Bloomberg reported that the fine was imposed after the company allegedly violated Ukraine-related sanctions with a series oil and gas deals in Russia.  A court reported that Exxon was not given sufficient notice that the 2014 contracts with a powerful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin would violate restrictions put in place after Russia annexed the Crimea.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-31/exxon-wins-lawsuit-challenging-2-million-ukraine-sanctions-fine

EUROPEAN MONEY INTENDED FOR LIBYAN MIGRANTS BEING DIVERTED AND LAUNDERED

On 31 December, AP published an article about an investigation it had carried out in Libya which had revealed, inter alia, that huge sums of EU money have been diverted to intertwined networks of militiamen, traffickers and coast guard members who exploit migrants.  It says that, in many cases, the money goes to neighbouring Tunisia to be laundered, and then flows back to the militias in Libya.  This is said to be despite the EU’s own documents, dating back to as early as 2017, showing that it was aware of the dangers of effectively outsourcing its migration crisis to Libya.

https://apnews.com/96b2bb5097321a749dd1dca13aeb5bf3