16th January 2020
OFAC ISSUES NEW FAQ RE NEW SANCTIONS ON IRANIAN INDUSTRIES
On 16 January, OFAC announced issue of FAQ 816, which asks if there a wind-down period for the most recent Executive Order 13902, “Imposing Sanctions with Respect to Additional Sectors of Iran”. Essentially, those affected have a 90-day period after the issuance of E.O. 13902 to wind down those transactions without exposure to sanctions.
ALMOST ALL NORTH KOREAN WORKERS HAVE NOW LEFT RUSSIA, SENIOR DIPLOMAT SAYS
NK News on 16 January reported that a senior Russian diplomat has said that nearly all the over 11,000 North Koreans working in Russia have left, as UN sanctions banning the use of such workers takes effect.
RISE IN CHEQUE FRAUD IN US COULD MOTIVATE SWITCH TO OTHER PAYMENT TOOLS
The Wall Street Journal on 15 January reported that a recent rise in check fraud could motivate corporate treasurers to ditch paper cheques and replace them with faster, safer and cheaper electronic payments. It says that attempted check fraud increased to $15.1 billion in 2018 — up from $8.5 billion in 2016 — and accounted for 60% of attempted fraud against deposit accounts at US banks.
PODCAST: WAGNER AND RUSSIAN PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS
The latest Defense One podcast sets out to take a closer look at Russian private military contractors, saying that it is a phenomenon with a history; and something that does not seem to be going away anytime soon.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS JEFFREY EPSTEIN TRAFFICKED GIRLS AND EXPLOITED SHELL COMPANIES IN 2018
On 16 January, KYC 360 reported that a lawsuit filed by the US Virgin Islands Attorney General alleges that deceased multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually trafficked hundreds of young women and girls on his private island, some as recently as 2018, aided by a web of shell companies to carry out and conceal his crimes.
REPORT CITES A “ROGUE 100” GROUP OF CRIMINAL BROKERS WHO CONTROL BITCOIN ADDRESSES THROUGH WHICH HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FLOWED IN 2019
On 16 January, KYC 360 reported that a report from Chainalysis cites a “Rogue 100” group of criminal over-the-counter brokers who control Bitcoin addresses, a form of digital wallet, through which hundreds of billions of dollars flowed in 2019. The company says the Rogue 100, none of which are directly identified in the report, often transact with each other and also transfer Bitcoin through intermediary accounts to make it harder to trace. Chainalysis says the Rogue 100 rely heavily on 2 major overseas exchanges, Huobi and Binance, with 70 of the Rogue 100 operating on Huobi.
GHANA CHARGES CEO OF 2 DEFUNCT LENDERS OVER BANKING CRISIS THAT COST $2.2 BILLION
On 16 January, Bloomberg reported that Ghanaian prosecutors charged the CEO of 2 defunct lenders for alleged crimes that contributed to a banking crisis that cost the nation $2.2 billion in bailouts. They were Michael Nyinaku, the former CEO of Beige Bank Ltd and Prince Kofi Amoabeng, who founded UT Bank Ltd.
ANOTHER LAW FIRM DRAGGED INTO NAMIBIA’S FISHROT” SCANDAL
On 15 January, The Namibian reported that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has confirmed investigating another law firm, Ellis Shilengundwa Incorporated, in connection with funds deposited into their bank account by the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor). The other law firms being investigated are those of Sisa Namandje and Sacky Kadhila Amoomo.
US: OLD EXPORT REGULATIONS GET A NEW USE
In its 18 January edition, the Economist carried an article about the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and its control of rules governing the flow of goods from and through the US, called the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Under President Trump, it argues, these rules are being transformed into a new weapon in the fight against Chinese technology. But changing them risks driving high-tech business out of America, the article says.
FORMER SENIOR EU DIPLOMAT INVESTIGATED OVER CHINA SPYING CLAIMS
The Washington Post on 16 January reported that a former senior European diplomat and 2 others are being investigated on suspicion of spying for China. Apartments and offices in Germany and in Brussels were searched but no arrests made, with the investigation said to be centred on a former German career diplomat. He is said to have held senior posts in a number of European institutions, including the Commission and the European External Action Service. He served as an EU ambassador in Asia before he left diplomacy in 2017 to join a lobbying business. The other 2 suspects work for a separate lobbying company.
ISRAELI COURT REJECTS NSO SPYWARE FIRM’S ATTEMPT TO DROP HACKING CASE
On 16 January, Middle East Eye reported that a judge in Israel has ordered the NSO Group, the country’s largest surveillance company, to fight a hacking case brought against it by prominent Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz and pay for his legal fee. Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada, has claimed that his mobile phone was infected with Pegasus spyware by an operator “linked to Saudi Arabia’s government and security services”. Pegasus was the same software used to spy on Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a friend of Abdulaziz’s.
US LIFTS VISA RESTRICTIONS ON GHANA
On 16 January, Modern Ghana reported that the US had imposed visa restrictions on Ghana for refusing to accept the deportation of some 7,000 Ghanaians, and restrictions included suspension of issuance of all new visas for domestic employees of Ghanaian Diplomats hosted in the US.
DON’T ATTEND NORTH KOREAN CRYPTOCURRENCY CONFERENCE, UN SANCTIONS EXPERTS WARNS
On 16 January, News 18 reported that UN sanctions experts are warning people not to attend a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea in February, flagging it as a likely sanctions violation. It also reminds one that the US has formally charged American digital currency expert Virgil Griffith after he attended the North Korean cryptocurrency conference last year.
DUTCH MAN JAILED IN THAILAND FOR MONEY LAUNDERING IN NETHERLANDS IS RELEASED
On 16 January, Dutch News reported that Johan van Laarhoven, a Dutch man who ran several cannabis cafes, or coffee shops, in the Netherlands and was jailed for 100 years in Thailand, is heading back home after years of campaigning for his release. Once back he will have to sit out some 2 years in a Dutch jail to complete his sentence, it is believed, and he also faces a criminal investigation for money laundering of €20 million, tax fraud, and membership of a criminal organisation.
POLICING IN THE UK: SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME
On 16 January, the House of Lords Library published a briefing paper which explores the nature of serious and organised crime in the UK. It includes statistics on the scale of the problem as well as information on the response by the Government and the NCA. In the UK, no single official or body is in overall charge of the response to serious and organised crime. Rather, there are over 100 government departments, law enforcement bodies, agencies and other organisations involved in tackling this type of crime. Operationally, the NCA leads and coordinates the UK’s response. It also publishes an annual national strategic assessment on the issue, highlighting key findings and trends. There is no dedicated funding stream for tackling serious and organised crime. The work is financed through several unconnected funding streams by sources that are subject to annual bidding and decision processes. It is said that recent reports have concluded that “there remain some significant and avoidable shortcomings” and, in addition, the director general of the NCA has called for an increase to the amount of funding aimed at tackling serious and organised crime.
UK: PERSONAL SERVICE COMPANIES AND “IR 35”
On 16 January, the House of Commons Library published an updated briefing paper reminding one that ‘IR35’ is the commonly-used term for legislation introduced in 2000 to tackle the misuse of personal service companies (PSC) for tax avoidance purposes. The briefing looks at debates as to the effectiveness of these rules and wider concerns about the use of employment intermediaries to avoid tax, before discussing recent developments as to their application in the public and private sector.
TAX AVOIDANCE IN THE UK: A GENERAL ANTI-AVOIDANCE RULE
On 16 January, the House of Commons Library released a pair of briefing papers.
The first gives some background to the earlier debates there have been on the case for a general statutory prohibition of aggressive tax avoidance, in relation to the Coalition Government’s introduction of a General Anti-Abuse Rule in 2013.
The second briefing notes looks at the case that has been made recently for a general anti-avoidance rule, and the Coalition Government’s introduction of a ‘narrower’ General Anti-Abuse Rule in 2013.
GUATEMALA: EX-ECONOMY MINISTER SOUGHT ON GRAFT CHARGES
KSL.com in the US on 16 January reported that a former economy minister, Acisclo Valladares Urruela, was declared a fugitive from justice after he appeared in court to face corruption allegations. Valladares was economy minister in then-President Jimmy Morales’ administration until 15 January, when a new President was inaugurated and a new Congress sworn in. As a sitting Cabinet official, Valladares had enjoyed immunity from prosecution under Guatemalan law.
ANGOLAN NATIONAL BANK ADMITS FAILURES THAT ENCOURAGED CORRUPTION
Prensa Latina on 16 January reported that the current administration of the National Bank of Angola (BNA) detected serious internal failures that led to the illegal sending abroad of considerable sums of money, now the subject of a lawsuit in the so-called ‘500 million’ case.
BAHAMIAN COMPANY AT CENTRE OF LEKOIL FRAUD SCANDAL SEAWAVE INVEST MAY HAVE ALREADY BEEN STRUCK OFF
On 16 January, This is Money reported that a company that claimed to represent Qatar’s huge sovereign wealth fund may have been struck off at the time it allegedly duped a Nigerian oil company. Seawave Invest, which calls itself an ‘independent consultancy firm’ specialising in Africa, received a consultancy fee from petroleum company Lekoil in return for a $184million loan agreement from the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA).
INDIVIDUAL BEHIND SUSPECTED FX SCAM SIMPLE WEALTH REFUSES TO COMPLY WITH CFTC SUBPOENA
On 16 January, Retail FX reported that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission still has no access to the documents it sought in a subpoena in November from Cody Wilson, the individual behind the allegedly fraudulent Forex and binary options scheme. He is said to have solicited customers through a variety of ventures, including an entity called Simple Wealth LLC.
UN AMENDS 85 ENTRIES ON ITS ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LIST
A news release from the UN on 14 January advised that the entries relating to 85 separate persons on the sanctions list had been amended, to make reference to a review of said entries in December for the purposes of UN SCR 2368.
UN AMENDS 7 ENTRIES ON ITS MALI SANCTIONS LIST TO INCLUDE PHOTOS
On 14 January, a UN news release advised that the entries for 7 individuals had been amended to include links to photos of said individuals being available.
US STRATEGY TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING, IMPORTATION OF GOODS PRODUCED WITH FORCED LABOUR AND CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
On 15 January, Homeland Security Today reported that the US Department of Homeland Security had issued its first strategy on the subjects. It sets out the Department’s priorities over the next 5 years to combat the growing threat of human trafficking, the importation of goods produced with forced labour, and child sexual exploitation, which include investigating and prosecuting perpetrators and enabling DHS through organisational improvements to combat these illicit activities. It is said that in 180 days, the Department will publish an implementation plan that includes specific deliverables, timelines, and metrics for key results.
The Strategy itself can be found at –
NEW GUATEMALA GOVERNMENT ARRESTS FORMER MAYOR IN CORRUPTION RAIDS
On 16 January, Reuters reported that Guatemala’s government said prosecutors carried out raids and arrested a former mayor – Ángel Ren Guarcas of Chiche – accused of corruption as the US embassy announced it had revoked visas for some ex-officials.
LAS VEGAS HIGH-ROLLER WHO CLAIMED HE HELPED CREATE “GRAND THEFT AUTO” PLEADS GUILTY TO SWINDLING INVESTORS OF HIS LATEST VENTURE
On 16 January, the New York Post reported that Robert Alexander has pleaded guilty to using his gaming company, Kizzang, as a personal piggy bank. It is said that Alexander blew through more than $1.3 million he got from investors exaggerating his role in “Grand Theft Auto” and lying about his now-defunct company’s success.
FORMER MEMBER OF BARBADOS PARLIAMENT AND MINISTER OF INDUSTRY FOUND GUILTY OF RECEIVING AND LAUNDERING BRIBES FROM BARBADIAN INSURANCE COMPANY
On 16 January, a news release from the US DoJ advised that Donville Inniss, 54, a US legal permanent resident who resided in Tampa, Florida, and Barbados, was found guilty by a federal jury for his role in a scheme to launder bribes paid to him by executives of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL). It is said that in 2015 and 2016, he took part in a scheme to launder into the US approximately $36,000 in bribes that he received from high-level executives of ICBL.
MALAWI ANTI-BRIBERY PROTESTS DRAW THOUSANDS
On 16 January, VoA reported that tens of thousands of Malawians took part in protests at alleged attempts to bribe judges overseeing a legal challenge to the re-election last year of President Peter Mutharika – and after the country’s chief justice charged that the 5 judges presiding over the case had been offered kickbacks.
INDIA: ENFORCEMENT DIVISION TO QUIZ AIR ASIA CHIEF ON LAUNDERING SUSPICIONS
On 16 January, the Telegraph in India reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned the senior executives of AirAsia, including its CEO Tony Fernandes, for questioning in an alleged money laundering case. The probe is related to allegations that the airline tried to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get an international licence for its Indian venture, AirAsia India Limited.
BRITISH PHARMACIST JAILED FOR SELLING OPIATE PAINKILLERS, TRANQUILLISERS AND CANCER DRUGS TO ORGANISED CRIMINALS
On 16 January, illicit Trade reported that Jaspar Ojela, 56, from West Bromwich, a pharmacist has received a 28-month jail sentence after being convicted of supplying controlled drugs with an estimated street value of almost £280,500 to members of an organised crime network. He purchased controlled opiate painkillers, tranquillisers and medications intended for the treatment of cancer from drug wholesalers in 2016 before selling them on to his underworld contacts.
ITALIAN COURT CONFIRMS ING NEW CUSTOMER BAN IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 16 January, Reuters reported that an Italian court has backed a decision last year by supervisors at the Bank of Italy prohibiting Dutch lender ING from taking on new customers in Italy over a money laundering case. The central bank also ordered the lender to remove its Italian CEO. The Netherlands’ largest financial services provider admitted in 2018 that criminals had been able to launder money through its accounts and agreed to pay €775 million to settle the case in the Netherlands.