The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2021 adds both the Atomwaffen Division and the National Socialist Order (as an alias). It is a criminal offence for a person to belong to, or invite support for, a proscribed organisation. It is also a criminal offence to arrange a meeting to support a proscribed organisation; or to wear clothing or carry articles in public which rouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.
On 23 April, Devdiscourse and others reported that Saudi Arabia had announced a ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, blaming an increase in drug smuggling, in a measure that will add to Lebanon’s economic woes.
Panama Covid-19 update – another 314 new cases reported today, with 2 more fatalities and 3,845 active cases – 66 in ICU and 324 in other wards.
22 APRIL 2021
US: 3 INDICTED FOR PLOT TO STEAL FROM SAFETY DEPOSIT BOXES AT FOREIGN BANKS AND LAUNDER THE PROCEEDS IN THE US
On 20 April, CBS8 News reported that prosecutors say 3 US residents used sophisticated equipment to burglarise safe deposit boxes at overseas banks an alleged scheme to steal more than $30 million then launder the money in the US. They were charged with money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Travel Act. The men allegedly stole the millions from safe deposit boxes at mostly Eastern European banks that did not have high levels of security – including Ukraine, Russia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Latvia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
TURKEY FREEZES ASSETS OF 377 PEOPLE, ORGANISATIONS ON TERROR CHARGES
On 7 April, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported that Turkey has frozen the assets of 377 individuals and institutions, including the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen and people with links to the worldwide civic initiative inspired by him. Among the 365 individuals whose assets have been frozen by way of the 12-page decision are 77 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK), 9 members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), 86 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members and 205 followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey.
On 19 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer Inc says it has identified in Mexico and Poland the first confirmed instances of counterfeit versions of the Covid-19 vaccine. Vials seized by authorities in separate investigations were tested by the company and confirmed to contain bogus vaccine. The vials recovered in Mexico also had fraudulent labeling, while a substance inside vials in Poland was likely an antiwrinkle treatment, Pfizer said.
SRI LANKA EXPELS SHIP CARRYING NUCLEAR MATERIAL FOR CHINA
On 21 April, Military.com reported that Sri Lankan authorities have expelled an Antigua-registered ship that entered the island’s territory without declaring a radioactive cargo bound for China. It was found to be in the Chinese-run port of Hambantota carrying uranium hexafluoride. The ship had come from Rotterdam but authorities did not say where in China it was headed. It was an offence to enter a port without declaring the material, which is used to enrich uranium, the fuel for nuclear power stations and weapons.
UK: FORGER RAN FAKE PASSPORT FACTORY FROM HIS ATTIC
On 21 April, a news release from the NCA announced that an Ecuadorian man has been convicted for running a fake passport factory from his attic in south-west London. He had been linked by fingerprints to a false passport carried by a man suspected of illegally smuggling migrants into the UK. He had set up his attic as a dedicated workspace for the production of counterfeit passports of various European nationalities, including French, Belgian and Portuguese.
UKRAINE: NABU PUTS IHOR HLADKOVSKY ON WANTED LIST IN CASE OF ‘SCHEMES’ IN UKROBORONPROM
On 22 April, Interfax Ukraine reported that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has put Ihor Hladkovsky, one of the suspects in the Optimumspetsdetal corruption case, on the wanted list.
ITALIAN HOSPITAL EMPLOYEE ‘EARNED £465,000 OVER 15 YEARS WITHOUT EVER WORKING’
On 22 April, the Irish Examiner reported that authorities have placed 6 hospital employees in Italy under investigation for abuse of office after they allegedly allowed a 67-year-old to draw more than €500,000 in salary over 15 years without ever working. Guardia di Finanza said in a statement that he allegedly had someone threaten a hospital superior in 2005 to keep him on the payroll, and superiors then failed to take action or sanction him even after launching an internal investigation.
HIGH CARGO CRIME RATES IN EUROPE, THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA IN 2020 CONTINUE DESPITE LOCKDOWNS
On 21 April, Lloyds Loading List reported that goods thefts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2020 produced losses of more than €172m despite most of the region being in lockdown. This was information contained in the according to the Transported Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) Cargo Theft Annual Report. Trucks, trailers and Last Mile delivery vans were by far the most popular target for cargo thieves, as in previous years.
US RETURNS 33 LOOTED CULTURAL ARTIFACTS TO AFGHANISTAN
On 22 April, OCCRP reported that 33 cultural artifacts, worth some $1.8 million, have been returned to Afghanistan after authorities found them among more than 2,500 looted antiquities held in the collection of a notorious New York art dealer. In the past few months, the Manhattan DA has repatriated 338 items from his collection to their countries of origin which include India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
NIGERIA: CUSTOMS IMPOUNDS 42 DRUMS OF EXPLOSIVES FROM BENIN REPUBLIC
On 21 April, the Guardian in Nigeria reported that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), had intercepted 42 drums of calcium carbide smuggled into the country from the Benin Republic. It says that security experts have warned that calcium carbide could be used as explosives to bring down a building, especially when some chemical components are added to it.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES RUSSIAN ODOMETER MANIPULATING DEVICES
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 21 April advised that officers had seized 5 odometer manipulating devices in early April that were shipped from Russia and destined to addresses in Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, and Illinois in individual express international parcels. Internet research revealed that the devices connect to a vehicle’s instrument panel for the sole purpose of manipulating a vehicle’s mileage. It is estimated that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings and this costs American car buyers more than $1 billion annually.
OLIGARCH’S SON TOLD TO PAY MOTHER £75 MILLION AFTER WORLD’S BIGGEST DIVORCE CASE
On 21 April, The Guardian reported that the son of an oligarch was said by a judge in London to be “a dishonest individual who will do anything to assist his father”. Temur Akhmedov was found to have worked together with his father, the billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov, to hide hundreds of millions of pounds of assets – including several mansions, a superyacht, a helicopter and an extensive art collection – in order to avoid paying a £453 million divorce settlement.
UK: POST OFFICE SCANDAL: WHAT THE HORIZON SAGA IS ALL ABOUT
On 21 April, the BBC produced a summary of the Post Office scandal, where a group of former sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses, who say they were victims of a massive miscarriage of justice, are awaiting a ruling by the Court of Appeal. This marks the latest stage of a computer scandal, and a long and complex legal battle, which could leave the Post Office with a huge compensation bill. Between 2000 and 2014, the Post Office prosecuted 736 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses – an average of 1 a week – based on information from a recently installed computer system called Horizon.
On 22 April, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper about the new, updated customs cooperation programme for customs authorities in the EU. The new programme envisages more intense cooperation, including through more electronic systems that have a satisfactory level of innovation, and with more uniform application of the customs rules across all 27 Member States.
PRIVATE JETS LADEN WITH COCAINE TRAVEL FROM BRAZIL TO EUROPE
On 21 April, an article from Insight Crime reported that business jets are on the radar of European authorities after the dismantling of a ring that used private aircraft to smuggle cocaine from Brazil to Portugal. 8 aircraft held by companies operating illegally in Brazil were seized in a police operation to dismantle the smuggling ring, which came to light after seizures on 2 private aircraft. Besides having less security in general, airports that service private jets also avoid interfering with their wealthy clientele, making them ideal for traffickers.
UAE HAS ISSUED NEW AML/CFT GUIDELINES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ADHERING TO FINANCIAL CRIME LEGISLATION
An article from Out-Law on 22 April advised that the National Anti Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Legal Organisations Committee (NAMLCFTC) had adopted the guidelines for financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions in April, and are set to be published on the NAMLCFTC and other regulatory bodies’ websites, to increase knowledge of the rules and ensure action by licensed entities. The committee also approved 6 risk assessment reports related to terrorist financing, trade-based money laundering, misuse of legal persons, non-profit organisations, lawyers and the gold sector.
An article from Dentons on 22 April advised that a “smart contract” is a legally binding contract in which some or all of the contractual obligations are recorded in or performed automatically by a computer program deployed on a “distributed ledger”. Distributed ledger technology is a method of recording and sharing information across a computer network in a way that makes it very difficult to amend. It says that the Law Commission has consulted on these definitions and other issues as part of its review of how England and Wales’ legal framework could facilitate smart contracting. It is expected to scope out the legal reforms necessary to enable this technology to thrive in late 2021.
On 21 April, radio Free Asia reported that a series of US sanctions on a Macau underworld kingpin helped Kuala Lumpur pry the lid off a Malaysian connection to criminal groups in China and related police corruption. They allowed the Royal Malaysia Police to connect the dots, which led to the uncovering of the Nicky Gang allegedly headed by Nicky Liow Soon Hee – was close to Wan Kuok Koi (commonly known as Broken Tooth), the leader of 14K Triad – one of the largest Chinese organised crime gangs in the world that has tentacles in many countries.
ALLIANZ REVEALS £65.8 MILLION WORTH OF INSURANCE FRAUD IN 2020
On 21 April, the Insurance Times reported that the insurer had focused on rogue loss adjusters, which had reduced its exposure to fraud, saying it had detected a record £65.8 million in fraud in 2020. It identified several areas as being particularly prone to fraud in 2020.
FORMER FISHERIES MINISTER OF INDONESIA CHARGED IN BRIBERY CASE
On 20 April, Seafood Source reported that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) – has accused former fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo of taking bribes in a case involving issuance of lobster seeds exports.
SOUTH AFRICA: AUTHORITIES HAVE CUT DEALS WITH MEMBERS OF AN ABALONE POACHING SYNDICATE
On 20 April, Eyewitness News reported that a court had given suspended sentences to 6 people arrested in the Western Cape and Gauteng in February last year. They have all been handed sentences of 2 years imprisonment wholly suspended for 5 years with stringent conditions. However, the syndicate’s kingpin in the Western Cape, Solomon Sauls, was sentenced to an effective 18 years’ direct imprisonment in February.
ANTWERP PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATION INTO THE BANKRUPTCY OF THE COMPANY THAT WAS FORMERLY THE CITY’S LEADING DIAMOND DEALER
On 21 April, the Brussels Times reported that Eurostar Diamond Traders, owned by the family of 71-year-old Kaushik Mehta, was at one point the diamond city’s major trader in both rough and cut diamonds. Then, suddenly in 2019, the business was declared bankrupt, and it turned out the company had a mountain of debt.
UAE GOES LIVE WITH ‘TRADE CONNECT’, A BLOCKCHAIN-BASED TRADE FINANCE PLATFORM, TO COUNTER FRAUD RISKS
On 19 April, Gulf News carried a report about the launch of Trade Connect. This brings together telecom giant Etisalat and a consortium of 7 leading local banks, led by FAB (First Abu Dhabi Bank). Currently, the platform is primarily into fraud detection within the trade finance space, but the promoters expect it to evolve into handling trade-based money laundering or sanctions busting. And at a later date, get into e-invoicing.
MSC SHIPPING COMPANY SPENT “TENS OF MILLIONS” OF DOLLARS AFTER MSC GAYANE DRUGS BUST
On 21 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Switzerland-based Shipping company MSC told a court prior to the sentencing of several crew members on a charge of drugs smuggling on the MSC Gayane in 2019 that it had since spent “tens of millions of dollars in making its systems more secure. Of the ship’s crew of just over 20, at least 8 were involved according to prosecutors. 4 crew members from Montenegro led the operation. They had taken jobs on the ship intending to smuggle cocaine. They recruited at least 4 other crew members. The US government also targeted the ship with a forfeiture action, and MSC placed $10 million in a CBP security account and provided CBP with a $40 million surety bond in order to release the ship.
UN PANEL OF EXPERTS REAFFIRMS CALL TO SANCTION SUBSIDIARIES OF LIBYAN SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND
On 20 April, Kharon reported that the panel had repeated its call to impose sanctions on subsidiaries of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), citing mismanagement, a lack of transparency and other issues at the embattled sovereign wealth fund. The LIA, established in 2006, has total declared assets of about $65 billion, according to the UN panel. The fund was sanctioned by the U.N. in March 2011 amid the uprising against deceased former strongman Muammar Qadhafi, citing his and his family’s then-control of its assets, and how it had served as a potential revenue source. The sanctions involved the LIA, and the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio (LAIP), a subsidiary of the fund. It mentioned that LAIP controls several holding companies, including the Libyan African Investment Company (LAICO), though it has “limited activity”, a UN report said. LAICO has 32 companies and is the sole shareholder of 19 of them, the UN said. LIA subsidiaries maintain active operations in Libya and abroad, Kharon found.
CALL FOR CHINESE BANKS TO STOP LAUNDERING WILDLIFE TRAFFICKERS’ MONEY
On 22 April, OCCRP reported that TRAFFIC, an NGO focusing on the global trade in wild animals and plants, released a report this month which found that the illegal wildlife trade generates between $7 billion and $23 billion each year – as much as the illegal trafficking of narcotics, arms, and humans generate – and this cannot occur without financial crime and corruption. It has called on Chinese banks to prevent illegal wildlife traffickers from exploiting their networks to launder money. Otherwise those banks will risk greater scrutiny and pressure from foreign governments.
AMERICAN CHEMIST “STOLE TRADE SECRETS IN ORDER TO START A COMPANY IN CHINA”
On 22 April, Just the News reported that the DoJ had announced that Dr Xiaorong You, aka Shannon You, 59, of Lansing, Michigan, had been convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage, and wire fraud. She is said to have stolen trade secrets, valued at almost $120 million to start a business in China – to set up a new BPA-free coating company in China with a Chinese corporate partner.
INDIA: CLAIMS THAT NIGERIAN OIL COMPANY STILL SHIPPING PRODUCT DESPITE MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS
On 22 April, The Hindu reported claims that Nigeria-based Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Co (SEEPCO) Limited was still in operation, exporting oil, despite an Enforcement Directorate request to the Nigerian government to restrain its assets in connection with a money laundering case against SEEPCO’s parent, Sterling Biotech, and others. The crude oil produced by the company is said to be finding its way to various countries, including India. In June 2019, the ED attached (i.e. applied restraint orders) against overseas assets including included 4 Nigeria-based oil rigs and an oil field, several ships registered in Panama, an aircraft registered in the US, and a flat in London. The oil rigs and oil field were in the name of SEEPCO, Nigeria.
UK TASKFORCE TO PROBE HOW A DIGITAL POUND COULD COMPLY WITH AML AND DATA PROTECTION RULES
On 22 April, GRC World Forums reported that the Bank of England and HM Treasury have announced a joint Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) taskforce to explore the practicalities of establishing a digital pound. As part of the efforts, the Bank of England has set up an engagement forum to discuss the practical challenges of implementing and designing a CBDC, including examining ‘data and privacy implications’.
On 22 April, Deutsche Welle reported that Turkey has opened an investigation into Fatih Faruk Ozer, founder of cryptocurrency platform Thodex. It seems that Ozer is now wanted on suspicion of fraud and founding a criminal organisation.
On 21 April, OCCRP carried a report saying that few have heard of the illegal dog trade, but it is believed to rank among Europe’s fastest-growing illicit markets. It generates more money than the illegal human rogan trade, poses a greater risk to public health than the illegal wildlife trade, and kills more European animals than the illegal arms trade kills Europeans. It involves smuggling, tax evasion, market fraud, consumer fraud, animal abuse, and danger to individual and public health.
On 22 April, EU Observer reported that, despite having the second-lowest waste-recycling rates in the EU, Romania has become overflowing with waste and garbage – most of it brought in illegally from abroad. A recent case involved 189 tonnes of waste from Italy and authorities established that those importing the waste had no facility to recycle it, and it would most likely will end up in illegal landfills.
On 22 April, the EU Observer reported on an investigation into the sale of passports in Malta. It said that Chinese, Russian, and Saudi millionaires bought EU passports from Malta using loopholes according to leaked documents from Henley & Partners, a London-based firm which designed Malta’s golden-passport industry. Many passport-buyers spent less than 3 weeks in Malta and left letterbox-type residences empty most of the time, the leaked files. The investigation is into the sale of passports by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, The Guardian, Dossier Centre and five independent media organisations in Malta: Lovin Malta, Malta Today, The Malta Independent, the Times of Malta and The Shift. The most prominent country of origin is Russia, which comprises approximately 37% of all applicants for Maltese citizenship, irrespective of their success in doing so. Second is China with approximately 12% of all applicants, followed by Saudi Arabia at roughly 10% of all applicants. A considerable number of applicants for Maltese citizenship already held multiple passports at the time of applying and many held citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis. It points out that obtaining dual citizenship with Malta is illegal for citizens of some countries. This is certainly the case with Saudi Arabia, for instance. Saudi citizens must seek discretionary royal permission to obtain an additional passport elsewhere.
Panama Covid-19 update – as if the virus wasn’t enough, the fallout from the recent St Vincent volcano is reaching Panama – dust and sulphur dioxide, with warning of possible nasal irritation and conjunctivitis…
Meanwhile, another 359 new cases (with figures continuing to hold up worryingly) and 3 new fatalities. There are 3,900 active cases (actually 1 more than yesterday), with 60 in ICU (up 3) and 313 in other wards (down 7).
21 APRIL 2021
SNC-LAVALIN SAYS WORLD BANK LIFTS SANCTIONS IMPOSED IN 2013
The Wall Street Journal reported on 20 April that the sanctions (debarment from applying for World Bank funding – or funding from other similar bodies) stemmed from allegations the Canadian engineering company bribed officials in Bangladeshin connection with a bank-funded project, and were lifted after an assessment and monitoring process by authorities at the bank, the company said.
BAHRAIN: PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO ITS AML LAW FOR REGULATED SECTORS
On 19 April, Al Taminin & Company said that Bahrain’s Parliament has voted to approve Royal Decree No 29 of 2020 amending certain provisions of Decree Law No 4 of 2001, bringing it one step closer to imposing the highest level of financial integrity protections recommended by international standards. It says that of particular relevance to Bahraini businesses is the new administrative penalty, which will see companies fined for failures to properly implement the required compliance measures prescribed by the law. Where there have been multiple failures, this fine can be multiplied by the number of violations, amounting to potentially astronomical fines for the most egregious laxities. Other important updates contained in the Decree include a general prohibition to all natural and legal persons to implement targeted financial sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, extension of corporate liability provisions for money laundering and terrorism financing offences, and broadening of key definitions to increase the scope of activity that could potentially fall within the remit of the AML law.
On 20 April, an article from Rouse says that an OECD/EUIPO report identifies several important transit points for trade in counterfeits. In particular, the Middle East is recognised as a key transhipment hub where counterfeits arrive in large quantities in containers and are sent to other countries in Africa and the EU. It says that there are no accurate and official statistics available to the public except in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and, as a result, the data on the quantities seized by the Customs are subject to debate. The article says that the unstable political situations in many of Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Palestine are considered to be the perfect environment for counterfeiters to increase their activity due to their poor governance, high levels of corruption and poor intellectual property protection. The article goes on to provide publicly available data on customs seizures for the UAE and Saudi Arabia: It also says that it is obvious the Turkey plays an important role as a source country for shipments of fake products. These shipments include a mix of local production and well as trans-shipments. For the purpose of implementing successful enforcement strategies, the article recommends that brand owners should also consider what it describes as 3 tiers of countries in terms of customs activities and effectiveness against counterfeits in the Middle East – explaining the tiers.
PHILADELPHIA MAN ADMITS CONSPIRING TO EXPORT FIREARMS PARTS FROM US TO TURKEY AND GEORGIA
A news release from US DoJ on 20 April announced that Samet Doyduk, 35, pleaded guilty by videoconference to conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and anti-smuggling laws. Doyduk admitted that from November 2018 through March 2019, he and other conspirators agreed to ship firearms parts from the US to Turkey and the Republic of Georgia.
CHINESE POLICE SEIZE $6 MILLION OF SMUGGLED DIAMONDS
On 21 April, IDEX and others reported that Chinese police have seized diamonds worth over $6.1 million and arrested 20 people suspected of smuggling them onto the mainland through Hong Kong. Officers believe gang members have been buying gems from foreign websites since last July and smuggling them into the mainland, undeclared, to avoid paying tax.
SWEDISH POLICE WARN GAMBLING UNDER “HIGHEST THREAT” FROM MONEY LAUNDERING
On 21 April, iGB reported that Swedish police has warned that gambling is at its “highest threat level” of money laundering in the country’s National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing report. The report said that said gambling businesses are often unknowingly “at risk” of money laundering exploitation – with gambling at state-owned casinos and online gambling were highlighted as areas where the risk was especially high.
This is a schematic of the Swedish system for combatting money laundering and terrorist financing, as regulated chiefly in the Act on Measures against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (2017:630). The entities without a dedicated supervisory authority are defined in items 15–16, 18–19 and 21–22 in the second section of the Act and are subject to supervision by the County Administrative Boards of Skåne, Stockholm and Västra Götaland. The entities with a dedicated supervisory authority are defined in items 13–14, 17 and 20 in the same section and are subject to supervision by the Estate Agents Inspectorate, the Gambling Authority, the Inspectorate of Auditors and the Bar Association.
On 21 April, Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the House of Representatives has unanimously approved a Bill to amend the penal code and the law to combat money laundering. It extends the cts that constitute the money laundering to include even those committed abroad and expands “confiscation of property” to include “the predicate offense of money laundering”. It provides that financial and non-financial institutions, such as lawyers, notaries and others, are required to provide details to the National Financial Information Authority, and gambling activities in ships and trafficking in precious stones are subject to controls.
MOZAMBIQUE’S PRESIDENT VOWS TO RESTORE PEACE IN GAS-RICH CABO DELGADO
On 21 April, Defence Web reported that President Filipe Nyusi said the government will work to restore peace in the country after a deadly militant attack last month near multi-billion-dollar gas projects backed by global oil companies. The stakes are high for Mozambique, with peace a “fundamental condition” for the development of the projects, and he called on all stakeholders to overcome this crisis. He said the government foresees “direct benefits” of more than $100 billion dollars from the gas projects, which will diversify the state’s income base and allow for reinvestment in other sectors.
UK: BRIEFING ON THE NATIONAL FRAUD INITIATIVE DATA MATCHING POWERS CONSULTATION PROPOSALS
On 21 April, the Open Rights Group published a briefing which summarises our main concerns with the Cabinet Office’s National Fraud Initiative (NFI) data-matching powers consultation proposals. The proposal sets out a range of proposals that would dramatically expand data-sharing powers in the public sector. The briefing identifies the issue, provides context and summarises Open Rights Group’s (ORG) main concerns about the proposals. It explains that the NFI is ‘an exercise that matches electronic data within and between public and private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud’ and is managed by the Cabinet Office. The ORG says that the most problematic issue in the proposals is the extension of the powers for crime and offenders, expanding the capacity of police to collate information from public and private bodies.
EX-CHAIRMAN OF KYRGYZ FINANCIAL POLICE FOUND GUILTY OF CORRUPTION
On 21 April, 24KG reported that a criminal case against ex-chairman of the State Service for Combating Economic Crimes of Kyrgyzstan (Financial Police), Bakir Tairov, came before the Pervomaisky District Court of Bishkek, and the court was told he had entered into a plea bargain in February. The indictment states that Bakir Tairov, being the head of the Financial Police, instructed the former director of the State Agency for Land Resources Kanybek Botobaev to collect money from the territorial divisions of Cadastre state institution in favor of Birimdik party before the upcoming parliamentary elections in October 2020.
ROMANIA: SENATE APPROVES CRIMINAL PROSECUTION REQUEST AGAINST EX-MINISTER BODOG
On 21 April, the Romania Journal reported that the plenary sitting of the Senate (Romanian Parliament’s upper chamber) has given the green light for the National Anti-corruption Directorate’s request to criminally prosecuted the former PSD minister of Health, Florian Bodog, currently a senator. Prosecutors accuse the former Health minister of intervening so that a person he had hired as personal advisor should receive his salary for a period of 12 months without coming to work and without carrying out this paid activity.
IRAQ ISSUES ARREST WARRANTS FOR 58 OFFICIALS ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 21 April, Middle East Monitor reported that Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity (CPI) has announced the issuance of arrest warrants and summons against 58 current and former officials accused of corruption. The arrest and detention orders included current and former governors, as well as 25 executive directors of state institutions, including current and former officials, in addition to several government employees who were appointed to temporarily fill vacant posts. 22 members of local councils and others are also wanted by the authorities.
EU CROWDFUNDING REGULATION – CROSS-BORDER OPPORTUNITIES ON THE HORIZON
On 15 April, Irish law firm Matheson published an article which says that at present within the EU the is no EU-wide legislation of crowdfunding instead, several, but by no means all, Member States have established their own regimes. Ireland is one of those Member States which has not implemented any specific regulations regarding crowdfunding, although the adoption of regulations has been proposed in various government plans. It says that the EU Crowdfunding Regulation (and accompanying Directive) establishes a single market for the provision of an alternative source of financing for start-ups and SME, crowdfunding can provide a viable solution to the lack of access for such entities and further contribute to the establishment of the Capital Markets Union and grow the EU’s market share in this sector. In this article, the law firm complements an earlier article published in November and considers some of the potential wider implications of the Crowdfunding Regulation. It is said that the Crowdfunding Regulation is a welcome regulatory development to facilitate the integration of crowdfunding services provided across member states of the EU and one which is expected to contribute to further growth in the crowdfunding market in the EU.
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 20 April advised that agriculture specialists working at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport intercepted a shipment of prohibited and restricted pet treats that was manifested as men’s sweaters. The chicken lollipop pet treats shipped from Hong Kong.
On 20 April, Newsbook in Malta reported that a Libya-bound container loaded with more than 900 dummy replicas of the AK 47 assault rifle was intercepted by the Customs Department. There are suspicions that they were intended to be used for training, assault courses and weapon possession familiarisation.
228 ARRESTS AFTER 70,000 INDIVIDUALS CHECKED ACROSS EUROPE TO TACKLE MOBILE CRIMINALITY
On 21 April, a news release from Europol advised that law enforcement authorities from 17 countries targeted mobile organised crime groups active across Europe as part of the latest edition of Operation Trivium. The operation was coordinated by the Netherlands and supported by Europol. Seizures included 88 vehicles, stolen goods, illegal substances and large amounts of cash. One objective of this year’s operation was to locate wanted convicts of organised property crime on the run. Investigations during the operation identified the whereabouts of a number of these individuals.
UK: ACCOUNTANT GIVEN 11 YEARS’ IMPRISONMENT FOR £1.3 MILLION FRAUD
On 19 April, a news release from the CPS advised that an accountant, Stephen Day, 53, who defrauded the NHS, companies, and individuals out of more than £1.3 million has been jailed for multiple counts of fraud and theft. Day became a board member or trustee of 8 companies, working to persuade them to use his business for their payroll services and financial management operations. Once they agreed, he would use his authority to take hundreds of thousands of pounds out of their bank accounts under the guise of legitimate payments.
4 SECURITY CHALLENGES AWAITING ECUADOR’S NEXT PRESIDENT
On 20 April, Insight Crime reported that Ecuador’s next president will face an unprecedented set of security challenges, as prison violence has soared to record levels, the country’s corruption is receiving international attention and the criminal situation along the border with Colombia continues to sour. It lists unprecedented levels of gang warfare, including prion gangs; Ecuador as a major transit hub for cocaine and heroin shipments from Colombia and Peru; corruption; and fragmented control of criminal economies along Ecuador’s borders with Colombia and Peru which pose significant security challenges.
SOLICITOR WHO MISLED HUNDREDS INTO INVESTING £19 MILLION IN FAILED CLAIMS SCHEME IS STRUCK OFF
On 21 April, Legal Futures reported that a solicitor who misled hundreds of investors and attracted £19 million to bring claims for miscalculated mortgage payments – none of which succeeded – has been struck off. He dishonestly told investors that there was no chance of losing their money.
THE SCOPE OF “REASONABLE EXCUSE” PART II: WHEN CAN A PERSON LAWFULLY REFUSE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN A COMPELLED INTERVIEW IN A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION?
A blog post from Crowell Moring on 20 April commented further on the aftermath of the recent UK Supreme Court case which held that a foreign company cannot be compelled pursuant to section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act to produce documents held overseas. It explains that compelled interviews are creatures of statute. The SFO Director is empowered by section 2 to issue a notice compelling a person to “answer questions…”. FCA investigators are empowered by section 171 Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to issue a notice compelling a person to “answer questions…”. HMRC, NCA and police officers are empowered by section 62 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to issue a notice compelling a person to “answer questions with respect to any matter relevant to the investigation”. The language of these statutes varies slightly but the general legal obligation is identical: the interviewee must answer the investigator’s questions provided those questions are relevant to the investigation.
SPAIN DISMANTLES CHINESE GANG SELLING CANNABIS ACROSS EUROPE
On 20 April, AP reported that police in Spain said that they have dismantled one of the largest criminal gangs growing cannabis in the country and trafficking it across Europe. At least 65 people, most of them Chinese nationals, were arrested in several Spanish cities, Portugal and the Netherlands. Police identified the gang as “Bang of Fujian”, in reference to the eastern Chinese province where the 2 main families that formed it originated. The group operated mainly from its Barcelona base, in north-eastern Spain. The investigation began in 2019 when the first parcels containing packaged marijuana were detected.
ALI KHALILMERHI: HOW A ONE-TIME FUGITIVE FOUND FORTUNE IN SOUTH SUDAN
A report in The Sentry said that Lebanese businessman Ali Khalil Merhi fled Paraguay while awaiting his trial and crossed the border into Brazil in 2000, escaping mounting scrutiny from authorities, facing piracy charges and suspicions of links to terror financing. He obtained a new passport under the name Ali Khalil Myree, established more than a dozen new companies, and cultivated a new network of powerful government contacts—all in South Sudan. It is said that The Sentry found that for more than a decade, the government of South Sudan has supported the Lebanese tycoon, granting him citizenship, lucrative contracts, and even the title of honorary consul.
PARISIAN COURT RULES THAT GERMAN PAINTING, SEIZED UNDER SUSPICION OF FORGERY IN 2016, MUST NOW BE RETURNED TO THE PRINCE OF LIECHTENSTEIN
The Art Law & More blog on 21 April carried a post saying that the painting was controversially seized 5 years ago after an anonymous complaint alerted the high-profile anti-forgery investigation. The investigation closed in 2018, but the painting was never given back. The painting was once owned by an infamous collector, who allegedly masterminded an international trafficking ring of forgeries.
TELLTALE SIGNS A FLAG IS GOING BAD: AN ANALYSIS OF THE CAMEROONIAN SHIPPING FLEET
On 21 April, Windward published an article saying that over the past few decade’s flag registries have again and again hit the headlines and come under criticism, much of which has centred around the practice of flags of convenience, their susceptibility to abuse by illicit players, and insufficient flag state regulations and enforcement. Stories over recent months led Windward to take a deeper look into how monitoring flag registries and vessel flags can pre-emptively minimise risk and aid governments, flag and port authorities, and even commercial organizations identify flag weaknesses that illicit players and sanctioned regimes are exploiting.
FORMER DRC MINISTER HELD IN THE CONGO REPUBLIC OVER EMBEZZLEMENT CASE
On 21 April, the Daily Mail reported that a former DR Congo minister, Willy Bakonga, a former education minister, has been arrested in neighbouring Republic of Congo at the request of authorities in Kinshasa who have accused him of embezzlement.
SOUTH AFRICAN EX-PRESIDENT ZUMA’S LEGAL TEAM QUITS AHEAD OF CORRUPTION TRIAL
On 21 April, Reuters reported that former South African President Jacob Zuma’s legal team has quit less than a month before he goes on trial on corruption charges. Zuma and French arms company Thales are due in court in May on charges related to a $2 billion arms deal from the 1990s.
GUATEMALA PROSECUTORS PURSUE EX-PRESIDENT JIMMY MORALES
On 21 April, ABC News reported that Guatemalan prosecutors have requested that former President Jimmy Morales (2016-20) be stripped of his immunity so he can be prosecuted for violating the mandate of the UN-backed anti-corruption mission then working in the country. Although when he assumed the presidency he pledged to battle corruption, once he and family members became targets of the anti-corruption mission, he moved to push it out of Guatemala.
NEW YORK FISHERMAN AND FISH DEALER CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY, FRAUD, AND OBSTRUCTION RE A SCHEME TO ILLEGALLY OVER-HARVEST FLUKE AND BLACK SEA BASS
A news release from US DoJ on 21 April announced that a Grand Jury in New York had unsealed the indictment of one fisherman, a wholesale fish dealer, and 2 of its managers in connection with a scheme to illegally overharvest fluke and black sea bass 2014-16.
On 21 April, Transparency International released a new report – “Track and Trace”, a comprehensive study to date of UK public procurement during the pandemic and involved a painstaking review of nearly 1,000 contracts worth a total of £18 billion. The report details how critical safeguards designed to prevent corruption were suspended without adequate justification. The report concludes that poor record keeping combined with opaque, uncompetitive contracting and a suspiciously high number of awards to companies with political connections has undermined public trust and justifiably fuelled criticism of the Government.