On 27 May, Transparency International said that it is deeply concerned over recent reports that Samherji, Iceland’s major fisheries company, sought to intimidate and smear journalists and civil society reporting on the allegations that the company bribed foreign officials. It claims that the company’s self-styled ‘guerrilla division’ collected personal information on independent actors, including Transparency International Iceland, to undermine their credibility. Samherji is at the heart of the Fishrot Files scandal, first reported in 2019, which implicates the company in the bribery of government officials in Angola and Namibia for fishing quota rights.
On 19 May, a report from Global Financial Integrity says that it worked with the coalition of NGO to analyse the classification of the wood pulp as well as its movement between jurisdiction to determine any potential trade misinvoicing schemes (a form of trade-based money laundering) that could be involved. A comparison of trade statistics compiled, respectively, by the governments of Indonesia and China highlights major discrepancies in the trade of dissolving pulp, a specialized grade of wood pulp used in the manufacture of textile products. The coalition of civil society organisations behind the report call on the Government of Indonesia to implement a number of recommendations.
On 27 May, King & Spalding published the Review saying that enforcement authorities throughout the Americas continued investigations of fraud, corruption, and other misconduct across the region. The Review contains some of the highlights of the last quarter.
On 27 May, an article from Dentons says that MLAT are one of the most important tools available to law enforcement agencies conducting international investigations. Recently, decisions in Canada and the UK highlighted both their necessity as well as their limitations in respect of these investigations. The recent cases involved limits to MLAT evidence in Canadian criminal trials; and saying that international investigations require international cooperation. The article says that, taken together, the cases illustrate both the necessity for MLAT in international investigations, the difficulties with relying upon them, and their tensions with domestic laws. It warns that the upshot of both decisions is most likely a reduction in net total enforcement efforts in both Canada and the UK. Enforcement authorities, prosecutors, and defence counsel already face enormous resource, staffing, logistics, costs, timing and legal issues when multi-jurisdictional investigations occur. The cases expose a further difficulty: the frailty of international investigations when success is tied directly to the use of (or conscious choice to forgo the use of) MLAT processes.
On 28 May, 38 North reported that high-resolution satellite imagery of North Korea’s Nampho port area taken in July last year shows 2 barges carrying unusual cargos, adding to findings from the UN Panel of Experts that North Korea is now using these difficult-to-trace vessels to move a wider variety of sanctions-breaking shipments. It is noted how North Korea had used barges on at least seven occasions to carry vehicles and industrial equipment in breach of UN Security Council Resolutions, publishing images showing the vessels transporting trucks and tanker railcars. North Korea had previously only used this type of barge to transport designated raw materials. It says that the expanded use of these barges could spell additional trouble for sanctions enforcement going forward. The vessels are difficult to differentiate and broadcast little or no identifying information, making typical open-source methods related to tracking associated company networks and their owners more challenging.
CMS Law offers this facility which contains a list and overview of fines and penalties which data protection authorities within the EU have imposed under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
On 19 May, ABC News published an article on the use by rogue states and their enablers of “spoofing” to fool satellite-based ship-tracking systems so that they can circumvent sanctions without detection. The article considers research by Windward into the Cyprus-flagged oil tanker Berlina. Around the same time in March the Berlina was pinging that location at sea, it was physically spotted loading crude oil in Venezuela – and 9 other tankers, some connected to the same owner, were sending signals that showed them moving nearby in the Caribbean at an identical speed and direction — and with sudden changes in weight indicating they had somehow been loaded full of crude without ever touching port.
On 24 May, Coindesk reported that cryptocurrency project DeFi100, a decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol built on the Binance Smart Chain, appears to have been a scam, with the people running it having taken investors’ money and running. One unconfirmed source put the loss at $32 million. Coindesk says that while it’s possible the site has been hacked, given that there’s been no public comment from DeFi100, it’s more likely the event is a so-called “rug pull”.
On 23 May, Coindesk reported that the company said that the “stalwart of the UK crypto scene” had “wrongfully and fraudulently misdirected” corporate and user funds totalling £516,242, all of which has been replaced. The former official has denied the allegations.