On 21 June, the EU launched a public consultation on recovering and confiscating criminal assets, with the objective of reinforcing the tools that enable national authorities to trace, freeze and confiscate those assets. Running to 21 September, the results of the consultation will feed into the upcoming evaluation and revision of EU rules on the freezing and confiscation of the proceeds of crime and on asset recovery offices.
On 21 June, EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU and 3 countries had imposed new sanctions in response to activities relating to the August 2020 presidential election, and the May 2021 forced diversion of Ryanair flight 4978 to Minsk and arrests of Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega.
The EU has imposed targeted sanctions on 71 people and 7 entities
On 21 June, the US Treasury advised that the listings are in response to the Lukashenka regime’s escalating violence and repression, including its reckless forced diversion of a commercial Ryanair flight and arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion, Sofia Sapega. It has also issued new General License 3 and FAQ 912 and 913.
On 11 June, Der Spiegel in Germany published a great article about 36-year-old Russian Pavel Durov. He had previously he founded the Russian Facebook clone VKontakte in 2006. Little is known about the Russian billionaire, who is considered to be the richest person in his adopted home of Dubai. It comments on the use of Telegram for illicit purposes by some of its users, without the scrutiny and action of rivals such WhatsApp and Twitter. It is said that the Federal Office of Justice in Germany has opened proceedings to fine Telegram for failing to designate a contact person for the authorities and for not offering a criminal complaint procedure for criminal content as required under German law – the company could face fines as high as €55 million. After leaving Russia after problems with authorities there, he obtained a St Kitts and Nevis passport and eventually settled in Dubai. It is said that Pavel’s older brother, Nikolai Durov, is responsible for the technology and has 2 doctorates in mathematics, including one he earned from the University of Bonn in Germany.
On 18 June, Vice reported that drug makers in Belgium and the Netherlands are poisoning nature reserves and damaging wastewater plants. The articles refers to the discovery in March of the largest-ever “drug pit” – hidden trenches used by the country’s large-scale MDMA and speed producers to dump tonnes of toxic waste from illicit drug labs;said to be one of many new ways drug gangs in the Netherlands and Belgium are disposing of the toxic waste. Drugs gangs are increasingly resorting to dumping chemicals in more remote, pristine nature reserves and forests in order to escape detection. There has been use of manure pits, leading to residues ending up on crops, and drug waste is also being flushed in huge amounts into sewage systems. It is said that a 2017 study estimated that for 1 kg of MDMA and amphetamines, respectively between 6-10 kg and 10-20 kg of chemical waste is produced; and that the amount of drug waste produced in drug labs in the Netherlands to be around could be around 7,000 tonnes a year, while in Belgium it is thought to be at least 1,500 tonnes.
This report from the FBI says that each year millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or internet scheme, such as romance scams, tech support fraud, and lottery or sweepstake scams. Criminals gain their targets’ trust or use tactics of intimidation and threats to take advantage of their victims. Once successful, scammers are likely to keep a scheme going because of the prospect of significant financial gain. In 2020, the relevant office received a total of 791,790 complaints with reported losses exceeding $4.1 billion. The purpose of the report is said to be to educate the public and provide as much information on the types of frauds targeting seniors as possible.
Among other things, it identifies common frauds affecting the over-60s –
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 21 June said that the Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice has issued a non-binding opinion on the scope of the EU Blocking Regulation, in the ongoing German case of Bank Melli Iran v Telekom Deutschland GmbH. The article examines what the non-binding opinion means, and links to information on the case involved.