OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 15

Panama Covid-19 update – another 1,225 new cases reported today, with the number of active cases 13,684. Another high number of fatalities reported – 12, taking the total to date to 6,674. There are 113 patients in ICU and 614 in other wards. The Rt infection rate is now 1.01 (an average for the country as a whole), a tad over the important 1 figure, and slightly down from the previous week’s 1.1.

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15 JULY 2021

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/china-displaces-u-s-as-the-eus-largest-trade-partner/

GULF OF GUINEA – NIGERIA SEEKS CLOSER MARITIME SECURITY TIES WITH GABON AND CRUSH PIRACY NETWORKS SAYS GHANAIAN VICE-PRESIDENT

On 13 and 14 July, separate reports from Dryad Global reported that Nigeria is seeking to establish closer defence and security ties with the Republic of Gabon.  Sources said this may not be unconnected with the closeness and importance of Gabon in efforts at finding solutions to the maritime insecurity being experienced in the Gulf of Guinea.

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/nigeria-to-seek-closer-security-ties-with-gabon

Ghana’s Vice-President has tasked agencies responsible for maritime security to collaborate to dismantle the networks that sustain piracy as a business model.  He also charged the security agencies to penetrate the levels of secrecy surrounding negotiations and payments and also the true identity of the criminal actors.  This came as a 3-day conference was held, the largest gathering of maritime officials in Africa, on the theme: “Maritime security and trade — The nexus between a secure maritime domain and a developed blue economy”.

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/crush-piracy-networks-says-ghanaian-vice-president

US ISSUES UPDATED XINJIANG SUPPLY CHAIN BUSINESS ADVISORY

On 13 July, the US State Department issued an updated Advisory which highlights the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang given the entities complicit in forced labour and other human rights abuses there and throughout China.

https://www.state.gov/issuance-of-the-updated-xinjiang-supply-chain-business-advisory/

https://www.state.gov/issuance-of-updated-xinjiang-supply-chain-business-advisory/

FATF REPORT ON EXTREME RIGHT-WING FINANCING HIGHLIGHTS CRYPTOCURRENCY USE

On 30 June, an article in Coindesk reported that FATF has released a report on the ways extreme right-wing groups are financed, which includes a section on cryptocurrency.  It says that virtual assets like bitcoin have been used by extremists who have been gradually shut out of traditional payment platforms, in the same way extreme right-wing groups have been blocked from social media.

https://www.coindesk.com/fatf-report-on-extreme-right-financing-highlights-cryptocurrency-use

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/Ethnically-or-racially-motivated-terrorism-financing.pdf

HONG KONG CUSTOMS SHUTS DOWN HK$1.2 BILLION CRYPTO MONEY LAUNDERING RACKET

On 15 July, the South China Morning Post reported that more than 60% of funds had been funnelled through accounts in Singapore, prompting customs to seek help from authorities there.  It has arrested the suspected ringleader and other members in the first operation of its kind in the city.  About HK$20 million believed to be criminal proceeds earned by the racket had been frozen in bank accounts belonging to the alleged mastermind and 3 shell companies he controlled.  The laundering racket operated from February 2020 to May of this year, with the shell companies opening 3 e-wallet accounts with a local platform to trade in so-called stable coins issued by the cryptocurrency Tether.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3141143/hong-kong-customs-racks-first-bust-cryptocurrency

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/176861/Customs-busts-first-money-laundering-case-involving-virtual-currency

BANKS SMALL IN STATURE, HIGH IN RISK COULD ESCAPE DIRECT EU OVERSIGHT

On 13 July, ACAMS reported that the new EU planned new AML agency will have broad powers to subject the EU’s “riskiest” financial institutions — and their national supervisors — to rigorous scrutiny.  However, the article warns that small lenders which have played a role in many of the international money laundering scandals may escape direct, EU-wide supervision under the EU Regulation, and the agency will instead focus the bulk of its attention on large lenders that have a footprint in at least 7 EU states and are classified as high-risk by at least 4 of those jurisdictions.

https://www.moneylaundering.com/news/banks-small-in-stature-high-in-risk-could-escape-direct-eu-oversight/?type=free

JAPAN:  THE FINANCIAL REGULATOR AND BANK OF JAPAN TO ASSESS BANKS ON AML

On 14 July, Nikkei Asia reported that the institutions will launch a sweeping investigation into how well AML measures work at regional banks and other local financial institutions.  This comes amid reports of a spate of fraudulent money transfers in the country, and a FATF report, scheduled to be released in August, will likely point out inadequate internal control systems at Japanese financial institutions.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Finance/Japan-watchdog-and-BOJ-to-assess-banks-on-anti-money-laundering

SFO FINDS BRIBE NETWORK BEHIND WORLD’S COBALT HUB

On 15 July, Bloomberg Quint reported that the SFO in the UK reportedly have proof of an alleged money laundering ring spanning from Africa to Europe that paid almost $380 million in cash bribes to authorities in the DRC.  $379 million is said to have been allegedly siphoned off in bribes over a 5-year period – more than Congo’s total spending on health care last year.  It is said that the SFO believes that payments for a Gibraltar-registered group of businesses in Congo were “tainted by corruption”.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/u-k-fraud-unit-finds-bribe-network-behind-world-s-cobalt-hub

https://www.statista.com/chart/18527/cocaine-retail-steet-prices-in-selected-countries

TAIWAN: REGULATIONS ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING BY ENTERPRISES HANDLING VIRTUAL CURRENCY PLATFORMS AND TRANSACTION BUSINESS

On 1 July, an article from Lee Tsai & Partners provides details of these Regulations which came into force on 1 July.  The enterprises regulated by the Regulation refer to those which are incorporated in Taiwan and engaged in transactions involving virtual currencies. Affected businesses are required to set up internal control and audit systems for AML/CFT controls, and fulfil the obligations related to AML under the Regulation, including the implementation of procedures such as the verification of customer identity, continuous examination of customer identity, retention of relevant records, and reporting of cash transactions above a certain monetary threshold (NT$500,000), reporting of suspected money laundering or terrorist financing transactions etc.

https://www.leetsai.com/ltp-special-column/scope-of-enterprises-handling-virtual-currency-platforms-and-transaction-business-under-money-laundering-control-act-taiwan

SMUGGLED NATARAJA STATUE ALL SET TO RETURN TO INDIA AFTER 22 YEARS

On 15 July, the Federal reported that a rare sandstone statue of Lord Shiva, is all set to return to India after COVID-19 situation eases in the country.  A long-pending case of idol theft finally saw an important development as the statue is to return to the country after 22 years.  It was stolen from a temple in 1998, and after a difficult journey, it is now with the Indian High Commission in London. The suspected thieves had replaced it with a fake and smuggled the original out of the country.

https://thefederal.com/news/smuggled-nataraja-statue-all-set-to-return-to-india-after-22-years/

SHOCKING ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE EXPOSED IN PODCAST

On 14 July, New Scientist reported that wildlife crime generates up to $23 billion in profits annually, according to conservation group the Environmental Investigation Agency, making it one of the most lucrative illicit activities on Earth.  It says that Wild Crimes, a new 10-part podcast series by the Natural History Museum in London, delves into the origins and workings of the trade.  It reveals some shocking details, while exploring solutions through conversations with a range of experts and other guests.  It explores some of the biggest and most nefarious wildlife crimes – from the ivory trade and eel smuggling across Europe to the sale of orchids on the black market.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25133432-500-wild-crimes-review-shocking-illegal-wildlife-trade-exposed-in-podcast/

AROUND THE WORLD OF FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

On 14 July, Finextra published an article providing an update – following an article of 14 January which had taken a look at foreign investment changes around the globe.  The newest article provides an update on developments since the start of the year.

https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/19754/rounding-out-2020-foreign-direct-investment-regulations

https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/20601/around-the-world-of-foreign-direct-investment

REPRESSION IN NICARAGUA

On 13 July, the Wilson Center released a video in which Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Human Rights Watch/Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco, former President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla, and US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Julie Chung describe Nicaragua’s escalating repression and the stakes for the international community in the November elections.

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/video/repression-nicaragua-ortega-attacks-opposition-run-election

MONUMENT IN BENIN HAS NORTH KOREAN FINGERPRINTS

On Korea JoongAng Daily reported that North Korea’s Mansudae Art Studio is probably behind the construction of a monumental statue in the West African country of Benin, in violation of UN sanctions.

https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2021/07/14/national/northKorea/North-Korea-sanctions-art/20210714182700282.html

BAGHDAD TO LITHUANIA: HOW BELARUS OPENED NEW MIGRATION ROUTE TO EU

On 15 July, EurActiv reported that President Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to flood Europe with migrants, and dozens of mostly Iraqi Kurds have started arriving in Lithuania.  In a cross-border investigation spanning Lithuania, Belarus and Iraq, LRT in Lithuania digs into the new human smuggling route.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/eastern-europe/news/baghdad-to-lithuania-how-belarus-opened-new-migration-route-to-eu/

WTO TAKES IMPORTANT STEPS TOWARDS GLOBAL TRADE RULES FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHING

On 15 July, a news release from the EU welcomed a decision of the WTO, saying that it had held a ministerial meeting on fisheries subsidies, which confirmed the commitment to set the course for a successful outcome on negotiations before the WTO’s Ministerial Conference starting in November 2021.

https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=2289

EU COMMISSION REFERS BULGARIA TO COURT OF JUSTICE FOR FAILING TO CONNECT BUSINESS REGISTER TO EU-WIDE SYSTEMS

A news release from the EU on 15 July advised that the Commission had decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU for continuously failing to connect its national business register to the Business Registers Interconnection System (BRIS), and therefore breaching the relevant EU Directive relating to certain aspects of company law.  The deadline for Bulgaria to connect to BRIS was 8 June 2017. Bulgaria’s failure to connect to BRIS makes it complicated for EU citizens, companies and professionals to obtain relevant information on Bulgarian companies.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_3631

EU COMMISSION REFERS ITALY TO EU COURT OVER FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH INFORMATION EXCHANGE REQUIREMENTS OVER CRIME AND TERRORISM

A news release from the EU on 15 July advised that the Commission had decided to refer Italy to the CJEU for failure to comply with all information exchange requirements set in the EU rules on cross-border cooperation in combating terrorism and cross-border crime (the ‘Prüm Decisions).  They allow Member States to quickly exchange information on DNA, fingerprints and national vehicle registration data, enabling law enforcement authorities to identify suspects and make links between criminal cases throughout the EU.  Member States had to fully implement the rules by August 2011 but, d despite repeated enquiries into Italy’s progress in implementing its obligations, to this date, Italy still does not allow other Member States access to its DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_3423

SAUDI ARABIA ARRESTS 122 OVER FORGERY OF CORONAVIRUS REPORTS

On 15 July, Yeni Safak reported that Saudi Arabia has announced the arrest of 122 people accused of falsifying health reports related to the coronavirus.  Charges of bribery and participation in forgery were brought against 9 employees of the Ministry of Health, 92 patients who managed to change their health conditions, and 21 mediators who coordinated the issue for cash.

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/saudi-arabia-arrests-122-over-forgery-of-coronavirus-reports-3576569

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF MINISTER SEEN AS FAR-RIGHT PATRON

On 15 July, Haaretz reported that the parliament voted to approve the resignation of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, marking the end of a 7½-year tenure marked by allegations of police brutality, corruption and patronage of violent far-right gangs.

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-ukrainian-parliament-accepts-resignation-of-minister-seen-as-far-right-patron-1.10002868

FORMER ROMANIAN STRONGMAN GRANTED CONDITIONAL RELEASE FROM PRISON

On 15 July, Universul reported that a court has granted the conditional release from prison of Liviu Dragnea, the former Social Democrat chairman, the country’s biggest party, after serving 2 years and 2 months of a 3½ year sentence for a corruption-related case.

https://universul.net/former-romanian-strongman-granted-conditional-release-from-prison

8 DETAINED ON SUSPICION OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AT REHABILITATION CENTRE IN LATVIA

On 15 July, LSM in Latvia reported that State Police have detained a group of 8 people in connection with the possible human trafficking at an addiction prevention centre.  Instead of receiving treatment, the people were involved in heavy and prolonged forced labour. The victims had to work in agriculture and forestry, but opportunities to leave the centres were limited.

https://eng.lsm.lv/article/society/crime/eight-detained-on-suspicion-of-human-trafficking-at-rehabilitation-center-in-latvia.a412956

COSTA RICAN BILL SEEKS TO BAN CORRUPT CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES

On 15 July, OCCRP reported that a new Bill would deny construction companies with a history of corruption from participating in new public work projects. The move comes after a bribery network was uncovered in June and aims to make the government contracting process more transparent.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14840-costa-rican-bill-seeks-to-ban-corrupt-construction-companies

5 REASONS FOR RECORD DEFORESTATION IN COLOMBIA

On 14 July, Insight Crime reported that recently published data has shown that deforestation in Colombia soared last year, as a range of illegal activities drove forest loss.  InSight Crime looks at the main activities driving deforestation across Colombia – land grabbing; illegal roads; crop cultivation; illegal mining and; timber trafficking.

https://insightcrime.org/news/reasons-record-deforestation-colombia/

IS ORGANISED CRIME TIED TO HAITI PRESIDENT’S ASSASSINATION?

On 15 July, OCCRP posed this question, saying that a convicted cocaine trafficker is among the suspects that authorities in Haiti are pursuing in connection to the middle-of-the-night murder of former President Jovenel Moïse, raising questions about whether organised crime had any role in the high-profile assault.  Rodolphe Jaar, a former drug smuggler and US DEA informant, is wanted by the national police.

https://insightcrime.org/news/organized-crime-haiti-president-assassination/

SHIPPING INDUSTRY SEEKS TO COMBAT DARK OIL TRANSFERS AT SEA

On 13 July, Marine Link reported that top oil shipping companies say they have tightened operational guidelines and deployed technology to prevent accidental breaches of sanctions, as the countries hit by ever-tougher restrictions fight back with elaborate strategies to dodge them.  Iran and Venezuela have developed sophisticated methods to bypass US sanctions, which are also imposed to a lesser extent by the EU.  As a result, it is harder for shipping companies to avoid facilitating blacklisted exports unwittingly, potentially laying them open to being cut off from the US financial system or even having assets seized.

https://www.marinelink.com/news/shipping-industry-seeks-combat-dark-oil-489132

HANDGUN CUSTOMISED TO LOOK LIKE LEGO TOY

On 14 July, Sky News reported that Culper Precision says it made the Block 19 handgun to “create an opportunity to talk about the enjoyment of the shooting sports”.

https://news.sky.com/story/outrage-as-block-19-handgun-is-customised-to-look-like-lego-toy-with-critics-branding-it-an-abomination-12355746

TERRORISM AND TERRORISM FINANCING IN LATVIA

The Latvia FIU has produced a short guide (in English) explaining what it sees as terrorism and terrorism financing.  It says that according to a national risk assessment report for the period of 2017 – 2019, threats of terrorism financing in Latvia are low, and the vulnerability to terrorism financing is also low. 

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C4E1FAQFyXZqTtZd-gw/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1626337847415?e=1626447600&v=beta&t=FhFdWColTe7Jb2qspb3dr2QkCPWlR-SrwfRa9vJlznE

A NEW US-EUROPE RARE EARTHS SUPPLY CHAIN IS USING A “VERY CHINESE MODEL” TO COUNTER CHINA

On 12 July, an article in Quartz marked a major step in the launch of US-Europe rare earth supply chain that’s aimed at reducing reliance on China for the critical minerals.  The supply chain was first announced in March, bringing together 2 North American companies in a joint initiative to diversify rare earth supplies. Energy Fuels, a major US uranium miner, is processing monazite sands to produce rare earth carbonates, which are then sent to Estonia, where Neo Performance Materials, a Canadian company, has a processing facility to separate the mixed rare earth carbonates into individual elements for use in manufacturing high-tech products.

https://qz.com/2031880/us-eu-rare-earth-chain-uses-china-model-to-hedge-china-dominance/

AUSTRALIAN ORGANISATIONS ARE QUIETLY PAYING HACKERS MILLIONS IN A ‘TSUNAMI OF CYBER CRIME’

On 15 July, ABC News reported that for years Australian organisations have been quietly paying millions in ransoms to hackers who have stolen or encrypted their data.  There has been a 60% increase in ransomware attacks against Australian entities in the past year.  It is said that in the past 6 months alone, the frequency of attacks and the size of ransoms being demanded has increased significantly. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-07-16/australian-organisations-paying-millions-ransomware-hackers/100291542

AMLA 2020 SERIES PART 1 – NEW AND EXPANSIVE BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

On 15 July, US law firm Perkins Cole published the first part of a promised series of articles about the content and effect of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.  Part 1 examines what it says is arguably the most significant implication of AMLA 2020 — a new and expansive requirement to disclose corporate beneficial ownership, set out by the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).

https://www.perkinscoie.com/en/news-insights/amla-act-of-2020-new-expansive-beneficial-ownership-reporting-requirements-under-the-corporate-transparency-act.html

 

 

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SENIOR NASA EMPLOYEE SENTENCED FOR COVID-19 RELATED LOAN FRAUD

A news release from US DoJ on 15 July advised that a Senior Executive Service (SES) employee of NASA was sentenced to 18 months in prison for submitting fraudulent applications for over $350,000 in COVID-19 economic relief loans and benefits.  Andrew Tezna, 36, fraudulently submitted 3 loan applications to 2 financial institutions totalling $272,284, under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/senior-nasa-employee-sentenced-covid-19-related-loan-fraud

 

 

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UK PROCRIBES “THE BASE” RIGHT WING EXTREMIST GROUP

The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2021 comes into force on 16 July and adds The Base to the list of organisations that are proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000.  The Terrorism Act 2006 also provides that an offence in connection with membership of a proscribed organisation have extra-territorial jurisdiction, having effect that where a person takes an action outside of the UK that if done in the UK would have amounted to an offence under the Act, they shall be guilty of that offence.  For some relevant offences providing support and wearing of uniforms and images), they only apply if at the time of committing the offence the person is a UK national or a UK resident.  The Home Office explains that The Base is a predominantly US-based militant white supremacist group, formed in 2018.  It draws influence from a collection of essays which advocate for the use of violence to initiate the collapse of modern society through a ‘race war’ and the subsequent creation of a white ethno-state – this ideology is known as ‘accelerationism’.  It has links with other internationally-based National Socialist groups and individuals and seeks to provide terrorist training, guidance and networking.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2021/853/pdfs/uksi_20210853_en.pdf

 

 

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CANADA: SANCTIONS ON 15 PEOPLE IN RESPONSE TO “ONGOING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS” IN NICARAGUA

On 14 July, a news release from Global Affairs Canada advised that it has imposed sanctions on additional individuals in response to ongoing human rights violations in Nicaragua.  The sanctions involve an asset freeze, a ban on providing financial or related services, and are they are also rendered inadmissible for entry into Canada.

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2021/07/additional-nicaraguan-sanctions.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2021/07/canada-imposes-sanctions-on-additional-individuals-in-response-to-ongoing-human-rights-violations-in-nicaragua.html

 

 

 

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HEZBOLLAH’S MONEY LAUNDERING AND DRUG TRAFFICKING NETWORKS IN LATIN AMERICA

A new report from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel says that Hezbollah has built a well-oiled, multi-billion-dollar money laundering and drug trafficking machine in Latin America that cleans organised crime’s ill-gotten gains through multiple waypoints in the Western hemisphere, West Africa, Europe and the Middle East.  It focuses on the Tri-Border Area (TBA), where the frontiers of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet.  The report sets out to explain how the laundromat works, and what the US can do to stop it.

https://besacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/194web.pdf

 

 

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UNITING GATEKEEPERS AGAINST ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS

The World Economic Forum has produced this paper which introduces the Unifying Framework – a value‑based self‑regulatory framework for private sector intermediaries who are strategically positioned to prevent or interrupt illicit financial flows – collectively referred to as “gatekeepers”.  It consists of 5 core practices and is intended to realise 3 fundamental principles within and across gatekeeping industries worldwide.  The framework provides a mechanism for recognition, ownership, consensus building and collaboration within a diverse community of private sector professionals, from art advisers to bankers to real estate agents, among others.

https@//www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Gatekeepers_A_Unifying_Framework_2021.pdf

 

 

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PETROLEUM PROFITS AND EXPENSIVE ESTATES: EQUATORIAL GUINEA OIL CHIEF’S WEALTH REVEALED

On 15 July, OCCRP reported that the CEO of Equatorial Guinea’s state oil company is accused of skimming petroleum profits, while reporters have linked him to luxury properties around the world.  Antonio Oburu owns properties in Houston, Madrid, Limassol, and Accra via a network of shell companies.  He married into Equatorial Guinea’s presidential family and he and his wife bought Cypriot citizenship via a scandal-hit cash-for-passports scheme.  The power couple running Equatorial Guinea’s national oil company secretly oversee a global property empire –– which reporters discovered hidden behind a veil of shell companies –– that even their hefty pay packages cannot explain.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/petroleum-profits-and-expensive-estates-equatorial-guinea-oil-chiefs-wealth-revealed

 

 

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IKEA LINKED TO ILLEGAL LOGGING IN PROTECTED RUSSIAN FORESTS

On 15 July, a report in OCCRP says that a new investigation has claimed that for over a decade, Ikea has reportedly sourced wood for some of its products from companies guilty of illegally logging millions of pine trees from Russia’s boreal forest – a protected region that is considered pivotal towards efforts to combat climate change.  The Swedish furniture giant announced that it ended the practice in June, after the findings in the investigation were shared with the company.  

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14838-report-ikea-linked-to-illegal-logging-in-protected-russian-forests

The report from Earthsight is at –

https://www.earthsight.org.uk/news/investigations/ikea-house-of-horrors

 

 

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CITIZENSHIP FOR SALE: FUGITIVES, POLITICIANS AND DISGRACED BUSINESSPEOPLE BUYING VANUATU PASSPORTS

On 15 July, The Guardian published an article saying that more than 2,000 people, including individuals sought by police, have purchased passports, and with them visa-free access to the EU and UK.  Among those granted citizenship through the country’s development support program were a Syrian businessman with US sanctions against his businesses, a suspected North Korean politician, an Italian businessman accused of extorting the Vatican, a “bikie” a former member of a notorious Australian motorcycle gang, and South African brothers accused of a $3.6 billion cryptocurrency heist.  The scheme allows foreign nationals to purchase citizenship for $130,000 in a process that typically takes just over a month – all without ever setting foot in the country, and marketed by agencies as one of the fastest, cheapest and most lax “golden passport” schemes anywhere in the world.  The Guardian obtained official documents under FoI and has been able to confirm the identities of dozens of the individuals on the list.  More than half were granted to Chinese nationals. After Chinese, the most common nationality of recipients was Nigerian, Russian, Lebanese, Iranian, Libyan, Syrian and Afghan. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/15/citizenship-for-sale-fugitives-politicians-and-disgraced-businesspeople-buying-vanuatu-passports

 

 

 

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 14

Panama Covid-19 update – oddly, the weekly news conference was delayed until today, due to the Panama-Qatar football match live on TV yesterday…

When the news conference did run it revealed that another 1,515 new cases were reported and 7 new fatalities. All the numbers – active cases, hospitalisations and “hospital hotel” – shows increases. There are 13,643 active cases, 111 in ICU, 652 in other wards and 362 in the hotels.

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14 JULY 2021

HM TREASURY ADMITS TO WIPING DATA FROM OVER 100 DEPARTMENT PHONES AFTER OFFICIALS MADE MISTAKES ENTERING PIN CODES

On 13 July, Panatimes reported that sensitive data from over 100 HM Treasury phones, including text messages related to the Greensill lobbying scandal involving former Prime Minister David Cameron, was deleted after officials apparently entered incorrect PIN.  Its IT team apparently had to reset some 117 of its roughly 2,100 government-issued mobile phones last year – including the work phone of its Permanent Secretary Tom Scholar, according to the Treasury’s response to a Freedom of Information request from the PA news agency.  The revelations are expected to add to criticism of the government’s transparency mechanisms, which have been attacked in recent weeks after it emerged that senior officials may have used personal email accounts to conduct government business.

https://panatimes.com/uk-treasury-admits-to-wiping-data-from-over-100-department-phones-after-officials-made-mistakes-entering-pin-codes


UKRAINE: FORMER DEPUTY DEFENCE MINISTER DETAINED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES

On 12 July, Kyiv Post reported that Ihor Pavlovskiy, former deputy defence minister and high-ranking military general, has been detained on charges of embezzlement in hardware supplies.  According to Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations (GBR), Pavlovsky has become the fourth individual detained as part of the corruption case and officials are suspected of a conspiracy to supply military formations with low-quality hardware in 2016-2018 – with patrol boats and ambulances involved.

https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/former-deputy-defense-minister-detained-on-corruption-charges.html

SHIPPING INDUSTRY SEEKS TO COMBAT DARK OIL TRANSFERS AT SEA

On 13 July, an article from Reuters said that top oil shipping companies say they have tightened operational guidelines and deployed technology to prevent accidental breaches of sanctions.  Iran and Venezuela have developed sophisticated methods to bypass sanctions, it says that one way to evade sanctions is to hide behind the practice of transferring oil from one ship to another at sea, known as a ship-to-ship (STS) transfer.

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/shipping-industry-seeks-combat-dark-oil-transfers-sea-2021-07-13/

A LONDON COUPLE’S LAVISH LIFESTYLE RODE ON THE AZERI LAUNDROMAT

On 14 July, an article from Bloomberg Quint says that the UK authorities investigating wealth belonging to a politically-connected Azerbaijani family had their suspicions were triggered by a raft of “brass plate” companies that funnelled more than double the amount of the couple’s stated income.  A court filing from the NCA gives the most detailed glimpse yet of how dirty money was allegedly funnelled through the UK using a scheme known as the “Azerbaijani Laundromat”, which enabled the flow of about $3 billion in cash.  It also laid out the role of Danske Bank’s Estonia branch and that of Latvia’s ABLV Bank in transferring money to the UK.  The documents were released after the Javadov family agreed to hand over £4 million to end an investigation by the NCA.  It shows how the funds ended up in UK bank accounts, including at Banco Santander and private bank Coutts, via hundreds of transactions from Danske Bank’s Estonia branch or ABLV Bank, once Latvia’s third-largest bank before it was closed over money laundering concerns.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/a-london-couple-s-lavish-lifestyle-rode-on-the-azeri-laundromat

US: 2021 REPORT ON GENOCIDE AND ATROCITIES PREVENTION

A news release from the US State Department on12 July advised that a report had been released under section 5 of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act 2018.  The report highlights countries of concern and whole-of-government efforts undertaken by the Atrocity Early Warning Task Force1 to prevent and respond to atrocities from July 2020 to May 2021.

https://www.state.gov/2021-report-to-congress-pursuant-to-section-5-of-the-elie-wiesel-genocide-and-atrocities-prevention-act-of-2018

US: FORMER BANKER FOUND GUILTY OF BRIBERY TIED TO PAUL MANAFORT LOANS

On 13 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that a federal jury in Manhattan has convicted a former bank executive on charges that he helped by urging a “16 million in loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in exchange for help getting a high-level job in the Trump Administration.  Stephen M Calk was the founder and former chairman of the Federal Savings Bank in Chicago.  It is said that Calk pushed the bank to approve the loans, despite multiple red flags, because he hoped to be named Secretary of the Army.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-banker-found-guilty-of-bribery-tied-to-paul-manafort-loans-11626195439

SPAIN ADOPTS NEW LAW FOR THE PREVENTION AND ACTIONS COMBATING TAX FRAUD

On 13 July, an article from DLA Piper reported on the Law for the Prevention and Actions Against Tax Fraud (Ley de Medidas de Prevención y Lucha contra el Fraude Fiscal) which includes several tax measures which directly affect multinational groups of companies.  To implement in Spanish legislation the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) the Law amends the exit tax and Controlled Foreign Corporations (CFC) rules.  The article details the amendments made, which include the concept of tax havens being replaced by “non-cooperative jurisdictions”.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2021/07/spain-adopts-new-law-for-the-prevention-and-actions-combating-tax-fraud/

EXPORT CONTROLS IN THE UK

On 13 July, an article in the Global Investigation Review detailed the export control regime in the UK. 

https://globalinvestigationsreview.com/guide/the-guide-sanctions/second-edition/article/export-controls-in-the-united-kingdom

ALBANIA TOP DESTINATION FOR “SUSPICIOUS TRANSFERS” FROM ITALY

On 13 July, Exit News reported that Albania was a top destination for the receipt of “suspicious transactions” from Italy in the first half of 2021, according to the Italian Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).  Out of all the countries in the world, the majority went to Albania, Morocco, Romania, and Senegal. These accounted for almost 40% of all reports.  Most of these transfers came from Lombardy, Lazio, Emilia-Romagna, and Sicily.  It is estimated that up to €700 million in illicit funds enter Albania every year.

https://exit.al/en/2021/07/13/albania-top-destination-for-suspicious-transfers-from-italy/

PHILIPPINES’ REAL ESTATE SECTOR HAS A MEDIUM-HIGH VULNERABILITY TO DIRTY MONEY TRANSACTIONS

On 14 July, Philstar Global reported that the real estate sector has a medium-high vulnerability to dirty money transactions due to limited AML/CFT regulation, according to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).  AMLC said it had received 142,562 covered transaction reports (CTR), as well as 5,416 suspicious transaction reports (STR).  The banking sector accounted for 99% of the CTR, with commercial banks corner 85.8% followed by savings and mortgage banks with 9.4%, government banks with 3.2% and private development and rural banks with 1.25%.  While there have been improvements, the AMLC said the overall risk of the real estate sector is still within the medium-high level amid the low level supervision of the sector for AML/CFT, the increase in sector’s threat to money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as the increase in customer risk.

https://www.philstar.com/business/2021/07/14/2112261/real-estate-sector-medium-high-vulnerability-dirty-money

THE STORY BEHIND LITHUANIA’S CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE IN AML

On 14 July, The Paypers reported on the creation of the Centre of Excellence in Anti-Money Laundering and how 5 initial tasks evolved and improved over time.  The Bank of Lithuania and the Ministry of Finance proposed the Centre of Excellence in Anti-Money Laundering; and the idea for this Centre was stimulated by several factors, including the widespread use of modern technologies that are changing the face of the financial sector, recommendations of international organisations (IMF, European Commission, MONEYVAL, FATF) and the goal of implementing the best and most effective AML practices in Lithuania. It was established by the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Lithuania and the country’s commercial banks, and other financial market participants and law enforcement bodies are expected to join in its activities as well.  Its 5 initial tasks were to share information on typologies and helping the financial market to ensure proper risk identification and management; carry out studies, assessments and analyses, as well as prepare guidelines, recommendations, methodologies and legislative initiatives to improve the AML/CFT framework; assist private sector entities in conducting internal AML/CFT risk assessments, and strengthen the competence of public and private sector staff in the field; organise relevant events, including training, seminars, and conferences; and publish information on the implementation of measures.

https://thepaypers.com/expert-opinion/the-story-behind-lithuanias-centre-of-excellence-in-anti-money-laundering–1250371

HMRC DECLARES COVID FURLOUGH FRAUD HAS SURPASSED 6,000 CASES

On 14 July, Reward Strategy reported that, since the UK Government introduced its support scheme known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) at the beginning of the pandemic last year, concerns have risen regards an increase in fraud.  It has been revealed that HMRC has opened 6,150 inquiries into suspected overpayments through CJRS due to error or fraud as of 30 June.

https://www.reward-strategy.com/news/top-stories/hmrc-declares-furlough-fraud-has-surpassed-6k-cases-19524

HEAD OF BOSNIA’S INTELLIGENCE SERVICE DETAINED ON CHARGES OF MULTIPLE WRONGDOINGS

On 14 July, DTT Net reported that Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) had allegedly detained for questioning the head of country’s secret service, Osman Mehmedagic, on charges of diploma forging and also of money laundering.

https://www.dtt-net.com/en/news/3466/39/Head-of-Bosnia-s-intelligence-service-detained-on-charges-of-multiple-wrongdoings

https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnia-intelligence-chief-probe/31358210.html

DEADLINE LOOMING TO SECURE UK PROTECTION FOR EU TRADE MARKS

On 14 July, an article from Out-Law reported that rights-holders of pending EU trade marks (EUTM) and registered Community design (RCD) rights have just a few more weeks to secure UK rights protection.  They have until 30 September to file an application for a UK national trade mark or registered design with the same filing and priority date as the pending EUTM or RCD. 

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/deadline-looming-to-secure-uk-protection-for-eu-trade-marks

SMALL BUSINESSES: HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CYBER INCIDENT, FROM RESPONSE THROUGH TO RECOVERY

The UK National Cyber Security Centre produced in October a guide to response and recovery from a cyber security event.  It sets out to provide small-to-medium-sized organisations with guidance about how to prepare their response, and plan their recovery to a cyber incident. It’s a companion piece to our guidance on how to protect yourself from cyber attacks. 

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C4D1FAQGPCZuYr-9zkQ/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1626257036891?e=1626361200&v=beta&t=PnPLQFh6ll8Ma3bR6ou2_knDKh63GJx9XVtlHX-E37M

MALAYSIA: FORMER PENANG LAWMAKER CLAIMS TRIAL ON 106 COUNTS OF MONEY LAUNDERING

On 12 July, the Malay Mail reported that former Penang assemblyman Datuk Mansor Musa, 58, had been charged with 106 counts of money laundering.  Mansor was a one-term Batu Maung assemblyman from 2004 until 2008 and is the current Bayan Baru Umno division chief.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/07/12/ex-penang-lawmaker-claims-trial-to-106-counts-of-laundering-over-rm11-milli/1989206

SINGAPORE: CONSULTATION PAPER – PROPOSED NEW AML/CFT NOTICE FOR PRECIOUS STONES AND PRECIOUS METALS ACTIVITIES AND UPDATES TO AML/CFT NOTICES

On 9 July, the Monetary Authority of Singapore published a consultation document which explains proposals to issue a new AML/CFT Notice for financial institutions in the conduct of their operations and business activities in precious stones, precious metals and precious products, as well as, to update existing AML/CFT Notices.  The consultation closes on 10 August.

https://www.mas.gov.sg/-/media/MAS-Media-Library/publications/consultations/AMLD/2021/Consultation-Paper-on-the-Proposed-New-AMLCFT-Notice-for-Precious-Stones-and-Precious-Metals-Activities-and-Updates-to-AMLCFT-Notices.pdf

PODCAST: THE NEW CORPORATION: HOW GOOD CORPORATIONS ARE BAD FOR DEMOCRACY

In the latest TRACE podcast, Joel Bakan joins to discuss his books, and the films based on them.  He outlines the fundamental conflict inherent in companies ostensibly committed to ESG principles while simultaneously driven by a legal requirement to maximize shareholder value.

https://www.traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

HOW RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS POSE A NUCLEAR THREAT

On 12 July, an article and audio from XVXU in Cincinnati discusses insider threats at nuclear facilities.

https://www.wvxu.org/post/how-right-wing-extremists-pose-nuclear-threat#stream/0

EU WHISTLEBLOWING DIRECTIVE: CONSIDERATIONS FOR UK ORGANISATIONS

On 13 July, an Insight from Field Fisher says that the 2-year deadline which requires Member States to transpose the Directive’s provisions into national law comes around in December.  It points out that while the UK has such protections since 1999 – thanks to the Public Interest Disclosure Act – the protection afforded in many EU countries applies only to specific industries or disparate groups of employees.  The Directive is therefore being introduced by the EU as a harmonisation process which ensures rigorous protection is afforded to whistleblowers across all Member States.  The Insight informs one of the contents of the Directive and then goes on to consider the impact of the Directive on UK businesses, although following Brexit, the UK is no longer obliged to implement the Directive.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/insights/the-eu-whistleblowing-directive-considerations-for

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/china-displaces-u-s-as-the-eus-largest-trade-partner/

US: EXECUTIVE OF INTERNATIONAL FACTORING COMPANY INDICTED FOR $30 MILLION FRAUD

On 14 July, a news release from US DoJ advised that Pushpesh Kumar Baid (aka PK Jain) had been charged with wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft relating to a scheme to defraud investors in an international factoring company of more than $30 million.  Baid, the former Business Head of the company, was previously arrested in January 2021 on a criminal complaint and will be arraigned on the indictment at a later date.  It is alleged that Baid and his co-conspirators actively misled investors about the nature, operation and investment strategy of an international factoring company and used lies and material misrepresentations to defraud an investment firm responsible for managing funds on behalf of dozens of investors.  The news release explains that factoring involves the sale of an invoice to a third-party for a discount. In a factoring transaction, the seller of an invoice obtains immediate funding from a buyer, and the buyer of an invoice makes a profit when the invoice is paid in full. The company purported to be in the business of buying invoices.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/executive-international-factoring-company-indicted-30-million-fraud

VENEZUELA SAYS ITALIAN COURT ACCEPTS EXTRADITION REQUEST FOR EX-OIL MINISTER

On 14 July, Reuters reported that Venezuelan state TV has reported that an Italian court has approved an extradition request for Venezuela’s former Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is charged with corruption.

https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/venezuela-says-italian-court-accepts-extradition-request-ex-oil-minister-2021-07-14/

US: 3 DEFENDANTS CHARGED IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

On 14 July, a news release from the US DoJ advised that YOSEF COHEN (aka Joe), VAGUE SHAGENOVICH TERGALSTANYAN (aka Vahe and Vic) and IGAL BEN HANAN with conspiracy to commit money laundering. It is alleged that they worked on behalf of organised criminal enterprises operating in several countries around the world, as members of an international organised criminal enterprise that distributed narcotics and laundered money, and the defendants planned money laundering transactions of narcotics proceeds and discussed moving tens of millions of dollars of illicit money on behalf of international criminal organisations. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/three-defendants-charged-organized-crime-money-laundering-scheme

US: GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTING PRIVILEGE IN TAX CASES

On 14 July, an article from Gray Reed says that a recent case in the federal courts serves as a reminder that lawyers must consider privilege at all stages of a tax dispute — including before a dispute arises.  It examines privilege at every stage of a tax issue from pre-controversy to litigation in court.  In the case mentioned, the court upheld, in the face of an appeal, enforcement of a “John Doe” summons issued to the Texas based law firm for specific client identities and other information.

https://www.jdsupra.com/post/fileServer.aspx?fName=aaec2daa-32cc-4d38-81ce-652406f730bb.pdf

US: SPIKE IN “CHAIN GANG” DESTRUCTIVE ATTACKS ON ATM

On 9 July, Krebs on Security carried a post saying that last year financial institutions throughout Texas started reporting a sudden increase in attacks involving well-orchestrated teams that would show up at night, use stolen trucks and heavy chains to rip Automated Teller Machines (ATM) out of their foundations, and make off with the cash boxes inside – there were at least 139 chain gang attacks against Texas financial institutions in the year ending November 2020.  Now it appears the crime is rapidly increasing in other states.  It was only in January that Texas lawmakers introduced legislation that would make destroying an ATM a third-degree felony offence, i.e a crime which is punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (or both).  Meanwhile, overall physical attacks on ATM in Europe have been a lot quieter since the pandemic started.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/07/spike-in-chain-gang-destructive-attacks-on-atms/

A report from the Texas Bankers Association is also available –

https://texasbankers.informz.net/texasbankers/data/images/ATM%20Crime%20Task%20Force%20Report%20NOV%202020%20(FINAL).pdf

and includes tips on preventing such attacks…

 

 

 

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