OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 26

Panama Covid-19 update – the first post-pandemic cruise liner for operations from and around Panama has returned. When the pandemic started a new cruise terminal at the Pacific end of the Canal was under construction (the existing cruise terminal was at Colon at the Caribbean end).

The vaccination programme continues at pace – today another 96,574 doses were administered. meanwhile, the number of active cases are still falling, now being 8,245. Nevertheless there were another 548 new cases and 8 new fatalities reported. 106 people remain in ICU and 288 in other wards, with another 232 in the so-called “hospital hotels”.

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

NOTE: off on wanderings again from tomorrow, so normal service may be (will be) disrupted…off to see the always-busy Canal in operation.

26 AUGUST 2021

SWITZERLAND: 1 PERSONS REMOVED FROM IRAN SANCTIONS LIST AND 2 FROM GUINEA-BISSAU LIST

On 26 August, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Switzerland had amended its sanctions lists, including by the removals of Sayed Shamsuddin Borborudi from the Iran sanctions list, with effect from 18 August, and Bion Na Tchongo and Paulo Sunsai from that relating to Guinea-Bissau, with effect from 24 August. These persons had already been removed from EU sanctions lists.  In the Iran list, 20 entries were also amended – those for 8 individuals and 12 entities.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/08/3-de-listed-by-switzerland/

HAMAS’ SECRET INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO HAS TURKISH INVESTORS UNWITTINGLY SUPPORTING TERRORISM

On 13 August, Euro Weekly reported that hundreds, if not thousands, of retail investors in Turkey have been duped into unknowingly supporting Hamas’ political and military ambitions in the region, by means of a product masquerading as a normal investment fund.  Control is said to be exercised by means of Trend Gayrimenkul Yatirim Ortakligi (GYO), a Turkish foreign capital firm specialising in real estate investment and development and formerly domiciled in Saudi Arabia.  It is claimed that 70% of its ownership has been vested to several high-ranking Hamas operatives through 5 shadowy Trend GYO subsidiary companies. 

https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2021/08/13/how-hamas-secret-investment-portfolio-has-turkish-investors-unwittingly-supporting-terrorism/

CHINESE ALUMINIUM-MAKER DEFIANT DESPITE $1.8 BILLION US FRAUD VERDICT

On 25 August, Nikkei Asia reported on China Zhongwang Holdings, saying that it remained “defiant” despite being one of 6 companies linked to Chinese billionaire Liu Zhongtian that were convicted in the US of disguising aluminium shipments to avoid paying $1.8 billion in customs duties and to boost the value of China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chinese-billionaire-linked-companies-convicted-013200867.html

INDONESIA SEIZES TANKER ACCUSED OF CARRYING STOLEN CAMBODIAN OIL

On 26 August, Nikkei Asia reported that Indonesia has seized the oil tanker MT Strovolos, which Cambodia accuses of carrying 300,000 barrels of stolen crude from it first oil venture.  Indonesia’s navy announced that it had taken into custody the Bahamian-flagged tanker in waters off Indonesia’s Riau islands after a request by the Cambodian Embassy in Jakarta.  It was described as having been “illegally” anchored in Indonesian waters with its transponders turned off. 

https://newsuwc.com/2021/08/indonesia-seizes-tanker-accused-of-carrying-stolen-cambodian-oil/

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/oil-08252021154257.html

VENEZUELA: COMPANY INVOLVED IN OIL-FOR-FOOD PROJECT SEES 2 EXECUTIVES CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT

On 26 August, KYC 360 reported that in 2020 Venezuela entered into a deal with a little-known local company to swap crude for food.  Oil company PDVSA was to deliver more than 6 million barrels of crude worth nearly $260 million to a company named Supraquimic C.A., which was to supply food for a government programme.  Howver, the deal collapsed when PDVSA accused 2 executives linked to Supraquimic with embezzling the proceeds. 

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/venezuela-swapped-pdvsa-oil-for-food-then-punished-the-dealmakers/

$50 MILLION CRYPTO FRAUD COMPLAINT AGAINST MALTA COMPANY FOUNDED BY OLYMPIC MEDALLIST

On 26 August, Malta Today reported that retired Olympic speed skating champion Apolo Ohno and companies in Cyprus, Hong Kong, Malta, and Singapore are being sued in California for an alleged $50 million crypto fraud.  The allegations dating from 2018 include securities fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, promissory fraud, unjust enrichment, fraudulent conveyance, and the sale of unregistered securities.

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/business/business_news/111602/50_million_crypto_fraud_complaint_against_malta_company_founded_by_olympic_medallist

DANSKE BANK DEFEATS APPEAL IN US OVER MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL

On 26 August, KYV 360 reported that the bank and its executives have defeated an appeal in the US by shareholders claiming they were defrauded because the Danish bank allowed widespread money laundering at its former Estonian branch.

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/danske-bank-defeats-appeal-in-u-s-over-money-laundering-scandal/

UK: FCA SAYS BINANCE IS ‘NOT CAPABLE’ OF BEING EFFECTIVELY SUPERVISED

On 25 August, Business Insider reported that the FCA has published a notice which said Binance Markets Limited, a London-based affiliate of Binance, failed to supply further information about its business model and wider product offerings, among other requests.  In response, Binance said its website is operated outside of the UK and therefore does not fall under the country’s regulations concerning money laundering, terrorist financing, and transfer of funds.  It is said that Binance, which was founded in 2017, does not have a formal headquarters. While it was founded in China and officially domiciled in the Cayman Islands, the firm is mostly present online, something authorities have taken issue with.

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/currencies/binance-uk-fca-risk-financial-regulation-crypt-exchange-changpeng-zhao-2021-8

UN LEGACY TO FIGHT CORRUPTION CRUMBLES IN GUATEMALA

On 25 August, an article in Pass Blue from the UN said that when Guatemala’s Attorney General recently removed the anti-corruption leader Juan Francisco Sandoval from his post as the special prosecutor against impunity, her action ended the last semblance of prosecutorial independence generated by one of the most successful projects run by the UN: the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).  This was established after an intense campaign led by Guatemalan civil society groups, who were concerned that the criminal networks entrenched in the country’s government institutions could derail its fragile democracy after it ended one of the worst civil wars in Latin America. The networks were the remnants of the military and its associates. 

https://www.passblue.com/2021/08/25/a-highly-respected-un-legacy-to-fight-corruption-crumbles-in-guatemala/

CAMEROON ALONE CAN’T STOP ILLICIT ARMS FLOODING INTO THE COUNTRY

On 26 August, the Institute for Strategic Studies carried an article saying that, in the face of a separatist conflict and violent extremism, Cameroon must secure help from neighbouring Nigeria and Chad.  The African Union Commission’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council estimates at least 120,000 small arms and light weapons in illegal circulation in Cameroon.  It is said that there is evidence that suggests a strong link between arms trafficking into Cameroon and an upsurge in crime in the capital Yaoundé and the country’s two Anglophone North-west and South-west regions, where there is ongoing insurgency and separatist conflict.  Cameroon has a long history as a source, transit and destination country for arms trafficking, but has made limited resources available for deploying soldiers and police to the unstable north.

https://issafrica.org/iss-today/cameroon-alone-cant-stop-illicit-arms-flooding-into-the-country

TURKISH BAYRAKTAR TB2 DRONES MAINLY USE COMPONENTS MANUFACTURED OUTSIDE TURKEY, INCLUDING MANY US PARTS

On 25 August, Hetq in Armenia reported that the drone, used in Azerbaijan’s war with Armenia, used at least 6 key parts manufactured by US companies.  It says that Hetq has previously written about the Canadian, Austrian, British, French and German parts used on the UAV.  It uses a Canadian-made surveillance and targeting system, as well as a radio transmitter and amplifier.

https://hetq.am/en/article/134966

WHY US MERCENARIES SHOULD NOT BE LEGAL

On 26 August, an article in War on the Rocks pointed out that no US law currently restricts or prohibits US persons from serving in a foreign mercenary force – only the US government is restricted from hiring mercenaries.  However, the Neutrality Act makes it illegal for any person “within the United States” to take part in “any military or naval expedition or enterprise” carried out from the US against a friendly country.  Meanwhile, the UK, France, Germany, and South Africa all have domestic laws that restrict their citizens from serving as foreign mercenaries.  The article says that the Biden Administration should amend US export regulations to expand the definition of “defense services” to cover US-based mercenaries.  An amendment to arms trafficking regulations might also be an effective and practical approach, as opposed to seeking to pass a new statute via Congress.

https://warontherocks.com/2021/08/soldiers-of-fortune-why-u-s-mercenaries-should-not-be-legal/

GERMAN COURT: RUSSIA MUST SPLIT UP NORD STREAM 2

On 26 August, EU Observer reported that Russia will have to split up control of its new gas pipeline to Germany under EU anti-trust rules, in a court ruling seen as a victory by Ukraine.  Gazprom, the Russian state gas-supplier which owns the pipeline, will have to cede day-to-day running of its operations to an independent third party.

https://euobserver.com/world/152727

US INDICTS DUBAI-BASED NIGERIAN FRAUDSTER ‘SHADOW WALKER’ FOR WIRE FRAUD

On 26 August, the People’s Gazette reported that Nigerian Olusegun Akinlade (aka ‘Shadow Walker’) has been indicted by the US DoJ for credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft conspiracy.  Akinlade, who resides in Dubai, is still on the run.

https://gazettengr.com/u-s-indicts-dubai-based-nigerian-fraudster-shadow-walker-for-wire-fraud

SHANGHAI COURT SENTENCES 2 MEN FOR CAMBODIAN-BASED VoIP FRAUD

On 26 August, CNE reported that the 2 men received sentences of 15 and 14 years, having been involved in fraud whereby members of various fraud gangs impersonated customer service staff, bank staff, financial personnel and leaders of the company, as well as police officers and prosecutors. 

https://cne.wtf/2021/08/26/shanghai-court-sentences-men-for-cambodian-based-voip-fraud/

UK: HIGH-PROFILE SOLICITOR’S FIRM SHUT DOWN OVER DISHONESTY SUSPICIONS

On 26 August, the Law Society Gazette reported that a prominent solicitor specialising in actions against the state is being investigated over suspicions of dishonesty.  The Solicitors Regulation Authority confirmed that it had intervened into the practice of Soophia Khan and closed down her Leicester practice, Sophie Khan & Co Ltd.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/high-profile-solicitors-firm-shut-down-over-dishonesty-suspicions/5109598.article

HOW AVIATION SUPPORTS THE FIGHT AGAINST THE ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

On 25 August, Simple Flying published a report that looks at some of the initiatives taken within the aviation industry to help combat this devastating trade. In 2016, the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) unanimously endorsed a resolution that denounced the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, and pledged to partner with government authorities and conservation organisations in the fight against trafficking of rare species.  61 airlines have also directly signed up for the ‘United for Wildlife’ Transport Taskforce.  It also refers to ROUTES – Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species – which brings together transport and logistics companies, government agencies, development groups, law enforcement, conservation organisations, academia and donors in an attempt to disrupt wildlife trafficking.

https://simpleflying.com/aviation-illegal-wildlife-trade/

UK TO OVERHAUL DATA PROTECTION RULES IN POST-BREXIT DEPARTURE FROM GDPR

On 26 August, the Guardian reported that the UK will attempt to move away from EU data protection regulations as it overhauls its privacy rules after Brexit.  However, any changes will be constrained by the need to offer a new regime that the EU deems adequate, otherwise data transfers between the UK and EU could be frozen.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/aug/26/uk-to-overhaul-privacy-rules-in-post-brexit-departure-from-gdpr

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/uk-data-protection-reform-planned

UK: LIMITED SUCCESS FOR FRAUDSTERS IN CONFISCATION ORDER CHALLENGE

On 26 August, Legal Futures reported that the Court of Appeal has largely rejected appeals against confiscations orders made in 2019 and totalling £8.3 million against the 3 people jailed for conspiracy to defraud legal expenses insurer DAS.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/limited-success-for-das-fraudsters-in-8m-confiscation-order-challenge

ISLE OF MAN: FURTHER SECTOR SPECIFIC AML/CFT GUIDANCE

On 26 August, the FSA published Sector Specific Guidance Notes in respect of compliance with the AML/CFT Code 2019:  and for Investment Business and Convertible Virtual Currency Activity.

https://www.iomfsa.im/amlcft/amlcft-requirements-and-guidance/

NGO URGE GREECE AND BANGLADESH TO STOP ILLEGAL BEACHING OF FERRY FOR BREAKING UP

On 26 August, Hellenic Shipping News reported that another passenger ship is heading towards the shipbreaking beaches of South Asia, in clear violation of European rules that are aimed at preventing the trade of toxic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries.  Before its departure from Greece, the new owners changed the flag of the vessel from Cyprus to Togo, and then from Togo to Comoros, in what is described as a typical preparatory step prior substandard breaking.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/ngos-urge-greece-and-bangladesh-to-stop-illegal-beaching-of-ferry/

CLAIM THAT OXYGEN COMPANIES PUT PROFIT BEFORE PATIENTS BY SPREADING DISINFORMATION IN MEXICO

A report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism on 26 August claimed that, amid devastating shortages, Mexico’s 2 main suppliers of liquid oxygen have been accused of spreading fear, doubt and misinformation about onsite oxygen plants, deterring hospitals from switching to cheaper and more convenient supplies, with the effect of protecting their own profits in the process.  Both companies falsely claimed that onsite oxygen plants could kill patients.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2021-08-25/oxygen-companies-put-profit-above-patients-by-spreading-misinformation-in-mexico

AFGHANISTAN: HOW MUCH OPIUM IS PRODUCED AND WHAT’S THE TALIBAN’S RECORD?

On 25 August, the BBC produced a report examining opium production in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s record.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58308494

US BITCOIN ATM OPERATORS SET UP ASSOCIATION TO COUNTER MONEY LAUNDERING

On 26 August, Coin Telegraph reported that major Bitcoin ATM operators in the US are joining forces to fight illicit activity related to Bitcoin ATM.  The Cryptocurrency Compliance Cooperative (CCC) was launched with support from major blockchain analytics companies, such as Chainalysis and Elliptic, among its 15 initial members.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-atm-operators-set-up-association-to-counter-money-laundering

MALI: FORMER PM BOUBEYE MAIGA ARRESTED OVER CORRUPTION CLAIMS

On 26 August, Al Jazeera reported that Mali’s former prime minister, Boubeye Maiga, has been arrested for his role in the purchase of a presidential aircraft during the rule of deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. He served as prime minister 2017-2019 and is seen as a possible candidate in the presidential vote that interim authorities promise to hold next year following Keita’s removal as president last August.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/26/mali-ex-pm-boubeye-maiga-arrested-over-corruption-claims

US: 101 INDICTED IN TRANSNATIONAL CELL PHONE TRAFFICKING CONSPIRACY

A news release from US DoJ on 26 August advised that the case involves the illicit sales of over 70,000 stolen cellular devices valued at nearly $100 million.  The charges include conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce; interference with interstate commerce; use or brandishing of a firearm during a crime of violence; conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce; mail fraud conspiracy; wire fraud conspiracy; and money laundering conspiracy.  The gang allegedly stole various personal electronic devices in Texas and exported them for sale overseas.  The thefts involved armed robberies of cellphone stores in Texas, and the goods were shipped to foreign import companies located in the UAE and Hong Kong.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edtx/pr/101-indicted-transnational-cell-phone-trafficking-conspiracy

HISTORY AND THE RECOGNITION OF THE TALIBAN

An article on Lawfare on 26 August considers the background to whether or not to recognise the emerging Taliban regime as Afghanistan’s new government. It points out that this is not the first time that the international community have faced these questions – there was the Taliban’s last rise to power in the 1990s, and that after more than a decade in which Afghanistan had no recognised government, at least from the perspective of the US and many others.  It explains what “recognition” is and offers a historical perspective, noting that for at least the last 2 decades of the 20th Century, the US did not recognise any government as being able to speak on Afghanistan’s behalf.  The last US ambassador of the 20th Century took up his post in 1978, but was kidnapped and killed 8 months later. The article says that while, in many ways, Afghanistan is beginning to look very much like it did before the US intervened in 2001, whether this means the US and others in the international community will return to their old habits remains less clear.  It concludes that, for better or worse, the past 40 years of Afghan-US relations suggest that there is no easy route for incorporating the Taliban into the international community; and it predicts an outcome whereby a Taliban regime may well be in effective control of the country but for which formal recognition by the majority of the international community remains perpetually over the horizon.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/history-and-recognition-taliban

THE KABUL TO DUBAI PIPELINE: LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE KABUL BANK SCANDAL

In July 2020, the Carnegie Center published this report – part of a larger report on Dubai’s role in facilitating corruption and illicit financial flows.  It says that for almost 2 decades, billions of dollars in corruption proceeds have been funnelled from Afghanistan to Dubai.  It says, with some prescience, that these outflows have played a part in stunting Afghanistan’s economic and political development, facilitating the resurgence of the Taliban, and exacerbating regional instability.  It appeared that the story of the Kabul Bank scandal began with the 2010 revelation that the bank’s leadership and a handful of political elites had embezzled close to $1 billion through fraudulent loan schemes.  For others it began much earlier than 2010, well before the bank received its Afghan banking licence under murky circumstances back in 2004 and even before the Taliban was driven out of Kabul in late 2001 – and actually began in Russia during the mid-1980s, when a young Afghan named who was studying at a Moscow textile institute started a small hawala out of his dorm room. 

https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/07/07/kabul-to-dubai-pipeline-lessons-learned-from-kabul-bank-scandal-pub-82189

SOUTH AMERICA’S LITHIUM TRIANGLE: OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION

On 17 August, an article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that, as the impacts of climate change ripple across the globe, lithium’s importance as a strategic mineral will increase exponentially to become an essential component for the clean energy systems of the future. It says that trends indicate that control of the lithium industry could reap major benefits in the future, which will likely increase the geopolitical contention between great powers.  Latin America is the region of the world with the largest amount of lithium, and the “Lithium Triangle” is a lithium-rich region in the Andean south-west corner of South America, spanning the borders of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile and forming a geographic triangle of lithium resources underneath their salt flats, with around 58% of the world’s lithium resources are found in these 3 countries.  It says that the Biden administration has ample reason to collaborate with Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile in the fight against climate change, and warrants increased attention from the administration because of its outsized impact on the future of green technology and the transition to cleaner sources of energy.  The article says that, through a combination of strategic investment, targeted research, and effective diplomacy in partnership with the Lithium Triangle countries, the Biden administration could strengthen the imperative of combating climate change in its foreign policy agenda, strengthen its hand in the unfolding competition with other great powers, and furnish more clean energy opportunities in the region.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/south-americas-lithium-triangle-opportunities-biden-administration

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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