A news release from US DoJ on 29 October advised that, after 7 years of extradition hearings, Farhia Hassan, 38, had been extradited to the US to face charges stemming from her alleged participation in a terrorist financing ring in support of the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab. It is alleged that she was involved with a group of women from more than a dozen countries around the world who ran a fundraising ring to provide financial support to al-Shabaab from in or about February 2011 through in or about July 2014.
On 29 October, The South African reported that Brice Laccruche Alihanga, 41, a once-powerful chief of staff under Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after a high-profile trial sparked by an anti-corruption crackdown. He had become a powerbroker in the oil-rich state after Bongo suffered a stroke in October 2018 and spent months convalescing abroad.
On 29 October, OFAC announced that it had designated members of a network of companies and individuals that have provided critical support to the UAV programmes of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its expeditionary unit, the IRGC Qods Force (IRGC-QF). OFAC is also designating Saeed Aghajani, the commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force (IRGC ASF) UAV Command. The IRGC-QF is said to have used and proliferated lethal UAV for use by Iran-supported groups, including Hizballah, HAMAS, Kata’ib Hizballah, and the Houthis, and to Ethiopia, where the escalating crisis threatens to destabilise the broader region. Lethal UAV have been used in attacks on international shipping and on US forces.
On 28 October, an article from Insight Crime says that Chile has become a convenient exit point for illegal gold from the Amazon, with Dubai emerging as a consistent destination for such shipments. Leaders from 3 groups, part of a so-called “Gold Cartel were recently arrested for smuggling over 500 kg of gold from Chile to Dubai in UAE.
The UN Office on Drugs & Crime has published an update on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 targets. Some show some progress, but others show little improvement. Among its findings is that oly one third of firearms collected between 2016 and 2019 could be successfully traced to the point of diversion into the illicit market. It finds that bribery is 5 times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, and it affects citizens interacting with essential public services and the COVID-19 pandemic may further exacerbate the problem. Some progress is visible in the reduction of ivory trafficking, but traffickers are shifting away from ivory to more lucrative products like pangolin scales.
On 27 October, a briefing from the EU Institute for Strategic Studies quotes the EU’s 2020 Security Union Strategy, which says that ‘trafficking in cultural goods has become one of the most lucrative criminal activities and a source of funding for terrorists as well as organised crime’. It says that the wider ways in which the legitimate art market can be exploited for nefarious purposes such as sanctions evasion and money laundering are relatively understudied. It says that a closer scrutiny of the art market is an important step in combating the major security threat that stems from the link between organised crime and terrorist groups. The Brief examines 4 ways in which the art market serves illicit groups: money laundering; financial accumulation in safe havens like freeports; commercialisation through galleries and auction houses of cultural objects tainted by illegality; and use of cultural objects as collateral and/or payment for drugs or weapons. It assesses the structural factors that facilitate these processes, particularly the market’s commercial, valuation, authentication, transport and legitimation dynamics.
Panama Covid-19 update – the UK has announced that it will remove Panama (and others) from its Red List from 1 November…but the UK being considered a high-risk area, it is still on Panama’s Red List!
Today, for the second consecutive day, no fatalities were reported. There were 140 new cases, with 2,202 active cases, with 32 in ICU and155 in other wards.
28 OCTOBER 2021
BOY WHO SET UP A FAKE WEBSITE AS PART OF A “SOPHISTICATED CYBER FRAUD” HAS HAD MORE THAN £2 MILLION OF CRYPTOCURRENCY SEIZED BY POLICE
On 27 October, the BBC reported that the 17-year-old used it to dupe users of a digital gift voucher site into entering their personal details. He stole £6,500 worth of vouchers and used the proceeds to buy Bitcoins. The teenager was handed a 12-month rehabilitation order.
Tilleke & Gibbons has produced a guide that provides insight into the legal frameworks relating to parallel imports in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Each section examines the relevant laws and regulations that pertain to parallel imports and explores the remedies available to IP owners in each country. Finally, the guide presents some strategies to combat parallel importation and maximize IP protection in SE Asia. Parallel imports are branded goods imported into a domestic market and sold there without the consent of the IP owner.
NORTH KOREAN SPYING ON UN SANCTIONS EXPERTS AND THE UN BUREAUCRATS AND DIPLOMATS WHO OVERSEE THEIR WORK
On 28 October, Foreign Policy published an article on activities targeting UN experts and officials, including cyberattacks against the UN Panel of Experts and hacking of the experts’ personal and UN accounts. Today, the experts receive as many as 3 or 4 hacking attempts a month, via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms, disguised as messages from Chinese diplomats, journalists, colleagues, and others. This underscores the challenges faced by an ad hoc team of financial, maritime, and weapons experts. The threats were not coming only from North Korea. Experts were also concerned about leaks of their internal findings to China and Russia, which each had a representative on the panel.
THE ROUTE FROM IRAQ TO BELARUS: HOW ARE MIGRANTS GETTING TO EUROPE?
On 27 October, a report from Deutsche Welle says that, since the beginning of October, there have been 11,300 attempts to illegally enter Polish territory from Belarus. So far this year, around 23,000 such attempts have been registered.
MONEY LAUNDERING A ‘SYSTEMIC DEFECT’ IN LATIN AMERICAN TRADE
On 27 October, Global Trade Review reported that trade-based money laundering (TBML) is one of the primary channels used to launder the proceeds of Latin American criminal activity, including narcotics trafficking and corruption, according to researchers.
NETHERLANDS: BANK SAYS THAT COFFEESHOPS NEED TO PAY 1,000% MORE FOR AML COSTS
On 28 October, NL Times reported that ABN Amro is passing the extra costs it incurs due to money laundering inspection obligations on to its riskier business clients. From 1 January, all coffeeshops will pay 1,000% more for their business bank account. The rates will increase from 9.90 euros to 110 euros per month, and already apply to new customers. Coffeeshops are establishments where the sale of cannabis for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities.
JERSEY COURT RELEASED DETAILS OF ART ENTREPRENEUR ‘SERIALLY DISHONEST’ DEALINGS
On 27 October, Artnet reported that London-based entrepreneur Andrew Valmorbida was hit with a civil lawsuit for breach of contract by financier Christian Hore in Jersey earlier this year. Following a trial in the Royal Court, they settled on confidential terms this past summer, before a judgment was reached. However, unusually the court had released a summary which says that the proceedings showed Valmorbida as “a man who was serially dishonest….When he was cross-examined, he was revealed to be dishonest, evasive, and accepted that he had both used and created false documents”.
SHIJIAN-21: CHINESE SATELLITE CRUSHER OR SPACE DEBRIS CLEANER?
On 28 October, the Asia Times reported on the recent launch of a space vehicle involving a new satellite that analysts say can be used as a weapon capable of grabbing and crushing US satellites, but which the Chinese say is designed to clear debris in orbit.
On 28 October, an article from RUSI argues that the current policy approach towards North Korea is failing to improve the security situation, and that it must be urgently reassessed and reframed. It asserts that the current policy approach led by the US is failing to improve the security situation and urgently needs to be reassessed and reframed. Sustained dialogue must become a key component of policy.
ALBANIAN FORMER MINISTER CHARGED OVER DEADLY 2008 BLAST
On 28 October, ABC News reported that prosecutors have brought charges against former defence minister Fatmir Mediu over a massive blast at a munitions disposal factory in 2008 that killed 26 people. The same charge was dismissed in 2009 because of his immunity from prosecution as a re-elected member of parliament, but parliamentary immunity from criminal cases was abolished in 2012. In 2012 a court convicted and jailed 19 people over the explosion.
OFSI FINES UK-BASED FINTECH PAYMENTS COMPANY FOR RUSSIAN SANCTIONS VIOLATION
On 28 October, a post from HIS Markit reported that the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has enforced a fine of £50,000 to TransferGo Limited, a fintech payments company, in regard to apparent violations of Russian sanctions. Between 2018 and 2019, TransferGo Limited issued instructions for 16 payments totalling just over £7,500 to be made to accounts held at the Russian National Commercial Bank (RNCB).
US CUSTOMS SEIZES COUNTERFEIT DESIGNER WATCHES WORTH $26 MILLION
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 27 October said that on 10 September officers discovered 2,168 counterfeit designer watches, with 54 more on 21 October. They originated in China and Turkey.
CYBER SCAMS 2.0 – NEW TIPS TO HELP BOOST YOUR CYBER SKILLS
On 28 October, a news release from Europol advised that Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the European banking Federation (EBF) have launched Cyber Scams 2.0, a reviewed and updated version of the 2018 Cyber Scams campaign. Over the following 2 weeks new materials, available in 8 languages, will be promoted on social media channels by national law enforcement agencies, banking associations and other cybercrime fighters.
CHINESE TECH GIANT HUAWEI HAD SECRET OFFSHORE CONTRACTS WITH MEN LINKED TO SERBIAN STATE TELECOM COMPANY
On 28 October, OCCRP reported that Huawei appears to have paid large sums to a former Serbian state telecom executive through an offshore shell company. This information came to light through the Pandora Papers leaks.
On 27 October, an article from Control Risks says that understanding a sovereign state’s asset profile will form a critical part of the dispute resolution strategy for any party pursuing a remedy for contract frustration via litigation or alternative dispute resolution. It says that enforcing an award against a sovereign state presents unique challenges for counsel and investigators. The sovereign immunity doctrine, which emanates from the concept of sovereign equality and independence of states, protects most state-owned assets from being seized.
A SUMMARY OF CAYMAN CORPORATE AND PARTNERSHIP REGISTERS IN A FINANCE TRANSACTION
On 27 October, Appleby published a guide to the various Cayman exempted company, limited liability company and exempted limited partnership registers in the context of a finance transaction, and saying that it hopes that it can serve as a useful go-to guide for transactions involving Cayman entities.
On 28 October, Out-Law published an article about the regime which requires directors at many businesses operating in the country to register for an identity number online and requires employers to keep a record of their identity number.
ISLE OF MAN FSA PUBLISHES ENHANCED INSPECTIONS GUIDANCE
On 28 October, a news release advised that the FSA had enhanced its inspection methodology which will be applied on all inspections undertaken by the Authority. The guidance provides an overview of how firms are selected for an inspection and what they can expect during the different stages of the process.
UK: HOUSE BUYERS AND BUSINESSES WARNED OF PAYMENT DIVERSION FRAUD
On 25 October, a news release from the NCA said that the National Economic Crime Centre has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of payment diversion fraud (PDF), aka as Business Email Compromise (BEC) or Mandate Fraud. Working with partners in the National Crime Agency, City of London Police, UK Finance and Cifas, the multi-agency campaign aims to help SME businesses and home-buyers protect themselves.
$200 MILLION IN GOLD EXTRACTED IN AMAZON MINE THROUGH ILLEGAL LICENCES
A report from Mongabay on 25 October claimed that while a gold mine hidden in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon generated nearly $200 million in revenue in just over a year for Gana Gold Mineração, according to Brazil’s National Mining Agency (ANM), Gana Gold is also suspect for extracting 32 times more gold than their projected estimates.
On 28 October, the Society said that it had updated its AML Supervisory Annual Report, building on the interim version published in February 2021, highlighting the work undertaken between April 2020 and April 2021 in fulfilling its supervisory obligations as per the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations 2019.
NORTH KOREANS EAGER TO WORK IN RUSSIA BRIBE OFFICIALS OR CHEAT TO PASS PHYSICALS
On 28 October, Daily NK reported that, with North Korean authorities soon set to dispatch North Korean laborers to Russia, some applicants are apparently bribing officials to pass the physical or faking results. This is said to result in many of the workers are reportedly so underweight as to classify as malnourished.
AUSTRALIA: AUSTRAC LIMITED WHEN REGULATING OVERSEAS TERRORISM FINANCING VIA ONLINE PLATFORMS
On 25 October, an article in ZD Net reported that Austrac representatives said that far-right extremists were increasingly using online platforms, such as Telegram and cryptocurrency exchange platforms, to fund their operations – but due its remit only being financing activity within Australia’s banking system, the agency’s CEO said its scope for catching financing of terrorism activities could often be limited. Meanwhile, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general said current trends indicate that espionage and foreign interference would supplant terrorism as Australia’s principal security concern, despite terrorism continuing to remain as a key threat. He said that almost half of the agency’s domestic onshore counter-terrorism caseload was focused on far-right extremism.
2 FORMER GERMAN SOLDIERS ARRESTED OVER ALLEGED TERROR PLOT IN YEMEN’S WAR
On 20 October, the BBC reported that they were arrested on suspicion of trying to form a terrorist mercenary force to fight in Yemen’s civil war. They are said to have wanted Saudi Arabia to finance their private operations in Yemen.
On 28 October, Fintech Futures reported that Nigerians can now sign up for an e-wallet and use the eNaira as both a medium of exchange and a store of value. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the digital currency offers “better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments”.
US INDICTMENT ALLEGES CORRUPTION IN VENEZUELAN FOOD-AID PROGRAMME
On 22 October, an article from Kharon said that a former Venezuelan governor, a Colombian businessman, his son and 2 others were charged in an indictment accusing them of laundering the proceeds of contracts to provide food and medicine to Venezuela they had obtained through bribery. The case centres around Venezuela’s scandal-ridden food aid programme – Comité Local de Abastecimiento y Producción (CLAP).
IN THE AMAZON: NEW FRONTIERS IN BRAZIL’S ORGANISED CRIME LANDSCAPE
On 25 October, CSIS published an article saying that 3 major groups currently vie for power in Brazil’s Amazonas state, following the disintegration of a decades-long truce. While the results have been localised in Amazonas state, its effects have been felt throughout the region and the world as Brazilian criminal groups expand their operations throughout Latin America and beyond. It is said to be more than a mere clash between Brazil’s transnational organised crime groups. It is a threat to regional stability and imperils neighbouring Latin American countries.
ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA AND THEIR EFFECTS (PART I)
On 28 October, the New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia published the first of a 2-part series which examines the effect of sanctions on Russia since the takeover of Crimea in 2014. It reviews the recent literature on the economic effects, saying that the emerging consensus seems to be that sanctions have had a detrimental effect on Russia’s economic performance during the past years. However, it says that their relative significance pales in comparison with the effects of oil prices on the Russian economy. Sanctions seem to have worked mostly through reducing Russian companies’ access to foreign finance and unilateral sanctions – i.e. sanctions not coordinated with the EU – by the US have increased uncertainty related to many Russian companies. This it says can have adverse economic effects going forward.
RUSSIAN ACCUSED OF BEING PART OF CYBERCRIME RING EXTRADITED FROM SOUTH KOREA TO US
On 28 October, CNN reported that Vladimir Dunaev, 38, accused of being part of cybercrime ring that infected millions of computers worldwide was arraigned in federal court in Ohio after being extradited from South Korea. He is accused of being part of a transnational criminal group that since 2015 has tried to steal millions of dollars from victims in the US and elsewhere.
HONDURAN NATIONAL CHARGED WITH TRANSNATIONAL COCAINE TRAFFICKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING EXTRADITED TO THE US
A news release from US DoJ on 28 October advised that Fredy Donaldo Marmol Vallejo, 40, has appeared in federal court in Miami after being extradited from Honduras. He is accused of involvement in drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed cocaine in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico, with the goal of getting the drug into the US. The indictment further charges him with laundering the proceeds of this drug trafficking activity.
NIGERIA: CORRUPT PUBLIC OFFICIALS LAUNDER MONEY USING REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS
On 28 October, Punch reported that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has disclosed that corrupt public officials use real estate investments to hide ill-gotten wealth. The claim was made at a hearing before the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating operations of real estate developers in the Federal Capital Territory. One case cited involved the recovery of 241 houses from a public officer and another in which authorities recovered 60 buildings on a large expanse of land from a public officer.
UNDERMINING EFFORTS TO PREVENT THE PROLIFERATION OF WMD: INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE ON THE CHEAP
On 27 October, an article from the Stimson Center argues that sustained U.S. financial investment in organisations and initiatives that curb WMD proliferation benefits US national interests and global security. It says that constrained and sometimes arbitrary financial support from states to many international organisations, particularly those with critical international security functions, risks short-changing their long-term confidence and makes balanced and objective planning difficult.