OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 3

Panama Covid-19 update – just 1 new fatality reported today, as active cases fall below 2,000 for the first time in many many months – at 1,913. 128 new cases take the total recorded since the start of the pandemic to 473,005 (of a population of perhaps 4.3 million). There are 30 patients in ICU and 145 in other wards.

3 NOVEMBER 2021

UK: SFO DROPS PROBE OF INDIVIDUALS IN AMEC BRIBERY CASE

On 1 November, BNN Bloomberg reported that the SFO had closed its investigation into individuals over bribery at Amec Foster Wheeler Plc, after the company’s parent company settled the 4-year probe earlier this year. John Wood Group Plc, which acquired Amec in 2017, agreed to pay $177 million as part of a agreement with authorities in the US and UK to settle the investigation in June.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-k-fraud-cops-drop-probe-of-individuals-in-amec-bribery-case-1.1675103

FACEBOOK SAYS IT JUST UNCOVERED ONE OF THE LARGEST TROLL FARMS EVER — RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT OF NICARAGUA

On 1 November, Business Insider reported that researchers had uncovered hundreds of accounts linked to the Nicaraguan government that were focused on slandering its political opposition.  At least 1,300 accounts on Facebook and Instagram had been removed for being part of an operation targeting critics of President Daniel Ortega and the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front. The “media brands” were also found on Tiktok, YouTube, Blogspot, and Telegram.

https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-said-uncovered-troll-farm-run-by-nicaraguan-government-2021-11

NIGERIA’S AML/CFT FRAMEWORK DEFICIENT

On 2 November, The Sun in Nigeria reported that FATF-style regional body the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has said that Nigeria’s recent second round mutual evaluation has found that the AML/CFT framework is deficient.

https://www.sunnewsonline.com/nigerias-anti-money-laundering-counter-terrorism-financing-framework-deficient-giaba/

2 COMPANIES WITH SINGAPORE OPERATIONS NAMED IN PANDORA PAPERS WERE UNDER MAS WATCH

On 3 November, Yahoo News reported that 2 licensed trust companies with operations in Singapore were already under “intense scrutiny” by the local authorities before they were named in the Pandora Papers.  One of the companies, Asia City Trust Singapore, had paid a composition penalty of $1.1 million imposed by MAS in July 2020 for its failure to implement adequate AML/CFT policies and procedures. The other, Trident Trust Companies Singapore, was directed by MAS in September 2020 to fix weaknesses detected in its risk assessment controls.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/2-companies-singapore-operations-pandora-papers-mas-watch-110837470.html

US: MARYLAND MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD SCHEME PURPORTING TO SELL COVID-19 VACCINES

On 2 November, a news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that Odunayo “Baba” Oluwalade, 25, has pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud conspiracy in connection with a scheme purporting to sell COVID-19 vaccines by fraudulently replicating the website of a biotech company that has an authorised COVID-19 vaccine.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/maryland-man-pleads-guilty-fraud-scheme-purporting-sell-covid-19-vaccines

UK BRIEFING: MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS

On 2 November, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing an overview of a change in the law and the debate on medicinal cannabis products.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8355/CBP-8355.pdf

On 3 November, Global Trade Review reported that the Bank of Communications has accused Chinese oil trader Sinopec, the world’s second-biggest company by revenue, of fraud in a legal row over 4 letters of credit extended in 2019.  Police in Shanghai are also investigating the alleged fraud and 3 further letters of credit extended by other banks in similar circumstances.

https://www.gtreview.com/news/asia/chinas-bank-of-communications-accuses-sinopec-of-fraud-in-legal-row

UK: NOTORIOUS DARK WEB ADMINISTRATOR ORDERED TO HAND OVER MORE THAN £490,000 AMASSED FROM CRIMINAL ACTIVITY

A news release from the NCA on 2 November advised that an unemployed university drop-out, jailed for running a dark web business selling illegal drugs, has been ordered to hand over more than £490,000 in bitcoin.  Thomas White, now 26, took over the running of the notorious dark web site Silk Road after it was first closed in 2013. 

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/notorious-dark-web-administrator-ordered-to-hand-over-more-than-490k-amassed-from-criminal-activity

US RETURNS TO INDIA 248 STOLEN ANTIQUITIES WORTH $15 MILLION

On 2 November, OCCRP reported that US authorities have returned 248 pieces of looted art worth around $15 million to India after most of the artifacts were seized from suspected art smuggler Subash Kapoor, who ran a gallery in New York.  Kapoor was arrested in 2011 in Germany for smuggling and was extradited to India in 2012 where he is currently on trial.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15422-u-s-returns-to-india-248-stolen-antiquities-worth-15-million

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST ONLINE SCAMMERS

On 3 November, a news release from Europol advised that online shoppers need to be more vigilant than ever as organised crime groups continuously adapt their online fraud methods to exploit both citizens and e-commerce companies. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/love-online-shopping-here%E2%80%99s-how-to-protect-yourself-against-online-scammers

NEW ZEALAND: IVERMECTIN IMPORT ATTEMPTS GROW 5 TIMES DESPITE WARNINGS AGAINST USE

On 3 November, Stuff reported that Invermectin has been touted as a Covid-19 treatment or cure, but there is little evidence to support those claims.  However, there has been a sharp increase in attempted importations of the drug into New Zealand – from 51 in the month of August to 245 in September.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300444030/covid19-ivermectin-import-attempts-grow-five-times-despite-warnings-against-use

US: FENTANYL SEIZURES AT BORDER DOUBLE OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS

On 2 November, the New York Post reported that seizures of​ fentanyl at the southern border have spiked over the past 12 months, doubling the amount of the drug confiscated a year earlier.  1 kg of fentanyl ​is equivalent to 500,000 lethal doses and the seizures represent 2.5 billion doses prevented from entering the country. 

https://nypost.com/2021/11/02/fentanyl-seizures-at-border-double-over-past-year-report/

NEW ZEALAND GANG LEADERS UNITE TO URGE COMMUNITY TO GET COVID SHOTS

On 3 November, the Guardian reported that 7 New Zealand gang leaders, representing 4 of the country’s most well-known street gangs, have joined forces in a video urging their communities to get vaccinated, in a concept that was conjured up by a government minister.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/03/new-zealand-vaccines-gang-leaders-unite-covid-shots

ILLEGAL CIGARETTES PRODUCED WITH SLAVE LABOUR IN BRAZIL

On 2 November, an article from Insight Crime says that authorities have rescued 17 Paraguayan nationals and a Brazilian that had been kept at an illegal underground cigarette factory in the town of Triunfo, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, according to a police news release. The victims were held in a bunker and sent food every 2 days.  The factory – made to appear as a cereal plant – produced about 10 million packs of cigarettes per month to be sold on the black market in Uruguay and Brazil.

https://insightcrime.org/news/illegal-cigarettes-produced-with-slave-labor-in-brazil/

NORTH KOREA AND CHINA RESTART RAIL FREIGHT ENDING PANDEMIC TRADE BAN

On 2 November, Radio Free Asia reported that North Korea and China have resumed cross-border rail freight shipments.  Trains are once again moving from Dandong, China, across the Yalu River border to Sinuiju, North Korea, and business is booming. 

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/freight-11022021193033.html

ITALY ARRESTS 103 IN ANTI-MAFIA OPERATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

On 1 November, OCCRP reported that Italian authorities arrested 103 suspects in a sweeping anti-Mafia operation – with suspects accused of crimes including mafia association, criminal association for the sale of drugs, drug dealing, extortion, kidnapping and robbery.  Included was exploitation of workers on farms, with some 30,000 Sikh workers largely from India found to be labouring under exploitative conditions on farms.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15400-italy-arrests-103-in-anti-mafia-operations-across-the-country

NESTLE, MARS AND HERSEY ACCUSED OF ‘USING CHILD LABOUR TO GET CHEAP COCOA’

On 2 November, The Independent reported that court filings in the US claim that 7 major cocoa companies ‘should have known’ about alleged child labour in their supply chains.  The lawsuit has been brought by 8 Malian citizens who claim they were trafficked as children to the Cote D’Ivoire to work on cocoa plantations.

https://www.independent.co.uk/world/nestle-mars-hersey-cocoa-child-slaves-b1948199.html

https://eminetra.co.uk/nestle-mars-and-hershey-accused-use-child-labor-and-get-cheap-cocoa-in-a-new-court-document/788128/

SCOTTISH ADVOCATES’ SUPERVISORY BODY REPORTS ON AML ACTIVITIES

On 2 November, Scottish Legal News reported that the Faculty of Advocates has presented its first annual report on AML supervisory activities.  It says that as advocates are not permitted to hold client monies and as the majority of their instructions come from solicitors rather than clients, they are generally classified by Faculty as being low risk in terms of the AML regulations.

https://www.scottishlegal.com/article/faculty-reports-on-aml-activities

PODCAST: “STRONGMEN: MUSSOLINI TO THE PRESENT”

In the latest TRACE podcast, Ruth Ben-Ghiat joins the podcast to discuss her book “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present”, which examines 100 years of authoritarian rule. She describes the characteristics of a strongman and the strange virility cult surrounding these leaders before turning to the central role of corruption in the autocrat’s playbook.

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

FERRARI: INDIVIDUAL PARTS OF A WHOLE PRODUCT MAY BE PROTECTED AS UNREGISTERED COMMUNITY DESIGNS

On 3 November, a post from Field Fisher advised that the EU’s CJEU had given its ruling in Ferrari v Mansory Design and for the first time ruled on the conditions in which the individual parts of a whole product may be protected as unregistered Community designs.  The ruling clarifies that it is not necessary for them to make available each part of a product separately to take advantage of unregistered Community designs protection..

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/services/intellectual-property/intellectual-property-blog/a-win-for-ferrari-and-owners-of-community-unregist

NORTHERN IRELAND: DIRECTOR DISQUALIFIED AFTER COMPANY EVADES VAT IN EXCESS OF £15 MILLION

On 3 November, Armagh i reported that a company director has been banned for 12 years after his company was involved in evading £15million in VAT.  Caolan McArdle, 33, was a director of a food and drink company that went into liquidation in 2017 with an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £2,583,784.  From July 2014 the Company participated in transactions connected with the fraudulent evasion of VAT. 

https://www.armaghi.com/news/markethill-news/markethill-director-disqualified-after-company-evades-vat-in-excess-of-15m/147932

SWISS BANKS TAKE ON FRAUD WITH TOUGH COMMODITY FINANCE STANDARDS

On 3 November, Global Trade Review reported that 10 major banks from Switzerland’s commodity and trade finance sector have finalised a best practice guide aimed at avoiding a repeat of the fraud and insolvency scandals that shook the sector last year.  The Swiss Trading & Shipping Association (STSA) published the guide in October.  The STSA guide recommends banks “abstain… from financing circular transactions which aim at creating liquidity”, and suggests they “raise as a red flag” attempts to do so by traders. 

https://www.gtreview.com/news/europe/swiss-banks-take-on-fraud-with-tough-commodity-finance-standards/

UKRAINE: STATE TAX SERVICE OFFICES SEARCHED AND CORRUPTION SUSPECTED

On 3 November, the Kyiv Post reported thatauthorities have accused the State Tax Service of engaging in corrupt schemes — protecting tax evaders and helping fake companies. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Special Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) searched divisional tax offices throughout the country, as well as suspects’ homes.

https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/state-tax-service-offices-searched-corruption-suspected.html

NORTHERN IRELAND: EMPLOYEE WHO STOLE £1.9 MILLION FOR ‘LUXURY LIFESTYLE’ JAILED

On 3 November, the BBC reported that Julie McBrien, 47, committed 26 counts of fraud and money laundering over an 8-year period. She was in charge of finances but despite enjoying a good salary, she filtered cash from the company, bringing it to the verge of collapse.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-59150064

THAILAND: MAN SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON FOR EXPORTING USED MEDICAL GLOVES AND EQUIPMENT TO THE US

On 3 November, Newsweek reported that a Thai man was sentenced to 4 years in prison after being found guilty of producing and shipping used or low-grade medical gloves and equipment to the US.  The sentencing is said to be part of a larger crackdown in Thailand on a surge in fraud connected to rubber gloves.

https://www.newsweek.com/man-gets-4-years-prison-exporting-used-medical-gloves-equipment-us-1645579

MAN CHARGED IN $100 MILLION COVID-19 HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME

A DoJ news release on 3 November advised that a Grand Jury in Arkansas has returned an indictment charging a man who owned or managed numerous diagnostic testing laboratories with health care fraud in connection with over $100 million dollars in false billings for urine drug testing, COVID-19 testing, and other clinical laboratory services between February 2017 and May 2021.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdar/pr/lavaca-man-charged-100-million-covid-19-health-care-fraud-scheme

IS LUKASHENKA MIMICKING PUTIN’S WEAPONISING OF ORGANISED CRIME?

On 3 November, an article from the Atlantic Council posed this question, saying that a former Belarus establishment insider turned dissident has said the Lukashenka regime has sent organised crime figures to Europe to target exiled Belarusian dissidents. 

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/belarusalert/is-lukashenka-mimicking-putins-weaponization-of-organized-crime

MEXICAN JUDGE ORDERS EX-PEMEX BOSS LOZOYA TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

On 3 November, News 18 and others reported that a judge has ordered that Emilio Lozoya be taken into custody pending his trial for alleged corruption.  He was extradited from Spain in July 2020.

https://www.news18.com/news/world/mexican-judge-orders-ex-pemex-boss-lozoya-taken-into-custody-4401521.html

DIGITAL YUAN: CHINA RECORDS FIRST CASE OF MONEY LAUNDERING

On 3 November, Cryptopolitan reported that news had emerged that Chinese officials have cracked down on a criminal group connected to a money laundering charge. The group reportedly scammed a person for 200,000 yuan (about $32,000) and used a digital yuan wallet to launder the funds.

https://www.cryptopolitan.com/digital-yuan-china-records-criminal-use-case/

US: PIONEER BANK STRENGTHENING MONEY LAUNDERING CONTROLS AFTER FRAUD

On 3 November, the Times-Union reported that after one of Pioneer Bank’s biggest business customers admitted to a $101 million bank fraud scheme, federal regulators are said to have found the bank’s AML controls to be “fundamentally and materially deficient”.  Pioneer Bank lost $36 million due to the scheme, making it the biggest victim in the case.  It has also been sued in civil court, forcing the bank to defend itself against accusations that it failed to adequately monitor relevant transactions.

https://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Pioneer-Bank-told-to-strengthen-money-laundering-16588684.php

 

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.buymea3coffee.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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