On 8 December, Rferl reported that Bosnia-Herzegovina’s top court has confirmed the indictment of Selmo Cikotic, the Balkan country’s security minister, who is accused of abusing his official position over the irregular sale of weapons and military equipment a decade ago when he held the post of defence minister. He had been defence minister 2006-2012. He is alleged to have deprived the state of about $5.6 million 2009-11 by unlawfully changing the terms of a contract for the sale of surplus outdated weapons, ammunition, and military equipment in order to favour the buyer, a Croatian company.
On 8 December, Infosecurity Magazine reported that a new report on identity fraud has found that passports are now the most frequently attacked form of identity document; and over the past year, passports overtook national identity cards as fraudsters’ favourite ID to forge. It is also said that over 90% of ID fraud in the past year involved counterfeit documents using a complete reproduction of an original document, instead of adapting an existing ID.
A news release from the US State Department on 30 November advised that, in the wake of the Cuban regime’s actions targeting peaceful demonstrators on 15 November, the Department has imposed visa restrictions on 9 Cuban officials which it says is implicated in attempts to silence the voices of the Cuban people through repression and unjust detentions.
On 8 December, the US Treasury announced that OFAC has designated 16 individuals and 24 entities across several countries in Europe and the Western Hemisphere under Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse. Those targeted include a Northern Kosovo-based transnational organised crime (the Zvonko Veselinovic and his organised crime group) and officials linked to organised crime in El Salvador.
On 8 December, the FCPA Blog reported that Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited (REEL), and its managing director, M Goutham Reddy, are ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by the World Bank Group during the 20-month debarment. The debarment also qualifies for cross-debarment by the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the African Development Bank.
A report from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime says that there are 186 States parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, the only truly global anti-corruption instrument and the most comprehensive international agreement, with its innovative chapters targeting corruption from the angles of prevention, criminalisation and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance. It is nearly 10 years since the launch of the Implementation Review Mechanism in 2010, and it is said to be time to take stock of the impact of the Review Mechanism in the global fight against corruption. It is said that the country reviews have produced a worldwide, comprehensive and detailed analysis of what challenges countries and regions face and what solutions they found to address them.
On 7 December, Stable Seas published a report saying that pirate groups concentrated in the Niger Delta earn perhaps $5 million of direct income per year through theft and hostage-taking. The majority of this income – nearly $4 million per year – is stolen and extorted from non-African entities seeking the release of non-African hostages. It says that these low direct costs to African nations have created the perception among some that Gulf of Guinea piracy and armed robbery are greater problems for international shipping companies and foreign seafarers than they are for African nations. This report shows that this perspective is misguided. Gulf of Guinea nations are facing significant direct, indirect, and opportunity costs related to the presence of piracy and armed robbery. These costs occur on a scale that is thousands of times greater than what is paid to pirates in ransoms each year.
On 8 December, ICIJ reported that the Europol director has said in an interview that the Pandora Papers showed that criminals were using offshore jurisdictions where there were “few rules and little supervision”. A Europol report warns the scale of money laundering activities affecting the EU has been underestimated, and calls for a coordinated approach to combat the illicit activities exposed by the investigation.
Following the leak of documents, Europol undertook its own analysis to understand the significance of the Pandora Papers for its own work and for the wider law enforcement sector. This has been collated into a report that contextualises the Pandora Papers amongst similar major leaks of financial data, and details policy recommendations that arose from analysis.
The Council of Europe’s FATF-style regional body, MONEYVAL, has released the 2nd follow-up report on the Czech Republic, following the 2008 mutual evaluation review of the country. It is said that it has improved the measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, demonstrating substantial progress in its level of compliance with FATF standards. However, although the country is making commendable progress to address most of the technical compliance deficiencies after the adoption of the mutual evaluation report, more efforts remain necessary to fully implement international standards. The Czech Republic has achieved full compliance with 6 of the 40 FATF Recommendations. Minor deficiencies remain in the implementation of 29 Recommendations where it has been found “largely compliant”. 5 Recommendation (targeted financial sanctions, virtual assets, cash couriers and maintenance of statistics) remain “partially complaint”, and the Czech Republic has no “non-compliant” ratings. The Czech Republic will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to report back to MONEYVAL on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures, and it is expected to report back in 1 year’s time.
On 7 December, Moneyval, the FATF-style regional body, said that Andorra has achieved full compliance with 9 of the 40 FATF Recommendations. It retains minor deficiencies in the implementation of 28 Recommendations where it has been found “largely compliant”. 3 recommendations (new technologies, powers of law enforcement and international instruments) remain “partially compliant”, but Andorra has no “non-compliant” ratings. Following up the original 2017 evaluation, the report is the 3rd follow-up report. Andorra will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to report back to MONEYVAL on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures. Andorra is expected to report back in 1 year’s time.