OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 26

Covid-19 update – found myself irritated and annoyed today by those who we presumed were probably American tourists in the old city today who don’t seem to understand –

It is the law that you wear a face mask when in public, not just inside a building; and

How a face mask works – it goes on your face, not your arm, and it covers your nose as well!

It was noticeable that those we took to be locals were properly masked. I would have thought, as a visitor, a tourist should follow the local requirements out of courtesy, or at least for fear of fouling foul of a vigilant police officer…and with Omicron having been identified here, there’s no sense in taking unencessary risks.

To underline the above, 5 new fatalities reported today and 563 new cases. Active cases up 88 to 6,632; with 19 in ICU and 136 in other wards. to date, official records show 487,767 cases reported since March 2020, equating to around 8% of the country’s population.

 26 DECEMBER 2021

4 IRISH FAMILIES MAKE HUGE PROFITS FROM ILLICIT PUPPY SMUGGLING TO UK

Extra in Ireland reported on 26 December that a handful of Irish families are believed to be responsible for running a multi-million-euro puppy smuggling operation that is flooding Scotland with sick and dying young dogs.  The pandemic and lockdowns have fuelled an explosion in demand for puppies in the UK, leading to skyrocketing prices, booming black-market breeding, and deteriorating animal health and welfare.

https://extra.ie/2021/12/26/news/irish-news/four-irish-families-make-huge-profits-from-illicit-puppy-smuggling-to-uk

TENNIS MATCH-FIXING: 6 MOROCCAN MEN BANNED FOR MULTIPLE OFFENCES

On 15 December, the BBC reported that 1 Moroccan tennis player has been banned for life and 5 others have received lengthy suspensions and fines after being found guilty of a variety of match-fixing charges.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/africa/59657237

COLOMBIAN POLICE ARREST 3 FOR SELLING ENDANGERED SEA TURTLES

On 23 December, OCCRP reported that Colombian police had announced the arrest of 3 members of an organised crime group engaged in the capture, death, and sale of critically endangered turtles.  Officers recovered 140 kg of hawksbill sea turtle meat from the suspects, valued at approximately US$20,035.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15713-colombian-police-arrest-three-for-selling-endangered-sea-turtles

ISRAEL: HIGH COURT UPHOLDS LIKUD MP PLEA DEAL IN CORRUPTION CASE

On 26 December, the Times of Israel reported that Israel’s top court had rejected a petition filed against a plea deal cut between Likud MK Haim Katz and prosecutors in November, which saw the lawmaker avoid prison time, after being indicted for corruption in a downgraded charge. He had been was accused of advancing a Bill on corporate bond repayment sought by a financial consultant who was a close friend and financial adviser to Katz himself, and which benefited the adviser financially once it became law.  Katz was also accused of concealing a conflict of interest in the case.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/high-court-upholds-likud-mks-plea-deal-in-corruption-case

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LATVIA CASE STUDIES: INDICATORS OF CORRUPTION AND CASE ANALYSIS

This publication from the Latvian FIU comprises 2 halves – Red Flag indicators of corruption and case analysis: from the point of view of foreign countries and international organisations; and Red Flag indicators of corruption and case analysis: suspected corruption cases in Latvia.  It provides a list of red flag indicators of corruption and/or laundering of the proceeds of corruption in the particular context of transactions and behaviour.  Each group of signs is supplemented with a particular case analysis.

https://www.fid.gov.lv/uploads/files/2021/korupcijas%20materi%C4%81ls/INDICATORS%20OF%20CORRUPTION%20AND%20CASE%20ANALYSIS.pdf

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BRITAIN’S MOST WANTED: THE 13 UK NATIONALS HUNTED BY INTERPOL

On 26 December, the Mail Online published an article listing those British nationals, from accused terrorists to paedophiles, alleged fraudsters, money launderers and drug smugglers, among the world’s most wanted criminals. There are currently 7,000 people worldwide who have ‘Red Notices’ served on them by the international policing operation. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10136611/Who-Britains-wanted-fugitives-13-UK-nationals-hunted-Interpol.html

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 25

Panama Covid-19 – signed off too early for yesterday’s data and, as feared, not too cheerful (though compared to many other places, not that bad). Numbers of new cases per day continue to rise, 865 reported yesterday, ditto active cases (up 626 at 5,858), 3 new fatalities reported but hospital numbers remaining on the low side (17 in ICU, 141 in other wards), but the percentage of positive results in testing to a high not seen since the end of August (11,945 tests with 7.2% positive).

Meanwhile, today’s news reports police breaking up 2 illegal street parties in the Pueblo Neuvo district of Panama City; this as 9 new cases of Omicron confirmed (with 17 more suspected). While there are suggestions that the data might indicate a “fourth wave”, the rebound in cases, hospitalisations and deaths due to the virus do not show alarming growth, it is claimed, although as one epidemiologist is quoted as saying that prudence must be maintained due to the presence of more contagious variants, such as Ómicron.

Today’s data no more cheery than yesterday – 827 new cases, 6,365 active cases (up 507), 2 new fatalities, 20 in ICU and 145 in other wards.

25 DECEMBER 2021 

FORMER DIRECTOR OF MACAO PUBLIC WORKS IN CUSTODY FOR ALLEGEDLY TAKING BRIBES AND MONEY LAUNDERING

On 25 December, Macao News reported that Li Canfeng, the former director of Macao’s Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) has been remanded in custody.

https://macaonews.org/law-crime/li-canfeng-former-director-of-macao-public-works-in-custody-for-allegedly-taking-bribes-and-money-laundering

DEFENDANT RETURNED TO US TO FACE CHARGES FOR ALLEGED SCHEME TO DEFRAUD THE KUWAITI EMBASSY

A news release from US DoJ on 23 December advised that Ahmed El Khebki, 62, a naturalised US citizen originally from Egypt and Sudan, was returned to the US by Egyptian authorities; and alleged that he and his co-conspirators carried out a scheme to defraud the Kuwaiti Embassy Health Office in Washington DC, which arranged and paid for services provided by US medical providers to Kuwaiti citizens who travelled to the US for medical care. 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/defendant-returned-egypt-united-states-face-charges-alleged-scheme-defraud-kuwaiti-embassy

DUBAI POLICE FOIL AN ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE 1.1 MILLION CAPTAGON PILLS WORTH DH58 MILLIONS HIDDEN IN REFRIGERATED LEMON SHIPMENT

On 23 December, Gulf News reported that Dubai police had arrested 4 men who were residents in the UAE who tried to smuggle the illegal pills in a refrigerated container containing boxes of lemon.  The drugs were hidden in plastic containers in the lemon shipment.

https://gulfnews.com/uae/dubai-police-foil-an-attempt-to-smuggle-captagon-pills-worth-dh58-millions-hidden-in-lemon-shipment-1.84579301

TURKEY FREEZES ASSETS OF OVER 700 INDIVIDUALS

On 25 December, Hurriyet Daily News reported that Turkish authorities have frozen the assets of 771 individuals and institutions over their alleged links to terror groups under a law that establishes measures on prevention and combating money laundering and terrorism financing.  Among those affected is the US-based Niagara Foundation and people associated with the 2016 coup attempt.

https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-freezes-assets-of-over-700-terror-linked-individuals-170310

THE SECRET ‘FORCED LABOUR’ MIGRATION ROUTE FROM VIETNAM TO THE UK

A report from the Guardian on 25 December starts with 500 Vietnamese construction workers who were allegedly found last month in Serbia working in conditions of forced labour with their passports confiscated and living in cramped and degrading conditions.  However, it is said that the factory was only the first stop in a much longer journey towards the UK and Europe for many of the workers found at the factory.  At all stages along the way, Vietnamese workers are highly likely to fall into forced labour or debt bondage, often charged up to £30,000 for passage to the UK.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/dec/25/revealed-the-secret-forced-labour-migration-route-from-vietnam-to-the-uk

THE STRANGEST SCAMS OF 2021

On 25 December, Which? In the UK published an article saying that for every sophisticated scheme spun by scammers, there are the more preposterous attempts which are capable of raising a smile – even in these worrying times – from caves stuffed with ‘gold and crystals’ to random windfalls from Hollywood actors.

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/12/the-strangest-scams-of-2021/

UK: LAW COMMISSION WORK ON SMART CONTRACTS

On 22 December, the Oxford University Faculty of Law blog carried a post from a research assistant at the Law Commission which sets out to provide a brief overview of the project and our conclusions.  It also discusses, as an illustration, an area where the law can be incrementally adapted to support the use of smart legal contracts – interpreting smart legal contracts—‘the reasonable coder’ test.

https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/business-law-blog/blog/2021/12/law-commissions-work-smart-legal-contracts

TARGETING GUN VIOLENCE AND TRAFFIKCING IN EUROPE

On 13 December, the Flemish Peace Institute published this report, the fruit of Project Target – a comprehensive research project that explores the links between the different types of firearms trafficking and gun violence in all EU Member States and the Western Balkans.  It posed the question: How does illicit firearms trafficking impact gun violence in Europe?  The Project aims to improve the understanding of gun violence in Europe and the relationship between gun violence and firearms trafficking.

https://vlaamsvredesinstituut.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/TARGET-OnlineVersion.pdf

https://vlaamsvredesinstituut.eu/en/target/

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US FARMS MADE $200 MILLION VIA HUMAN SMUGGLING AND LABOUR TRAFFICKING OPERATION

On 25 December, the Guardian reported on 2 dozen defendants indicted on federal conspiracy charges in October 2021 based on findings from a multi-year investigation into a massive human smuggling and labour trafficking operation based in southern Georgia that extended to Florida and Texas, and where workers were smuggled in from Central American countries to the US and imprisoned as contracted farm workers.  It found that the conspirators forced workers to pay fees for transportation to the US, food, and housing through the H2-A work visa programme, while withholding their travel and identification documents and forcing them to work for little to no pay in inhumane living conditions.  They laundered the money through land, homes, over a dozen vehicles, the purchase of a restaurant and nightclub, and through a casino. Over 100 workers were freed from the operation.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/25/us-farms-made-200m-human-smuggling-labor-trafficking-operation

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 24

Panama Covid-19 update – too early for the latest data – although I expect another (hopefully modest) increase in the numbers. Meanwhile, the media reports that a total of 1,739patients with the Covid-19 virus were admitted to a modular hospital located in Albrook from 11 June 2020 to 13 December 2021, and known as the Panama Solidario Integrated Hospital.

198 Selective Merry Christmas Images With Gifts Of Happiness - Parryz.com

24 DECEMBER 2021

RESEARCH REVEALS UK’S MOST VULNERABLE AREAS FOR FRAUD

On 23 December, Business daily reported that research undertaken by anti-fraud specialists SEON, has revealed the areas with the highest rates of business fraud per 100,000 people.  The City of London has the highest rate of corporate fraud per 100,000 people in the country.  Nottinghamshire has the second-highest rate of corporate fraud, and in third place, is North Yorkshire.  Durham has the highest average losses per report of business fraud 

https://bdaily.co.uk/articles/2021/12/23/research-reveals-uks-most-vulnerable-areas-for-fraud

SOUTH KOREA: PARDON FOR FORMER PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE

On 23 December, Nikkei Asia reported that South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pardoned his disgraced predecessor Park Geun-hye, 69, for the sake of national “harmony,” just months before a presidential election. She was convicted of abuse of power and coercion in 2018 after she was impeached the previous year, and was her country’s first democratically-elected leader to be forced from office.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/South-Korea-s-Moon-pardons-former-President-Park-Geun-hye

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-59777757

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/24/park-geun-hye-to-receive-pardon-for-corruption-as-south-korean-president

EU: TOP COURT ISSUES FIRST-EVER JUDGMENT ON THE EU BLOCKING STATUTE AGAINST US SANCTIONS

On 22 December, Mayer Brown published an article about a case involving Bank Melli of Iran and in which it interpreted the so-called “Blocking Statute,” which seeks to protect operators in the EU against the effects of the extra-territorial application of certain sanctions adopted by the US.  It says that the court adopted a pragmatic approach by confirming that the risk of disproportionate losses could be considered as part of a proportionality test when determining which remedy should apply against a decision taken in breach of the Blocking Statute; but that nonetheless, EU operators are likely to continue being caught between a rock and a hard place and face difficulties navigating conflicting sanctions laws in the US, EU and other jurisdictions.  The article notes that steps are already being taken to upgrade the Blocking Statute, and that the EU has published an inception impact assessment on 2 August, and a public consultation on 9 September 9 which ran until 4 November.

https://www.mayerbrown.com/en/perspectives-events/publications/2021/12/eu-top-court-issues-firstever-judgment-on-the-eu-blocking-statute-against-us-sanctions

https://sanctionsnews.bakermckenzie.com/cjeu-rules-on-interpretation-of-the-blocking-regulation/

CHINESE SOCCER PLUNGES DEEPER INTO CRISIS

On 24 December, Nikkei Asia carried an article about the problems facing soccer in China in the wake of the Evergrand collapse, with 11 out of 16 Chinese Super League teams backed by real estate companies which have tremendous liquidation issues with government’s stricter policies to curb the market.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Spotlight/Chinese-soccer-plunges-deeper-into-crisis

SENIOR MANAGERS AT TAIWAN ELECTRONICS FIRM AU OPTRONICS INDICTED FOR SCAM

On 24 December, Taiwan News reported that 2 senior managers at AU Optronics and a partner have been indicted for a scam which cost the company US$86.49 million over 7 years.  They bought AUO product at a low price before reselling them with profit, and used money laundering techniques to process payments and used the accounts of unwitting relatives and spent the money on property.

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4387900

ISLE OF MAN GAMBLING OPERATOR COAXED OLDER PEOPLE TO BET THOUSANDS

On 22-23 December, the Guardian and others reported the case of Isle of Man-based IMME, saying that it contacted older people and persuaded them to bet tens of thousands of pounds on lottery results.  IMME (International Multi-Media Entertainments Limited), which trades as Lotteries.com and The Lottery Centre, committed extensive breaches of its gambling licence, according to the UK Gambling Commission.  However, because IMME and its senior staff surrendered their licences, the Gambling Commission can take no further action against them.  The company was still running a lottery ticket syndicate business, which it does not require a Gambling Commission licence to do.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/22/gambling-firm-coaxed-older-people-to-bet-thousands-to-escape-sanctions-isle-of-mann-imme

DRUG CRIME: STATISTICS FOR ENGLAND AND WALES

On 23 December, a Research Briefing from the House of Commons Library published a report saying, among other things, that in 2018/19, there were around 48,800 disposals given (cases dealt with) for drug offences.  Between 2008/09 and 2018/19, the proportion of drug offenders receiving a caution fell from 46% to 30%. In the same decade, the proportion of drug offenders sentenced increased from 9% to 16%. It notes that 2018/19 is the latest available figures for caution data, due to the pandemic limiting the collection of data by the Ministry of Justice.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9039/CBP-9039.pdf

EX-DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS REMANDED IN CUSTODY OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

On 24 December, the Macau Post reported that a former director of Macau’s Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSOPT) has been remanded in custody, the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) said in a statement.  The Commission Against Corruption had accused the ex-director of bribe-taking, money laundering and document forgery. 

https://www.macaupostdaily.com/article12876.html

BRAZILIAN NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY TO ROLE IN NATIONWIDE RIDESHARE AND DELIVERY ACCOUNT FRAUD SCHEME

A news release from US DoJ on 21 December announced that Flavio Candido da Silva, 36, a Brazilian national has pleaded guilty in connection with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with rideshare and delivery service companies.  In May, da Silva was charged along with 18 co-defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud by using stolen identities and falsified documents to create fraudulent driver accounts for rent or sale to individuals who might not otherwise qualify to drive for the rideshare or delivery services.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/brazilian-national-pleads-guilty-role-nationwide-rideshare-and-delivery-account-fraud

REPORT: THE SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES THAT IMPAIR THE CREATION OF A SHARED UNDERSTANDING OF CYBERCRIME COOPERATION

On 22 December, a report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime says that a potentially significant shift in the UN response to cybercrime is underway.  The report outlines the substantive issues that impair the creation of a shared understanding of cybercrime cooperation and offers insights into the history of the geopolitical tensions, how they manifest, and what conclusions one can draw for the outcome of these negotiations.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/UN-Cybercrime-PB-22Dec-web.pdf

THE COMING MIDDLE EAST NARCO WARS

On 22 December, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies produced a report saying that, in April, Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf states temporarily banned the import of agricultural products from Lebanon.  This was not a response to political events or to an overt military or political provocation by Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terror group that effectively runs Lebanon.  Rather, the ban came in response to the discovery of a massive shipment of the amphetamine Captagon, concealed in Lebanese produce that arrived in a Saudi port.  The report also says that Captagon production and trafficking in and around Syria is new and concerning.  It says that the political wars of today’s Middle East risk becoming the lethal narco-wars of tomorrow.

https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2021/12/22/the-coming-middle-east-narco-wars/

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/by-the-numbers-shippings-unparalleled-year-in-10-charts

US: UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT SIGNED INTO LAW

On 24 December, Crowell Moring reported that, on 23 December, President Joe Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This action by President Biden comes a week after the law passed both chambers of Congress.  The Act instructs US Customs and Border Protection to adopt a rebuttable presumption that goods mined, produced, or manufactured in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) or by certain entities are prohibited from being imported into the US.  It goes on to provide an overview of the prohibitions set forth by the UFLPA.

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2021/12/congress-passes-uyghur-forced-labor-prevention-act

THE SFO HAS BEEN HEAVILY CRITICISED BY THE COURT OF APPEAL FOR ITS CONDUCT IN A HIGH-PROFILE CASE LED BY KEVIN DAVIS, WHO IS NOW GUERNSEY’S FINANCIAL CRIME CHIEF

On 24 December, the Bailiwick Express reported that the Court was left unclear by evidence Mr Davis provided about certain aspects of the investigation he led, and the Attorney General has now launched an independent review into the investigation.  Davis was the Chief Investigator but he left the SFO in 2020 and was hired as Director of Guernsey’s Economic and Financial Crime Bureau a few months later. Now the Committee for Home Affairs in Guernsey has backed Mr Davis.

https://gsy.bailiwickexpress.com/gsy/news/guernseys-financial-crime-chief-named-again-overturned-criminal-conviction-case

TAIWAN: CALLS FOR TIGHTER RULES TO FIGHT CHOPSTICK FRAUD

On 24 December, Focus Taiwan reported that, after a report found chopsticks masquerading as high-grade stainless steel to be made from inferior metals, a Taiwanese consumer protection group implored the government to tighten screening and regulations.

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202112240027

PROPOSED EU DIRECTIVE TARGETS SHELL COMPANIES AFTER PANDORA PAPERS EXPOSED OFFSHORE SYSTEM ABUSES

On 24 December, ICIJ reported that the European Commission proposed a new Directive to target shell companies, less than 3 months after the Pandora Papers investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed the large-scale use of anonymous vehicles to hide money, avoid taxes and disguise asset ownership.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/proposed-eu-directive-targets-shell-companies-after-pandora-papers-exposed-offshore-system-abuses

CANADA: FINTRAC FINES CHINA’S LARGEST BANK

On 24 December, the Toronto Sun reported that Federal regulators have fined the Canadian operations of China’s biggest state-controlled bank $701,250 under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.  The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) faces the fine for not reporting a suspicious account.

https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/canadian-government-fines-chinas-largest-bank

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US DESIGNATION OF FORMER MALTESE PUBLIC OFFICIALS FOR CORRUPTION

A news release from the US State Department on 22 December advised the public designation of former Maltese public officials Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri due to their involvement in significant corruption.  It says that in their official capacities as Minister of Energy and Conservation of Water and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, they were involved in corrupt acts that included using their political influence and official power for their personal benefit.  Specifically, it says, there is credible information that Mizzi and Schembri were involved in a corrupt scheme that entailed the award of a government contract for the construction of a power plant and related services in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.  Their actions are said to have undermined rule of law and the Maltese public’s faith in their government’s democratic institutions and public processes.

https://www.state.gov/public-designation-of-former-maltese-public-officials-konrad-mizzi-and-keith-schembri-due-to-involvement-in-significant-corruption/

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 23

Panama Covid-19 update – more disturbing news (though relatively modest, compared to that in the UK and elsewhere perhaps), with the number of new cases, active cases and the percentage of positive test results all up. One theory is that the public holiday of Mothers’ Day on 8 December is a contributory factor, and the increases are not indications of the arrival of Omicron.

There are 719 new cases reported (51 more than yesterday), with there now being 5,232 active cases (up 575), and hospitalised patients in other wards are up to 146 (10 more than yesterday), although the number in ICU has fallen by 1 to 17. There was just 1 new fatality reported.

23 DECEMBER 2021

JAPAN EXTENDS $26 MILLION IN GRANT AID TO BOOST DJIBOUTIAN MARITIME SECURITY

On 22 December, Dryad Global reported that Japan has made the grant because waters in the vicinity of Djibouti are important points for maritime transportation connecting Asia, Africa and Europe, and also because they are adjacent to areas of conflict and regions where illegal acts such as smuggling and piracy are carried out.  This cooperation aims to improve maritime security capacity by constructing 2 patrol boats and a floating pier for the Djiboutian Coast Guard.

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/japan-extends-26m-in-grant-aid-to-boost-djiboutian-maritime-security

IS THE GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN THE NEXT BIG CYBER TARGET?

On 21 December, Dryad Global posed this question, pointing out that over the past 3 years, Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), COSCO, and CMA CGM have all been victims of cyber attacks. 

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/is-the-global-supply-chain-the-next-big-cyber-target

US POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE WARNS ABOUT PROLIFERATION OF COUNTERFEIT STAMPS

On 22 December, Linn’s Stamp News reported that the US Post Office has warned about a proliferation of counterfeit stamps being offered on the internet.  The warning comes as an increasing number of news outlets are reporting sales of counterfeit stamps.

https://www.linns.com/news/us-stamps-postal-history/postal-inspection-service-warns-about-proliferation-of-counterfeit-stamps

UK: 2 MEN LAUNDERED £70 MILLION WITH £10 MILLION FROM FRAUDULENT BOUNCE BACK LOANS HAVE BEEN JAILED FOR A TOTAL OF 33 YEARS

A news release from the NCA advised that Artem Terzyan, 38, from Russia and Deivis Grochiatskij, 44, from Lithuania, were the focus of a 4-year investigation by the Organised Crime Partnership –  a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service unit.

https://nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/international-fraudsters-ran-70m-money-laundering-scheme

IRAN SANCTIONS: SRI LANKA TO PAY OFF IRANIAN OIL DEBT WITH TEA

On 23 December, the Middle East Monitor reported that Sri Lanka is to pay off a $251 million Iranian oil debt by sending the country $5 million worth of tea every month.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sri-lanka-tea-iran-sanctions-pay-oil-debt

JAPAN: 2 BUREAUCRATS FOUND GUILTY OF COVID SUBSIDY FRAUD

On 23 December, Japan Today reported that 2 former bureaucrats from the industry ministry have been found guilty of swindling the state out of some $136,000 in office rental subsidies and other benefits that were meant to help coronavirus pandemic-hit businesses.

https://japantoday.com/category/crime/2-ex-japan-bureaucrats-found-guilty-for-covid-subsidy-fraud?

MONEY MULE FROM INDIA-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATE WITH CANADIAN VICTIMS JAILED IN SINGAPORE

On 23 December, CNA reported that a man who came to Singapore from India to pursue a diploma was roped into a money-making scheme by a flatmate that turned out to be a money laundering chain by a cross-border syndicate targeting victims in Canada.  He was sentenced to six months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge each of conspiring to carry on the business of an unlicensed payment service and of obstructing justice by deleting and exiting a WhatsApp chat group with his co-conspirators.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/money-mule-india-based-laundering-syndicate-jailed-singapore-2398091

UK: MORE THAN 400 LITRES OF VODKA SEIZED AS ILLEGAL DISTILLERY RAIDED IN SCOTLAND

On 23 December, The Independent and others reported that authorities have seized more than 400 litres of suspected counterfeit vodka in a raid on an illegal alcohol distillery.  HMRC also discovered multiple pallets of empty 70cl bottles and 2 stills – equipment used in the distillation process – when they searched a unit on an industrial estate in Greenock.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/greenock-inverclyde-police-scotland-b1981306.html

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/19804768.police-raid-counterfeit-alchohol-illegal-greenock-alcohol-distillery/

BREXIT: LIST OF GOODS IMPORTED INTO GREAT BRITAIN FROM IRELAND THAT ARE CONTROLLED

On 23 December, HMRC provided updated information saying that you will need to follow normal import declarations rules for controlled goods imported into Great Britain from Ireland from 1 January.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/list-of-goods-imported-into-great-britain-from-the-eu-that-are-controlled

UPDATE ON APPLICATION OF UK CUSTOMS CONTROLS FROM 1 JANUARY

On 23 December, the Baker McKenzie blog reported that HMRC has published a guidance note to remind traders that a number of customs changes will enter into force on 1 January in relation to the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU.  In particular, the guidance note flags several changes that traders should be aware of.

https://www.internationaltradecomplianceupdate.com/2021/12/23/update-on-application-of-uk-customs-controls-from-1-january-2022/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/less-than-a-month-until-full-customs-controls-are-introduced

OPERATION TARGETING SYNTHETIC OPIOID TRAFFICKING IN AFRICA, LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN RESULTS IN 18 ARRESTS AND THE SEIZURE OF OVER 480 KG OF DRUGS

The UN published a news release advising that Operation Azure saw law enforcement officers from 10 countries intercept illicit drugs and disrupt synthetic opioid trafficking across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.  It took place simultaneously in Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Nigeria, and Ghana.  Coordinated by UNODC, under the framework of the CRIMJUST Global Programme, as part of the UNODC Opioid Strategy, Operation Azure targeted synthetic opioids being trafficked in mail and courier parcels over 2 phases of operational activity in October and November 2021.

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/crimjust/news/crimjust—operation-azure-targeting-synthetic-opioid-trafficking-in-africa–latin-america-and-the-caribbean-results-in-18-arrests-and-the-seizures-of-over-480-kilograms-of-drugs.html

EU DATA TRANSFERS GUIDE ADDRESSES BUSINESS TRIPS

An article from Out-Law on 23 December said that strict EU rules on the international transfer of personal data do not apply when employees access data from their company’s database remotely while on business trips in other parts of the world.  This is explained in guidance which concerns the territorial scope of the rules on international data transfers under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/data-transfers-guide-addresses-business-trips

HOW IUU FISHING PLUNDERED LATIN AMERICAN OCEANS

On 23 December, an article from Insight Crime was concerned with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing across the region in the past year, much of it driven by competition for diminishing catch; saying that regional semi-industrial vessels mimicked the predatory tactics of foreign fleets.

https://insightcrime.org/news/gamechangers-2021-iuu-fishing-plundered-latin-americas-oceans/

A news release from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on 20 December announced that it had completed an investigation and disciplinary proceedings for ePaylinks Technology Co Limited, and has reprimanded and ordered it to pay a penalty as it failed to fulfil the minimum criterion relating to AML/CFT measures.

https://www.hkma.gov.hk/eng/news-and-media/press-releases/2021/12/20211220-3/

US: ACTION TO PROTECT AND ULTIMATELY RETURN MORE THAN $154 MILLION IN FUNDS THAT WERE ALLEGEDLY STOLEN FROM A SUBSIDIARY OF SONY GROUP CORPORATION AND SEIZED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT DURING THE FBI INVESTIGATION

On 23 December, a news release from US DoJ advised that the US filed a civil forfeiture complaint in the Southern District of California to protect Sony’s interest in the property, which an employee allegedly embezzled in May 2021 and converted to more than 3,879 Bitcoins valued today at more than $180 million.  Those funds were seized by law enforcement on based on the FBI investigation.  Rei Ishii, an employee of Sony Life Insurance Company Ltd in Tokyo, allegedly diverted the $154 million when the company attempted to transfer funds between its financial accounts.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/united-states-files-civil-action-return-150-million-embezzled-funds-sony-fbi-tracks

A RANSOMWARE GANG HAS PUBLISHED CONFIDENTIAL DATA HELD BY UK POLICE ON THE DARK WEB

On 23 December, Infosecurity reported a Mail on Sunday story that a cybercrime group accessed the information following a successful phishing attack on IT services provider Dacoll in October 2021.  This provided it with access to vast amounts of material, including data held on the police national computer (PNC), which Dacoll manages.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/ransomware-gang-police-data-dark/

CIVIL SOCIETY OBSERVATORY OF ILLICIT ECONOMIES IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

On 22 December, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime issued Risk Bulletin 22, which contains 4 stores that investigate the social, economic, and political issues that drive organized crime and shape forms of organised crime, and how responses can better address these underlying systemic issues.  The stories involved – death and forced labour at sea as Chinese fishing trawlers pillage northern Somalia; poaching for the horticultural market threatens cycads in South Africa; kidnappings target the Somali community in Kenya; and inadequate protection for witnesses and whistle-blowers in Kenya.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/ESA-Obs-RB22-web.pdf

US: AMENDED WMD TRADE CONTROL REGULATIONS

On 23 December, the US Treasury advised an amendment to the Regulations to add a 2005 Executive order as an authority, remove the appendix to the part, and modify 3 definitions referencing the appendix.   This amendment is currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on 27 December.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20211223

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT OFAC AND TD BANK NA OVER NORTH KOREAN AND OTHER SANCTIONS

On 23 December, OFAC announced a settlement of $115,005.04 settlement of 2 cases for apparent violations of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations. TDBNA processed transactions and maintained accounts on behalf of employees of the North Korean mission to the UN without a licence from OFAC; and maintained accounts for a US resident who was listed on OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. 

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/20211223_TDBNA.pdf

MAN CLEARED OVER £25 MILLION BURGLARY IS FACING JAIL FOR HAVING £1 MILLION IN COUNTERFEIT CASH

On 23 December, the Daily Mail reported that a Romanian barman, Emile-Bogdan Savastru, 30, who was cleared over the burglary of Tamara Ecclestone’s mansion despite being caught with her stolen handbag is now facing jail for having £1 million in counterfeit cash. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10340765/Romanian-barman-cleared-Tamara-Ecclestone-raid-faces-jail-having-1m-counterfeit-cash.html

US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE ACTS AGAINST CHINESE LAW FIRM FOR FRAUD AND TERMINATES MORE THAN 15,000 US TRADEMARK APPLICATIONS

On 23 December, an article from Baker Hostetler reported that the USPTO issued a precedential Final Order for Sanctions against Chinese practitioner and law firm Yusha Zhang and Shenzhen Huanyee Intellectual Property Co Ltd for filing more than 15,000 applications and other submissions that were deemed fraudulent. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/uspto-sanctions-chinese-law-firm-for-5857642

ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS DEMAND 20 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ITALIAN BUSINESSMAN

On 23 December, Exit News reported that Francesco Becchetti is accused of money laundering, document forgery, and tax fraud.  It notes that, in April, an international arbitration panel ordered Albania to pay him €110 million for the “politically motivated” government closure of his Agon TV channel in 2015.

https://exit.al/en/2021/12/23/albanian-prosecutors-demand-20-years-in-prison-for-italian-businessman

TURKEY’S KEY EXPORT SUCCESS – THE UNMANNED COMBAT AERIAL SYSTEM (UCAS) DRONE

On 23 December, Scramble reported on the Bayraktar TB2 (Tactical Block 2), a Turkish-built Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UCAS capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.  Initially produced for the Turkish armed forces, it has become a key export success for Turkey and its defence industry and its manufacturer, Baykar Defence, currently generates more than 83% of its revenues from exports.

https://www.scramble.nl/military-news/turkey-s-key-export-success

INDIA’S FIRST CONVENTIONAL BALLISTIC MISSILE TEST-FIRED AGAIN

On 23 December, the Hindustan Times reported that the ‘Pralay’ is India’s first conventional ballistic missile and is said to be an answer to any conventional missile attack from northern or western borders.  The missile development is described as significant as India had no conventionally-armed ballistic missile.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pralay-india-s-second-conventional-ballistic-missile-testfired-101640235805392.html

IMPACT ON TAIWANESE COMPANIES AMID TRADE SITUATION BETWEEN US AND CHINA

On 22 December, an article from Bass Berry & Sims discussed the impact on Taiwan companies amid rising tensions between the US and China.

https://www.bassberry.com/wp-content/uploads/taiwanese-business-avoid-risk-us-china-tensions.pdf

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TRAFFICKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING: STRATEGIES USED BY CRIMINAL GROUPS AND TERRORISTS AND FEDERAL EFFORTS TO COMBAT THEM

On 23 December, a report from the Government Accountability Office reviews how transnational criminal organisations and terrorist groups traffic goods such as illegal drugs, engage in human trafficking, and launder money.  It also looked at the information sharing used to help detect these activities.  It says it found that federal agencies and others have reported that money laundering strategies used by transnational criminal organisations and terrorist groups include sophisticated techniques such as phony trade transactions or purchase and resale of real estate or art – which can involve the services of professional money laundering networks or service providers in legitimate professions, such as complicit lawyers or accountants.  For example, lawyers or accountants can create shell companies (entities with no business operations) to help criminals launder illicit proceeds.  However, it also says that transnational criminal organisations and terrorist groups also continue to smuggle cash in bulk or transmit money electronically across borders.

https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-104807

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