OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 31

Panama Covid-19 update – local doctors warn that, despite Omicron being seen (rightly) as less pathogenic, it is still not just like the flu (though that kills enough people each year), and those at risk (including unvaccinated) should still beware.

Meanwhile, it looks like, perhaps, Omicron is on the downward side of the wave. “Only” 3,150 new cases, with currently active cases falling by over 7,000 to 61,407. There were 15 new fatalities reported, with all but 1 not being full vaccinated (which here means 2 jabs plus the booster). there are 82 patients in ICU and 722 in other wards, with another 256 in the hospital-hotels.

31 JANUARY 2022

FinCEN’s PROPOSED FOREIGN AFFILIATE SAR SHARING PROGRAM — KEY CONSIDERATIONS

On 27 January, McGuireWoods LLP published an article saying that FinCEN had sought comment re a proposed rule that would create a time-limited pilot programme to expand the ability of financial institutions to share SAR and SAR-related information.  It would permit a financial institution with a SAR reporting obligation to share, subject to certain specified limitations, SAR and related information with the institution’s foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates.

https://www.subjecttoinquiry.com/2022/01/fincens-proposed-foreign-affiliate-sar-sharing-program-key-considerations/#page=1

NSO GROUP: ROW IN ISRAEL OVER WHETHER THE COMPANY’S TOOLS WERE USED TO ILLEGALLY MONITOR ISRAELIS

On 29 January, the Wall Street Journal reported that, for years, governments around the world used Israeli company NSO Group’s software to spy on journalists, activists and dissidents, prompting the US to sanction it.  Now the Israel police say they use a variety of spyware tools, including one developed by NSO which can infect and completely take over a smartphone without the target being aware. They say spyware is crucial for tracking criminal activity amid a rise in the use of encrypted software in phone apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/uproar-in-israel-over-police-snooping-renews-privacy-debate-11643457601

COMMODITY TRADING AND SHIPPING ACTIVITY IS LIKELY TO SEE INITIAL DISRUPTIONS FROM THE PROPOSED FINANCIAL SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA

On 31 January, an article on Hellenic Shipping News says that concerns have risen in commodity trading hubs, such as Singapore, after the US said that it was preparing “a range of severe economic measures to impose on Russia if it further invades Ukraine” and would “implement sanctions with massive consequences that were not considered in 2014”.  In addition, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act 2022, now in the US Senate comprises several measures against Russian entities and has created a lot of anxiety in the trading community, according to sources.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/commodity-trading-shipping-hubs-anxious-on-proposed-russia-sanctions/

LIQUID COCAINE FOUND IN 20,000 COCONUTS BEING SHIPPED TO EUROPE

KAIT 8 in the US reported on 30 January that authorities in Colombia discovered liquid cocaine hidden in nearly 20,000 coconuts when they intercepted a shipment headed for Italy.

https://www.kait8.com/2022/01/30/liquid-cocaine-found-20000-coconuts-being-shipped-europe/

WHAT NEXT FOR KAZAKHSTAN?

On 31 January, Control Risks asked this question after nationwide popular peaceful protests, a violent insurrection, and a power struggle between President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev.  It says that these developments have undermined Kazakhstan’s status as Central Asia’s most business-friendly nation.  The article explores what happened and what happens next.

https://www.controlrisks.com/our-thinking/insights/what-next-for-kazakhstan

HOW FAKE PASSPORTS ALLOW IS MEMBERS TO ENTER EUROPE AND US

On 31 January, the Guardian reported on an investigation which showed that a booming online industry specialising in fake passports with official visas and travel stamps is offering people with links to IS the opportunity to leave Syria and travel onwards to the UK, EU, Canada and the US.  One such network, run by an Uzbek with extremist links living in Turkey, is now selling high-quality fake passports for up to $15,000 purporting to be from various countries. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/31/revealed-how-fake-passports-allow-is-members-to-enter-europe-and-us

UK ANNOUNCES INTENTION TO ENSURE THAT FIRMS SELLING CRYPTO-CURRENCIES ARE SUBJECT TO THE SAME ADVERTISING STANDARDS AS OTHER REGULATED FIRMS

On 31 January, an article from Eversheds Sutherland said that this follows a series of well-published incidents of misleading and, in some cases, fraudulent adverts using false statements to promote crypto-currencies.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Financial-services-and-dispute-investigation/Government_Proposes_Legislation_To_Tighten_Crypto-_Advertising_Rules

IRISH REVENUE SEIZES 4.3 MILLION CIGARETTES IN ROSSLARE EUROPORT

A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 31 January advised that Revenue officers had seized 4.3 million cigarettes at Rosslare Europort. The illegal cigarettes were discovered when Revenue officers stopped and searched a Dutch registered truck that had disembarked a ferry from Cherbourg.

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2022/pr-013122-revenue-seize-cigarettes-rosslare.aspx

UN AMENDS ENTRY FOR SAADI QADHAFI ON LIBYA SANCTIONS LIST

On 27 January, the UN advised that the entry for SAADI QADHAFI, the son of the former Libyan leader, had been amended.  The entry is amended to mention a new Libyan passport issued in May 2021.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sc14782.doc.htm

GHANA: $8 BILLION LOST IN 6 YEARS THROUGH ILLICIT MINING SECTOR FINANCIAL FLOWS

On 27 January, Ghana Web reported that new research from the University of Ghana claims that the revenue from exports of commodities such as gold and cocoa were undervalued by $8.3 billion 2011-17.

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/US-8bn-lost-in-6yrs-through-illicit-mining-sector-financial-flows-ISSER-report-1454746

US: CEO OF MAJOR ONLINE CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGE COMPANY INDICTED FOR DEFRAUDING COMPANY’S CUSTOMERS, DESTROYING EVIDENCE, AND TAX EVASION

A US DoJ news release on 26 January advised that Paul E. Vernon, 48, the founder, operator, and CEO of Project Investors Inc, doing business as Cryptsy, had been charged with criminal violations for his involvement in a sophisticated theft scheme involving his cryptocurrency exchange.   The charges include tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud, tampering with records, documents, and other objects, and destruction of records in a federal investigation.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/ceo-major-online-cryptocurrency-exchange-company-indicted-defrauding-company-s

FCA ADVICE: HEADS OF COMPLIANCE AND MLRO APPLICANT COMPETENCY AND CAPABILITY

On 28 January, the FCA in the UK issued a news release saying that authorised and registered firms should have heads of compliance and MLRO who are suitably competent and capable of effectively performing the roles. Firms should carefully consider how individuals can demonstrate this ahead of seeking regulatory approval.  It provides criteria, based on its experience of approved applications, which it says should help firms decide if an individual candidate is suitable.

https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/approved-persons/heads-compliance-mlro-applicant-competency-capability

HOW THE UK GOVERNMENT LOST £4.9 BILLION TO COVID LOAN FRAUD

On 29 January, the Guardian carried an article saying that, in the space of 15 months, from March 2020, the three main Covid loan schemes – bounce back, CBILS and a scheme for larger loans, CLBILS – handed out nearly £80 billion to businesses.  It says that banks intent on protecting their finances usually apply stringent credit checks to help avoid fraud and ensure customers can repay their loans, but what was eventually agreed for bounce back, amid pressure from the Treasury to speed up loan distribution, was that checks would be dispensed with altogether.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jan/29/how-the-uk-government-lost-49bn-to-covid-loan

SAND TRAFFICKING – MOROCCO’S SILENT MENACE

A Zoom video from the Institute for Strategic Studies has been published by ENACT Africa.  It says that the high demand for sand is fuelling trafficking and organised crime that threaten the country’s coastal ecosystems.

https://enactafrica.org/interactive/videos-and-infographics/enact-live-sand-trafficking-moroccos-silent-menace

SOUTH AMERICA’S COCAINE TRAFFICKERS ARE HEADING SOUTH – TO ARGENTINA, CHILE AND URUGUAY

On 31 January, an article in World Politics Review argued that, after decades of media coverage of the violent turf wars over northward cocaine-trafficking routes through Central America and Mexico, South America’s “Southern Cone” countries have become the region’s new battleground for organised crime: with ports in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, in particular, prized turf for drug-trafficking criminal gangs.  It says that shipping routes from these ports bypass increasing interdiction efforts in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, thereby guaranteeing cocaine pipelines to the US and Europe. 

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/30285/south-america-drugs-smugglers-shift-to-the-southern-cone

CHANGES TO UK EXPORT LICENSING STATISTICS

On 31 January, Notice to Exporters 2022/02 advised of changes being made to the way licensing statistics are made available, including to the searchable database.  The changes result largely from the introduction of data on Standard Individual Export Licences (SIEL) processed by the new licensing system, LITE. This is being used by a small number of beta users.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202202-changes-to-export-licensing-statistics/nte-202202-changes-to-export-licensing-statistics

IRAN’S NUCLEAR TIMETABLE: THE WEAPON POTENTIAL

On 28 January, Iran Watch, from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, published an article saying that Iran’s nuclear program has reached the point at which, within several months, Iran could enrich enough uranium for 5 fission weapons. However, it would still have to be processed further, and other components of a successful weapon would have to be ready to receive the processed uranium. These additional steps, together with the several months for enrichment, mean that Iran cannot yet make a dash to a small nuclear arsenal within a practical length of time. 

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/articles-reports/irans-nuclear-timetable-weapon-potential

UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2231 AND THE JCPOA

On 31 January, Iran Watch, from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, published an article about UN SCR 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the international accord subjecting Iran to restrictions on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.  It lifted sanctions imposed pursuant to previous UN Security Council resolutions, but it also extended some restrictions related to military aspects of Iran’s nuclear activities.  Notably, it maintained targeted sanctions on a list of actors tied to these activities.  UN Member States must freeze those entities’ assets and prohibit assistance to them until October 2023.  However, the article argues that the total number of entries on the list, as well as the details of the entries themselves, has remained virtually unchanged since its inception in 2015.  Developments during this period of stasis have rendered much of the 2231 List out of date.  The article looks at the List’s current shortcomings, describes the barriers to updating the list at the United Nations, and gives recommendations for how individual Member States can overcome these barriers using their own sanctions programmes.

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/policy-briefs/stuck-past-uns-2231-list

EU COURT RULES ON THE EU BLOCKING REGULATION AGAINST US SANCTIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME 

A Client Alert from Wilmer Hale on 31 January reported on the case in which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued the first-ever judgment on the EU Blocking Regulation.  The CJEU clarified the scope and content of this statute.  The Client Alert also briefly considers the US position and possible future amendment of the EU Regulation.

https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/insights/client-alerts/20220124-top-eu-court-rules-on-the-eu-blocking-regulation-against-us-sanctions-for-the-first-time

SPAIN: LAW REQUIRING SPANISH TAX RESIDENTS TO REPORT OVERSEAS ASSETS OR RIGHTS IS CONTRARY TO EU LAW 

On 27 January, KPMG reported that the CJEU had ruled that a Spanish law requiring Spanish tax residents to declare and report their overseas assets or rights is contrary to EU law.  The CJEU found that the restrictions on the free movement of capital imposed by that Spanish legislation are disproportionate.

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2022/01/tnf-spain-law-requiring-tax-residents-to-report-overseas-assets-or-rights-is-contrary-to-eu-law.html

ISLE OF MAN: IRAN AND VENEZUELA SANCTIONS CHANGES

On 28 January, the Isle of Man issued 2 news releases.  One advised that 4 names had been removed from the list of those subject to the Iran sanctions regime.  The other advised that 20 existing entries on the list of those subject to sanctions in connection with Venezuela have been amended.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jan/28/financial-sanctions-venezuela/

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jan/28/financial-sanctions-iran-human-rights/

ITALY: A RING OF BUSINESSMEN ACCUSED OF CHEATING THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF €440 MILLION IN TAX CREDITS THAT WERE PART OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC RELIEF

On 31 January, the Mail Online reported that Italian police said that they had broken up a ring of businessmen accused of cheating the government out of €440 million in tax credits that were granted as part of government measures to help struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Police said 35 people were targeted with arrest warrants, home detention or other restrictive measures and that authorities carried out 80 searches across the country, from Trentino in the north to Sicily in the south.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-10460407/Italian-businessmen-scammed-440M-euros-virus-tax-credits.html

IRISH HIGH COURT ORDERS EXTRADITION OF ON-THE-RUN FRAUDSTER FARAH DAMJI TO THE UK

On 31 January, the Irish Times reported that Damji, 55, fled to Ireland in February 2020 during a trial in the UK, at which she was convicted in her absence of twice breaching a restraining order in April and June 2018. Damji, who presented herself as an Icelandic national and was living in Dublin, is the daughter of a deceased South African-born property tycoon and has a criminal record for fraud and theft stretching back to the 1990s.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/high-court/high-court-orders-extradition-of-on-the-run-fraudster-farah-damji-to-the-uk-1.4790294

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UK SANCTIONS CONSOLIDATED LIST TECHNICAL CHANGES

On 31 January, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that a new version of the Consolidated List has been published.  Ahead of the formal changeover, there will be a 3-week period where you will be able to view both the old and new formats of the Consolidated List simultaneously.  This period will last until Monday 21 February.  The new version of the Consolidated List is not published in the .xls format; but the other 6 existing formats (CSV, PDF, HTML, TXT, XLSX, XML,) of the Consolidated List have been retained. The Consolidated List search tool has also been retained.  As well as Individual and Entity, a new group type has been added – Ship.  Other changes include new field types and the form of content of the aliases field.  Guidance on use of the form of the List is also available online.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1051274/310122_Consolidated_List_Change_Notice.pdf

MYANMAR/BURMA: US, UK AND CANADA SANCTIONS

US TREASURY SANCTIONS REGIME OFFICIALS AND MILITARY AFFILIATED CRONIES IN BURMA ON ANNIVERSARY OF MILITARY COUP

On 31 January, OFAC announced that, on the 1-year anniversary of the military coup d’etat that overthrew Burma’s democratically-elected government, it was designating 7 individuals and 2 entities connected to Burma’s military regime. These designations are part of a joint action with the UK and Canada, who are each designating 2 Burmese government officials.  At the same time, the crude oil tanker Oman Pride has been removed from OFAC lists.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0572

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220131

UK ADDS 3 ENTRIES ON SANCTIONS LIST

In fact, on 31 January, HM Treasury in the UK issued a Notice advising that 3 entries, Thida Oo; Thein Soe; and Tin Oo, had been added to the UK Myanmar sanctions lists.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1051400/Notice_Myanmar_310122.pdf

CANADA ADDS 3 NAMES TO SANCTIONS LISTS

On 31 January, Global Affairs Canada advised that Dr Thida Oo, Union Minister for Legal Affairs and Attorney-General of the Union; Htun Htun Oo, Chief Justice of Myanmar (also spelled Tun Tun Oo); and U Tin Oo, Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Myanmar, had been added to its Myanmar sanctions lists.

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2022/01/canada-imposes-additional-sanctions-on-individuals-associated-with-myanmars-military-regime.html

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ILLICIT ECONOMIES, CONFLICT AND INSTABILITY

On 27 January, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime produced a report saying that, from the diamond trade in Sierra Leone to the heroin trade in Afghanistan, illicit economies have been shown to fund insurgencies and political actors, and to contribute to ongoing conflict.  The report considers 3 case studies at different stages of armed conflict to assess the dynamic relationship between criminal networks, illicit economies, and conflict actors and conditions.  These 3 case studies offer unique perspectives in terms of duration, size of the conflict area and stage of the conflict.

US: CERTAIN IMPORTED PALM OIL PRODUCTS OF MALAYSIAN RAW MATERIALS COULD BE SEIZED AND FORFEITED 

On 31 January, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the products could be subject to controls following a new finding that such goods are being made with forced labour. This also opens the door to potential criminal charges against companies that continue to source subject goods for other markets.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/january/seizures-forfeitures-authorized-for-imports-of-goods-made-with-certain-palm-oil

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LAUNDERED FORTUNE LINKED TO CHAIR OF UK-AZERBAIJAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE FORFEITED

On 31 January, City AM reported that millions of pounds derived from the Azerbaijan laundromat – a sophisticated international money laundering scheme – have been seized following an NCA investigation into money held in bank accounts linked to an Azeri politician.  Following an extensive investigation, 6 Account Freezing Orders were obtained for accounts held in the name of the wife of Javanshir Feziyev, Parvana Feyziyeva, one of his children, Orkhan Javanshir, and his nephew, Elman Javanshir.  Javanshir Feziyev is a serving member of the Azerbaijan parliament, Chair of the UK-Azerbaijan All Parliamentary Co-operation Committee, and Co-chair of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Co-operation Committee.

https://www.cityam.com/millions-moved-via-shell-companies-laundered-fortune-linked-to-chair-of-uk-azerbaijan-parliamentary-committee-forfeited

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/laundered-millions-linked-to-azeri-politician-forfeited

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 30

Panama Covid-19 update – a big drop in active cases (though fewer tests done too), which suggests the Omicron may be waning. However, there were still 4,490 new cases reported and 17 new fatalities; and numbers in hospital have increased slightly. There are now 68,667 active cases, with 87 in ICU and 798 in other wards. On the other hand, 10,815 were reported today as having recovered.

In other news, it is reported that, during the first 4 days of the La Chorrera country Fair (which we didn’t attend this year), 278 people with Covid-19 tried to enter the event. this was despite the need to have a green QR card and/or vaccination card. 90 people are said have been reported to justices of the peace.

30 JANUARY 2022

PANAMA: SEA CUCUMBER POWDER SEIZED AT TOCUMEN AIRPORT

On 29 January, La Estrella reported that the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP) in coordination with the Customs Management System (SIGA) seized 5 kg of sea cucumber powder, from Cameroon, in the cargo area of Tocumen Airport.

https://www.laestrella.com.pa/nacional/220129/arap-decomisa-pepino-mar-polvo-aeropuerto-tocumen

5 ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING FOREIGN CURRENCY OUT SRI LANKA

On 30 January, Economy Next reported that 5 Sri Lankans had been arrested by Sri Lanka Customs for attempting to smuggle foreign currency out of the country to Dubai.  It is said that Sri Lanka is currently in the middle of one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history, compounded by a crippling foreign exchange shortage amid double-digit inflation after excessive money printing.  The cash consisted of consisted of US$95,000, €18,000 and 37,000 Saudi Riyals.  Any person can carry foreign currency worth up to $10,000 “in any form” out of the country, but if the sum in currency notes exceed $5,000, it must be declared.  There is no limit to how much foreign currency one can bring into the country, but if the sum exceeds $15,000, it must be declared to Customs.

https://economynext.com/five-arrested-for-smuggling-foreign-currency-out-of-forex-crisis-hit-sri-lanka-90024/

SWISS COURT SEEKS €40 MILLION IN CREDIT SUISSE LAUNDERING CASE

On 30 January, the Luxembourg Times reported that Swiss federal prosecutors are seeking more than €40 million in compensation from Credit Suisse Group AG, stemming from a 14-year investigation into the lender’s alleged failure to prevent money laundering by a Bulgarian drug ring led by a former wrestler, which reportedly deposited some SF55 million at Credit Suisse – much of it hand-delivered in suitcases filled with unbundled notes.

https://www.luxtimes.lu/en/business-finance/swiss-court-seeks-45-million-in-credit-suisse-laundering-case-61f65a55de135b9236f6e94d

BINANCE RESTRICTS NIGERIAN CRYPTO ACCOUNTS ON SECURITY CONCERN

On 30 January, BNN Bloomberg reported that one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges, said it restricted the personal accounts of some Nigerian users to comply with AML regulations and ensure the security of the platform for traders.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/binance-restricts-nigerian-crypto-accounts-on-security-concern-1.1715677

THE YEAR OF THE TIGER

UK: LICENCE SUSPENSION AND £3.8 MILLION FINE FOR GAMBLING OPERATOR GENESIS GLOBAL LIMITED

On 27 January the UK Gambling Commission advised of enforcement action which involved suspending an online casino from operating and then fining it £3.8 million.   Genesis Global Limited – which runs 14 websites including genesiscasino.com, casinoplanet.com and casinocruise.com – has also been given a warning by the Commission and told it must undergo further extensive auditing.

https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news/article/licence-suspension-and-gbp3-8m-fine-for-genesis-global-limited

2 SWISS BANKS HAVE AVOIDED STANDING TRIAL IN LONDON OVER BRIBERY CLAIMS LINKED TO THE ALLEGED FRAUD OF KUWAIT’S STATE PENSION FUND

On 27 January, The National reported that Fahad Al Rajaan, who a fugitive in London, is accused of stealing nearly $850 million from Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) by securing secret commissions from banks in return for investing funds with them.  PIFSS launched legal action against 37 defendants, including Mr Al Rajaan and his wife, with the majority of the claims to be heard in London.  PIFSS has lost an appeal in London against a decision that defendants including private banks Banque Pictet and Banque Mirabaud should be heard in a court in Switzerland.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2022/01/27/kuwait-corruption-swiss-banks-avoid-uk-bribery-trial/

US: INDICTMENT AND GUILTY PLEA IN CASE WHERE DEFENDANTS ATTEMPTED TO PROCURE HIGH-POWERED MICROWAVE SYSTEM FOR IRAN

A news release from US DoJ on 27 January advised that a British man has pleaded guilty in federal court to violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. At the same time, an indictment was unsealed charging 4 individuals with the same offence, as well as related offences.  They are said to have conspired to export and attempt to export an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the US to Iran, without first obtaining the requisite license from OFAC.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/indictment-and-guilty-plea-entered-iranian-export-case

MACAU ARRESTS SECOND JUNKET BOSS ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

On 30 January, BNN Bloomberg reported that Macau’s casino industry is under scrutiny again with the arrest of the head of the city’s second-biggest junket operator. Macau Legend Development Ltd said chief executive officer Weng Lin Chan has been detained by police.  Police said that they arrested 2 men on suspicion of money laundering and illegal gambling activities.  The number of licensed junket operators in Macau has fallen to just 46 this year, from 85 in 2021. The People’s Bank of China has said that authorities will begin a new nationwide campaign on money laundering, raising uncertainty over where government agencies will strike next.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/macau-arrests-second-junket-boss-on-money-laundering-charges-1.1715682

US: NEO-NAZI ORGANISATION PATRIOT FRONT – MASSIVE LEAK FROM THEIR CHAT SERVERS

US NPO Unicorn Riot reported on 21 January reported that the detailed inner workings and operations of neo-Nazi organisation Patriot Front have come to light after a massive leak from their chat servers. The exposed communications show coordination with their leader Thomas Rousseau to deface murals and monuments to black lives across the US, and intimate struggles to bolster morale through group activities like hiking and camping.  This release includes more than 400 gigabytes of data published by Unicorn Riot. Ostensibly private, unedited videos and direct messages reveal a campaign to organize acts of racial hatred while indoctrinating teenagers into national socialism (Nazism). The information is said to stand as a chilling reminder that fascist organising thrives in secrecy and obscurity.

https://unicornriot.ninja/2022/patriot-front-fascist-leak-exposes-nationwide-racist-campaigns/

RESEARCH HAS IDENTIFIED A NETWORK OF MORE THAN 1,300 WEBSITES RUN BY THE GRU TARGETING RUSSIAN SPEAKERS INCLUDING DOMESTIC AUDIENCES

On 27 January, French investigative group, Open Facto, released a new report which claims to have uncovered 1,300 websites run by the GRU (Russian military intelligence) which target Russian speakers at home and abroad.

https://openfacto.fr/2022/01/27/the-grus-galaxy-of-russian-speaking-websites/

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xIbx6ZTyBuQB_4iZ9JNureHJgHYu3Di0/view?usp=sharing

WEB OF CORRUPTION AROUND ISABEL DOS SANTOS STILL BEING UNTANGLED 2 YEARS AFTER LUANDA LEAKS

On 24 January, ICIJ published an article saying that the Pandora Papers shed new light on the offshore dealings of powerful figures close to Angola’s former President who were recently sanctioned by the US.  It says that powerful Angolan political figures accused of embezzling billions of dollars can now be linked to at least 20 more secretive companies in the US and other tax havens, exposing new financial hideaways of the impoverished African country’s former ruling elite.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/web-of-corruption-around-isabel-dos-santos-still-being-untangled-two-years-after-luanda-leaks/

THE OFFSHORE WORLD AWASH IN VALUABLE ART

On 28 January, ICIJ said that leaked documents show that, beginning in 2009, a London financial broker used an offshore trust to buy more than a dozen Banksy pieces, including several that are now iconic.  It says that the records detailing the Banksy transactions are found in the Pandora Papers, a huge cache of documents that describe financial holdings of hundreds of politicians, oligarchs, business tycoons and criminals.  Art has become an increasingly popular store of value in the offshore world, the documents show, with pieces traded by shell companies and trusts whose ultimate ownership is often hidden from authorities and the public.  All told, ICIJ identified more than 1,600 works of art by about 400 artists from all over the world, secretly traded through shell companies in tax havens.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/from-banksy-to-picasso-offshore-world-awash-in-valuable-art/

PYRAMID SCHEME DISGUISED AS SOCIALISING SPREADS IN JAPAN AMID COVID

In its 31 January edition, The Mainichi in Japan reported that members of groups exchange contact information with many random people who pass by on the street, and after keeping in touch as “friends”, pressure them into “becoming business owners” and buying products.  This sort of fraud strategy has been spreading in Japan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220129/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

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THE OFFSHORE WORLD AWASH IN VALUABLE ART

On 28 January, ICIJ said that leaked documents show that, beginning in 2009, a London financial broker used an offshore trust to buy more than a dozen Banksy pieces, including several that are now iconic.  It says that the records detailing the Banksy transactions are found in the Pandora Papers, a huge cache of documents that describe financial holdings of hundreds of politicians, oligarchs, business tycoons and criminals.  Art has become an increasingly popular store of value in the offshore world, the documents show, with pieces traded by shell companies and trusts whose ultimate ownership is often hidden from authorities and the public.  All told, ICIJ identified more than 1,600 works of art by about 400 artists from all over the world, secretly traded through shell companies in tax havens.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/from-banksy-to-picasso-offshore-world-awash-in-valuable-art/

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