AML: PROVISIONAL AGREEMENT IN EU REACHED ON TRANSPARENCY OF CRYPTO ASSET TRANSFERS

On 29 June, the EU announced that negotiators from the EU Council Presidency and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on the proposal updating the rules on information accompanying the transfers of funds by extending the scope of those rules to transfers of crypto assets.  It says that the introduction of this “travel rule” will ensure financial transparency on exchanges in crypto-assets and will provide the EU with a solid and proportional framework that complies with the most demanding international standards on the exchange of crypto-assets, in particular FATF Recommendations 15 and 16.  This proposal is part of a package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU AML/CFT rules, presented by the Commission on 20 July 2021.  The package also includes a proposal to create a new EU authority to fight money laundering.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/06/29/anti-money-laundering-provisional-agreement-reached-on-transparency-of-crypto-asset-transfers/

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RUSSIA SANCTIONS: EU GENERAL COURT HAS DISMISSED AN APPLICATION MADE BY ALISHER USMANOV

On 29 June, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Court had rejected an application made by made by Alisher Usmanov, who was added to the EU’s Russia sanctions list on 28 February. 

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/06/eu-court-rejects-interim-measures-application-by-alisher-usmanov/

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NEW INVESTIGATION: DUBAI PROPERTIES OF BELARUSIANS CLOSE TO LUKASHENKO

On 28 June, OCCRP reported on Belarusian PEP listed as owning real estate in Dubai, a kingdom in the UAE that has become a playground for the global rich.   Following on from the Dubai Uncovered report in May, further investigations have identified a similar group of politically exposed citizens of Belarus among the listed property owners.  They include Aliaksei Aleksin, a businessman sanctioned by the US and reputed to be Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s “wallet,” and others with ties to the regime in Minsk.  The investigation reveals that, even in a country whose government places a high priority on Soviet-style equality, people connected to the authorities can earn big money and offshore it to the UAE.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16492-new-investigation-dubai-properties-of-belarusians-close-to-lukashenko

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TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY FRAUD IS GROWING

On 29 June, a short article from Infosecurity said that a major underground market has developed around hospitality and travel fraud, and that those working in these industries, and consumers looking out for a bargain, should beware.  It refers to research showing that reveals 4,000 dark web references to airline and hotel fraud worldwide last year.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/blogs/travel-hospitality-fraud-works/

https://go.recordedfuture.com/hubfs/reports/cta-2022-0505.pdf

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MELTING ARCTIC ICE COULD TRANSFORM INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING ROUTES, STUDY FINDS

On 20 June, Brown University in the US published a study which says that melting ice in the Arctic Ocean could yield new trade routes in international waters, reducing the shipping industry’s carbon footprint and weakening Russia’s control over trade routes through the Arctic.  However, Arctic’s changing climate will endanger countless species that thrive in sub-zero temperatures, scientists say.  It is projected that, by 2065, the Arctic’s navigability will increase so greatly that it could yield new trade routes in international waters. 

https://www.brown.edu/news/2022-06-22/arctic

https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2202720119

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LIECHTENSTEIN: AML/CFT MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORT

On 29 June, MONEYVAL published its MER for Liechtenstein, which acknowledges Liechtenstein’s progress in improving measures to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.  However, it calls on the country to make more effort to invested in investigating and prosecuting money laundering of the widest range of foreign predicates, which target sophisticated money laundering schemes, including complex legal structures established and managed in the country.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/moneyval-acknowledges-liechtenstein-s-progress-in-improving-measures-to-combat-money-laundering-and-financing-of-terrorism

https://rm.coe.int/moneyval-2022-6-mer-liechtenstein/1680a71000

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HOW THE ‘FATHER’ OF IRAQ’S CIGARETTE SMUGGLERS BUILT AN EMPIRE

On 29 June, the New Arab published Part 1 of a feature based on an OCCRP investigation and concerned with Nizar Hanna Nasri, who it says sits atop an empire spanning pharmaceuticals, liquor imports, and real estate developments – but that his success was built on a far less visible foundation: a globe-spanning trade in black-market cigarettes.  It alleges that his facilities have fed billions of cigarettes into black markets from Cameroon to Moldova, and that OCCRP identified 4 counterfeit cigarette factories in Iraq linked to Nasri.  Publicly, Nasri is a real estate tycoon, bankrolling shopping malls, residential complexes, and office high-rises in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil.  It is said that industry sources estimate there are up to 6 illicit cigarette factories in operation in Iraq today, and these include 3 linked to the operation Nasri built.  It is claimed that, to build his international network, Nasri struck alliances with a wide range of smugglers, criminals, and high-level politicians. 

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/analysis/how-iraqs-cigarette-smugglers-built-empire

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UK ADDS 8 RUSSIAN INDIVIDUALS AND 5 ENTITIES TO ITS RUSSIA SANCTIONS LISTS AND CORRECTS AN EXISTING ENTRY

On 29 June, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that 8 further individuals and 5 entities had been added to its Russia sanctions lists.  At the same time, it advised that the existing entry for Natalya BROWNING had been corrected.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1086638/Notice_Russia_290622.pdf

The Isle of Man followed suit on 29 June.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jun/29/financial-sanctions-russia/

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UK ADDS 4 RUSSIAN INDIVIDUALS AND 3 RUSSIAN ENTITIES TO SYRIA SANCTIONS LISTS

On 19 June, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that Andrei Mikhailovich BOGATOV, Alexander Yuryevich CHAIKO, Sergey Fedorovich RUDSKOY, and Andrey Nikolaevich TROSHEV; together with EVRO POLIS LLC, MERCURY LLC, and VELADA LLC had been added to sanctions lists.  All 7 are Russian.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1086642/Notice_Syria_290622.pdf

The Isle of Man followed suit on 29 June.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jun/29/financial-sanctions-syria/

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 28

Panama Covid-19 update – and so it continues…1 new fatality and 1,989 new cases reported today, with testing percentage still high, 14,520 active cases, 33 in ICU and 187 in other wards.

28 JUNE 2022

UK: THE GROWING COST OF WASTE CRIME

On 23 June, an article from Shoosmiths LLP said that the NAO had recently published its report ‘Investigation into the Government’s actions to combat waste crime in England’. The article takes one through the key findings of the report and highlights the statistics which have come to light in relation to confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (PoCA).  It is explained that waste crime is the illegal transport, disposal or management of waste.  It includes fly-tipping and crimes such as the illegal export of waste, illegal operation of waste sites, misdescribing waste and falsifying records. Waste management has also allegedly been the target of quite sophisticated frauds.  The government has begun to respond to certain elements of the report and revealed various initiatives and schemes to assist in tackling the issues raised by NAO – but there remains the strong prospect that criminals who deliberately breach the legislation in the pursuit of financial gain will continue to take the view that the risk-reward balance remains in their favour and is there to be exploited.

https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/insights/legal-updates/the-growing-cost-of-waste-crime

EU SANCTIONS – THE RUSSIAN CRUDE OIL AND TRANSPORT INSURANCE RESTRICTIONS EXPLAINED

On 23 June, an article from Reed Smith focuses on the sanctions which prohibit the purchase, import or transfer of crude oil and certain petroleum products from Russia into the EU; and insuring and financing the transport, in particular through maritime routes, of Russian oil to third countries.

https://www.mondaq.com/russianfederation/export-controls-trade-investment-sanctions/1204964/eu-sanctions-the-russian-crude-oil-and-transport-insurance-restrictions-explained

THE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF COLOMBIA HAS PROPOSED ENDING THE EXTRADITION TO THE US OF THOSE INVOLVED IN THE “PEACEFUL DISMANTLING OF DRUG TRAFFICKING”

On 27 June, Newsroom Panama reported that the newly-elected President has proposed “subjecting extradition to non-compliance” those involved in “processes for the peaceful dismantling of drug trafficking”; but says that the measure will depend on “a negotiation with the United States”. 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/world/petro-proposes-plan-to-cancel-extradition-to-us

LAOS TO MIMIC POGO MODEL WITH NEW OFFSHORE GAMBLING LICENCES

On 28 June, iGB reported that Laos is set to regulate online gambling, setting up a regime where operators licensed in the country targeting markets elsewhere in SE Asia such as Thailand.  It would use a model similar to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) and may not accept customers who are based in Laos.

https://igamingbusiness.com/laos-to-mimic-pogo-model-with-new-offshore-licences

EU: ANNUAL REPORT ON TAXATION AND TAXATION TRENDS

On 28 June, the EU published 2 reports.  One report examines indicator-based analysis which assesses the recent trends in EU tax systems, and identifies how tax policy, implementation or compliance could be improved.  It identifies how tax policy, implementation or compliance could be improved.  The other report says that in 2020 tax revenue as percentage of GDP increased slightly in the EU up to 40.1 % of the GDP – while tax revenues decreased in nominal terms in 2020, GDP decreased more, which raised the tax-to-GDP-ratio.

https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/89f981a8-f1d9-11ec-a534-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/f85da28f-f5be-11ec-b976-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

UK NOTICE TO EXPORTERS 2022/19: NEW OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCES RE TRADE WITH INDIA PUBLISHED

On 28 June, the Department for International Trade published Notice to Exporters 2022/19 on the publication of 2 new Open General Export Licences (OGEL) for India.  One permits the export of certain dual-use items to India; and the other permits the export of certain military goods and technology to India.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202219-new-open-general-export-licences-published/nte-202219-new-open-general-export-licences-published

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-general-export-licence-dual-use-items-india

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-general-export-licence-military-goods-and-technology-india

A collection of OGEL is available at –

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/open-general-export-licences-ogels

UK PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE REPORTS ON THE UK-EU RELATIONSHIP IN FINANCIAL SERVICES

On 27 June, an article from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP said that 6 years following the UK voting in a referendum to leave the EU, the House of Lords European Affairs Committee published a report on the relationship between the UK-EU in financial services sector.  The article summarises the key points from the report.  Broadly speaking, the Committee was fairly optimistic about the future of the UK financial services.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-european-affairs-committee-reports-8627491/

FIRST REPORT ON THE UK’S FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS (FDI) REGIME

On 27 June, an article from Morgan Lewis said that the UK national security and investment regime came into effect on 4 January.  A report now shows that during the initial 3-month period, the UK government received 222 notifications, out of which it only called in for investigation 17 transactions, clearing 3 (with the remaining 14 pending at the end of the reporting period).

https://www.morganlewis.com/pubs/2022/06/uk-government-publishes-its-first-report-on-the-uks-foreign-direct-investments-regime

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/report-three-months-uk-new-national-security-investment-regime

ILLICIT CHROME MINING ECONOMY THRIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA

On 27 June, OCCRP reported that South Africa, the world’s largest chrome producer, is said to lose around 10% of its annual production to illegal mining which has served to empower mining mafias.  It is trucked to Mozambique or domestic ports and, along the way, it vanishes into the legal supply chain and eventually ends up in China.  Illegal chrome mines, which first came to the attention of South African investigators in 2016, have mushroomed in recent years.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16489-illicit-chrome-mining-economy-thriving-in-south-africa

US SUPREME COURT RULES THAT GOVERNMENT MUST PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT A DOCTOR KNOWINGLY PRESCRIBED OPIOIDS “IN AN UNAUTHORIZED MANNER” IN ORDER TO SECURE A CONVICTION FOR THE ILLEGAL DISTRIBUTION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

On 27 June, Jurist reported on a ruling on a case in which 2 doctors   were convicted of illegally distributing pain medication and charged with unlawful distribution of controlled substances, racketeering conspiracy, health care fraud conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy, among other charges.  One was separately charged with money laundering.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/06/us-supreme-court-rules-prosecutors-must-prove-doctors-knowingly-prescribed-drugs-illegally-to-secure-unlawful-distribution-conviction/

X-RAY FINDS 109 LIVE ANIMALS IN WOMEN’S LUGGAGE AT BANGKOK AIRPORT

On 28 June, CNN reported that 2 women were arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and accused of smuggling after 109 live animals were found in their luggage.  Wildlife officials called to the scene discovered 2 white porcupines, two armadillos, 35 turtles, 50 lizards and 20 snakes. 

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/women-arrested-100-live-animals-luggage-bangkok-airport-intl-hnk/index.html

TOYS AND GAMES MAKE UP 50% OF ALL COUNTERFEIT GOODS SEIZED BY BELGIAN CUSTOMS IN 2021

On 28 June, the Brussels Times reported that, in 2021, the Belgian Customs and Excise Administration intercepted 838,934 counterfeit goods.  While this included knock-off smartphones, clothes and perfumes, toys and games made up the largest share of goods that were seized.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/245733/toys-and-games-make-up-half-of-all-counterfeit-goods-seized-by-belgian-customs

HUNDREDS OF STOLEN CARS RECOVERED IN GLOBAL POLICE OPERATION AGAINST VEHICLE TRAFFICKING

A news release from INTERPOL on 28 June announced that Operation Carback on 16 to 31 May was a police operation targeting stolen vehicle trafficking has led to the recovery of hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes in just 2 weeks.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2022/Hundreds-of-stolen-cars-recovered-in-global-police-operation-against-vehicle-trafficking

HOW RUSSIAN CYBERCRIME GROUP, CONTI, TERRORISED LATIN AMERICA AND VANISHED

On 27 June, Insight Crime published an article saying that Conti, one of the most feared cybercrime operations in the world, unleashed a blitz of raids against government websites in Costa Rica and Peru.  Why, it asks, has it now disappeared off the radar?

https://insightcrime.org/news/how-russian-cybercrime-group-conti-terrorized-latin-america-and-vanished/

SMART CONTAINER FLEET TO EXPAND 8-FOLD OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS

On 28 June, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the global telematics-enabled container equipment fleet is forecast to grow 8-fold over the next 5 years and account for 25% of global box inventories by 2026, driven by wider adoption across the dry container fleet.  It explains that a container becomes “smart” when fitted with a telematics device that provides real-time tracking and monitoring, and allows beneficial cargo owners to understand the location and status of their cargo so that they can better control their supply chains.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/smart-container-fleet-to-expand-8-fold-over-the-next-5-years/

SWISS APPEALS COURT CONVICTS EX-FIFA OFFICIAL VALCKE OF BRIBERY

On 24 June, Channel News Asia reported that an appeals court found former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke guilty of forging documents and accepting bribes in a case involving World Cup media rights.  He was secretary general of the body from 2007 to 2015.  He received an 11-month suspended jail sentence. 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/sport/former-fifa-secretary-general-jerome-valcke-guilty-bribery-2768726

TRADERS WITH SWISS LINKS CONTINUE TO BUY AND SELL RUSSIAN OIL

On 26 June, Swissinfo reported that around 20 traders have reportedly increased their shipments of Russian oil since the war in Ukraine broke out, and that a third of these players have strong connections to Switzerland.  These include the Russian oil giant Lukoil, which sells most of its oil in Geneva via its subsidiary Litasco, and 2 unknown companies in Hong Kong, Bellatrix and Livna, while part of the Russia-China trade is reportedly channelled through a Swiss company.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/traders-with-swiss-links-continue-to-buy-and-sell-russian-oil/47704254

DOZENS OF FIRMS REGISTERED AT AN EDINBURGH ADDRESS INVOLVE A MAN SANCTIONED BY THE UN AND THE UK

On 24 June, The Ferret reported on 38 Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLP), all of which were incorporated between 2008 and 2016, using an Edinburgh address, and were provided with a new “virtual” Scottish address between February and April this year.

https://theferret.scot/firms-scottish-gas-tycoon-sanctioned-russia/

US SEIZES 6 WEBSITES PROVIDING ILLEGAL ACCESS TO COPYRIGHTED MUSIC

A news release from US DoJ on 27 June advised that the DoJ had announced the seizure of six websites as part of ongoing efforts by the Department of Justice and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to combat copyright infringement, and prevent third parties from streaming and downloading copyright-protected content from these sites.  Individuals visiting those sites now will see a message indicating that the site has been seized by the federal government, and visitors will be redirected to another site for additional information.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/united-states-seizes-six-websites-providing-illegal-access-copyrighted-music

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/explained-the-economic-crisis-in-sri-lanka/

SOUTH AFRICA: ZONDO COMMISSION LET THE STATE CAPTURE BANKERS OFF THE HOOK

On 28 June, the Daily Maverick asks how did the State Capture network move billions of rand stolen from the South African people across the globe?  The Zondo Commission report provides some of the details of the network of banks who profited from this — but fails to provide any remedy of how to prevent a repetition of these crimes.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-06-28-zondo-let-the-state-capture-bankers-off-the-hook/

3 DEFENDANTS INDICTED IN $88 MILLION SOFTWARE LICENCE PIRACY SCHEME TARGETING POPULAR TELEPHONE SYSTEM USED BY THOUSANDS OF COMPANIES

A news release from US DoJ on 28 June advised that a court in Oklahoma had unsealed an indictment charging 3 individuals with violating federal wire fraud and money laundering statutes in connection with an operation to sell over $88 million of stolen Avaya Direct International (ADI) software licences, which were used to unlock features of a popular telephone system used by thousands of companies around the globe.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/three-defendants-indicted-software-license-piracy-scheme

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