The road closure protests continue, with negotiations continuing – particularly over a suggestion to reduce the price limit placed on petrol, initially put at $3.95 per gallon (US gallon, I presume). We still haven’t noticed anything in the city, though it is noticeable that certain fruit and vegetables appear short. In the supermarket i visited there were no bananas at all (and this in a major producer of them), although the man selling dollar bags to cars at a nearby road junction appeared to have plenty…
16 JULY 2022
UNODC COUNTERING ILLICIT DRUG TRAFFICKING IN KYRGYZSTAN
An interesting release from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime demonstrates that cooperation with Russia still continues in some areas, despite the Ukraine war. The release is concerned with the situation in Kyrgyzstan, where approximately 10,000 hectares of land are “infected” by wild cannabis, from which marijuana and hashish are produced. Ephedra, a raw material to produce methamphetamines, also grows wildly on the territory of the Republic – with the total area affected estimated at over 55,000 hectares. However, the UNODC Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic, with the financial support from the Russian Federation, has launched a project to strengthen the capacity of the Mobile Operational Teams of the Counter Narcotics Service (CNS) of the Ministry of Interior. The project envisages development of legal framework, provision of specialized training for UAV operators as well as 2 sets of drones and 2 mobile platforms for their transportation and command control.
UK: MINISTER LIZ TRUSS WAS WARNED OF BLOW TO FOOD SECTOR UNDER POST-BREXIT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND TRADE DEALS
On 12 July, Politico Pro carried an article which reports that freedom of information requests have revealed that Liz Truss, currently bidding to be the next prime minister and replace Boris Johnson, was given detailed warnings by her own officials in 2020 that post-Brexit trade pacts with Australia and New Zealand would shrink the UK farming and food sectors. Truss laid the groundwork for the deals after being appointed Trade Secretary by Johnson in July 2019 and oversaw negotiations until her appointment as Foreign Secretary in September 2021.
EU URGES ROMANIA TO TRANSPOSE AML AND CROSS-BORDER FUNDS DISTRIBUTION DIRECTIVES
On 15 July, SeeNews reported that the European Commission has called on Romania to fully transpose Directives regarding money laundering and the distribution of cross-border funds into its national legislation. Romanian authorities have exempted several categories of corporate and other legal entities from the obligation to declaring their beneficial owners to a central register, failing to comply with the AML Directive. The Commission also urged Romania to update national laws removing regulatory barriers under the cross-border distribution of funds Directive. If Romania does not address its reasoned opinions in 2 months, the Commission will refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
CONSULTATION LAUNCHED TO DECIDE ON FUTURE GOOD CAUSES TO BENEFIT FROM £738 MILLION DORMANT ASSET FUND IN ENGLAND
On 16 July, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport issued a news release saying that the consultation is open for responses for 12 weeks following the enactment of the Dormant Assets Act 2022. Currently, dormant assets funding in England is required to be spent on 3 causes: youth, financial inclusion and social investment. The Dormant Assets Scheme was recently expanded from bank accounts to include the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors, estimated to unlock around £880 million for good causes across the UK, £738 million of which will be made available for England over time. The consultation closes on 9 October.
UK: NO DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY FOR PERPETRATORS OF MODERN SLAVERY
On 13 July, an article from CMS Law reported that a ground-breaking judgment from the Supreme Court has ruled, for the first time, that the alleged exploitation of a domestic worker falls within the commercial activity exception to a diplomat’s immunity under the Vienna Convention and the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964.
WHY IS KUWAIT THE LAST GULF STATE TO NORMALISE ITS RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL?
An article from the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University posed this question. It says that Kuwait prohibits the entry of Israeli products, there is a ban on entry for people with Israeli passports, and even those whose passports have been stamped in Israel are not allowed to enter the country.
ISRAEL’S GAS DISPUTE WITH LEBANON
On 14 July, an article from the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University says that Lebanon is eager to reach a compromise with Israel that can help extract it from its severe economic crisis. However, the arrival in June of the British-Greek Energean gas rig in Israel’s territorial waters in preparation for gas production from the Karish field, deepened tension between Israel and Lebanon regarding their maritime border dispute, and was harshly criticised by actors from across the political spectrum in Lebanon. It was claimed that part of the Karish field is in Lebanese territory.
UN PROTOCOL AGAINST THE SMUGGLING OF MIGRANTS BY LAND, SEA AND AIR
On 16 July, the UN Office on drugs and Crime tweeted a reminder about this Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (aka the Palermo Convention), which some (including me) might think is pointedly aimed at the UK. The tweet said that countries that have ratified the Protocol must ensure that migrant smuggling is criminalised with legal requirements, but that they must treat smuggled migrants humanely and not treat them as criminals. The UK signed the Protocol in 2000 and ratified it in 2006.
2 MEN JAILED FOR £22 MILLION PENSION FRAUD THAT ROBBED VICTIMS OF LIFE SAVINGS
On 16 July, Yahoo News reported an Evening Standard article saying that a court heard that some victims had their entire pension pots stolen, while others must continue working to fund their retirement. It is said that Scotland Yard detectives traced over 250 victims from across the UK and seized 10,000 documents following a tip-off from the FSA, now the FCA. One of the 2 was an ex-Equitable Life employee, obtained details of existing customers who they then cold called and convinced them to move money into a Self-Invested Personal Pension controlled by their scheme.
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE-LED CRIMINAL ASSETS CONFISCATION TASKFORCE (CACT) HAS SECURED THE FORFEITURE OF ALMOST $3.5 MILLION IN CASH AND ASSETS ACROSS 3 SEPARATE MATTERS
A news release from the AFP on 15 July advised that a 7-year unexplained wealth and proceeds of crime investigation in June resulted in the forfeiture of more than $3.1 million in assets from a couple, including 3 homes, and a business unit in Perth, 2 Mercedes cars, Louis Vuitton designer handbags, diamond jewellery and a Rolex watch. A separate investigation resulted in CACT successfully applying to the courts to have $192,500 in cash, suspected to be the proceeds of crime, forfeited from a man, 32, who was charged following the seizure of 1 kg of methamphetamine at Sydney Airport. The third case concerned a joint operation with the Australian Border Force (ABF) into a man suspected of operating shell companies to facilitate illegal labour hire in Western Australia, where officers located $136,460 in cash during a May 2020 search of the man’s apartment, including envelopes of cash hidden in his freezer.
SINGAPORE: CHIEF MONEY MULE JAILED 14 YEARS OVER $40 MILLION SKILLSFUTURE SCAM
On 15 July, the Straits Times reported that a key player in what is believed to be the largest case of fraud against a government institution was jailed for 14 years and 4 months. Sim Soon Lee, 46, pleaded guilty to a slew of charges that include engaging in a criminal conspiracy to defraud statutory board SkillsFuture Singapore of close to $40 million and abetting money launderers to hide the sum. Some $21 million of the money scammed is still lost.
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