OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 8

Well, things may have seemed to die down, and the teachers are back at work, but it is reported that road protests are scheduled to restart (where they in fact had ended…) on Wednesday, 10 August, with Single Union of Construction and Similar Workers (Suntracs) having announced nationwide protest actions . We are due to be away then, so might have problems getting back. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, ex-President Martinelli, despite he and wife having sued the La Prensa newspaper for reporting that the tax authorities were investigating his affairs, and denying such a thing was happening, is nevertheless launching an action to stop the investigation that he says is not happening…

It is also reported that David McCulloch, who wrote the award-winning story of the Panama Canal – “A Path Between Two Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal” – has died.

8 AUGUST 2022

GREEK WIRETAPPING SCANDAL

On 6 August, Ekathimerini reported on claims that the phone of Nikos Androulakis, an MEP who is the leader of the opposition socialist PASOK party, had been bugged.  In the aftermath, the prime minister’s chief of staff (who is also the PM’s nephew) and the head of the intelligence service resigned.  Government officials claimed that the “legal wiretapping” of Androulakis was carried out at the request of the Ukrainian and Armenian intelligence services, implying the MEP was being spied on because he is too close to Russia and Turkey. 

https://www.ekathimerini.com/news/1190722/wiretapping-case-the-phone-data-that-triggered-developments

AUSTRALIAN COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA AUTHORITY FORMAL WARNING TO A SUPPLIER FOR PROVIDING GAMING SOFTWARE TO 13 ILLEGAL ONLINE CASINOS

On 8 August, iGB reported that the ACMA had issued its first formal warning, saying that Proxous Advanced Solutions was knowingly involved in the provision of prohibited interactive gambling services to Australians.

https://igamingbusiness.com/legal-compliance/acma-warns-proxous-for-providing-software-to-illegal-casino-sites

US REGULATORS TO SHUT DOWN POLITICAL BETTING SITE PREDICTIT

On 8 August, iGB reported that there is a federal ban on online gambling on election results, but that nonetheless PredictIt, a not-for-profit project run by the Victoria University of Wellington, a New Zealand-based research institution, had been allowed to operate.  This had made it effectively the only regulated political betting site in the US, as well as the only cross-state betting exchange regulated in the US.

https://igamingbusiness.com/legal-compliance/legal/us-regulators-to-shut-down-political-betting-site-predictit

FIRST CONVOY OF SHIPS CARRYING UKRAINIAN GRAIN LEAVES ODESSA

On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the convoy consisting of the bulk carriers Navi Star, Rojen and Polarnet and left Odessa on 5 August carrying nearly 60,000 tons of corn. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-convoy-of-ships-carrying-ukrainian-grain-leave-odessa-under-new-deal-11659697193

https://www.rferl.org/a/two-more-ships-grain-exports-ukraine-ports/31978431.html

ERICSSON SUED BY US TERROR VICTIMS OVER ALLEGED IRAQ BRIBE PAYMENTS

On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ericsson is being sued by hundreds of Americans who say the company’s alleged payment of bribes to Al Qaeda and Islamic State — protection money meant to let it operate in Iraq — also helped fund acts of terror.  It faces claims from more than 500 US service members and civilians who were victims of terrorist attacks and hostage takings from 2005 to 2021, along with the families of those killed in attacks.  In February, it announced that it had found “serious breaches of compliance rules” in Iraq, including evidence of corruption-related misconduct, and in 2019 paid about $1 billion to settle with US prosecutors over allegations of bribery in 5 countries, a deal that didn’t include any conduct in Iraq.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/ericsson-sued-by-u-s-terror-victims-over-alleged-iraq-bribe-payments-11659733912

THE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL MOVEMENT (RIM): A PUTIN REGIME PROXY

On 7 August, C/O Future published a post about this organisation, formed in 2002, with deep links into the KGB (and later FSB).  It is described as a right wing and Russian nationalist/white extremist organisation whose policies and actions closely support the Putin regime even though it claims in its narratives to be directly opposed to it.  It operates within Russia, train foreign fighters supporting Russian separatists in the Donbas and Luhansk, and even send fighters in direct support of Russian combat operations taking place abroad.

https://www.cofutures.net/post/the-russian-imperial-movement-rim-a-putin-regime-proxy-promoting-autocratic-terrorism-insurgency

RUSSIA BARS EXXON AND OTHER WESTERN INVESTORS FROM SELLING SHARES IN STRATEGIC BUSINESSES

On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia has barred investors from nations it deems unfriendly from selling shares in certain strategic enterprises through to the end of the year.  It is said to be part of a range of special measures being enacted in the sphere of finance and fuel and energy.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-bars-exxon-and-other-western-investors-from-selling-shares-in-strategic-businesses-11659726644

US: APPLYING THE BANK SECRECY ACT, FINCEN REGULATIONS, AND SANCTIONS TO THE NASCENT NFT MARKET

On 4 August, Baker Hostetler LLP published a briefing saying that NFT often involve 2 areas with known money laundering and terrorist financing risks: cryptocurrencies and high-value assets, like art.  Recent actions and statements from Congress also show an increased AML focus on the art world, suggesting that the industry may be subject to more AML regulation, as are other industries with high-value assets, like precious metals, stones, and jewels.  It comments on insights into the AML considerations that NFT market participants should bear in mind and what precautions they may wish to take currently.

https://www.bakerlaw.com/files/blockchain/5-Applying%20the%20Bank%20Secrecy%20Act%20FinCEN%20Regulations%20and%20Sanctions.pdf

HORIZON SCANNER: FINANCIAL CRIME US

On 5 August, Eversheds Sutherland published the latest edition of this publication that warns of immediate, short-term and longer-term developments.

https://us.eversheds-sutherland.com/portalresource/lookup/poid/Z1tOl9NPluKPtDNIqLMRV56Pab6TfzcRXncKbDtRr9tObDdEra3EnG3!/fileUpload.name=/Financial%20Crime%20Horizon%20Scanner%20-%20US.pdf

UK: DIRECTOR DISQUALIFICATION ACTION AGAINST DISSOLVED COMPANIES

On 2 August, Weightmans LLP published an article saying that the Insolvency Service, has recently used its new powers to disqualify 3 former directors for dissolving their companies.  The new powers enable it to disqualify former directors who abuse the company dissolution process, and these provisions apply where the relevant company has been dissolved without initiating a formal insolvency process.  It published an earlier brief warning of the implications of this new legislation.

https://www.weightmans.com/insights/directors-beware/

https://www.weightmans.com/insights/directors-beware-new-disqualification-rules-to-curb-abuse-of-the-company-dissolution-process/

US STATE DEPARTMENT FACTSHEETS – THE US AND ASEAN NATIONS AND CAMBODIA

The State Department has issued 2 factsheets on the 2 and 3 August.

https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-asean-relationship/

https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-cambodia-relationship/

INDIA’S NEW HYPERSONIC MISSILE RELIES ON RUSSIAN TECH

On 4 August, the Asia Times reported that India’s new BrahMos II hypersonic missile may feature technology used in Russia’s Tsirkon hypersonic weapon, jointly developed by India’s Defense and Research Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya.  It is said that BrahMos II will not be exported, as India is a party to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), meaning India can develop missiles with ranges of more than 300 km and a weight of more than 500 kg but cannot sell such weapons to third countries.

https://asiatimes.com/2022/08/indias-new-hypersonic-relies-on-russian-tech/

DRONES USED BY IRAN-BACKED MILITIAS ARE COMING FROM CHINA

On 5 August, Al-Monitor reported US claims that unmanned drones fired by Iran-backed militias at targets across the Middle East in recent years are being supplied from China.  The article also says that Iran is not thought to have purchased Chinese military drones, but has its own, which it has sought to export.  As for other Middle East States, Saudi Arabia is said to have purchased China’s Wing Loong II and CH-4 drones starting in 2014, while the UAE is thought to have obtained the Wing Loong in 2011.  Iraq and Jordan are also believed to have a small number of CH-4B, and Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan have also reportedly acquired military drones from China.

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/08/drones-used-iran-backed-militias-are-coming-china-us-says

EGYPT EMERGES AS NEW MARKET FOR KOREAN ARMS EXPORTS

On 5 August, the Korea Times reported that, following a massive arms deal with Poland, Korea has now set its eyes on Egypt.

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2022/08/205_333963.html

4 MORE RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRES LOSE CYPRIOT CITIZENSHIP

On 8 August, Schengen Visa reported that authorities have announced that 4 more Russian billionaires will lose their citizenship in Cyprus, acquired through the Golden Passport scheme, after they have been blacklisted by the EU following the invasion of Ukraine.  In  April, a statement said that a total of 11 members of Russian billionaire’s families would lose their citizenship.  Following the Cypriot government policy, the names of persons affected by the recent decision have not been published.

https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/four-more-russian-billionaires-lose-cypriot-citizenship-following-eu-sanctions/

HONG KONG POLICE SEIZE 126 KITTENS AND PUPPIES SMUGGLED BY SPEEDBOAT INTO CITY FROM MAINLAND CHINA

On 8 August, the South China Morning Post reported that all of the kittens and puppies are expensive breeds and only a few months old, with each animal able to fetch thousands of dollars at least.  It was the third smuggling case involving kittens and puppies being shipped into Hong Kong from the mainland this year.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3188155/hong-kong-police-seize-126-kittens-and-puppies

ISLE OF MAN: COMPANIES MUST COMPLY WITH RUSSIAN COURT ORDER

On 8 August, Isle of Man Today reported that the High Court has ruled that 2 island-based companies must comply with a bankruptcy order issued by a court in Russia, in a case which has its origins in Russia.  The case went to the island’s courts because there are assets in the Isle of Man. 

https://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/courts/manx-companies-must-comply-with-russian-court-order-558431

PwC FINED £1.75 MILLION OVER BT AUDIT FOLLOWING ‘FRAUD IN ITS ITALIAN OPERATIONS’

On 8 August, Telecoms.com reported that PwC was fined by the Financial Reporting Council over its work in auditing BT, following the identification of fraud in its Italian operations.  It says that, apparently PwC and Audit Engagement Partner Richard Hughes each admitted ‘breaches of Relevant Requirements in relation to the audit of adjustments between the current and prior years disclosed by BT in its financial statements for the financial year ended 31 March 2017 (FY17 Financial Statements) which were made following the identification of a fraud in its Italian operations in 2016’.

https://telecoms.com/516906/pwc-fined-1-75-million-over-bt-audit-following-fraud-in-its-italian-operations/

NEW FORCED LABOUR REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERS OF THE CUSTOMS TRADE PARTNERSHIP AGAINST TERRORISM (C-TPAT)

On 8 August, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs and Border Protection has announced new minimum security criteria related to forced labour that members of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism will be required to comply with.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/august/new-forced-labor-requirements-announced-for-ctpat-members

PAKISTAN FINDS EX-PM IMRAN KHAN’S PARTY RECEIVED MONEY FROM ABROAD

On 8 August, OCCRP reported that Pakistan’s elections monitoring body said it found that the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan has received millions of dollars in donations from the US, UK, UAE and Australia which could be against the law.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16649-pakistan-finds-ex-pm-imran-khan-s-party-received-money-from-abroad

CANADA: TEMPORARY IMPORT BAN ON HANDGUNS

On 5 August, Jurist reported that the ban will become active on 19 August and will cover weapons like pistols or revolvers that are designed to be shot with one hand.  The majority of handguns sold in Canada are imported, so the ban is expected to virtually end all handgun sales.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/08/canada-temporarily-bans-handgun-imports/

AUSTRALIA: CONSULTATION ON A MULTINATIONAL TAX INTEGRITY PACKAGE TO ADDRESS THE TAX AVOIDANCE PRACTICES OF MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES (MNE) AND IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY THROUGH BETTER PUBLIC REPORTING OF MNE TAX INFORMATION

On 5 August, the Treasury reported that the consultation forms part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that MNE pay their fair share of tax in Australia to help fund vital services, repair the Budget and level the playing field for Australian businesses.

https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2022-297736

SPANISH DRUG CONVICTION COUNTS FOR LITTLE IN ALBANIA

On 5 August, Balkan Insight reported that, for years, Albanian authorities failed to probe the wealth and connections of 2 Albanians convicted of drug trafficking in Spain.  They have ever found themselves in the crosshairs of Albania’s ‘anti-mafia law’ – designed to dig into unexplained wealth and seize the proceeds of crime – despite widespread evidence that the Albanian construction sector is rife with laundered money.  One of the brothers is heavily involved in the sector.  Under a new name, in 2014, 4 years after fleeing his prison sentence in Spain, he founded his first business in Albania and expanded from concrete to high-end housing developments, plasterboard production and mining.

https://balkaninsight.com/2022/08/05/the-buccaneers-spanish-drug-conviction-counts-for-little-in-albania/

THE UK TRUMPETS NEW REGISTER TO REIN IN KLEPTOCRATS BUT IT’S 6 YEARS LATE AND RIDDLED WITH LOOPHOLES

On 3 August, Coda published an article by Oliver Bullough about the new UK law that provides that anyone wishing to deal in British property with a foreign-registered company will have to declare who owns it.

https://www.codastory.com/newsletters/uk-kleptocrats-properties/

SINGAPORE: 2 E-SPORTS PLAYERS CHARGED WITH MATCH-FIXING, GAMBLING DURING TOURNAMENT

On 5 August, Channel News Asia reported that 2 men linked with professional e-sports have been charged with gambling and fixing a match during an online tournament.  They are said to have committed the offences during a 2020 tournament featuring the game, Valorant. 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/e-sports-charged-match-fixing-gambling-valorant-cpib-2860816

UK: MAN ARRESTED IN DAIGOU SHOPPING MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION

On 4 August, a news release from NCA advised that a 35-year-old Chinese national has been arrested in Teesside as part of a NCA investigation into a suspected Chinese underground banking network.  The case is said to involve so-called Daigou shopping, where high value retail items such as watches, jewellery or designer goods are purchased in the UK and then shipped to China to be re-sold.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/man-arrested-in-daigou-shopping-money-laundering-investigation

UAE ISSUES NEW REPORTING RULES FOR REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING

On 8 August, The National reported that UAE has introduced new reporting requirements for “certain real estate transactions” conducted in the country to fight money laundering and terrorism financing.  All real estate agents, brokers and law firms are required to file reports to the FIU on the purchase and sale transactions of freehold properties that involve 3 methods of payment, whether for a portion or the entirety of the property value.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/business/property/2022/08/08/uae-issues-new-reporting-rules-for-real-estate-transactions-to-combat-money-laundering/

US AND EU IMPORTS OF RUSSIAN URANIUM AND ENRICHMENT SERVICES COULD STOP

On 5 August, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that imports of Russian uranium and uranium enrichment services could stop.  This is a shift that has already started spontaneously.  It explains how a complete transition away from Russian nuclear services could happen.  It explains that, in 2021, Russia provided US nuclear utilities with 14% of their uranium purchases and 28% of their enrichment services.  In 2020, EU utilities imported 20% of their natural uranium and 26% of their enrichment services from Russia.  Combined, annual US and EU imports earn Russia only on the order of $1 billion per year.

https://thebulletin.org/2022/08/us-and-eu-imports-of-russian-uranium-and-enrichment-services-could-stop

WIFE OF SLAIN TEXAS TRUCKING MAGNATE NOW CHARGED IN MASSIVE FRAUD

On 5 August, Freightwaves reported that a woman convicted of killing her husband while chasing his mistress on a highway in 2016 has been charged with felony fraud relating to the company they co-owned.  Frances Hall, 59, provided false payroll information over a 7-year period to avoid more than $9 million in insurance premium payments.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/wife-of-slain-texas-trucking-magnate-arrested-fraud

ISLE OF MAN: UPDATED SANCTIONS LEGISLATION

On 9 August, the Isle of Man advised that the Sanctions (Application) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2022 come into operation on 9 August, once more bringing Island sanctions law into line with that in the UK.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/aug/08/financial-sanctions-legislation/

WINE FRAUDSTER WHO SERVED LESS THAN 4 YEARS IN ITALIAN JAIL AFTER FLEEING THE UK MADE MORE THAN £38 MILLION IN TAX SCAM

On 8 August, the Mail Online reported that Livio Mazzarello skipped bail days before he was found guilty of fronting a scheme to dodge excise duty on wine being imported into the country from Europe. He was found guilty of fraudulent evasion of duty, fraudulent evasion of VAT and money laundering, and jailed for 14 years in his absence in July 2017.  Italian authorities took over enforcement for his sentence and reduced it to 8 years, but he was released in June 2021 after serving less than 4 years in jail.  He now faces a confiscation hearing, where UK authorities will try to claw back as much money as possible after he dodged millions in excise duty for nearly 5 years.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11092667/Wine-fraudster-38m-tax-scam-served-four-years-Italian-jail-fleeing-UK.html

US WARRANT FOR SEIZURE OF AIRCRAFT OF SANCTIONED RUSSIAN OLIGARCH ANDREI SKOCH WORTH OVER $90 MILLION

A news release from US DoJ on 8 August advised that the US Government had been authorised to seize an Airbus A319-100 owned and controlled by sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch.  A federal court found that the aircraft is subject to seizure and forfeiture based on probable cause of violation of the federal AML laws. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/united-states-obtains-warrant-seizure-airplane-sanctioned-russian-oligarch-andrei-skoch

US OFFICE OF FINANCIAL RESEARCH WORKING PAPER ON CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY

On 8 August, a release on Mondo Visione advised of the OFR working paper which looks at how introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) would affect the stability of the banking system. A blog post elaborates on the findings.

https://www.financialresearch.gov/working-papers/2022/07/11/central-bank-digital-currency/

https://www.financialresearch.gov/the-ofr-blog/2022/08/08/how-would-a-central-bank-digital-currency-affect-financial-stability/

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OFAC SANCTIONS NOTORIOUS VIRTUAL CURRENCY MIXER – TORNADO CASH

On 8 August, OFAC announced that it had sanctioned virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash, which has been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019.  This includes over $455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) state-sponsored hacking group.  Tornado Cash is a virtual currency mixer that operates on the Ethereum blockchain and indiscriminately facilitates anonymous transactions by obfuscating their origin, destination, and counterparties, with no attempt to determine their origin.  Criminals have increased their use of anonymity-enhancing technologies, including mixers, to help hide the movement or origin of funds. The sanctions mean that all property and interests in property of Tornado Cash that is in the US or in the possession or control of US persons is blocked and must be reported to OFAC.  In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.  All transactions by US persons or within (or transiting) the US that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific licence issued by OFAC, or exempt.  These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0916

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220808

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UK: LAW COMMISSION TO UNDERTAKE REVIEW OF THE CRIMINAL APPEALS SYSTEM

On 5 August, the Law Commission advised that has been asked by the Government to examine the need for reforms to the appeals system, to ensure that the courts have the right powers to enable the effective, efficient and appropriate resolution of appeals.  The comprehensive review, which will include a public consultation, follows calls from several leading bodies for improvements to the law on appeals to be considered.

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/law-commission-to-undertake-review-of-the-appeals-system/

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UNEXPLAINED WEALTH OF TOP GEORGIAN JUDGE HIGHLIGHTS OBSTACLES ALONG COUNTRY’S PATH TO EUROPE

On 8 August, OCCRP reported that before being considered for EU membership, the EU Council has said that Georgia must implement reforms to make its institutions more accountable and democratic.  However, it says that, in a new investigation, reporters from OCCRP’s Georgian partner, Studio Monitor, found that the problem extends to the highest levels of the country’s judiciary.  It says that one of Georgia’s most influential judges, Levan Murusidze, failed to disclose assets belonging to his long-term romantic partner in his asset declarations.  This ensured that the multiple apartments, expensive jewellery, and designer clothes she acquired in recent years were hidden from public scrutiny.  Previously Studio Monitor had found that another influential judge, Mikheil Chinchaladze, had failed to declare significant real estate holdings registered to his aunt.  It says that Murusidze and Chinchaladze are alleged to be the leaders of a powerful group of judges, known as “the clan”, that is said to be blocking the kind of reforms required to deepen Georgia’s ties to Europe. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/unexplained-wealth-of-top-georgian-judge-highlights-obstacles-along-countrys-path-to-europe

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WESTERN ELECTRONICS AT THE HEART OF RUSSIA’S WAR MACHINE

On 8 August, a special report from RUSI contains an examination of the components and functioning of 27 of Russia’s most modern military systems – including cruise missiles, communications systems and electronic warfare complexes – concludes that the degradation in Russian military capability could be made permanent if appropriate policies are implemented.

https://static.rusi.org/RUSI-Silicon-Lifeline-final-web.pdf

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SERBIAN ARMS DEALER MAKES MOCKERY OF US SANCTIONS – AGAIN

On 8 August, Balkan Insight reported that companies with ties to Slobodan Tesic’s are exporting ammunition to the very country – the US – that slapped sanctions on him and his associates in 2017 and 2019.  It says that he has found a “way around” the US sanctions via 2 Belgrade-registered companies – Valir d.o.o. and Zenitprom.  This is despite Tesic being blacklisted by US authorities for the past 5 years for bribery and violating arms embargos. 

https://balkaninsight.com/2022/08/08/bangs-for-bucks-serbian-arms-dealer-makes-mockery-of-us-sanctions-again/

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