Good news, for some, as the health ministry announces that patriotic parades can be held in November this year, for independence celebrations in November, after a couple years’ break due to Covid. If you like drums, then these marches are for you. Where we first stayed for a while there was a school opposite where the drums seemed to practice endlessly for weeks beforehand.
29 AUGUST 2022
UAE CENTRAL BANK ISSUES GUIDANCE ON AML RISKS IN THE PAYMENT SECTOR
On 25 August, Latham & Watkins LLP said that on 1 August the Central Bank issued guidance which is part of the rapidly evolving rules on AML and aims to promote UAE as a jurisdiction compliant with best practices. The Guidance for Licensed Financial Institutions on the Risks Relating to Payments was drafted in accordance with guidance issued by FATF, and to implement a federal decree.
AT A GLANCE: TRADE SANCTIONS IN BELGIUM
Available from Loyens & Loeff, via the Lexology website,
SEC MODIFIES WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM TO REVERSE TRUMP-ERA CHANGE
On 26 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC had to remove a limit on whistleblower awards that was set during the Trump Administration. This eliminates the regulator’s ability to deny awards to those who might otherwise be eligible for a pay-out from another agency.
AS US ONLINE GAMBLING GROWS, SO DOES THE FINANCIAL CRIME RISK
An article from the Wall Street Journal on 29 August made this claim, saying that online gambling is booming across the US and compliance experts caution that it creates opportunities for criminals to launder money or take part in other financial crimes. It says that the UK and other jurisdictions have stepped up enforcement, but the US, with its complex patchwork of state and federal regulators, hasn’t seen a major enforcement push; and some compliance experts have predicted a looming crackdown as the flow of money into online gambling swells.
OECD: SUPPORT FOR FOSSIL FUELS ALMOST DOUBLED IN 2021, SLOWING PROGRESS TOWARD INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE GOALS
On 29 August, the OECD reported analysis which showed that major economies sharply increased support for the production and consumption of coal, oil and natural gas, with many countries struggling to balance longstanding pledges to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies with efforts to protect households from surging energy prices.
ATM-SKIMMING GANG INVESTS FORTUNE AND DODGES JUSTICE IN PARAGUAY AND BRAZIL
On 26 August, OCCRP published an article which investigates the Rivera Maya gang’s operations and investments in the poorly policed border area between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. This comes as the trial of an alleged member of the gang thought to have stolen more than a billion dollars from unsuspecting tourists across Latin America plodded along in virtual obscurity in Paraguay, and with witness testimony cancelled in the latest of a string of delays. It is said that the gang’s main business was stealing victims’ bank card details by tampering with ATM, then withdrawing their money using cloned cards, and is said to have also developed a new scam targeting payment terminals at local businesses in Paraguay.
ISRAELI BILLIONAIRE BENY STEINMETZ APPEALS BRIBERY CONVICTION IN SWITZERLAND
On 29 August, OCCRP reported that the Israeli mining billionaire begins an appeal against a landmark foreign bribery conviction handed down in Geneva early last year. He was of bribery and forgery over his company’s acquisition of mining rights in the West African nation of Guinea in the late 2000s, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay $56 million. A French national who participated in the scheme, and a Belgian national who administered hundreds of companies in Steinmetz’s corporate group were also convicted. A decision on the appeal is expected on 7 September.
PROSECUTORS IN ARGENTINA ASK FOR 12-YEAR SENTENCE FOR VICE-PRESIDENT CRISTINA KIRCHNER
On 29 August, OCCRP reported that prosecutors had called for the sentence for heading what is being described as the “biggest corruption manoeuvre ever known in the country”. She is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the state coffer when she was President of Argentina between 2007 and 2015. The trial began in 2019 and is entering its final stage. She allegedly ran a corruption scheme believed to have been set up by her husband and former President Néstor Kirchner. However, the current President, and the Presidents of Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico have all expressed support for Kirchner. The article strikes a sceptical note, saying that a conviction would have to be confirmed by Argentina’s Supreme Court, which could take years.
COMBATING WASTE TRAFFICKING: A GUIDE TO GOOD LEGISLATIVE PRACTICES
The UN Office on Drugs & Crime has produced this Guide, saying that waste crime can generally be understood as the trade, treatment or disposal of waste in ways that breach international or domestic environmental legislation and cause harm or risk to the environment and or human health and related conduct, such as fraudulent acts and omissions. It is concerned with drafting legislation to prevent and combat waste trafficking and, accordingly, it mainly uses the term “waste trafficking”. Where the guide refers to the broader category of criminal offences concerning waste, the terms “waste crime” or “waste offences” are used.
CARBON OFFSETTING PROGRAMS AND NATURE-BASED CLIMATE MITIGATION SOLUTIONS ARE VULNERABLE TO CORRUPTION
On 25 August, Thomson Reuters reported that the Basel Institute on Governance had said that carbon offsetting programs and nature-based climate mitigation solutions are vulnerable to corruption; and that they can even fuel corruption by channelling cash to jurisdictions with weak governance and few controls.
AUSTRALIA: STAR ENTERTAINMENT COVERED UP CHINESE TRANSACTIONS WORTH $55 MILLION
On 25 August, Gambling News reported claims that the group’s casino operations hid away $55 million wagered by Chinese residents through banned transactions from a Chinese bank. It is said that that Chinese residents holding UnionPay cards were able to withdraw cash and then wager it on games in Star Entertainment’s 2 Queensland casinos , and that the transactions were recorded as hotel purchases, according to an agreement Star Entertainment had with the National Australia Bank.
COLOMBIA WILL NOT EXTRADITE CRIMINALS WHO NEGOTIATE GOVERNMENT DEALS
On 24 August, Yahoo News reported that Colombia’s new President Gustavo Petro had proposed that drug traffickers who comply with government surrender conditions and abandon the trade will not be extradited to face charges abroad. His government has floated an offer of legal benefits like reduced sentences to crime gang members who provide information about drug trafficking and lay down arms.
NEARLY 60,000 PAIRS OF NIKE, ADIDAS & YEEZY TRAINERS TO BE SOLD FROM $85 MILLION PONZI SCHEME
On 26 August, Yahoo Finance reported that, after business owner was charged with orchestrating a multimillion-dollar wire and bank fraud Ponzi scheme, a court-appointed receiver is looking to unload nearly 60,000 pairs of shoes to raise funds for victims. The 59,780 pairs of shoes belonging to the man once described as “the Bernie Madoff of sneakers” are now being auctioned off by a court-appointed receiver.
HOW A GRU AGENT CHARMED HER WAY INTO NATO CIRCLES IN ITALY
On 25 August, Bellingcat related the story of how a Russian military intelligence agent, an individual had travelled the world as a cosmopolitan, Peru-born socialite with her own jewellery line. There is no evidence that Western counter-intelligence services or NATO’s own internal security service were aware of the presence of a Russian military spy placed strategically close to NATO’s Joint Force Command Center in Europe. She is said to have finally returned to Moscow in 2018.
NATO INVESTIGATES HACKER SALE OF MISSILE COMPANY DATA
On 26 August, the BBC reported that NATO is assessing the impact of a data breach of classified military documents being sold by a hacker group online. The data includes blueprints of weapons being supplied by NATO allies in the Ukraine war.
COURT BLOCKS EXTRADITION OF DISGRACED NIGERIAN ‘SUPER COP’ TO US
On 29 August, Sahara Reporters reported that a Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit instituted by the Nigerian Government seeking to extradite the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari to the US. He is wanted in the US over alleged conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
PERUVIAN JUDGE ORDERS 30 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR PRESIDENT’S SISTER-IN-LAW
On 29 August, the Rio Times reported that a judge had sentenced Yenifer Paredes, sister-in-law of President Pedro Castillo, to at least 30 months in prison while she is investigated for alleged money laundering and criminal association. This also affected the district’s mayor of Anguía, José Nenil Medina, over the alleged illegal awarding of construction work.
US: CUTTING OFF FINANCING FOR THE NEXT CAPITOL INSURRECTION
On 28 August, a post on Lawfare says that political violence is often expensive: beyond the cost of weapons, people need to travel, find places to stay, and make up for lost time at their jobs, among many other costs. The post examines the 6 January insurrection, looking at the myriad ways the participants financed themselves, and call for an array of actors to step up their efforts to stop such financing.
US AND UK FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS HAVE BEEN AMONG THE LEADING INVESTORS IN RUSSIAN “CARBON BOMB” FOSSIL FUEL PROJECTS
On 29 August, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article saying that campaigners in Ukraine said these institutions must immediately end such investments, to limit the funding of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to avoid climate breakdown. It says that “carbon bombs” are fossil-fuel extraction projects identified by researchers to contain at least 1 billion tons of climate-heating carbon dioxide, triple the UK’s annual emissions. Russia is a hotspot, with 40 carbon bombs.
US TREASURY SANCTIONS TORNADO CASH AND TURNS UP HEAT ON MIXERS
On 17 August, an Alert from Crowell Moring says that OFAC’s action marks the second instance it has sanctioned a virtual currency mixer — it sanctioned Blender.io in May, but this is the first time that OFAC has designated a non-entity software protocol. Tornado Cash is a “smart contract” that allows users to anonymize the origins, destinations, and counterparties for virtual currency transactions.
TAIWAN SUPPLYING MORTAR-FIRING DRONES TO UKRAINE VIA POLAND
On 24 August, The Defense Post reported that involved is a vertical take-off and landing rotor drone capable of carrying 8 mortars, according to the Taiwan-based manufacturer. The manufacturer revealed that it sold the drones to a Polish buyer and that the unmanned platform was then forwarded on to Ukraine. It says that Taiwan has also delivered EVOLVE 2 reconnaissance VTOL drones and AR 15 rifle parts to Ukraine.
EXTREMISTS URGE ‘CLANDESTINE’ 3D GUN PRINTING FOR ‘DEFENSE AND OFFENSE’ AS NEW ATF REGULATIONS LOOM
On 23 August, Homeland Security Today reported that the online backlash to incoming rules that will place new requirements on privately-made firearms has included extremists urging followers to learn 3D-printing in order to “clandestinely produce weapons”. It points out that a licence is not required to make a firearm for personal use, only for sale or distribution; and guns must also have a metal component, as firearms that cannot be detected by security screening equipment are not legal. Under new rules, retailers will have to run background checks on customers buying kits that contain the parts needed to assemble a gun; and will also be required to keep records for however long they are licensed, expanding past the prior 20-year retention requirement.
EU JOINS THE HAGUE JUDGMENTS CONVENTION
On 29 August, the EU announced that it had signed the Convention, describing it as an important tool to facilitate rules-based multilateral trade and investment. The Convention sets out conditions for the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters, including consumer and employment contracts, and possible grounds for their refusal. The Convention was drawn up in 2019, because diverse laws and practices around the globe made recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments challenging, if not impossible, and so far 6 states had signed up to it.
ORDER FREEZING R100 MILLION IN BANK ACCOUNTS LINKED TO DIAMOND DEALER LOUIS LIEBENBERG OVERTURNED
On 28 August, IOL reported that a preservation order obtained by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) last year for approximately $5.9 million in bank accounts linked to diamond dealer Louis Liebenberg frozen following allegations of money laundering and running a Ponzi scheme, has been overturned by a High Court.
UDA BOSS A SILENT PARTNER IN BELFAST BARBERS USED TO LAUNDER COCAINE MONEY
On 29 August, the Belfast Telegraph reported that a barber shop said to be used as a front to launder cocaine cash for the UDA paramilitary is secretly part-owned by a leader in the gang. It says that the recently installed second-in-command of the west Belfast UDA’s B company — who is a known house-breaker — has a majority share in the business.
PANAMA RECOVERS 343 ARCHAEOLOGICAL PIECES FROM THE NETHERLANDS
On 29 August, La Prensa reported that the Foreign Minister had said that the country had recovered 343 archaeological pieces that were identified in the Netherlands. This follows the news in June that Italy had returned to Panama 2 pre-Columbian archaeological pieces that had been stolen from the isthmus.
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