1 SEPTEMBER 2022
SHIPPERS UNLIKELY TO SEE LOWER INSURANCE PREMIUMS DESPITE LESSER INDIAN OCEAN PIRACY RISK
On 29 August, Dryad Global reported that experts have predicted that shipowners and charterers carrying commodities in the Indian Ocean are unlikely to see lower insurance premiums in the near term despite industry bodies’ decision to remove the region’s High Risk Area (HRA) status.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS – RE TERRORISM, ON RUSSIA, NORTH KOREA, LIBYA, LEBANON AND SYRIA
On 1 September, the EU Sanctions blog published a useful summary of recent EU Council Decisions detailing how a number of non-EU European states have opted to align with recent EU sanctions changes.
NEWAGE INC: SELLER OF BEVERAGES, SUPPLEMENTS AND OTHER HEALTH AND WELLNESS PRODUCTS SAYS BANKRUPTCY FILING DUE IN PART TO THE COST OF AN INVESTIGATION INTO A POTENTIAL VIOLATION OF FCPA
On 31 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the publicly traded company has said that its bankruptcy filing is due in part to the cost of an investigation into a potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It has 320 employees and sells through a direct sales network in more than 50 countries, and has an e-commerce sales platform and a store distribution business in Colorado.
US OBTAINS WARRANT TO SEIZE $45 MILLION LUKOIL AIRCRAFT
On 31 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US DoJ had obtained a warrant to seize a Boeing 737 airliner owned by Russian oil-and-gas company Lukoil PJSC. It is said that Lukoil flew the aircraft in and out of Russia in violation of Commerce Department sanctions. The DoJ believes that the aircraft is currently in Russia and that it last flew into the US in March 2019.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SMUGGLING OF PRODUCTS IN THE UAE
On 31 August, an article from Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy looked at the law on smuggling in the UAE.
AUSTRALIA: THE LAW, DEFENCES AND PENALTIES FOR DEALING IN THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME
On 29 August, an article from Sydney Criminal Lawyers looks at the law in Australia.
PANAMA TO ALLOW IMPORTS OF CANNABIS-BASED MEDICINES
On 1 September, La Estrella de Panama and others reported that the President had signed a Decree under Law 242 that regulates the medicinal and therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives in Panama. The Decree regulates the use and access of the product and its derivatives, for therapeutic, medical, veterinary, scientific and research purposes throughout the country.
NVIDIA ON NEW US RULE RESTRICTING EXPORT OF AI CHIPS TO CHINA AND RUSSIA
On 1 September, Yahoo Finance reported on a new rule that would restrict the export of computer chips used for supercomputers and artificial intelligence to Russia and China. NVIDIA has disclosed that the new licence requirement affects one of its current and one of its upcoming GPU, which were designed to speed up machine learning tasks. The US Government apparently indicated to NVIDIA that the new licence requirement will address the risk that the affected products may be used for military purposes by China or Russia.
CRYPTOCURRENCY CROWDSOURCING BY RUSSIAN-SPEAKING FOREIGN FIGHTERS IN SYRIA
On 31 August, a Commentary from RUSI examines the motivations and real-world factors influencing the use of Bitcoin by Malhama Tactical, one of the foreign-fighter factions targeted by the US DoJ, and asks whether cryptocurrency financing has been a successful means of raising funds for the group.
VOLUNTARY PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EU AND HONDURAS ON FOREST LAW ENFORCEMENT, GOVERNANCE AND TRADE IN TIMBER PRODUCTS TO THE EU
On 1 September, the EU published this Agreement under its FLEGT legislation.
ALBANIA ARRESTS FUGITIVE TURKISH CRYPTO CEO
On 31 August, OCCRP reported that Albanian police had arrested the founder of what was once one of Turkey’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges that turned out to be one of the largest scams in the country’s economic history. Faruk Fatih Ozer, 28, founder and chief executive since 2017 of the now-defunct Thodex, is charged with fleeing Turkey with over $2 billion in investors’ crypto assets. Turkey has been hit by other crypto fraud schemes in the past year.
WIFE OF MALAYSIA’S JAILED EX-PM HANDED 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR BRIBERY
On 1 September, the Guardian reported that the wife of the former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for soliciting and receiving bribes in exchange for government contracts, a week after her husband was sent to prison for corruption linked to the 1MDB scandal.
EU TO SUSPEND VISA DEAL WITH RUSSIA
On 1 September, Eurasia Review reported that EU foreign ministers reached a political agreement to fully suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, making it harder and more costly for Russian citizens to enter the EU while strengthening the support for border countries to pursue a common regional approach.
UK: COURT OF APPEAL WIDENS THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN A JUDGE CAN DIRECT A JURY THAT IT CAN DRAW AN INFERENCE WHEN AN ACCUSED HAS EXERCISED THEIR RIGHT TO SILENCE IN AN INTERVIEW UNDER CAUTION
On 31 August, an article from Corker Bining was concerned with a recent ruling re the wording of section 34 CJPOA 1994, which permits an adverse inference by a jury to be drawn if “on being questioned under caution” the defendant fails to mention a fact relied on in his defence and is “a fact which, in the circumstances existing at the time, the accused could reasonably have been expected to mention when so questioned”. It says that the case underlines the importance of giving the right advice at the pre-interview stage. Whilst it does not upset the law that an accused cannot be convicted solely on the basis of an adverse inference, it facilitates an invitation by the prosecution to a jury to hold the accused’s decision not to fully answer questions against them.
UK: FRAUD PROSECUTIONS SLOWED BY RECORD CROWN COURT WAIT TIMES
On 30 August, City AM reported that the Crown Court backlog is stalling efforts to tackle the UK’s worsening fraud epidemic, according to new research from KPMG. The case backlog, set to be made worse by the criminal barristers’ strike, means it “takes years for fraudsters to be prosecuted”.
US: TECH BILLIONAIRE MICHAEL SAYLOR ACCUSED OF EVADING $25 MILLION IN DISTRICT TAXES
On 31 August, CNBC reported that a court case also names MicroStrategy, the data-tracking company Saylor co-founded, as a defendant, claiming the company conspired to help Saylor evade the taxes. It is alleged that Saylor claimed to reside in Florida, which does not have a personal income tax, while actually living in several different homes around DC, according to the lawsuit.
BEHIND THE MANHUNT FOR SEBASTIÁN MARSET, FOUNDER OF THE FIRST URUGUAYAN CARTEL
On 31 August, Insight Crime reported on the case involving the extradition from Brazil to Uruguay of Rodrigo Fontana Ferreira, an Argentine drug trafficker suspected of being part of the First Uruguayan Cartel (Primer Cartel Uruguayo – PCU). He is wanted in Uruguay on charges of trafficking drugs, weapons, and explosives between Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay, as well as threats and attacks against Uruguayan judicial institutions, according to media coverage of his case. He was previously detained in Dubai for traveling on a false Paraguayan passport, but he quickly applied for a new Uruguayan passport to be able to leave the country legally – and Uruguay has opened an investigation into this.
US AUTHORITIES SEIZE DOZENS OF ANCIENT RELICS FROM TOP NEW YORK MUSEUM IN INTERNATIONAL ART SMUGGLING CRACKDOWN
On 31 August, Finance Uncovered carried an article saying that New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is facing increasing scrutiny from police and federal agents investigating international art smuggling. In mid-July, state and federal agents confiscated from the museum 21 allegedly stolen ancient works valued at more than $11 million.
CRITICAL MINERALS IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE BATTERIES
On 29 August, the US Congressional Research Service published this briefing which says that the US is heavily dependent on imports for the minerals for use in EV batteries and other applications. The US currently mines some lithium, cobalt, and nickel, but it does not currently mine any manganese or graphite.
THE UN ARMS TRADE TREATY: ASSESSING ITS IMPACT ON COUNTERING DIVERSION
This book was published on 24 August. A core objective of the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade of conventional arms and prevent their diversion. Since 2020, the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Conflict Armament Research (CAR), and the Stimson Center have implemented a joint research project examining the progress made by States Parties to prevent, detect, and address diversion since the ATT entry into force in order to identify and promote knowledge on effective counter-diversion measures. The report presents findings of this research and publish a new methodological tool that interested State Parties can use to assess the existence and efficacy of counter-diversion measures in their national context. It also takes stock of the ATT contributions to enhancing national and multilateral efforts to tackle diversion and discusses options and avenues to promote the establishment and strengthening of sustainable measures within the framework of the ATT that create an enabling environment for countering the diversion of conventional arms.
IRELAND: MAN ARRESTED AND €175,000 SEIZED IN MAYO AS GARDAI PROBE JIHADI TERROR FUNDING
On 20 August, the Irish Independent reported that a garda anti-terrorism unit investigating Islamist extremism seized around €175,000 in cash and arrested a suspect as part of a terrorist financing investigation when they raided a premises in Mayo. Sources say that the man arrested was previously investigated by authorities here in relation to the smuggling and sale of cigarettes, but he has no criminal convictions; and a A main focus of the investigation will be the suspect’s links to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.
TURKEY: ACTION TAKEN AGAINST TIKTOK MONEY LAUNDERING
On 29 August, the Daily Sabah reported that the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) says about $82 million was transferred to TikTok users in Turkey since January 2021. It said that the money was obtained by a limited number of users, while some accounts were used for money laundering and financing terrorism. TikTok is massively popular, with about 29 million users.
US AGENCY INVESTIGATES SYNTHETIC IDENTITIES SCHEME THAT DEFRAUDED BANKS NEARLY $2 MILLION
A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 1 September announced that Corey Cato, 41, from Atlanta, Georgia had been sentenced to more than 7 years in federal prison for participating in a nationwide fraud ring that used stolen social security numbers, including those belonging to children, to create synthetic identities used to open lines of credit, create shell companies, and steal nearly $2 million from financial institutions.
IRAN APPROVES CRYPTOCURRENCY REGULATIONS – FEARS OF USE TO SKIRT SANCTIONS
On 29 August, Rferl reported that Iran has approved a set of regulations for trading with cryptocurrencies, a move that potentially allows the country to skirt some US financial sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program.
CHINESE DEFENCE COMPANY HAS TAKEN OVER TRANSPORTING VENEZUELAN OIL FOR DEBT OFFSET
On 26 August, Reuters reported that China has entrusted a defence-focussed state company to ship millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil despite US sanctions, part of a deal to offset billions of dollars of debt to Beijing, according to 3 sources and tanker tracking data. Since November 2020, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) has been carrying Venezuelan crude on 3 tankers.
RUSSIA’S NUMBER 1 GOLD PRODUCER POLYUS ISSUES BONDS IN CHINESE YUAN
On 24 August, Reuters reported that Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus, has issued bonds denominated in the Chinese yuan worth $670 million), becoming the second Russian company to borrow in yuan within a month.
DEA WARNS OF BRIGHTLY-COLOURED FENTANYL USED TO TARGET YOUNG AMERICANS
On 31 August, Homeland Security Today reported that the DEA is advising the public of an alarming emerging trend of colourful fentanyl available across the US. Dubbed “rainbow fentanyl” in the media, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.
FEDERAL AGENTS RAID PROPERTIES LINKED TO BILLIONAIRE RUSSIAN OLIGARCH FACING BANK FRAUD PROBE – MONTHS AFTER US SEIZED HIS SUPERYACHT
On 1 September, the Mail Online reported that federal agents have raided 2 New York properties linked to a billionaire Russian oligarch who is under US sanctions and faces a criminal probe into alleged bank fraud – Viktor Vekselberg. He is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, is worth an estimated $14.4 billion, and is the powerful head of Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate with interests in metals, mining, tech and other businesses.
HONG KONG: CUSTOMS SMASHES MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATE
On 1 September, The Standard reported that a money laundering syndicate involving HK$411 million has been busted, according to Customs, and 4 men were arrested. From 2019 to 2021, the gang is said to have made over 9,000 suspicious transactions.
EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY CALLS FOR MORE PROACTIVE ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN SUPERVISORS IN AML/CFT COLLEGES
On 1 September, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the EBA says that it finds that ongoing cooperation and proactive information exchanges between supervisors has not been fully achieved yet in all AML/CFT colleges, and recommends the organisation of AML/CFT colleges to be more risk-based. These finding are in the EBA’s second report on the functioning of AML/CFT supervisory colleges in the EU. The “colleges” are permanent structures that serve to enhance cooperation between different supervisors involved in the supervision of cross-border institutions. In 2021, a total of 227 AML/CFT colleges were established and the EBA is a member of each college.
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