24 NOVEMBER 2022
ACTION AGAINST CRIMINAL WEBSITE THAT OFFERED ‘SPOOFING’ SERVICES TO FRAUDSTERS: 142 ARRESTS
On 24 November, Eurojust issued a news release saying that judicial and law enforcement authorities in Europe, Australia, the United States, Ukraine and Canada have taken down a website that allowed fraudsters to impersonate trusted corporations or contacts to access sensitive information from victims, a type of cybercrime known as ‘spoofing’. The website is believed to have caused an estimated worldwide loss in excess of £100 million (€115 million). In a coordinated action led by the United Kingdom and supported by Eurojust and Europol, 142 suspects have been arrested, including the main administrator of the website.
100 PEOPLE ARRESTED IN UK’S BIGGEST FRAUD INVESTIGATION
On 24 November, the Guardian reported that more than 100 people have been arrested in the UK’s biggest ever fraud operation, which brought down a website police describe as a “one-stop spoofing shop” used by scammers to steal tens of millions of pounds from Britons via fake bank phone calls. At one stage almost 20 people every minute of the day were being contacted by scammers hiding behind false identities created using the site and it is estimated that criminals may have stolen close to £50 million. The actual amount is likely to be higher as fraud is often underreported.
COURTS TAKE ON THE “CONTROL QUESTION” UNDER CANADIAN ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
On 23 November, an article from McCarthy Tetrault said that, unlike their counterparts in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, sanctions authorities in Canada have not released any guidance on this question – whether Canadian economic sanctions prohibit them from engaging in dealings involving entities that are owned or controlled by persons designated or listed by the Canadian government. Nor have any Canadian courts directly considered this issue, at least not until now. The court also indicated that the interpretation of a “person in Canada” for the purposes of determining to whom the prohibitions in the Russia Regulations apply may be interpreted fairly broadly.
MONEY LAUNDERING TECHNIQUES – ONLINE GAMING CURRENCIES, B2B CREDIT CARDS & CHINESE MONEY BROKERS
The latest newsletter from Baptiste Forestier.
NORWAY: ADDITIONAL SET OF SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
On 24 November, Wikborg Rein reported that, on 28 October, Norway imposed additional sanctions on Russia, aligned with the EU eighth package.
BVI TO INTRODUCE THE VIRTUAL ASSETS SERVICE PROVIDERS ACT
On 21 November, an article from Conyers said that the BVI is proposing to introduce virtual assets service provider (VASP) legislation and has recently circulated a draft bill in the form of the Virtual Assets Service Providers Act, 2022 for industry consultation. Once enacted, this will introduce a new legal framework and registration regime for any BVI entity caught within scope of the VASP Act.
SALE/PURCHASE OF RUSSIAN COMMERCIAL VESSELS AND YACHT MANAGEMENT: THE IMPACT OF EU AND UK SANCTIONS
On 23 November, HFW published this article which sets out some considerations to keep in mind in order to avoid breaching EU and/or UK sanctions if you are looking to buy or sell a commercial vessel from/to a Russian owner, or to provide technical management services to a yacht owned by a Russian national/company.
MEXICO LAUNCHES ONLINE PLATFORM FOR DUAL-USE PRECURSORS
On 23 November, the Washington Post reported that the Government claims it will allow authorities to track the importation and consumption so-called “dual-use” precursor chemicals that are often used to make synthetic drugs like meth and fentanyl.
SLOVAKIA: AML/CFT ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP REPORT
On 24 November, MONEYVAL released a follow-up report on Slovakia which reports the upgrading of the country’s ratings from “partially compliant” to “largely compliant” in four areas related to the ML/TF risk assessment, suspicious transaction reporting, designation of a competent authority for ML and maintaining comprehensive statistics. However, in the field of new technologies, where international requirements for virtual assets have recently been introduced, Slovakia’s rating has been downgraded. It also welcomes the adoption of the Action plan to manage and mitigate ML and TF risks. Previously identified deficiencies regarding the requirement to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit have also been addressed. It says that Slovakia has equally taken necessary steps in the area of establishing a competent authority to investigate ML cases and a requirement to keep and maintain comprehensive statistical data.
SOMALIA’S AL-SHABAB MILITANTS WIDENING REVENUE BASE
On 9 November, VoA reported that UN experts say the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab has widened its revenue stream beyond its traditional activities, like charging tolls at checkpoints, to illegally taxing properties and construction. They say the terrorist group is seeking more funds to pay about $1 million per month in salaries to its fighters. The report says despite Somalia’s crackdown on al-Shabab, the militants are also able to move funds through local and Islamic banks.
ISLE OF MAN RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE
On 24 November, the Isle of Man advised of a General Licence which allows for payment to utility companies for gas and electricity by designated persons who own or rent properties in the Isle of Man or UK.
THE DEVELOPMENT, MOTIVATIONS AND CONCERNS OF CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC) IN AFRICA RELATIVE TO OTHER EMERGING AND DEVELOPING REGIONS
On 24 November, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the Bank for International Settlements has issued a report saying that the interest of African central banks in CBDCs has shot up in recent times. While all of those surveyed are analysing CBDC, only few have projects at advanced stages (pilot or live).
HONG KONG: SUSPECTED SYNDICATE LEADER CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH RAMP-AND DUMP SCHEMES
On 24 November, a release on Mondo Visione advised that a suspected ringleader of a sophisticated ramp-and-dump syndicate has been charged with various criminal offences stemming from an earlier joint operation of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Police. 13 other people were charged in connection with the case earlier.