10 DECEMBER 2022
PANAMA BECAME LOGISTICS HUB FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING ‘SUPER CARTEL’
On 9 December, Insight Crime reported that Panama’s role as a sophisticated drug trafficking hub, not a mere cocaine transit point, was revealed when the country was named the logistical centre for the recently dismantled “Super Cartel” in November. Panamanian citizens inside the country had been helping the drug traffickers based in Dubai send drugs to Europe, and another Panamanian individual was based in Dubai and maintained contacts with members of the drug trafficking network in different countries. The group allegedly controlled up to one-third of all cocaine going to Europe.
US EXPORT CONTROLS AND DUTCH MAKER OF SEMICONDUCTOR EQUIPMENT ASML
On 9 December, Digitmes Asia carried an article about new US export controls and their effect on ASML’s deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines, with the Netherlands one of the two countries dominating DUV production, the other being Japan.
US IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST KYIV ADMINISTRATIVE COURT HEAD
On 10 December, the Kyiv Post reported that the US State Department had announced the imposition of sanctions against head of Kyiv’s District Administrative Court Pavlo Vovk and 2 members of his family. The sanctions were imposed under the so-called Magnitsky Act, which punishes people involved in large-scale corruption, harassment and human rights violations, and provides for a ban on entry into the US.
UN APPROVES EXEMPTING HUMANITARIAN AID FROM ALL UN SANCTIONS
On 10 December, Rferl reported that the UN Security Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution exempting humanitarian aid from all current and future UN sanctions regimes.
US SANCTIONS NASDAQ-LISTED CHINA COMPANY OVER ILLEGAL FISHING
On 8 December, Bloomberg reported that OFAC had designated several entities linked to China’s illegal fishing industry, including a company listed on a US stock exchange, Pingtan Marine Enterprises Ltd, the first time the agency has taken such an action. Most of its shares are held by its owner, Xinrong Zhuo, who was also sanctioned.
COURT ACQUITS PAKISTAN’S INTERIOR MINISTER IN DRUG CASE
On 10 December, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a special court for narcotics cases in Pakistan had acquitted the country’s interior minister of drug smuggling charges. Rana Sanaullah also previously served as law minister for Punjab province, was arrested in July 2019 by federal anti-narcotics forces.
ZIMBABWE: TETRAD INVESTMENT BANK (TIB) MANAGEMENT AND DIRECTORS FACING FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 10 December, Pindula reported that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Asset Forfeiture Unit has obtained a warrant of search and seizure against the now-defunct Tetrad Investment Bank (TIB). It was closed in 2013.
ALLEGED GAME FARM MONEY LAUNDERING MAY OUST SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT
On 10 December, Animals 24 reported claims that Ramaphosa, at the very least, was involved in a supposed sale of trophy-sized buffalo through his wildlife ranch in Limpopo, in which a lot of cash changed hands with little or no record of what actually was sold to whom and why.
HONG KONG: MEDIA MOGUL JIMMY LAI GETS OVER 5 YEARS FOR FRAUD
On 10 December, the BBC reported that a judge found Lai guilty of illegally subletting office space in October. The 75-year-old recently served time for taking part in a banned vigil last year for victims of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
HOW LATIN AMERICA’S SYNTHETIC DRUG TRAFFICKERS LAUNDER DIRTY CASH
On 9 December, an article in Insight Crime says that criminal groups that have moved into synthetic drugs have made a parallel shift in the financial world. They are adapting their money laundering methods and using old favourites and new online forms. InSight Crime explains organised crime’s path from synthetic opioid production and processing to blending its returns into the legal economy.
CRIMINAL CHARGES UNSEALED AGAINST 12 INDIVIDUALS IN WIDE-RANGING SCHEME TO MONOPOLISE TRANSMIGRANTE INDUSTRY AND EXTORT COMPETITORS NEAR US-MEXICO BORDER
A news release from US DoJ on 6 December advised about an 11-count indictment charging 12 individuals in a long-running, multi-faceted conspiracy to monopolize the transmigrante forwarding industry in a Texas border region. Transmigrantes are individuals who transport used vehicles and other goods from the US through Mexico for resale in Central America. Transmigrante forwarding agencies are businesses that provide services to transmigrante clients, including helping those clients complete the customs paperwork required to export vehicles into Mexico.
PORTUGAL: 3 ARRESTED IN INVESTIGATION INTO TAX EVASION ON IMPORTED FUELS FROM SPAIN
On 8 December, a news release from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) advised that the Tax Authority in Portugal had executed 21 searches ordered by a judge, and arrested 3 suspects, in an operation code-named ‘Gasosa’. At stake is a suspected VAT fraud scheme concerning fuels imported from Spain and sold in Portugal through a chain of resellers, with estimated damages of more than €26 million.
BELGIUM TO TAX PRIVATE JETS AND SHORT-HAUL FLIGHTS
On 10 December, Yahoo Finance reported that Belgium will impose new taxes on older, noisier planes as well as private jets and short-haul flights in a bid to reduce noise and air pollution, according to a government statement. It notes that, while there is no regulation at EU level yet to tax corporate aircraft over greenhouse gas emissions, France has pushed the idea since the Summer.
LUXEMBOURG PRIVATE JET MOGUL USED EUROPEAN COURT TO THWART PUSH FOR TRANSPARENCY
On 10 December, This is Money reported that a Luxembourg businessman has been unmasked as the prime mover behind a controversial legal victory which is threatening efforts to fight tax haven secrecy. Patrick Hansen, whose private jet firm has counted wealthy Russians among its clients, was one of a small group that brought the case. They successfully argued that a public registry in Luxembourg would expose company owners to risks of ‘fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, harassment, violence or intimidation’.
CHINESE AUTHORITIES ARREST CRIMINALS THAT USE CRYPTO FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 10 December, Cryptopolitan reported that the Public Security Bureau had detained a large number of persons suspected of being engaged in the laundering of money via the use of cryptocurrencies. 63 suspected criminals were apprehended, and the group was able to wash as much as $1.7 million in illicit funds.
THE PRICE CAP ON RUSSIAN OIL
On 9 December, the UK P+I Club published a Circular about the Price Cap Scheme recently introduced by the G7, UK and US and guidance for the maritime sector effective from 5 December, being intended to maintain the supply of Russian oil to world markets whilst at the same time reducing Russia’s earnings from its oil exports.
EUROJUST FIRST REPORT ON MONEY LAUNDERING