OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 12

Can’t say I am missing this –

As I write, it is 4.40 pm and still 29 degrees centigrade in the dry “Summer” season here. Less than 2 weeks to go, and plastic snowmen, Santas and reindeer abound, even here in the tropics….

While dengue cases continue at low numbers, it is reported that the EU has authorised othe use of the Qdenga dengue vaccine (TAK-003) from the Japanese company Takeda, the second approved against this disease transmitted. Panama was one the countries which were part of the study into this vaccine.

Interesting article from EL Diario in Spain about the “former Panamanian President ‘untraceable’ who ordered civil guards of Mallorca to spy on his partner in case he had lovers”. How can an ex-President be “untraceable”, particularly when he is also facing a big criminal trial in Panama?

https://www.eldiario.es/illes-balears/sociedad/expresidente-panameno-ilocalizable-ordeno-guardias-civiles-mallorca-espiar-pareja-si-tenia-amantes_1_9712493.html

12 DECEMBER 2022

US SHIPPING: IMPORTERS MOVING FROM CALIFORNIA TO PORTS IN THE EAST

On 10 December, an article from the Wall Street Journal says that the hierarchy of US ports is getting shaken up.  Companies across many industries are rethinking how and where they ship goods after years of relying heavily on the western US as an entry point, betting that ports in the East and the South can save them time and money while reducing risk.  In August, Los Angeles lost its title as busiest port in the nation to the Port of New York and New Jersey as measured by the number of imported containers.  Other ports benefiting from this shift include Savannah, Houston and Charleston.  All handled more import containers this year through September than during the same period in 2021.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-long-ruled-u-s-shipping-importers-are-drifting-east-11670648425

JUUL TO PAY $1.7 BILLION IN LEGAL SETTLEMENT

On 9 December, the Wall Street Journal reported that the e-cigarette maker is reportedly to make the broad legal settlement covering more than 5,000 lawsuits, and is now working to settle cases brought by several US states’ attorneys general.  Many of the lawsuits to be settled involve allegations of marketing e-cigarette flavours to young people.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/juul-to-pay-1-7-billion-in-legal-settlement-11670616693

THE YEAR OF SANCTIONS – SOME LESSONS LEARNT

On 12 December, an article from Norwegian shipping specialist law firm Wikborg Rein says that the massive and unprecedented sanctions imposed against Russia have required significant efforts to manage the risks and impact of sanctions, particularly in view of creative attempts to circumvent by some parties.  In the article the firm explains why shippers should update sanctions clauses, and how to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

https://www.wr.no/en/news/publications/shipping-offshore-update-december-2022/the-year-of-sanctions—some-lessons-learnt/

RECYCLED GOLD – FROM AWARENESS TO COLLECTIVE ACTION ON RECYCLED GOLD AND ARTISANAL MINING

The Basel Institute on Governance has published a short summary of a seminar held at the University of Basel on 27 October. The conference brought together leading voices from across the gold supply chain and civil society.  The topics covered included growing awareness of the gold industry’s human and environmental impacts; and that the lack of harmonised definition creates loopholes that can be exploited for greenwashing or to launder problematic gold into recycled supply chains.

https://baselgovernance.org/sites/default/files/2022-11/Basel%20Gold%20Day%20II_Summary_18.11.2022.pdf

CASE STUDY: THE KIAMBA CASE IN KENYA – ACHIEVING A CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE ORDER AND CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

The Basel Institute on Governance has published this Case Study which describes how authorities in Kenya achieved both a civil asset forfeiture order and a criminal conviction against a former public official involved in corrupt procurement deals.  It is said that the case demonstrates how a “belt and braces” approach – applying both civil and criminal proceedings – can help anti-corruption agencies to confiscate the proceeds of corruption relatively quickly, even if the criminal case drags on or fails to reach the stricter standard of proof.  It also highlights the impact of providing hands-on mentoring to investigators during real ongoing cases and over an extended period of time.

https://baselgovernance.org/publications/case-study-9-kiamba-case-achieving-civil-asset-forfeiture-order-and-criminal

UK: EXPORT CONTROL UNIT (ECJU) 12 COMPOUND SETTLEMENT OFFERS FOR UNLICENSED EXPORTS OF DUAL-USE GOODS, MILITARY GOODS AND RELATED ACTIVITY MAY-OCTOBER

On 9 December, the Department of International Trade published a Notice saying that HMRC issued compound settlement offers between £1,000 and £271,700.25 to 12 UK exporters totalling £510,670.13.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202231-uk-exporters-issued-compound-settlements-for-unlicensed-strategic-exports/nte-202231-uk-exporters-issued-compound-settlements-for-unlicensed-strategic-exports

SAUDI ARABIA: 20 YEARS IMPRISONMENT AND FINES FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUSPECTS

On 11 December, Globe Echo reported that an official source in the Saudi Public Prosecution announced that the investigations of the Economic Crimes Prosecution have concluded that 5 people (a Saudi and 4 expatriates of Arab nationalities) have been charged with money laundering.  It was reported that the Saudi had opened 3 commercial entities and opened bank accounts for those entities and handed them over to expatriates and enabled them to dispose of them without restrictions in exchange for a small monthly wage.

https://globeecho.com/news/middle-east/20-years-imprisonment-and-fines-of-500000-riyals-for-money-laundering-suspects-in-saudi-arabia/

BRITISH BUSINESSMAN TO FIGHT US EXTRADITION FOR HELPING OLIGARCH EVADE SANCTIONS

On 12 December, Reuters reported that a British businessman, Graham Bonham-Carter, accused of conspiring to violate US sanctions placed on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska will fight extradition. 

https://www.reuters.com/world/british-businessman-fight-us-extradition-helping-oligarch-evade-sanctions-2022-12-12/

PHILIPPINES: PARLIAMENT DECLARES TOBACCO SMUGGLING AS ECONOMIC SABOTAGE

On 12 December, the Canadian Inquirer reported that  the House of Representatives has approved on final reading a measure seeking to declare as “economic sabotage” the smuggling of tobacco products into the country.  Under the measure, raw or finished tobacco products will be considered as an agricultural commodity, alongside sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish and cruciferous vegetables.

https://canadianinquirer.net/2022/12/12/house-oks-bill-declaring-tobacco-smuggling-as-economic-sabotage/

US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAID TO BE SPLIT OVER CHARGING BINANCE AS CRYPTO WORLD FALTERS

On 12 December, Yahoo Finance reported that splits between prosecutors are said to be delaying the conclusion of a long-running criminal investigation into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance.  The investigation began in 2018 and is focused on Binance’s compliance with US AML laws and sanctions.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-u-justice-dept-split-123005906.html

UK: BACKLOG OF TAX TRIBUNAL CASES AS HMRC PURSUE UMBRELLA COMPANIES FOR VAT

On 12 December, Shout 99 reported that the number of tax tribunal cases waiting to be heard has increased more than sevenfold compared to the same quarter last year, from 1,200 at the end of June 2021, to 10,000 in at the end of June 2022; and that a key reason the tax tribunal backlog has ballooned so quickly is the large number of cases it is bringing against ‘umbrella companies’ it believes have underpaid VAT.

http://www.shout99.com/contractors/showarticle.pl?id=82006

ALBANIAN CRIMINAL EXPLOITATION OF THE UK ASYLUM SYSTEM

On 12 December, a Commentary from RUSI says that the ‘broken’ asylum system in the UK has opened the door for organised criminal groups to become intermediaries in dangerous crossings of the English Channel, risking lives and exploiting vulnerable individuals.  But it asks is spending more on border patrols an adequate response to a highly organised, systemic issue?

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/lucrative-business-albanian-criminal-exploitation-uk-asylum-system

UK GOVERNMENT COUNTER FRAUD PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND GUIDANCE: COUNTER FRAUD INVESTIGATOR

On 9 December, the Cabinet Office published updated guidance which contains the agreed professional standards and guidance for the implementation of a consistent approach to fraud investigation in central government.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/professional-standards-and-guidance-investigation

SYRIA’S NEWEST MOBILE OPERATOR HAS A HIDDEN LINK TO IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD

On 9 December, Insight Crime reported that Syria’s licensing of a third mobile operator, Wafa Telecom, looked like another effort by authorities to seize control of the lucrative telecoms sector.  But, it says, the Assad government may also be using the license to compensate its ally Iran.  Wafa Telecom is said to be part-owned by a Malaysian business with links to the IRGC.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/syrias-newest-mobile-operator-has-a-hidden-link-to-irans-revolutionary-guard

INDIA: ROUTES FOR SMUGGLING WILDLIFE ACROSS COUNTRIES USED TO TRAFFIC WEAPONS AND DRUGS

On 11 December, the New Indian Express reported on the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said in an annual report.  It says that the porous international borders with Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, China and other SE Asian countries and a growing aviation market make the fight against the illegal wildlife trade increasingly difficult in India.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/business/2022/dec/11/routes-for-smuggling-wildlife-across-countriesused-to-traffic-weapons-drugs-report-2527164.html

SPANISH POLICE INTERCEPT 56 KG MDMA HAUL BOUND FOR SOUTH AMERICA

On 11 December, the Guardian reported that Spanish police have uncovered a drug route from Europe to South America after intercepting a yacht bound for Argentina that was carrying enough MDMA to make more than 1 million ecstasy pills. This suggests smugglers are using the reverse route to open up lucrative new markets in countries where ecstasy is less common and prices consequently very high.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/11/spanish-police-intercept-56kg-mdma-haul-bound-for-south-america

FREED RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER VIKTOR BOUT JOINS ULTRANATIONALIST PARTY

On 12 December, the Guardian reported that the freed former arms dealer has joined the pro-Kremlin far-right Liberal Democratic party (LDPR), in a move that could see him seek a seat in the Russian parliament.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/12/freed-russian-arms-dealer-viktor-bout-joins-ultranationalist-party

SANCTIONED RUSSIAN SHIP MOVES MYSTERY CARGO IN SIMONSTOWN NAVY DOCKYARD UNDER COVER OF NIGHT

On 8 December, the Daily Maverick reported that a Russian cargo ship sanctioned by the US for carrying arms is said to have secretly loaded and unloaded unknown cargo in the naval dockyard in a high-security, clandestine operation.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-12-08-sanctioned-russian-ship-uploaded-mystery-cargo-in-simons-town/

4 MEN CHARGED IN SYDNEY FOR SOPHISTICATED CYBER SCAM – WORLD-WIDE LOSSES EXPECTED TO TOP US$100 MILLION

On 9 December, a news release from the Australian Federal Police advised that 4 Chinese nationals living in Sydney have been charged as part of an investigation into an organised criminal syndicate involved in a cyber-enabled investment scam that has resulted in more than US$100 million in losses world-wide.  The US Secret Service notified the AFP-led Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre (JPC3) about Australian links to the predominantly US-based scam in August 2022.  AFP Cyber Command then began a parallel investigation – codenamed Operation Wickham – in cooperation with an investigation by the New South Wales Police Force.

https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/four-men-charged-sydney-sophisticated-cyber-scam-world-wide-losses

THE EVOLUTION OF MEXICAN CARTELS

On 6 December, a post from RUSI said that cartels in Mexico have evolved under pressure, so too have their presentation, methods and goals.

https://shoc.rusi.org/blog/language-of-violence-evolution-of-mexican-cartels/

TERROR AND TAXES: INSIDE AL-SHABAAB’S REVENUE COLLECTION MACHINE

A report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime on 8 December says that al-Shabaab’s direct territorial administration in Somalia remains limited to a swathe of the Juba River valley and other isolated pockets around the country.  Despite losing territory the group has remained dominant, exerting control over much of the hinterland and projecting power far beyond areas it physically controls.  It enforces its taxation system through the disciplined collection of intelligence and the threat of extreme violence against those who do not pay the amounts demanded of them.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/AS-protection-economies.-WEB.pdf

ONECOIN CRISIS MANAGER FACING FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES FIGHTS TO PREVENT US EXTRADITION

On 12 December, Coingeek reported that Frank Schneider, a top associate of OneCoin, is facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering if his extradition process to the US from France.

https://coingeek.com/onecoin-crisis-manager-facing-fraud-money-laundering-charges-fights-to-prevent-us-extradition/

GULF OF GUINEA PIRATES SHIFTING TO ILLEGAL OIL BUNKERING?

On 9 December, Insurance Marine News said a new report, the Critical Maritime Routes Programme analysis, funded by EU and implemented by RUSI, found that, although piracy in the Gulf of Guinea had been on a downward trend in the past few years, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism were at an all-time high. the researchers found several indications pointing to the link between the 2 trends.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/gulf-of-guinea-pirates-shifting-to-illegal-oil-bunkering/

HOW MERCENARY SPYWARE THREATENS DEMOCRACY

In the January/February edition of Foreign Affairs, this article highlights the dozens of cases in which Pegasus or other similar spyware technology has been found on the digital devices of prominent political opposition figures, journalists, and human rights activists in many countries.  Providing the ability to clandestinely infiltrate even the most up-to-date smartphones — the latest “zero click” version of the spyware can penetrate a device without any action by the user — Pegasus has become the digital surveillance tool of choice for repressive regimes around the world.  However, researchers have revealed, over the past decade that many democracies, including Spain and Mexico, have begun using spyware, as well, in ways that violate well-established norms of human rights and public accountability – and that the FBI acquired the capability.  The article warns that, left unregulated, the proliferation of this technology threatens to erode many of the institutions, processes, and values on which the liberal international order depends.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/autocrat-in-your-iphone-mercenary-spyware-ronald-deibert

EU UPDATES FAQ ON RUSSIAN SANCTIONS ON CHEMICALS

On 12 December, the EU Sanctions blog advised that the EU Commission has updated the FAQ on how its sanctions affect the chemicals sector.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/12/eu-commission-updates-russia-sanctions-faqs-on-chemicals/

UK PAYMENT SYSTEMS REGULATOR (PSR) HAS OUTLINED THE REPORTING PROCESS FOR BANKS AND BUILDING SOCIETIES FOR AUTHORISED PUSH PAYMENT (APP) SCAMS

On 12 December, Fintech Futures reported that the PSR has outlined the reporting process banks and building societies will have to follow in order to combat authorised push payment (APP) scams.  It is now consulting on the technical process for the collection of scam data which will reveal how well firms are protecting customers, and will consult with firms and other stakeholders on the plans until 17 January.

https://www.fintechfutures.com/2022/12/psr-outlines-app-scam-reporting-process-for-banks-and-building-societies/

EU’S DAC8 WILL EXTEND TAX-RULING DISCLOSURE TO HNWI

On 12 December, STEP reported that the EU Commission has published the legislative text for its proposed eighth version of the Directive for Administrative Cooperation in taxation (Directive 2011/16/EU or DAC8).  The DAC8 transparency rules will extend the EU’s existing automatic exchange of information regime to include advance cross-border rulings used by high-net-worth individuals (HNWI).  HNWI would be defined as those who hold at least €1 million in investable wealth or assets under management, excluding the individual’s main residence. 

https://www.step.org/industry-news/eus-dac8-will-extend-tax-ruling-disclosure-hnwis

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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