On 24 January, OFAC announced that it had designated several individuals and associated entities for facilitating financial activities for Hizballah. At the centre of this network is Lebanese money exchanger and so-called financial expert Hassan Moukalled, who plays a key role in enabling Hizballah to continue to exploit and exacerbate Lebanon’s economic crisis. OFAC is also designating CTEX Exchange, a money service business owned by Hassan Moukalled, in addition to Hassan Moukalled’s sons, Rayyan Moukalled and Rani Moukalled, who facilitate Hassan Moukalled and his company’s financial activities in support of Hizballah.
On 23 January, the BBC reported that organised crime is moving into the lucrative market of extreme dog breeding. Bulldogs, including the new American Bully breed, are being bred with hugely exaggerated characteristics – such as excessive skin folds or large, muscular frames. The RSPCA warns criminals are breeding and selling these dogs to launder money and make huge sums, often at the expense of animal welfare.
On 24 January, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime issued a news release about the report, saying that fewer victims of trafficking in persons are being identified even as the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises are increasing vulnerabilities to exploitation.
On 24 January, a news release from the NCA advised that it had published the 2022 SAR Annual Report, which features statistics covering the years 2020-21 and 2021-22. It shows another record set in the last financial year with 901,255 SAR received and processed – a 21% increase on the previous year.
EU Regulation 2023/156/EU contained amendments to the the statements of reasons and the identifying information for 5 persons, and the identifying information should be updated for 4 other persons, on the Tunisia sanctions list.
EU Regulation 2023/154/EU and 2023/155/EU amended the EU sanctions regime after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2662 which notably extends the scope of exemptions to the arms embargo and the related financing, financial assistance and technical assistance intended for certain recipients in Somalia; and expanded the designation criteria guiding the determination of persons and entities subject to restrictive measures.
On 24 January, the Home Office reported that all police forces across England and Wales will adopt a new approach for tackling serious and organised crime. ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ is a multi-agency partnership tactic, designed by the Home Office and endorsed by the Policing Inspectorate, to rescue areas of the country most blighted by organised crime. This sees police ruthlessly pursue gang members to clear an area; maintain grip and hold the location, so another gang can’t take control in the vacuum; and then work to build the community into a more prosperous area, less susceptible to the draw of crime groups. The Home Office also consulted on potential new laws to criminalise the making, supply and possession of items strongly suspected to facilitate serious crime – such as digital templates for 3D-printing firearms components, pill presses and sophisticated encrypted communication devices. The consultation will also look at strengthening serious crime prevention orders to make it easier for police and other law enforcement agencies to place restrictions on suspected offenders and stop them from participating in further crime. The consultation runs to 21 March.
On 20 January, an article from Morgan Lewis Bockhius in the US considered the problems of screening where the names involved may be ones not rendered in Latin-based alphabet. It cites the example of possible translations of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi’s name, with up to 112 variations claimed. The article suggests what it says are useful approaches and methods to conduct due diligence and screening where these language hurdles are present, and focuses on examples based on logographic languages, such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, but that are applicable to other non-Latin-based languages.