THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 25

Despite ongoing computer problems (definitely time for a new laptop, though here in Panama – where I am at least for the time being – access to higher-spec PC and laptops not as straightforward as in Britain, and the majority of laptops and desktop machines on offer appear remarkably low-spec…), here is my latest finding –

25 January 2020

 BELGIUM: 3 NGO TAKE ARMS EXPORT DECISION TO COURT

The Brussels Times on 25 January reported that 3 Belgian NGO have taken the federal government, and federal finance minister to court in Brussels looking to prevent the export of Belgian arms to Saudi Arabia.  They are asking the Council of State to declare a 6-month moratorium on any arms exports to Saudi Arabia.  Arms sales in Belgium are the responsibility of the regional authorities, so two of the NGOs took the Walloon government to court in Namur in September last year but the control of the exports themselves is a matter for the customs authorities, which come under the responsibility of the federal government.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/business/91729/three-ngos-take-arms-export-decision-to-court-injunction-human-rights-saudi-arabia-yemen-wallonia/

FRANCE CHARGES BITCOIN EXPERT VINNIK WITH MONEY LAUNDERING

The San Diego Union-Tribune on 24 January reported that French officials have filed preliminary charges of money laundering and extortion against Russian bitcoin fraud suspect Alexander Vinnik, 39.  The US also wants to prosecute him, accusing him of laundering billions of dollars through BTC-e, one of the world’s largest digital currency exchanges, and his native Russia also wants to put him on trial.  He was arrested in 2017 while on a family holiday in Greece and was extradited from Greece to France in 2019.  Greek authorities ruled that he should be extradited first to France, then the US and finally to Russia.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/nation/story/2020-01-24/france-charges-bitcoin-expert-vinnik-with-money-laundering

DANISH AUTHORITIES STRUGGLING WITH SURGE IN SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTION REPORTS

On 24 January, Reuters reported that reports of suspicious transactions submitted by banks and betting firms in Denmark have increased tenfold in recent years, straining AML authorities.  Since 2013, it says, the number of STR submitted to the FIU has risen tenfold to 53,454 in 2019.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-denmark-money-laundering/danish-authorities-struggling-with-surge-in-suspicious-money-flows-idUSKBN1ZN1Q7

AUSTRALIA: CASINO GROUP CONNECTED TO CROWN RESORTS DEAL EMBROILED IN BRIBERY PROBE IN JAPAN

On 25 January, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Macau casino operator vying for half of James Packer’s stake in Crown casinos has become embroiled in a political bribery investigation in Japan, and that authorities had seized documents from the Tokyo office of Melco Resorts and Entertainment.  The raids are said to be related to an investigation into a Japanese parliamentarian who was arrested on January 14 on suspicion of accepting a bribe from a Chinese corporation.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/casino-group-connected-to-crown-deal-embroiled-in-bribery-probe-20200125-p53uq2.html

PAYROLL FRAUD AND RECRUITMENT SCAMS PUT STAFFING INDUSTRY IN TOP 6 RISK SECTORS FOR CYBER ATTACKS

Global Recruiter on 25 January reported that a research report has named HR and Recruitment as an industry sector that is particularly susceptible to cyber security risks. The article says that for payroll fraud, recruitment scams, corporate espionage cyber-attackers have found numerous routes into organisations via HR.  It goes on to explain that payroll and other HR systems are a treasure trove of names, addresses and bank details and if this is compromised, not only can it affect individual employees, it also gives attackers more ammunition with which to increase the likelihood of a successful attack on other parts of the business.  It also says that recruitment agencies are prime targets for malware and, if hit by a data breach, employment agreements and sensitive documents such as passport scans and visa details are all left exposed.

https://www.theglobalrecruiter.com/payroll-fraud-and-recruitment-scams-put-staffing-industry-in-top-six-risk-sectors-for-cyber-attacks

OFAC ADDS 2 INDIVIDUALS AND 6 ENTITIES TO IRAN SANCTIONS LISTS

On 23 January, OFAC announced that an Iranian and Chinese individual had been added to the sanctions lists, together with 5 Hong Kong or Chinese companies and a Dubai company.  These are said to be further persons and entities supporting and aiding the Iranian petroleum and petrochemical industries.

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20200123.aspx

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm885

PAKISTAN: FEDERAL BOARD OF REVENUE (FBR) A NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN AGAINST TAX EVADERS AND MONEY LAUNDERERS IN TO FULFIL FATF REQUIREMENTS

On 25 January, Customs Today in Pakistan reported that FBR 4 regional directorates have carried out multiple raids against tax evaders in different sectors of the economy and that the FBR has identified the money laundering suspects.

https://customstoday.com.pk/fbr-starts-campaign-against-tax-evaders-money-launderers/

CULTURAL RELICS SEIZED BY CHINESE CUSTOMS EXHIBITED IN SICHUAN MUSEUM

On 23 January, Customs Today reported that an exhibition of 251 cultural relics seized by the customs of Chengdu, has been opened in the Sichuan Museum.  The cultural relics included copper Buddha statues, Thangka, calligraphy and painting, ceramics and ancient coins.

https://customstoday.com.pk/cultural-relics-seized-by-customs-exhibited-in-sichuan-museum/

CAN GABON’S BIGGEST WOOD SCANDAL SAVE ITS LOGGING SECTOR?

On 22 January, an article on ENACT Africa said that in February 2019, authorities at the Owendo Port of Libreville in Gabon seized 392 containers of kevazingo, a precious rosewood also known as bubinga in Cameroon. The illegal cargo – worth an estimated $252 million – was found at the depots of 2 Chinese-owned companies at the port.  Gabon outlawed the cutting of kevazingo trees in March 2018, although a loophole in the law permits the sale and export of fallen trees abandoned – left on the ground – for at least 6 months or seized from illegal loggers.  The wood is also listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but whose trade must be controlled in order to ensure their survival.  In April, 353 of the 392 containers seized disappeared and, although 200 containers were recovered a few days later on the properties of nearby shipping companies, the other 153 remain unaccounted for.  In August, the government announced that 135 containers valued at $69 million would be transferred to the wood park, transformed into legal wood authorised for sale and auctioned.  Subsequently, the vice-president Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou, and the forestry minister Guy-Bertrand Mapangou were dismissed.  The article reports on the repercussions of the affair and names a Francois Wu, the Chinese owner of 3C Transit, as the main suspect in the scandal.  It is said that Chinese authorities at the highest level have stepped in to collaborate with the Gabonese government to clean up the logging sector, and that the strategy of the new forestry minister of direct and open engagement with China could well save Gabon’s logging sector.  However, it says that the strategy needs to be performed in conjunction with addressing graft in the public service.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/can-gabons-biggest-wood-scandal-save-its-logging-sector

THE WTO’S EXISTENTIAL CRISIS: HOW TO SALVAGE ITS ABILITY TO SETTLE TRADE DISPUTES

A report in December from the Petersen Institute for International Economics says that the US refusal to allow the appointment of new judges (or members) to the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body—a key component of its renowned dispute settlement system—has pushed the organisation into an existential crisis.  It no longer has the requisite number of members to hear new cases on appeal and the terms of 2 of the 3 remaining members have expired, leaving the WTO without an appeal function.  The article suggests a possible solution.

https://www.piie.com/publications/policy-briefs/wtos-existential-crisis-how-salvage-its-ability-settle-trade-disputes

SENEGAL’S MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR MIGRANT SMUGGLING TRADE GOES ON

On 15 January, ENACT Africa reported that unless Senegal criminalises the smuggling of migrants, the problem will persist – despite its tighter border controls.  It is said that criminals make around $150 million a year on the West Africa-to-Europe migrant smuggling route, according to the UN, and that despite measures such as increased border checks and better cooperation with neighbouring countries like Morocco, Senegal remains a country of origin for Europe-bound migrants.

https://enactafrica.org/research/trend-reports/senegals-multimillion-dollar-migrant-smuggling-trade-goes-on

UNDERGROUND ARMS WATCH – A LOOK INTO CRIMINALLY-MADE AND -MODIFIED FIREARMS SEIZED BY POLICE AND SECURITY SERVICES WORLDWIDE

On 22 January, the US-based Firearms Blog published the first of its Underground Arms Watch instalments.  The weapons included handguns and even sub-machine guns, as well as totally improved weapons.  Also provided are links to previous instalments in October, November and December.

https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2020/01/17/underground-arms-watch-january-pt-1/

EXTRADITION IN PRICE-FIXING CASE THE LATEST REMINDER OF THE REACH OF US ANTI-TRUST LAWS

On 16 January, an Insight article from Paul Hastings advised that the US DoJ Antitrust Division has announced the extradition of a former air cargo executive from Italy to face charges of price-fixing, and serves as the latest reminder that enforcement of US anti-trust laws can reach well beyond its borders.  Maria Christina “Meta” Ullings, a Dutch national and a former sales and marketing executive at a European air cargo company, was indicted in 2010.  She remained at large until apprehension by Italian authorities in July 2019 while visiting Sicily.

https://www.paulhastings.com/publications-items/details/?id=6473986e-2334-6428-811c-ff00004cbded

FORMER ITALIAN DIPLOMAT SENTENCED FOR SMUGGLING EGYPTIAN ARTEFACTS

On 22 January, The Local reported that a Cairo court has sentenced a former honorary Italian consul to 15 years in jail in absentia for smuggling antiquities out of the country.  Ladislav Otakar Skakal, Italy’s former honorary consul in Luxor, is alleged to have attempted to smuggle 21,855 artefacts from various historical eras in 2017.  Italian police found the haul in a diplomatic shipping container heading from the port city of Alexandria to Salerno in Italy in 2017, and the antiquities were allegedly smuggled with the aid of Raouf Ghali, the brother of former Hosni Mubarak-era finance minister Youssef Ghali.

https://www.thelocal.it/20200122/italian-diplomat-sentenced-for-smuggling-egyptian-artefacts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 24

24 January 2020

US CUSTOMS RECOVERS COLUMBUS LETTER FOR ITALIAN MUSEUM

On 24 January, a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that a more than 500-year-old copy of Christopher Columbus’ letter describing his discoveries in the Americas has been returned to the Government of Italy.  This announcement follows a court filing in the District of Delaware, which ordered the return of this historic document to the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice.  Following a lengthy investigation by US authorities and Italian Carabinieri, investigators determined that, sometime in or around 1875, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana acquired a copy of the letter, and at an unknown time between 1985 and 1988, the letter was stolen.  In 2003, a collector acting in good faith unknowingly purchased the letter from a rare book dealer in the US.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-hsi-wilmington-and-delaware-us-attorneys-office-recover-most-rare-stolen

NORTH KOREAN WORKERS IN RUSSIA DESPITE UN BAN

On 24 January, NK News claimed that roughly 1,000 North Korean workers remain in Russia, despite a ban imposed by the UN that came into force at the start of the year – with “limited” transport options being blamed.  At the same time, NK Pro reported that, in the final months before a UN ban on North Koreans earning money overseas took effect in late December, thousands of DPRK nationals continued to travel to Russia on student visas, tourist visas, and work visas, new Russian government data has revealed.  It also said that Moscow admits it has not yet fully complied with UN rules on overseas DPRK labourers.

https://www.nknews.org/2020/01/roughly-a-thousand-north-korean-workers-remain-in-russia-despite-un-ban-mfa/

https://www.nknews.org/pro/in-final-months-before-un-worker-ban-thousands-of-north-koreans-went-to-russia/

UK ‘REPORTING ILLICIT DRUG REACTIONS’ PILOT TO CLOSE FOLLOWING LACK OF USE

On 21 January, the Pharmaceutical Journal reported that the Report Illicit Drug Reactions (RIDR)a pilot of a national system for reporting unexpected or severe illicit drug reactions launched in 2017 has been stopped because of a lack of use by healthcare professionals.

https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/20207594.article

https://report-illicit-drug-reaction.phe.gov.uk/

A MOVING TARGET: NUCLEAR SECURITY DURING TRANSPORT

On 24 January, the IAEA published an article says that nuclear and other radioactive material is hardest to protect when it is transported from point A to point B — more than half of the incidents of theft of radioactive material reported to the IAEA between 1993 and 2019 occurred while it was in transport.  Now how to further strengthen nuclear security during transport is one of the topics that will be discussed at an upcoming conference – a forum for ministers, policymakers, senior officials and experts to discuss current approaches and priorities for nuclear security.  While only around 30 countries use nuclear power and therefore have significant amounts of nuclear materials to transport, almost all countries use radioactive sources.  The latter include disused sources beyond their useful life but which can remain radioactive for a long time and frequently require transport to temporary storage facilities or permanent repositories.

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/a-moving-target-nuclear-security-during-transport

AI CAN HELP FIND ILLEGAL ONLINE OPIOID SELLERS, WILDLIFE TRAFFICKERS, COUNTERFEITS

On 21 January, Vox carried an article saying that the US Government is investing in an AI-based tool that could help catch illegal opioid sales on the internet, saying that the same approach could find lots of other illicit transactions.  It says that new AI-based approaches to clamping down on illegal opioid sales demonstrate how publicly available social media and internet data can be used to find illegal transactions initiated online.

https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/21/21060680/opioids-artificial-intelligence-illegal-online-pharmacies

AUSTRALIA: 60 CURRENT OR FORMER MACQUARIE EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN NAMED AS SUSPECTS IN THE GERMAN CUM-EX INVESTIGATION

On 23 January, the Australian Financial Review reported that 60 current or former Macquarie employees have been named as suspects in a German investigation into controversial dividend trading practices, including the CEO.  It says that a German lawsuit accused Macquarie Bank Ltd. of financing a high-risk fund linked to controversial cum-ex tax deals that are being investigated in a number of EU states.

https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/suspect-list-in-macquarie-german-probe-blows-out-to-60-20200123-p53u9d

SHADOW BANKING: BANK-LIKE ACTIVITY BY NON-BANKS THAT POSES FINANCIAL STABILITY RISKS GREW BY 1.7% IN 2018

On 21 January, the American Banking Association in its Journal reported that the Swiss-based Financial Stability Board Bank has reported that bank-like activity by non-banks that poses financial stability risks grew by 1.7% to total $50.9 trillion in 2018.  This, however, is significantly lower than the 8.5% growth seen in 2017 and 2018.  It is said to represent 13.6% of global financial assets, comprising collective investment vehicles, non-bank lenders dependent on short-term funding and market intermediaries depending on short-term or secured funding.  This “shadow banking” is now termed “non-bank financial intermediation” by the FSB.

https://bankingjournal.aba.com/2020/01/basel-shadow-banking-moderates-in-2018/

UK COURT ORDERS 3 RUSSIANS BANK-OWNERS TO PAY $900 MILLION OVER BANK COLLAPSE

On 23 January, the Wall Street Journal reported that the court found that a former chairman and 2 former executives – Ilya Yurov, the former chairman of National Bank Trust, and former executives Nikolay Fetisov and Sergey Belyaev – masked loans and misrepresented the bank’s health to regulators.  They are said to have siphoned money out and contributed to the collapse of domestic lender NBT 5 years ago.  NBT, now under the control of Russia’s central bank, sued the 3 men in London in 2016.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-court-orders-russians-to-pay-900-million-over-bank-collapse-11579786272

NEW AGREEMENT FOR SYSTEM TO TARGET “DARK” MARITIME ACTIVITY

On 21 January, an article in Homeland Security Today reported that 2 technology companies had entered into an agreement to procure, integrate and analyse data for dark vessel tracking.  It is explained that the Kleos Scouting Mission satellites detect and geolocate maritime radio frequency transmissions, and when compared with other data sources such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) the data can be used to highlight ‘dark’ maritime activity.

https://www.hstoday.us/industry/geospatial-partnership-to-target-dark-maritime-activity/

KOSOVO TO INTRODUCE HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS LEGISLATION

The Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo has said (on Twitter) that Kosovo is to introduce legislation to sanctions human rights offenders, freeze assets and ban them from entering the country.

https://twitter.com/pacollibehgjet/status/1220427456148049920

2 NONPROLIFERATION WATCHDOG GROUPS AND A PAIR OF PRODUCERS OF A MEDICAL RADIOISOTOPE HAVE URGED THE US NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION (NRC) TO REJECT AN APPLICATION TO EXPORT WEAPONS-GRADE URANIUM TO EUROPE

Physics Today on 24 January reported that 2 nuclear non-proliferation watchdog groups and a pair of producers of the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 have each urged the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to reject a Department of Energy application to export weapons-grade uranium (aka highly-enriched  uranium or HEU) to Europe.  It says that the Department is caught between its intent to quit exporting HEU and the need to assure US access to a key medical radioisotope.  Under US law, the NRC must issue an export licence for shipments of enriched uranium.  A complication is that 2013 US legislation stipulated that a ban on HEU exports for the production of medical isotopes would commence in January 2020 if the Department certified that enough of the medical radioisotope was available to meet US demand.  The situation concerns a proposal to ship 5 kg of HEU to supply the Belgium-based Institute for Radioelements, which says it needs one last shipment of HEU to satisfy the total demand for 99Mo and iodine-131 (a less-used medical radioisotope) until it can complete a conversion to low-enriched uranium (LEU) processes next year.  The shipment would go to a French company, which would fabricate it into reactor targets, and these would be irradiated in research reactors located in Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, and the Czech Republic. The irradiated targets containing the necessary fission products would then be shipped to IRE for extraction and purification of the isotopes.

https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.2.20200124a/full/

THE US DIRECTORATE OF DEFENSE TRADE CONTROLS ISSUES LICENSING GUIDANCE ON GUN EXPORT CONTROLS TRANSITIONING TO COMMERCE DEPARTMENT

On 24 January, Export Compliance Daily reported that the DDTC had released on 23 January guidance on the final rules for the transfer of gun export controls from the State Department to the Commerce Department, including a clarification on licence submissions during the transition period.  The guidance also clarifies how the rules and transition period affect technical assistance agreements, manufacturing licence agreements, reporting requirements, commodity jurisdiction determinations and regulatory oversight responsibilities.

https://exportcompliancedaily.com/news/2020/01/24/ddtc-issues-licensing-cj-guidance-on-gun-export-controls-transitioning-to-commerce-2001230041

https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/ddtc_public?id=ddtc_public_portal_news_and_events

GLOBAL BRANDS URGE CAMBODIA TO REFORM LABOUR AMID EU SANCTION THREAT

Yahoo Finance on 24 January reported that global clothing and shoe brands, including Adidas, PUMA and Levi Strauss have written again to Cambodia’s leader saying the country’s record on labour and human rights threatens to bring down sanctions on its crucial garment industry.  They urge him to amend a trade union law, repeal the law on NGO and drop all outstanding criminal charges against union leaders.  The EU accounts for nearly half of Cambodia’s exports, the country’s largest industry, which employs about 700,000 people and accounts for 40% of GDP.

https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/global-brands-urge-cambodia-reform-105102062.html

EU AND 16 WTO MEMBERS AGREE TO WORK TOGETHER ON AN INTERIM APPEAL ARBITRATION ARRANGEMENT

On 24 January, a news release and statement from the EU advised that the EU and Ministers from 16 members of the WTO have agreed to develop a multi-party interim appeal arrangement that will allow the participating WTO members to preserve a functioning and 2-step dispute settlement system at the WTO in disputes among them, following the effective paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body, due to the blockage of any new appointments since 2017 (by the US).

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_113

https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2020/january/tradoc_158596.pdf

WISCONSIN LAWYER CHARGED WITH TAKING $30,000 FROM A CLIENT AND PROMISING TO USE IT TO BRIBE COURT OFFICIALS

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on 24 January that a lawyer called Mark A. Ruppelt, 50, who falsely told a federal prison inmate that he could get his sentence reduced by bribing the prosecutor, probation officer and judge has agreed to plead guilty to his own charges of wire fraud.

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2020/01/24/wisconsin-lawyer-charged-fake-bribery-scheme/4566824002/

SIXTH AND FINAL DEFENDANT SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR SOPHISTICATED INTERNATIONAL CELLPHONE FRAUD SCHEME

On 24 January, a news release from the US DoJ advised that a citizen and resident of the Dominican Republic has been sentenced in Miami to 65 months in prison for multiple criminal charges in connection with a sophisticated global cellphone fraud scheme that involved compromising cellphone customers’ accounts in the US and “cloning” their phones to make fraudulent international calls.  He s the sixth and last defendant to be sentenced in the case, and others have already been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 36 months to 75 months.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/sixth-and-final-defendant-sentenced-prison-sophisticated-international-cellphone-fraud-scheme

US SANCTIONS/EXPORT CONTROLS TRENDS IN 2020

On 24 January, Foley Hoag LLP published the sixth in a start-of-year series examining important trends in white collar law and investigations in the coming yearIn 2019, OFAC issued approximately 2,000 new designations of specific people or organisations subject to sanctions, and in addition the Bureau of Industry and Security increased its use of its Entity List to address corruption and human rights violations, with 185 new Entity List designations in 2019.  The article then looks at what the firm expects to happen in the coming year.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/white-collar-year-in-preview-sanctions-91171/

HOW A FAILED CYPRUS-BASED INSURER WAS SEIZED BY ALLEGED BULGARIAN GANGSTERS

An article from OCCRP on 24 January said that Cypriot police are nearing the end of their probe into the allegedly fraudulent recapitalisation of an insurance company that collapsed in 2018, leaving more than 200,000 drivers mainly in Bulgaria without coverage, and unpaid claims of €44.8 million.  It is claimed that Cyprus-based Olympic Insurance Company Limited fell into the hands of suspected crime bosses long before it failed.  It is said that, hiding behind 2 Cypriot lawyers who acted as proxies, alleged Bulgarian gangsters gained control of Olympic almost a decade before a Spanish businessman took over the company and cannibalised it with the help of an associate who was a convicted cocaine dealer.  The case raised questions at the time about due diligence procedures at Cyprus’ Insurance Company Control Service (ICCS), which oversees the sector.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/olympic-losses-how-a-failed-cyprus-based-insurer-was-seized-by-alleged-bulgarian-gangsters

US STATE DEPARTMENT NEW RULES TO PROHIBIT “BIRTH TOURISM”

On 24 January, Jurist reported that the State Department has given visa officers more power to block pregnant women from visiting the US, to allow officers to prohibit any women believed to be traveling to the US for the “primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the US — an activity commonly referred to as birth tourism”.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/01/state-department-implements-new-rule-to-prohibit-birth-tourism/

UK HEALTH EXPERTS BLAST WHO OVER E-CIGARETTES

On 24 January, TJI reported that warnings by the WHO have been refuted by public health experts in the UK who accused the WHO of spreading “blatant misinformation” regarding risks and benefits of e-cigarettes.  UK public health officials generally voice support for vaping stating it is a useful tool to quit traditional smoking.  The WHO has now echoed US scientists’ opinion that e-cigarettes “are harmful to health and are not safe, but it is too early to provide a clear answer on the long-term impact of using them or being exposed to them”.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/UK_health_experts_blast_WHO.55651.0.html

SOLICITORS BANNED AS DIRECTORS OVER INVESTOR CASH MISUSE

On 24 January, Legal Futures reported that 2 solicitors have been handed 13-year director disqualifications after they misled people to invest £1.4 million in a legal insurance product they never actually developed, but spent the cash on keeping their law firm afloat.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/solicitors-banned-as-directors-over-investor-cash-misuse

URUGUAY NAVY OFFICERS IN WORRYING LINK TO DRUG TRAFFICKING

On 24 January, Insight Crime reported that a network of navy officials accused of providing jet fuel for aircraft transporting drugs has revealed startling corruption within Uruguay’s security agencies.  4 navy officers have been charged with providing criminal groups with logistics and access to fuel for planes used to transport drugs, with the theft of fuel from an airforce base.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/uruguay-navy-drug-trafficking/

SEC CHARGES A CALIFORNIA-BASED COUPLE WITH ORCHESTRATING A NEARLY BILLION-DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME INVOLVING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY TAX CREDITS

A release on Mondo Visione on 24 January reported that the SEC alleges that Jeffrey and Paulette Carpoff raised approximately $910 million from 17 investors between 2011 and 2018 by offering securities in the form of investment contracts through their 2 solar generator companies, DC Solar Solutions Inc. and DC Solar Distribution Inc.  The Carpoffs allegedly promised investors tax credits, lease payments, and profits from the operation of mobile solar generators.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-husband-and-wife-with-nearly-1-billion-ponzi-scheme/

REPORT: A SEQUEL TO SURVEY OF CENTRAL BANKS’ DIGITAL CURRENCY

A paper from the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements in January says that the survey shows that central banks are undertaking extensive work on central bank digital currencies. Central banks representing a fifth of the world’s population say they are likely to issue the first CBDC in the next few years.  Most central banks are still working to understand the implications for their jurisdiction and a significant minority look likely to issue a CBDC very soon. This survey gives a global overview of work under way, showing that emerging market economies (EME) report stronger motivations and a higher likelihood that they will issue CBDC.  At the same time, so-called cryptocurrencies remain a niche means of payment.  There is no evidence of a widespread or general move to expand this research into experimentation and pilot arrangements.  However, a few central banks with sufficient motivation are proceeding to pilot various designs

https://www.bis.org/publ/bppdf/bispap107.pdf

PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS RAVAGES 3 EAST AFRICAN COUNTRIES

On 24 January, Ekklesia reported that the worst plague of desert locusts in a generation is ravaging crops and other vegetation across the Horn of Africa with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia battling to contain the escalating crisis.  The outbreaks in Ethiopia and Somalia are the worst in 25 years and in Kenya the worst in 75 years.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/29275

FAA PROPOSES $120,000 PENALTY FOR UPS DANGEROUS GOODS VIOLATION

On 24 January, American Shipper reported that the US Federal Aviation Administration has said it intends to fine integrated logistics giant UPS $120,000 for shipping a consignment of lithium batteries in an unsafe manner.  This news comes as pressure increases on governments to enforce violations of regulations governing dangerous goods, especially lithium ion batteries, on cargo aircraft.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/faa-proposes-120000-penalty-for-ups-dangerous-goods-violation

 

UK TECHNICAL CONSULTATION: FIFTH MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE AND TRUST REGISTRATION SERVICE

On 24 January, HMRC and HM Treasury have launched a detailed technical consultation on extending the Trust Registration Service to include the draft legislation and proposals on the types of express trusts that will be required to register, data collection and sharing, and penalties.  This followed a consultation seeking views on generally transposing the Fifth Money Laundering Directive into UK law.  The consultation closes on 21 February.  The TRS was created following the 4th AML Directive and is used to register taxpaying trusts and estates. It is important to note that trusts required to register under the 4th AML Directive, such as for trustees to submit a trust tax return, will continue to do so on the existing TRS system.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/technical-consultation-fifth-money-laundering-directive-and-trust-registration-service

MONEYVAL: FURTHER AML/CFT ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP REPORTS ON ANDORRA, HUNGARY, SERBIA AND SLOVENIA

On 24 January, MONEYVAL, the FATF-style regional body under the Council of Europe announced that a number of follow-up reports had been released.  In addition to the already published reports on Latvia and Albania, further follow-up reports have been published on Andorra, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia.

ANDORRA

MONEYVAL has re-rated the country on 3 FATF originally rated as “partially compliant”.  Like many other (most) places, it was placed in an enhanced follow-up process, following the adoption of its mutual evaluation report, and the follow-up report analyses Andorra’s progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies (n.b. not effectiveness) identified in the mutual evaluation report.  MONEYVAL has re-rated Andorra on Recommendations 25 (transparency and beneficial ownership of legal arrangements), 26 (regulation and supervision of financial institutions) and 28 (regulation and supervision of DNFBP). These Recommendations are now re-rated as “largely compliant”.  The report also looks at progress made in the implementation of new requirements relating to Recommendation 2 (national cooperation and coordination) which has changed since Andorra’s last follow-up report was adopted. The rating for Recommendation 2 (rated as “largely compliant”) remains “compliant”.  Andorra is now “compliant” on 10 of the 40 FATF Recommendations and “largely compliant” on 27.  It remains “partially compliant” on 3 of the 40 FATF Recommendations.  MONEYVAL decided that Andorra will remain in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report back to MONEYVAL on further progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.

andorra

https://rm.coe.int/anti-money-laundering-and-counter-terrorist-financing-measures-andorra/1680998aab

HUNGARY

Due to its progress, MONEYVAL has re-rated the country with 1 FATF Recommendation originally rated as “partially compliant”.  Hungary was placed in an enhanced follow-up process, following the adoption of its mutual evaluation report in 2016.  MONEYVAL has re-rated Hungary on Recommendation 33 (statistics), which is now re-rated as “largely compliant”.  The report also looks at progress made in the implementation of new requirements relating to Recommendation 2 (national cooperation and coordination) which has changed since Hungary’s last follow-up report was adopted.  The rating for Recommendation 2 (rated as “largely compliant”) remains unchanged.  Hungary remains “compliant” on 6 of the 40 FATF Recommendations and “largely compliant” on 28.  It remains “partially compliant” on 6 of the 40 FATF Recommendations.  MONEYVAL decided that Hungary will remain in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report back to MONEYVAL on further progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.

hungary

https://rm.coe.int/anti-money-laundering-and-counter-terrorist-financing-measures-hungary/1680998aaa

SERBIA

MONEYVAL has re-rated the country with 3 FATF Recommendations originally rated as “partially compliant” in the 2016 mutual evaluation report, when Serbia was placed in the enhanced follow-up process.  MONEYVAL has re-rated Serbia on Recommendations 6 (targeted financial sanctions related to terrorism and terrorist financing) and 8 (non-profit organisations) as “largely compliant” and Recommendation 18 (internal controls and foreign branches and subsidiaries) as “compliant”.  The report also looks at progress made in the implementation of new requirements relating to Recommendation 2 (national cooperation and coordination) which has changed since Serbia’s last follow-up report was adopted.  The rating for Recommendation 2 (rated as “largely compliant”) remains unchanged.  Serbia is now “compliant” on 5 of the 40 FATF Recommendations and “largely compliant” on 31.  It remains “partially compliant” on 4 of the 40 FATF Recommendations. MONEYVAL decided that Serbia will remain in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report back to MONEYVAL.

serbia1

serbia2

https://rm.coe.int/anti-money-laundering-and-counter-terrorist-financing-measures-serbia-/1680998aa8

SLOVENIA

Slovenia was placed in an enhanced follow-up process, following the adoption of its mutual evaluation report in 2017.  MONEYVAL has assessed the compliance of the country with the new FATF Recommendations requirements.  The follow-up report looks at progress made in the implementation of new requirements relating to Recommendation 2 (national cooperation and coordination) which has changed since Slovenia’s last follow-up report was adopted.  The rating for Recommendation 2 (rated as “largely compliant”) remains unchanged.  Slovenia remains “compliant” on 11 of the 40 FATF Recommendations and “largely compliant” on 19.  It remains “partially compliant” on 10 of the 40 FATF Recommendations.  MONEYVAL decided that Slovenia will remain in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report back to MONEYVAL.

slovenia

https://rm.coe.int/anti-money-laundering-and-counter-terrorist-financing-measures-sloveni/1680998aa9

IRAQ ALLEGEDLY HELPING IRAN SKIRT US SANCTIONS

On 24 January, the Jerusalem Post reported allegations that the Iraqi Central Bank has been pushing private banks in Iraq, whom have Iranian board members, to open credit accounts in US dollars, this according to a report released by the Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya.  The purpose of the credit accounts is said to be for importing oil derivatives to meet local needs, and it is said that the boards of these private entities include individuals connected to Iran, such as businessman who have ties to the Islamic Republic.

https://www.jpost.com/International/Report-Iraq-allegedly-helping-Iran-skirt-US-sanctions-615248

COMPLEX POST-BREXIT CHECKS FOR NORTHERN IRISH TRADERS

On 24 January, the Guardian carried an article saying that the “straightforward” document that Northern Irish businesses will need to complete to send goods to Great Britain after Brexit is a complex form that includes 31 data elements.  Only 2 of these are optional, meaning 29 data elements are mandatory.  The exit and entry forms are mandatory and are the 2 parts of what is known as a safety and security certificate.  It is reported that security certificates were not required on goods between Switzerland and the EU but that is because there was alignment on EU rules, something that the UK Chancellor has ruled out.  Businesses sending goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will face a form involving up to 45 elements – only 3 of these are optional.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jan/24/revealed-complex-post-brexit-checks-for-northern-irish-traders

VATICAN CITY RESTORED TO MEMBERSHIP OF EGMONT GROUP OF FIU

On 23 January, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Vatican has said it has regained active membership following its suspension over what the network called security concerns.  This is described as a boost to the Vatican’s financial credibility, which has suffered several blows in recent months.  Egmont suspended the Vatican’s access in November, saying its handling of confidential information posed “an evident security threat to our organisation.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-financial-watchdog-restores-vaticans-active-membership-11579805322