6th December 2019
US: MAN SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS FOR CONSPIRING TO ‘STRAW PURCHASE’ HANDGUNS FOR ILLEGAL EXPORT TO EGYPT
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 3rd December announced that a man from Chicago had been sentenced to 1½ years in federal prison for conspiring to straw purchase handguns on behalf of a woman who allegedly tried to smuggle the firearms into Egypt. He purchased 4 handguns in November 2013 from a licensed firearms dealer and then immediately transferred the guns to the co-defendant so that she could smuggle them to Egypt. The guns were discovered in her checked luggage at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
CREDIT SUISSE ACTS TO BLOCK PROSECUTORS USING CRITICAL REPORT BY THE COUNTRY’S FINANCIAL REGULATOR INTO THE BANK’S FAILURE TO PREVENT FRAUD AT ITS WEALTH MANAGEMENT UNIT
On 6th December, KYC 360 reported that Credit Suisse, which is a party to a case involving former wealth manager Patrice Lescaudron, is relying on a clause in the Swiss legal system designed to prevent self-incrimination during a criminal investigation. While he was convicted in early 2018 and released in November of that year, numerous victims have appealed parts of the verdict, meaning the criminal case remains open. That full report wasn’t publicly released, but the regulator issued a press release last year that summarised the findings. The bank is said to have rewarded Lescaudron with high payments and positive employee assessments.
MALTA: €131 MILLION WORTH OF SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS AT SATABANK
KYC 360 on 6th December reported that over 300 reports of suspicious transactions at Satabank worth in excess of €130 million have been flagged by EY since it was entrusted to administer the bank’s assets by the financial regulator and the suspension of the bank’s licence by the Malta Financial Services Authority. Satabank received a €3 million fine by the MFSA.
HYPERSONIC WEAPONS: TACTICAL USES AND STRATEGIC GOALS
On 6th December, ETH Zurich published a paper which helps to explain the currently much-hyped weaponry type.
THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES
In the latest edition of its Conflict Trends publication, ETH Zurich looks at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), pointing out that this free trade area is outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union member states. AfCFTA is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the WTO, as it translates to a market potential for goods and services of 1.2 billion people, and an aggregate GDP of about $2.5 trillion. It was signed by 44 member states in Rwanda on 21st March 2018. The agreement then went into force on 30th May 2019 and entered its operational phase following the AU Summit on 7th July. The article examines the key provisions of the AfCFTA with the aim of identifying its prospects, and the challenges that may impede the exploitation of its full potential.
COMPATIBILITY OF NATIONAL ASSET FREEZES IMPOSED BY MEMBER STATES WITH EU LAW
On 8th November, the European Commission published an Opinion following a request from a national authority in one Member State. It remarks that in 2 2008 cases the CJEU stated that, given the link of economic and financial measures to the operation of the internal market, such asset freezes cannot be imposed unilaterally by a Member State, and that Article 215 TFEU is the only appropriate legal basis to ensure the implementation of sanctions regimes adopted under the CFSP (the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy).
BITCOIN MONEY LAUNDERING “IS A CLASSICALLY DUMB CRIME”
On 5th December, an article in Quartz saying that laundering money through bitcoin is a bad idea — not only because it’s illegal, but also because it leaves a permanent trail.
CLAIM THAT ASSOCIATES CONNECTED TO ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT REPORTEDLY INVOLVED IN THE PLUNDER OF VALUABLE MUKULA ROSEWOOD TREES AND DESTRUCTION OF ZAMBIA’S VULNERABLE FORESTS
On 5th December, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said that its new report exposes how associates connected to President Edgar Lungu (including his daughter Tasila Lungu) are reportedly involved in the plunder of valuable, increasingly scarce, mukula rosewood trees; and hence the destruction of Zambia’s vulnerable forests. The investigation is said to show that, despite public pledges to end the illegal mukula trade, several politicians are repeatedly named as key actors in an influential timber trafficking network that bypasses existing national bans on mukula harvest and export. Mukula trees are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The EIA claims that the state-owned company Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation Limited (ZAFFICO) is secretly used by well-connected Zambian and Chinese business operatives as a cover to export thousands of freshly cut mukula logs, and that this illegal trade flourishes in spite of bans on the harvest, transport, and export of mukula.
A TRANSPORT COMPANY BASED IN THE NETHERLANDS WAS INVOLVED IN SMUGGLING LARGE QUANTITIES OF DRUGS TO SEVERAL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
On 6th December, a news release from Eurojust announced that Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Norway, with the active support of Eurojust, have taken down an organised crime group involved in drug trafficking. The investigation showed that a transport company based in the Netherlands was involved in smuggling large quantities of drugs to several European countries. Police suspect that the drugs were transported by truck, along with legal cargo, from Spain into the Netherlands, and redistributed to other countries.
UK FIREARMS LICENSING INCLUDING NEW REGULATIONS ON DEACTIVATED FIREARMS
On 6th December, the Home Office issued updated licensing guidance, good practice on firearms law, and forms for applying for approvals under the law.
See also Home Office Circular 010/2019 re new measures on firearms and deactivated firearms which are provided for by the Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Rules 2019 and the Firearms Regulations 2019 that take effect from 12th December. The latter Regulations introduce new requirements regarding the possession and transfer of permanently deactivated firearms in accordance with the requirements of Directive (EU) 2017/853.
2 PEOPLE ARRESTED AT DUBLIN AIRPORT AS PART OF INVESTIGATION INTO ROMANIAN CYBER FRAUD GANG
On 6th December, The Journal reported that the action was said to be part of an operation targeting a Romanian organised crime group involved in cyber-enabled frauds worldwide, including invoice redirect, phishing, vishing and money laundering in Ireland. A Romanian man was arrested under an European arrest warrant, and a Romanian woman was arrested for theft and fraud offences.
2 FORMER KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTERS RECEIVE PRISON TERMS
On 6th December, Rferl reported that former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on corruption charges stemming from his involvement in a 2013 project to modernise the Bishkek Thermal Power Station; another former prime minister, Jantoro Satybaldiev, received a 7½-year sentence, while Aibek Kaliev, the former chief of the National Energy Holding, was given 15 years.
2 TONNES OF COCAINE DISGUISED AS CHALK SEIZED IN LARGEST DRUGS BUST IN POLAND IN 30 YEARS
On 6th December, The First News reported on a months-long investigation into a Colombian cartel trafficking ring and a raid at the port of Gdynia. During their raid of a factory, investigators secured 10 kg of ‘street ready’ cocaine, which was destined for Germany and around 600 litres of cocaine in the production phase, several hundred litres of various types of chemicals, laboratory equipment and even a specialised hydraulic press with a mould containing the Colombian cartel logo.
ADDITIONAL COUNTRIES JOIN OECD GLOBAL FORUM AGREEMENTS
On 6th December, Tax News reported that Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Mongolia, and Oman had joined the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) bringing the total number of countries party to this agreement to 135. Kenya and Oman also signed the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS (aka BEPS MLI), Oman signed the Common Reporting Standard Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, and Tunisia signed the Country-by-Country Reporting Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement.
FAKE REMEMBRANCE DAY POPPIES WERE AMONG THE HUNDREDS OF KNOCK OFF DESIGNER GOODS SEIZED AT A SHOP IN MANCHESTER’S ‘COUNTERFEIT CAPITAL’
The Manchester Evening News on 6th December carried a report about seizures made at a store run by Sarajuddin Atai near Strangeways prison which were counterfeit, including products claiming to be made by Apple, Christian Dior, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Dolce and Gabbana, Rolex and Armani. Also included were 225 poppy brooches, which purported to be official products from the Royal British Legion. The area near Strangeways prison has previously been dubbed the counterfeit capital of Europe, due to the amount of shops selling fakes. The store was raided in 2017. He received a 6-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after admitting offences relating to trademarks, and the company Blinge Ltd was fined £13,000, and ordered to pay £10,000 prosecution costs.
UNITRANS INTERNATIONAL TO PAY $45 MILLION TO SETTLE CHARGES AND ALLEGATIONS BROUGHT BY THE DOJ FOR ILLEGALLY SHIPPING CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS TO AFGHANISTAN THROUGH IRAN
Jurist on 6th December reported that the US-based company had agreed the settlement with Unitrans which had provided logistical support to Anham, a Dubai Free Zone UAE company. The US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) had awarded a contract to Anham to supply material and logistical support to US troops in Afghanistan.
CRIME GROUP SUSPECTED OF SMUGGLING NUCLEAR MATERIALS ARRESTED IN VIENNA
A news release from Europol on 6th December advised that Austrian and Moldovan law enforcement have jointly investigated and arrested an organised crime group suspected of smuggling nuclear materials, targeting a group of criminals that attempted to sell nuclear container which allegedly contained radiological material to an army for €3 million. 3 individuals were arrested in Austria.
REPORT ON THE SECOND SURVEY ON CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA
On 6th December, UNODC reported on this publication which assesses the likelihood of citizens being approached for the payment of bribes as well as the frequency of such requests and actual payments. It provides insights into citizens’ attitudes towards corruption, their readiness to refuse requests for bribes and to report corruption incidents. It also provides data on bribery and nepotism in public sector recruitment as well as the phenomenon of vote buying. It found that 30% of those surveyed had paid a bribe to, or were asked to pay a bribe by, a public official and, although still relatively high, this is a decrease since 2016, when it stood at 32.3%.
The report itself is at –
RECORD COCAINE SEIZURES IN BRAZIL REVEALS DRUG FLOODING PORTS
An article on Insight Crime on 6th December says that cocaine seizures in Brazil have hit a record high this year — with the vast majority of drugs detected in cargo containers at the country’s ports. Between January and October 2019, cocaine seizures reached 47.1 tons, a jump from the 31.5 tons taken in all of 2018.
THE CHALLENGE OF NON-STATE ACTORS AND STAND-OFF WEAPONS IN MIDDLE EAST
On 6th December, the International Institute for Strategic Studies published a report saying that ongoing wars in the Middle East are setting a worrying precedent, revealing a proliferation in the region not only of ballistic missiles, but also cruise missiles and improvised stand-off munitions in the form of low-cost UAV. This included supplies to non-state actors, examples cited being Iranian ballistic- and cruise-missile technology ‘supplied’ to Ansarullah in Yemen, and Iranian-sourced weapons in Hizbullah arms depots in Syria which continue to be attacked by the Israeli Air Force.
LATVIA FINES BALTIC INTERNATIONAL BANK OVER AML CONTROLS
On 6th December, Reuters reported that Latvia’s Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) said that it had fined Baltic International Bank – the country’s 8th largest bank – $1.72 million for lax AML controls. It is said that the bank had mainly been serving non-resident clients but now says it is shifting towards investment banking in the Baltics.
KENYA: GOVERNOR OF NAIROBI ARRESTED WHILE FLEEING GRAFT CHARGES
On 6th December, Mail Online reported that Kenya’s anti-corruption commission says Mike Mbuvi, the governor of Nairobi, has been arrested while trying to flee prosecution for alleged money laundering and other crimes.
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