E.g., 01/27/2022
E.g., 01/27/2022
01/26/2022

INTERPOL support protects cyber space and brings criminals to justice

The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has arrested 11 alleged members of a prolific cybercrime network as part of a national police operation coordinated with INTERPOL.

Arrested by officers of the NPF Cybercrime Police Unit and INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Nigeria, many of the suspects are thought to be members of ‘SilverTerrier’, a network known for Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams which have harmed thousands of companies globally.

Intelligence-led operation

The ten-day Operation Falcon II (13-22 December) saw 10 NFP officers deployed from the Abuja headquarters to Lagos and Asaba to arrest target suspects identified ahead of time with intelligence provided by INTERPOL.

  Field operations were preceded by an intelligence exchange and analysis phase, where Nigeria used INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network,  I-24/7, to work with police forces across the world also investigating BEC scams linked to Nigeria.

The INTERPOL General Secretariat supported field operations 24/7, forensically extracting and analyzing data contained in the laptops and mobile phones seized by NPF during the arrests.

This preliminary analysis indicates that the suspects’ collective involvement in BEC criminal schemes may be associated with more than 50,000 targets.

One of the arrested suspects was in possession of more than 800,000 potential victim domain credentials on his laptop.

Another suspect had been monitoring conversations between 16 companies and their clients and diverting funds to ‘SilverTerrier’ whenever company transactions were about to be made.

Another individual was suspected of taking part in BEC crime across a wide range of West African countries including Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria.

“By alerting Nigeria to this serious cybercrime threat, INTERPOL enabled me to give the order to hunt down these globally active criminals nationwide, flushing them out no matter where they tried to hide in my country,” said Assistant Inspector General of Police Garba Baba Umar, Head of NCB Abuja and INTERPOL Vice President for Africa.

“The outstanding results of Operation Falcon II have served to disrupt this dangerous cyber gang and protect Nigerian citizens from further attack. I encourage fellow African countries to also work with INTERPOL in ridding our continent of cybercrime to make the cyber world a safer place,” added Mr Umar.

Following the global money trail

With BEC fraud having both a cyber and a financial element, Operation Falcon II saw financial ‘pathfinder countries’ belonging to INTERPOL’s Global Financial Crime Taskforce (IGFCTF) – including Nigeria – work together on cross-border financial investigations linked to the operation.  

The IGFCTF is now coordinating further action against ‘SilverTerrier’ bank accounts and sharing intelligence on the domain credentials of potential victims with member countries to prevent further fraud.

“Operation Falcon II sends a clear message that cybercrime will have serious repercussions for those involved in business email compromise fraud, particularly as we continue our onslaught against the threat actors, identifying and analyzing every cyber trace they leave,” said INTERPOL’s Director of Cybercrime Craig Jones.

“INTERPOL is closing ranks on gangs like ‘SilverTerrier’; as investigations continue to unfold, we are building a very clear picture of how such groups function and corrupt for financial gain. Thanks to Operation Falcon II we know where and whom to target next,” added Mr Jones.

Critical partnerships

Led by INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Directorate in Singapore, Operation Falcon II was a cooperative effort involving IGFCTF, Nigerian law enforcement agencies, a range of INTERPOL expert teams and vital private partners Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 and Group-IB’s APAC Cyber Investigations Team.

Through INTERPOL’s Gateway initiative, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 and Group-IB have contributed to investigations by sharing information on ‘SilverTerrier’ threat actors, and analyzing data to situate the group’s structure within the broader organized crime syndicate.  They also provided key technical expertise consultancy to support the INTERPOL teams.

Gateway boosts law enforcement and private industry partnerships to generate threat data from multiple sources and enable police authorities to prevent and investigate attacks in a timely manner.

The operation was developed as part of efforts to support joint operations in Africa with funding by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK).  INTERPOL extends its thanks for this support.

At a time of increased threat, members of the public, businesses and organizations are reminded to protect themselves from online scams by following the advice featured in INTERPOL’s #JustOneClick, #WashYourCyberHands, #OnlineCrimeIsRealCrime and #BECareful campaigns.

https://www.interpol.int

01/25/2022

Digital currencies could soon be declared illegal in Pakistan, a new report has revealed. The country’s central bank has submitted a report to a provincial court proposing a blanket ban as it claims to be concerned about the use of digital currencies in illicit activities. The report cited a recent $100 million BTC scam involving Binance cryptocurrency exchange as one of the instances causing concern to regulators.

According to a report by local TV network Samaa, the State Bank of Pakistan recently submitted the report recommending the ban to the Sindh High Court. In addition to a blanket ban, the central bank recommended tough penalties for digital currency exchanges.

The State Bank has been anti-BTC for years and has warned against using them as legal tender in the country. However, as the report observes, this is the first time that the bank has taken a clear position on the issue and asked for a total ban.

The latest action started with the Sindh court asking the federal government to form a committee to determine the status of digital currencies in October 2021. It directed the Federal Secretary of Finance to head the committee. 

This committee has now requested the government to totally ban digital currencies. One of the biggest concerns for the committee, as per its report, is the use of digital assets in crime. Pakistan is already on the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for its lax money laundering laws. The committee believes that stamping out digital currencies would be a good start towards getting back on the FATF’s good books.

According to Samaa, the report cited some specific cases that have made the committee even more resolute against digital assets. One of these is the recent $100 million BTC scam that affected over 30,000 Pakistani investors. Binance, an exchange that almost always seems to be at the heart of every other major crime in the sector, is being probed for its role in the scam.

The Sindh court has requested that the report be forwarded to the Ministries of Law and Finance to decide whether the country should ban digital currencies. The two ministries have also been requested to determine if banning BTC would be within constitutional rights. If so, they should establish a legal framework that will outlaw digital currencies.

The decision by the State Bank goes against a petition before the Sindh Court—the same petition that stirred the waters in the first place—by Waqar Zaka, a TV personality and digital currency entrepreneur. 

Zaka had asked the court to declare digital currencies legal as many Pakistani investors were putting their money into the industry. Some estimates put the size of the local sector at over $20 billion. The Chainalysis Global Crypto Adoption Index ranked Pakistan third globally for adoption, just behind Vietnam and India, respectively.

Local stakeholders have spoken out against the recommendation, saying it would be a grave mistake to wipe out the industry before it has even found its feet.

“The mindset if something is going wrong is to simply ban it. Rather than trying to figure out the background, more often than not they go for a ban before going through the process. You can’t ban digital currencies,” Majyd Aziz, the former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commented.

https://coingeek.com

01/24/2022

COUNCIL OF EUROPE

Strasbourg, 20.01.2022 – The Conference of the Parties of the Council of Europe’s Warsaw Convention has called on its states parties to apply corporate liability to money laundering offences effectively.

In a report released today, the Conference of the Parties of Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism - also known as the “Warsaw Convention” - evaluates the extent to which 36 states have legislative or other measures in place to ensure that legal persons can be held liable for money laundering offences when they are committed on their behalf and for their benefit.

The liability of legal persons can be particularly valuable for the effective fight against money laundering since criminals often use corporations, charities and businesses to launder their illicit gains. Through sophisticated money laundering schemes, they are frequently able to avoid any liability by disguising their involvement in crime and relying on the weakness of the systems of sanctioning legal persons and confiscating their illicit gains.

The report specifically assesses how states parties to the treaty implement the provisions of Article 10 of the treaty, which requires them to establish corporate legal liability in their domestic legislation, including when a natural person is involved as an accessory or instigator.

The report concludes that seventeen countries have fully transposed all the provisions of Article 10: Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Sweden.

35 of 36 states parties have introduced liability of legal person of money laundering offences in their legislation, as required by paragraph 1 of Article 10, mostly through general provisions of their criminal codes. However, the transposition into domestic legislation differs considerably among states. Eight out of the 36 state parties have not yet established the liability of legal persons for an offence committed by a natural person acting as an accessory or instigator.

Twenty-two countries have complied with the provisions of Article 10 (2), which requires states parties to transpose the liability of the legal person for a money laundering offence committed due to the lack of supervision or control by a natural person who holds a leading position, such as a manager. Seven states have transposed this requirement partially, and eight states have not implemented it yet or have to a very limited extent.

The Conference of the Parties issues several general recommendations to the states parties aimed at enhancing their compliance with Article 10 of the treaty as well as country-specific recommendations. It encourages them to ensure that there are corporate liability mechanisms in place that judicial and law enforcement authorities can use in money laundering cases.

The Council of Europe’s Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS no. 198), opened for signature in Warsaw in 2005, is the first international treaty covering both the prevention and the control of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

It is the only international treaty that gives national authorities the power to halt suspicious transactions at the earliest stage to prevent their movement through the financial system. In addition, specialised financial intelligence units of member states must stop such transactions whenever requested by a financial intelligence unit of another state party.

The Conference of the Parties monitors States Parties’ compliance with the convention.

https://www.coe.int

01/21/2022

MOSCOW, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Russia's central bank on Thursday proposed banning the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, citing threats to financial stability, citizens' wellbeing and its monetary policy sovereignty.

The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems.

Russia has argued for years against cryptocurrencies, saying they could be used in money laundering or to finance terrorism. It eventually gave them legal status in 2020 but banned their use as a means of payment.

In December, the price of bitcoin fell after Reuters reported, citing sources, that Russia's regulator was in favour of a complete ban on cryptocurrencies.

In a report published on Thursday, the central bank said speculative demand primarily determined cryptocurrencies' rapid growth and that they carried characteristics of a financial pyramid, warning that bubbles in the market could form, threatening financial stability and citizens.

The bank proposed preventing financial institutions from carrying out any operations with cryptocurrencies and said mechanisms should be developed to block transactions aimed at buying or selling cryptocurrencies for fiat, or traditional currencies. The proposed ban includes crypto exchanges.

Russians are active cryptocurrency users, the central bank said, with an annual transaction volume of about $5 billion.

CRYPTO MINING

Russia is the world's third-largest player in bitcoin mining, behind the United States and Kazakhstan, though the latter may see a miner exodus over fears of tightening regulation following unrest earlier this month.

The central bank said crypto mining created problems for energy consumption. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are "mined" by powerful computers that compete against others hooked up to a global network to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The process guzzles electricity and is often powered by fossil fuels.

"The best solution is to introduce a ban on cryptocurrency mining in Russia," the bank said.

In August, Russia accounted for 11.2% of the global "hashrate" - crypto jargon for the amount of computing power being used by computers connected to the bitcoin network.

In its report, the central bank pointed to steps taken in other countries, such as China, to curb cryptocurrency activity. It said it would work with regulators in countries where crypto exchanges are registered to collect information about the operations of Russian clients.

In September, China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.

Russia's regulator said crypto assets becoming widespread would limit the sovereignty of monetary policy, with higher interest rates needed to contain inflation.

It said the long-term potential of cryptocurrencies being used for settlements was limited.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia is planning to issue its own digital rouble, joining the global trend to develop digital currencies to modernise financial systems, speed up payments and counter a potential threat from other cryptocurrencies.

https://www.reuters.com

01/20/2022

SNB last week said it has successfully used digital currency to settle transactions

ZURICH - The Swiss National Bank does not see any overall benefit from issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be used by the general public and used in day to day transactions, governing board member Andrea Maechler said on Tuesday.

"We believe the risks outweigh the benefits," Maechler told a financial conference held in Frankfurt, saying a retail CBDC meant central banks taking on the risks carried by the private sector and increased the risk of bank runs.

There also needed to be a balance struck between safeguarding privacy and the potential misuse of retail CBDCs in criminal activity, Maechler said.

Financial inclusion was also not a sufficient argument for CBDCs in Switzerland, Maechler said, with almost 100% of the country's working population having access to bank accounts, while cash was still widely used.

"This does not mean the SNB is not interested in CBDC, but our focus is to look at the role that wholesale CBDCs could play," Maechler said, referring to their use in transactions between financial institutions like banks.

The SNB last week said it has successfully used digital currency to settle transactions involving five commercial banks, and has also looked into how the technology can be used to improve cross-border payments.

Still, Maechler remained cautious. "None of these projects are an indication that the SNB is ready to issue a wholesale CBDC," she said.

https://www.zawya.com

01/19/2022

Jan 14 (Reuters) - Australia's financial crime regulator said on Friday it had broadened its ongoing investigation of the country's second-biggest casino operator Star Entertainment Group (SGR.AX) over possible breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws at its casinos.

The sector has been plagued by a slew of regulatory inquiries in Australia and the development highlights casino firms' shortcomings in managing strict oversight of alleged money laundering at their gambling hotspots.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) launched a probe in June into Star's casino in Sydney amid concerns over ongoing customer due diligence and compliance with laws.

Local media later reported on a confidential review that accused Star of failure to curb fraud and money laundering at its two resorts.

The investigation into Star will now include multiple entities under the company, AUSTRAC said on Friday, declining to comment further as the probe was ongoing.

The company said earlier in the day that it would fully co-operate with AUSTRAC's investigation.

Star's larger rival Crown Resorts (CWN.AX) has also faced misconduct inquiries in every state it operates in.

Crown on Thursday received a $6.5 billion buyout proposal from U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Inc (BX.N). Star itself had approached Crown for a deal last year before backing out over regulatory concerns.

 

https://www.reuters.com

01/18/2022

Move would follow conviction and £264m fine for NatWest for failing to comply with regulations

Financial Times - The UK’s financial regulator is exploring using criminal powers that led to a landmark conviction of NatWest in two other anti-money laundering investigations. The Financial Conduct Authority told the Financial Times there were two criminal probes in about 40 active cases where regulators were investigating financial services companies or individuals for failing to check where customers’ money came from.

The FCA was given criminal powers in money laundering cases in 2007 but secured its first conviction using those powers only last year, when Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary NatWest was fined £264.8m for failing to comply with money laundering regulations. Of the current investigations, some 29 probes are regulatory investigations, two are criminal investigations and three are civil probes.

Six cases are “dual-track” probes, which means the regulator has not decided whether the matter should become a regulatory or criminal investigation. Separate information obtained under a Freedom of Information request, made by law firm Eversheds Sutherland, showed the FCA had abandoned five purely criminal probes into money laundering failures since July 2020. The NatWest case — where it emerged that people carrying thousands of pounds of cash in black bin bags were able to deposit the money in one of the bank’s branches — has been widely seen as a deterrent to other lenders that fail to meet their anti money laundering obligations. Mark Steward, the FCA’s enforcement head, told the FT that the regulator, which is struggling with high levels of job vacancies, was not dropping criminal cases because they took up too many resources.

“Our decision-making about how we investigate and what we investigate is not decided by resources but decided by the merits of an individual case,” he said. Nikhil Rathi, the FCA’s chief executive, told the Treasury select committee of MPs in a letter last month that the work on the NatWest probe had taken up to 30,000 staff hours and had involved compelled interviews with 85 witnesses as well as forensic reviews of 300,000 documents and 350 separate rounds of legal correspondence with NatWest.

Ruth Paley, legal director at law firm Eversheds Sutherland, who specialises in corporate crime and investigations, said the FOI underlined the FCA’s determination to crack down on money laundering and said she believed the regulator was likely to use its prosecution powers sparingly.

“A criminal prosecution is a very serious step and does undertake huge resources so we can perhaps expect prosecutions to be relatively few and far between,” Paley said. “Having got a victory and a huge scalp last month it’s going to be a big step for the FCA to consider whether they can use their criminal powers,” she added, saying that for criminal prosecutions the burden of proof needed to prove a case was much higher than in civil cases. The FCA has frequently taken regulatory action against banks for money laundering breaches and last month fined HSBC £64m for “serious weaknesses” in its monitoring systems between March 2010 and March 2018.

https://www.ft.com

01/17/2022

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published its draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on a central database on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in the EU. The European Reporting system for material CFT/AML weaknesses (EuReCA) will be a key tool for coordinating efforts to prevent and counter money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) in the Union.

The EBA is legally required to establish and keep up to date a central AML/CFT database. This database, also known as EuReCa, will contain information on material weaknesses in individual financial institutions that make them vulnerable to ML/TF. Competent authorities across the EU will have to report such weaknesses, as well as the measures they have taken to rectify them.

The EBA’s draft RTS specify when weaknesses are material, the type of information competent authorities will have to report, how information will be collected and how the EBA will analyse and disseminate the information contained in EuReCa. They also set out the rules necessary to ensure confidentiality, protection of personal data and the effectiveness of EuReCa.

In this context, the EBA also published technical specifications that detail the data points and a list of competent authorities that will be indirectly submitting information to EuReCA.

The EBA will use EuReCA to provide information on ML/TF risk affecting the EU’s financial sector. It will also share information from the database with competent authorities as appropriate, to support them at all stages of the supervisory process, and in particular if specific risks or trends emerge.

EuReCA will be an early warning tool, which will help competent authorities to act before the ML/TF risk crystalise. As such, EuReCA will be key to strengthening AML/CFT supervision and to coordinating efforts to prevent and counter ML/TF in the EU.

Legal basis and background and next steps

The proposed RTS have been developed in fulfilment of the mandates conferred on the EBA in Articles 9a(1) and (3) of the EBA Regulation. As part of the mandate to lead, coordinate and monitor AML/CFT in Europe, said Articles require the EBA to develop two RTSs to establish and keep up to date an AML/CFT central database. Given the complementary character of those RTS, the EBA has drafted them as a single instrument.

The EBA has performed a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) in accordance with Article 35 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 (EUDPR). The DPIA analyses the risks arising from the processing of personal data and establishes the controls that will be put in place by the EBA to mitigate the risks identified. A summary of this DPIA is published on the EBA’s website. The DPIA continues to be updated as the database is being set up.

The EBA will submit these draft RTS to the European Commission for approval. Once approved, the RTS will be directly applicable in all Member States. EuReCA will start to receive data in Q 1 2022.

https://www.eba.europa.eu

01/14/2022

Suspected terrorists and foreign fighters among arrests during INTERPOL-coordinated operation

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Boosting the ability of frontline border officers to detect travelers as potential terrorists was the focus of a counter- terrorism (CT) and border management operation led by INTERPOL across Sri Lanka.

Codenamed Operation Flycatcher II, the five-day (8 - 12 November) operation saw the arrest of six suspects linked to terrorism, with further arrests and prosecutions foreseen globally as investigations continue to unfold.

The operation saw Sri Lanka’s police, border and immigration agencies undertake specialized INTERPOL training on forensic identification techniques, CT investigative skills and INTERPOL’s data sharing mechanisms before carrying out tactical operations in the field.

Right data, right place, right time

“Access to information in our databases is at the heart of INTERPOL’S counter-terrorism operations, especially those that can prevent travel,” said INTERPOL’s Director of Counter-Terrorism, Gregory Hinds. “Operation Flycatcher demonstrates the importance for countries to use INTERPOL’s wide range of criminal databases in strategic places like border crossings,” added Mr Hinds.

With biometric data playing a growing role in tackling crime and terrorism, officers worked together using INTERPOL’s biometric identification capabilities to identify potential terrorism suspects.

The operation saw more than 800 hits and new uploads to INTERPOL’s wide range of criminal databases, particularly its stolen travel documents database with more than 100 million documents reported stolen from all over the world.

Stolen passports are a key asset for terrorist mobility, particularly for foreign terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones. INTERPOL’s databases contain details on around 135,000 foreign terrorist fighters, with data collected from hotspots such as borders, battlefields and prisons.

Highlighting how terrorist activity is often linked to other crime areas, more than 200,000  checks on INTERPOL’s wanted persons database led not only to the identification of potential terrorists but also men and women wanted for forging travel documents, fraud and financial crime, weapons smuggling and human trafficking.

Following the money trail

The financing of terrorism is a core component of INTERPOL’s strategy in the fight against terrorism. 

Traveler’s names were checked against INTERPOL’s databases of suspicious financial transaction in the framework of INTERPOL’s Financial-to-Law Enforcement exercise (FINLEX).

Seven suspects and five suspicious monetary transactions were detected, prompting investigations in associated countries. “Boosting the way we work nationally to detect terror suspects travelling in Sri Lanka means making sure all our police agencies have the necessary capabilities, skillsets and mechanisms in place to  prevent and investigate the crime area holistically,” said Chief Inspector Lakshman Rajakaruna who heads operations at the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Colombo. ‘This is why such a wide range of Sri Lankan agencies took part in this important operation, coming together with the common goal of tackling terrorism from all angles, together with INTERPOL,’’ added Mr Rajakaruna.

Local operation with global input

INTERPOL coordinated the cooperative action of nine national law enforcement agencies working together across Sri Lanka and at Bandaranayaka International Airport using INTERPOL capabilities to detect potential terrorists:

-INTERPOL National Central Bureau for Sri Lanka in Colombo

-Counter Terrorism and Investigation Division

-Criminal Investigation  Department (CID)

-Criminal Records Department (CRD)

-Financial Investigation Unit of CID

-Financial Intelligence Unit Central Bank of Sri Lanka

-Immigration and Emigration Department

-Special Task Force

-State Intelligence Service (SIS)

Ahead of operations, Sri Lankan agencies received and analysed INTERPOL-sourced intelligence on transnational terrorist networks to better understand their methods, motives and financing and – ultimately – to identify and arrest suspects.

Operations in the field enabled investigators to link a number of suspects to terrorist organizations active in Sri Lanka, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Islamic State (IS), and the National Thowheeth Jama’ath which was the terrorist group responsible for the 2019 Easter Bombings attack in Sri Lanka.

Easter bombings: seven strikes in 21 minutes

In April 2019, nine suicide bombers simultaneously detonated their devices in seven locations around Sri Lanka killing 269 people and leaving 500 injured.

Whereas domestic terrorism – principally from LTTE – represented Sri Lanka’s main terrorist threat for decades, the attack illustrated escalating IS-inspired religious extremism.

Cooperation between the Sri Lankan authorities and INTERPOL resulted in a number of strong leads and arrests. One of the alleged ringleaders behind the bomb attacks, Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Mohamed, was arrested in the Middle East following the publication of an INTERPOL Red Notice. He was later extradited back to Sri Lanka, along with four other suspects, following their arrest in the Middle East.

Flycatcher is a CT operation carried out in the framework of INTERPOL’s CT programme for Sri Lanka and Maldives (CT-SLaM) funded by the European Union and jointly implemented with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The first Flycatcher operation was conducted with the Maldives in July 2021 and involved officers from several national law enforcement agencies.  Results included some 1,000 hits against INTERPOL’s databases, one arrest for a firearms-related crime, and intelligence gathering to feed associated investigations worldwide.

https://www.interpol.int

01/12/2022

The criminal network allegedly smuggled tonnes of hashish and cocaine from Morocco to Spain

The Belgian Federal Police (Police Fédérale/Federale Politie), the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by Europol, successfully dismantled an organised crime group involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

The action days on 14 and 15 December 2021 led to:

16 house searches (in Barcelona, Cadiz and Galicia)

17 individuals arrested (11 Spanish and 6 Moroccan nationals) 

The leader of the criminal network among the suspects arrested

Large seizures worth more than €6 million including: 

10 luxury watches worth about €2.1 million,

8 real estate properties worth about €1.9 million, 

more than €1 million in cash, 

26 cars worth about €1 million, 

1 vessel valued at approximately  €100 000, 

760 lottery tickets with a value of €15 200, 

a banknote counter, a large number of smartphones and electronic equipment, 

33 bank accounts.

Large-scale drug trafficking via the African route

The criminal network was involved in large-scale drug trafficking, mainly of cocaine and hashish, to Southern Spain using speedboats. Two seizures made earlier in 2021, consisting of 4 300 kg hashish and 1 300 kg cocaine respectively, are connected to this criminal organisation. Two of the 17 arrested on 14 and 15 December had an international arrest warrant against them in connection to a seizure of 1 004 kg cocaine made in 2018 in Morocco. The alleged leader of the organisation is believed to be one of the major importers of cocaine and hashish from Morocco to the Iberian Peninsula. Spanish Civil Guard officers arrested him while he was coordinating a number of seaborne drug trafficking operations.

Using legal businesses to wash the drug money

The organised crime group created and misused a large network of companies, including several cash-intensive businesses such as two restaurants in Barcelona. These businesses served to launder the drug-trafficking proceeds. The profits were also laundered through the payment of mortgages and simulated loans. The suspects also used cash to cover costs related to facilitating their drug trafficking activities and buying the required equipment, such as cars and vessels. A large number of the assets owned by the suspects and their families were not justified by any legally obtained and declared resource.

On-the-spot deployments to support investigators

Since joining the operation in July 2020, Europol supported the operational activities, facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support and operational coordination. During the action days, Europol deployed an expert to Spain to cross-check in real time operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators in the field. Europol also deployed a second expert to Spain to provide further technical assistance. 

In 2020, Europol created the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) to increase synergies between economic and financial investigations and to strengthen its ability to support law enforcement authorities in effectively combating this major criminal threat.

Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organised crime forms. Europol also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.

https://www.europol.europa.eu

01/11/2022

A drug and money laundering investigation called "Operation Mad Money—which stretched from Toronto to British Columbia to China—has shown links between illegal marijuana sales and Toronto’s booming real estate market, CTV News Toronto has learned.

The investigation, led by the Calgary Police Service, is part of an attempt to seize millions in what authorities allege are drug profits that ended up in money service businesses in the Greater Toronto Area, who passed them along to people trying to buy homes.

And it could be the tip of the iceberg, says one retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and money laundering expert. In an interview, Garry Clement says Ontario should follow in the footsteps of B.C. and call a public inquiry to assess how big an impact laundered money has in the property market.

“We know that this is going on, we know money is coming into the province. All you do is look at the number of condos that are sitting vacant,” Clement said.

“Canada really needs to sit down and realize we are still a very weak link. This case demonstrates that we have a long way to go."

The investigation started with a Calgary police officer buying marijuana from websites called BudExpressNow and Cheapweed, a motion filed in Ontario Superior Court says.

Court documents claim the sites didn’t have a licence to sell, and an investigation showed they did more than $3 million in business through multiple feeder accounts, accepting electronic bank transfers with explanatory notes including “weedguy” and “ed and bills.”

Police watched money get deposited in bank accounts in Edmonton, and tracked some of that to three properties outside Vancouver, where they say it was used to pay $1.38 million in electricity bills.

The properties did have Health Canada licenses to grow about 5,000 marijuana plans, but a police raid in 2020 counted almost four times as many.

B.C.’s OffIice of Civil Forfeiture is applying to seize those properties.

In Ontario, authorities claim in documents filed in Superior Court that the alleged profits of the operation ended up in the control of Toronto-area money service businesses, which authorities say sent money in Canada to Chinese nationals interested in buying Toronto real estate.

In exchange, the Chinese nationals repaid the money in China, the documents say, pointing out that this is a way to circumvent currency controls in China that prevent money from easily being withdrawn from that country.

Ontario’s Attorney General is now applying to seize some $3.7 million in bank accounts it says contain money from the marijuana sales.

"The pattern of deposits into the subject accounts, including the frequent, large deposits made in round numbers, is indicative of unlawful activity," the court application says.

"The contents of the respondent accounts are made up in whole or in part by proceeds of illegal online cannabis sales and/or are instruments of money laundering."

The allegations are in civil court, which rely on a lower standard of proof than criminal court. Nothing has been proven and a judge is weighing the case now.

One lawyer for the recipients of the money told a recent court hearing they believed everything was legal and had no idea that the money deposited in their accounts could have come from unlicensed marijuana.

“The respondents were not in any way involved in the alleged unlawful acts that were apparently committed by unknown perpetrators,” said lawyer William E. Peppall.

"This is not a case of a delinquent individual, a felon, nor a criminal mastermind. The respondents are innocent bystanders who purchased for legitimate reasons Canadian currency at fair market value in exchange for their Canadian currency that was earned through legal means," he said.

Clement, the money laundering expert, says the alleged arrangement has a lot in common with a scheme in B.C. where drug money was laundered through government-licensed casinos, and poured into real estate — so much that a government report found it was responsible for a five per cent surge in prices.

The B.C. government called a public inquiry known as the Cullen Commission. Clement said a public inquiry may be necessary in Ontario too.

“This shows we have a lot of gaps in our system,” he said.

FINTRAC, the federal agency which tracks money laundering, says it’s conducted 276 examinations in the past three years, and 700 real estate transactions in the last five years.

The agency says it’s issued nine notices of violation for non-compliance, five in the real estate sector for $143,219, two in money services for $143,219, and two in the dealers of precious metals and stones for a total of $272,910.

The agency said the money service business identified in the court case is registered, but it could not share anything it would have disclosed to police about the case.

The Department of Finance told CTV News Toronto in a statement it had invested $98.9 million over five years to enhance the RCMP and strengthen its foundations to help fight money laundering and identify proceeds of crime.

“New integrated money laundering investigative teams (IMLITs) will be created in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, bringing together expertise from a variety of agencies to address high profile cases and advance money laundering and proceeds of crime investigations nation-wide,” a spokesperson said.

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca

01/10/2022

The Belgian Federal Police (Police Fédérale/Federale Politie), the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by Europol, successfully dismantled an organised crime group involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. 

The action days on 14 and 15 December 2021 led to:

16 house searches (in Barcelona, Cadiz and Galicia)

17 individuals arrested (11 Spanish and 6 Moroccan nationals) 

The leader of the criminal network among the suspects arrested

Large seizures worth more than €6 million including: 

10 luxury watches worth about €2.1 million,

8 real estate properties worth about €1.9 million, 

more than €1 million in cash, 

26 cars worth about €1 million, 

1 vessel valued at approximately  €100 000, 

760 lottery tickets with a value of €15 200, 

a banknote counter, a large number of smartphones and electronic equipment, 

33 bank accounts.

Large-scale drug trafficking via the African route

The criminal network was involved in large-scale drug trafficking, mainly of cocaine and hashish, to Southern Spain using speedboats. Two seizures made earlier in 2021, consisting of 4 300 kg hashish and 1 300 kg cocaine respectively, are connected to this criminal organisation. Two of the 17 arrested on 14 and 15 December had an international arrest warrant against them in connection to a seizure of 1 004 kg cocaine made in 2018 in Morocco. The alleged leader of the organisation is believed to be one of the major importers of cocaine and hashish from Morocco to the Iberian Peninsula. Spanish Civil Guard officers arrested him while he was coordinating a number of seaborne drug trafficking operations.

Using legal businesses to wash the drug money

The organised crime group created and misused a large network of companies, including several cash-intensive businesses such as two restaurants in Barcelona. These businesses served to launder the drug-trafficking proceeds. The profits were also laundered through the payment of mortgages and simulated loans. The suspects also used cash to cover costs related to facilitating their drug trafficking activities and buying the required equipment, such as cars and vessels. A large number of the assets owned by the suspects and their families were not justified by any legally obtained and declared resource. 

On-the-spot deployments to support investigators

Since joining the operation in July 2020, Europol supported the operational activities, facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support and operational coordination. During the action days, Europol deployed an expert to Spain to cross-check in real time operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators in the field. Europol also deployed a second expert to Spain to provide further technical assistance. 

In 2020, Europol created the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) to increase synergies between economic and financial investigations and to strengthen its ability to support law enforcement authorities in effectively combating this major criminal threat.

Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organised crime forms. Europol also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.

https://www.europol.europa.eu

01/07/2022

The world’s biggest crypto exchange, Binance, continues to take a massive leap with its expansion across the globe as a regulatory-friendly exchange.

This time, following its license application, Binance has achieved in-principle approval of CBB. Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) to become an official service provider for crypto-assets.

CBB approbation is the first regulatory body approved in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to give in-principle approval to Binance company. However, the cryptocurrency exchange has to finish the application process, despite CBB approval.

In-principle approval is a sign that Binance must complete the application process in full and expects to complete “in the near future,” the announcement notes.

Bahrain, which is the Gulf’s smallest economy, has been among the Middle Eastern’s first adopters of the area of digital assets. Binance’s move highlights its growing concentration on the Middle East.

Last week, Binance signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority to create a crypto hub.

Binance Chief Executive Officer Changpeng “CZ” Zhao tweeted. The cryptocurrency giant has registered Binance Canada Capital Markets through its Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), its anti-money-laundering (AML), and anti-terrorism regulator. As per the FINTRAC records, the company was incorporated on Dec. 1st.

These developments are part of the plan to be a fully-regulated central cryptocurrency exchange. Binance is shifting from a decentralized model to a more centralized one to transition from a technology firm into a financial services firm.

In the last few months, Binance has been scrutinized by regulators around the world, including the U.S., U.K., South Africa, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, and Lithuania.

Binance announced making “substantial adjustments” to be a fully licensed and fully compliant cryptocurrency exchange in December. “We’re working on setting up offices that are real legally-formed entities, a properly-run board and proper governance structure across the world,” Zhao said.

https://globalcrypto.tv

01/05/2022

On 22 December, the Korean National Police Agency of the Republic of Korea and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) signed a Working Arrangement in order to support the Member States of the European Union and the Republic of Korea in preventing and combating serious crime and terrorism.

The Working Arrangement introduces a secure system for the exchange of information between the parties, linking the Republic of Korea with law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union, as well as with third countries and organisations associated with Europol. 

The cooperation may, additional to the exchange of information, include the exchange of specialist knowledge, general situation reports, results of strategic analysis, the participation in training activities as well as providing advice and support in individual criminal investigations. 

Based on this Working Arrangement, the Republic of Korea can deploy a liaison officer to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands to join its unique community of liaison bureaux of law enforcement authorities from more than 40 countries across the world.

The Korean National Police Agency's Commissioner General Kim Chang-yong said:

“Transnational organised crime has been fortified with the development of technology and globalisation. Now, one country's effort is not enough in the fight against crime. Law enforcement agencies should stand together. On behalf of the Korean Government, I sincerely welcome this working arrangement, which will allow the law enforcement agencies in both the Republic of Korea and the European Union to strengthen their collaborative efforts and realise practical solutions to curb crime.”

Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said:

“Against the backdrop of international crime becoming more violent and interconnected, the need and potential for cooperation between Europol and the Republic of Korea on global security is important. I welcome this working arrangement, which will connect law enforcement authorities from the Republic of Korea with all of Europol’s Member States and associated partners. Leveraging these relationships represents an invaluable opportunity to enhance regional efforts to combat the threats posed by transnational crime.”

After entry into force of the Arrangement, this new level of cooperation will be important for tackling priority crime areas affecting both the European Union and the Republic of Korea.

https://www.europol.europa.eu

01/04/2022

Kazakhstan - NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - AFSA has made amendments to the AIFC Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing and Sanctions Rules (the Rules) to increase adherence of the AIFC AML/CFT framework to Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the AIFC’s official website reads.

The amendments to the Rules cover the following areas: Regulatory and supervisory powers. Regulatory and supervisory powers of the AFSA in respect of Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs) are more clearly defined. The AFSA ensures compliance of the relevant AIFC Participants with this regime that addresses requirements regarding Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. (AML/CFT) responsibilities by using its various regulatory powers including by conducting reviews and inspections.

It is also clarified that the AFSA may impose disciplinary sanctions and other actions if AML Rules are contravened. Risk-based approach. The proposed amendments considerably expand the responsibility of Relevant Persons in a risk-proportionate manner.

Thus, Relevant Persons will be responsible for managing and mitigating country-wide risks identified in the published reports and guidance given by the financial intelligence unit regarding the FATF mutual evaluations and follow-up reports and implementing enhanced measures where higher risks are identified.

It is also proposed to explicitly require firms to manage and mitigate risks they identify during their risk assessment Customer due diligence (CDD).

The proposed amendments specifically underline the need to conduct CDD for occasional transactions the value of which singularly or in several linked operations (whether at the time or later), equal or exceed $15,000. In addition to conducting CDD it is required to conduct Enhanced Due Diligence when there are business relationships and transactions with persons from countries with high geographical risk factors.

Obligations to verify the identity of the customer and its Beneficial Owner (BO) have been explicitly stressed.

https://www.inform.kz

01/03/2022

NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenyan Police have arrested a man wanted by INTERPOL for allegedly smuggling dozens of men, women and children to Europe.

Wanted by The Netherlands since 2017, 53-year-old John Habeta was taken into custody at Schiphol International airport in Amsterdam on 25 December after his arrest in Kenya.  

Kenyan Police arrested John Habeta in Nairobi on 16 December as part of a sting operation coordinated between authorities in the Netherlands and Kenya with the support of INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters. Acting on globally sourced INTERPOL intelligence leads, the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in The Hague alerted the Kenyan NCB to the fugitive’s presence in Nairobi on 10 December.

An INTERPOL Red Notice – or international fugitive alert – was published the same day for people smuggling and use of fake identity documents to carry out transcontinental smuggling operations, triggering the suspect’s surveillance and arrest on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital.

The Dutch national remains in custody in The Netherlands until trial where, if convicted, he faces a sentence of up to eight years in prison.

Complex criminal networks facilitate the illegal passage of migrants across borders – for a price.

Using INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network – I-24/7, INTERPOL coordinated global efforts to disrupt the network by enabling countries to share criminal intelligence and analysis about Habeta and how he organized transcontinental smuggling operations.

Habeta was allegedly involved in at least four different operations to smuggle groups of Eritrean nationals into Europe using routes from Asia.

INTERPOL’s specialized unit on migrant smuggling and human trafficking identified Habeta as a high priority target in October 2020 when member countries alerted INTERPOL to new leads about the fugitive’s global smuggling activities, which were immediately shared with the NCB in The Hague.

The subsequent issue of the INTERPOL Red Notice played a central role in the location and arrest of the fugitive.

People smuggling syndicates are run like businesses with high profit margins and links to a wide range of serious and often violent crimes including illicit money flows, corruption, terrorism, trafficking in illicit goods and human trafficking.  

They focus on profit margins, facilitating the passage of migrants with little or no regard for their safety and well-being.

International police cooperation

Criminal groups behind human trafficking and migrant smuggling were already hit last July when INTERPOL’s operation Liberterra saw 286 suspects arrested worldwide.

In April, Operation Weka mobilized 24 source, transit and destination countries enabling authorities in Africa and Europe to rescue nearly 500 victims of human trafficking and identify some 760 irregular migrants.

Both operations boosted regional law enforcement cooperation into people smuggling and triggered associated police investigations in all continents into targets like Habeta.

This latest investigation was supported by The Regional Operational Centre in support of the Khartoum Process and the African Union (AU) Horn of Africa Initiative (ROCK) and Europol.

https://www.interpol.int

12/30/2021

Muscat: The State Audit Institution (SAI) on Monday signed a cooperation programme with the National Centre for Financial Information to exchange information in the fields of combating money laundering and financing terrorism.

The protocol was signed at SAI headquarters by Ahmed Salim Al Rujeibi, SAI Deputy Chairman of Audit in the State Administrative Apparatus, and Lt. Col. Abdulrahman Amer Al Kiyumi, CEO of the National Center for Financial Information.

This step aims to achieve joint cooperation and governance of information exchange to serve the common interest of SAI and the centre in combating money laundering, corruption and financing terrorism.

https://timesofoman.com

12/29/2021

UK - Two men who headed up an international criminal network responsible for laundering £70 million, £10m of which came from fraudulent Bounce Back Loans, have been jailed for a total of 33 years. Artem Terzyan, 38, from Russia and Deivis Grochiatskij, 44, from Lithuania, were the focus of a four-year investigation by the Organised Crime Partnership – a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service unit.

Their sentences are believed to be some of the largest ever handed down for money laundering in the UK.

The OCP’s investigation began in October 2017 when surveillance officers watched Auriel Zylyfi place a large bag of cash in an Audi at a money counting house in North West London. 

A month later another man, Artur Terziu, was seen handing over £40,000 to Zylyfi in the underground carpark of his flat in Hazlemere Court, Hendon. Both men were arrested and each sentenced to a year in prison. OCP officers searched Zylyfi’s flat and seized a ledger detailing money laundering transactions in excess of £7m over a four-month period.

Over the next seven months the same Audi travelled extensively around the UK, stopping briefly at lorry parks and service stations to collect cash before returning to London. It was regularly driven to Munning House in Docklands, East London, where Terzyan and Grochiatskij both lived in flats next door to each other. On multiple occasions, OCP officers watched as large bags of cash were carried from the car and into Munning House.

Both men were also seen, along with other members of their criminal network, opening bank accounts in banks across London in the names of the various fake companies they had set up, then depositing tens of thousands of pounds into those accounts at a time. The money would be sent from one shell company to another in a complex web of transfers, before it was sent out to international accounts held in countries including Germany, Czech Republic, U.A.E, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

On 26 June 2018, OCP officers arrested Terzyan and Grochiatskij at Munning House and searched both of their flats.

They seized multiple hand-written ledgers with Terzyan’s finger prints on, which detailed the vast sums of cash being laundered. Also recovered from his flat was an encrypted phone, bank cards and account details of the fake companies they had set up.

Grochiatskij’s computer was seized from his flat. On it, officers found details of the bank accounts the pair used for laundering and various incriminating photos of their associates handling cash in Grochiatskij’s living room.

Another photo showed a safe containing a huge pile of cash. In the same photo was a notepad which had the address of a business unit at close by Waterfront Studios on Dock Road. Investigators recovered CCTV footage which showed the two men delivering the safe to the unit on 23 February 2018. However, when it was searched 8 months later, the money had already been removed. Measurement of the safe’s dimensions showed that the amount of cash seen in the photo could have been up to £3m.

A financial investigator analysed hundreds of bank accounts controlled by Terzyan and Grochiatskij and was able to evidence that the men had laundered a total of £36m in 2017-2018, with £16m of that coming from cash deposits. While on bail, the pair began to exploit the Government’s Covid-19 support scheme by claiming fraudulent Bounce Back Loans (BBL) for the various shell companies they had set up. They claimed up to £50,000 a time, generating over £10m in total. £3.2m of that was claimed from one UK bank alone.

On top of this, they continued to launder criminal cash using the same method as before. Between June 2018 and November 2020, when the pair were arrested again, they laundered a further £34m including the £10m they generated from the BBLs.

Terzyan and Grochiatskij were each charged with two counts of money laundering, for which they were found guilty following a seven-week trial in September 2021. Earlier this month at Kingston Crown Court, Terzyan was sentenced  to 17 years in prison and Grochiatskij to 16 years.

Details can only now be released following the lifting of report restrictions that were previously in place.

On sentencing the two men, HHJ Shetty noted that their exploitation of the BBL scheme played a part in “undermining the Government and financial institutions” and that the “the British taxpayer will be staggered and upset that part of their hard-earned tax contributions was going into the pockets of criminals.” Andy Tickner, from the Organised Crime Partnership, said: “This was a painstaking and complex investigation in which the team analysed reams of financial data and transactions.

“Ultimately the case proved that these two had built a sophisticated, large-scale money laundering system which saw them transfer £70m worth of criminal cash out of the UK. “They did so by setting up hundreds of bogus companies and utilising an international network of criminals under their control. “To top it off, they stole over £10m from British taxpayers in what is believed to be one of the largest Bounce Back Loan frauds since the scheme was introduced in 2020.

“These men and their network played a vital role in enabling other criminals to conceal and access their illicit earnings. The removal of this service will have been a massive blow to organised criminals in the UK and globally.”

The financial investigation into the two men remains ongoing. So far, the OCP has obtained freezing orders on four bank accounts which contained around £180,000 in total. Of this, £17,000.00 has been forfeited, as it was assessed to be recoverable property.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk

12/28/2021

Checks against INTERPOL databases detected 19 wanted persons subject to Red Notices

LYON, FRANCE: Terrorism and organized crime are invariably linked to the illicit trafficking of firearms, often across borders.

A recent INTERPOL-led operation codenamed Trigger-Salvo saw law enforcement from 10 countries in Central, East and Southeast Asia coordinate in a series of border enforcement actions aimed at preventing firearms trafficking and detecting any links with terrorism and organized crime.  

During a two-week period (25 October – 5 November), participating law enforcement agencies conducted enhanced passenger and cargo controls at designated airports, seaports, and land borders as well as at known smuggling routes within the participating countries. Data from the screening of individuals, travel documents and vehicles was then cross-checked against INTERPOL’s global databases, enabling officers to identify wanted persons and potential threats.

The operation notably saw Mongolian law enforcement destroy a cache of 2,000 illegal firearms, seized over a period of three years.

“Mongolia’s decision to destroy these firearms symbolises our commitment to Operation Trigger-Salvo and to enhancing security in the wider region,” said Police Lieutenant Colonel Nyamdavaa Bayasgalan, Chief Inspector of Mongolia’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Ulaanbaatar.

Three million searches

In total, nearly 3 million searches were conducted during Operation Trigger-Salvo, yielding more than 140 hits. The vast majority concerned individuals using travel documents reported lost or stolen and 19 individuals subject to INTERPOL Red Notices were also detected.

Through cargo inspections, nearly 34,000 packages and mail items were screened while more than 1,200 packages and general cargo were thoroughly inspected. Meanwhile, more than 12,000 vehicles were searched.

These checks led to the seizure of more than 800 firearm parts and 22 firearms, as well as nearly 10,000 ecstasy tablets worth approximately EUR 290,000.

More than 1,800 immigration-related offences were also detected, resulting in 64 arrests for people smuggling and five Thai nationals arrested for facilitating, transporting, and allowing the illegal entry of a person or persons across the Thai-Myanmar Border. The migrants smuggled were being brought to work illegally in Central Thailand.

Mobile phone stun guns

Many of the firearms parts seized during Operation Trigger-Salvo were uncovered by law enforcement in Hong Kong (China), including 750 during a single inspection of an express consignment en route to Italy.

In another case at the Hong Kong International Airport several days later, customs officials recovered 10 stun guns disguised as ordinary electronics such as mobile phones and vehicle transponders.

“Curbing the transnational flow of illegal weapons in Central, East and Southeast Asia is challenging due to porous borders, difficult terrain, regional conflicts, the drug trade, and the presence of terrorist groups and organized crime syndicates,” said Karel Pelan, Assistant Director, Terrorist Networks at INTERPOL.

“Operations like Trigger-Salvo demonstrate that concrete results can be achieved in the fight against firearms trafficking when law enforcement coordinates internationally and leverages INTERPOL capabilities to keep these weapons out of the wrong hands.”

The successes of Operation Trigger-Salvo were made possible through close collaboration between the following participating countries: Brunei, Cambodia, China (including the Chinese jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau), Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Operation Trigger-Salvo was funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and supported by ASEANAPOL and the World Customs Organization.

https://www.interpol.int

12/27/2021

Ukraine considers IT tools to be the basis for effective fight against corruption and is ready to share with the international community its experience in implementing them.

This was stated by Deputy Chairman of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, Oleksandr Starodubtsev, at the 9th Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, according to the NAPC press service.

"We believe that international cooperation is vital to combating corruption, and we are ready not only to talk about our experience, but also to prove our commitment to the UN Convention. We are ready to share the code of these products and adapt it to the needs of your organization. To help you develop a user-friendly interface and provide you with effective design solutions,” Starodubtsev said in an address to the countries participating in the Conference.

Starodubtsev's speech was dedicated to six innovative anti-corruption tools applied by the NAPC, designed to create a new system of relations between the state and its citizens.

Among them are the Register of Declarations, the Register of Political Party Reports POLITDATA, the Anti-Corruption Portal, the Concealed Interests Portal, the Register of Corrupt Persons, and the Corruption Reporting Portal, which will soon be presented by the Agency. Oleksandr Starodubtsev spoke about the main technical characteristics of the said tools and the results of their implementation.

According to the deputy chairman of the NAPC, today the world economy depends on rapid transactions, mobile banking, and cryptocurrency. Crisis conditions such as COVID-19 affect the way people act and create more opportunities for corruption. Thus, anti-corruption bodies cannot maintain outdated approaches to tackling graft as long as offenders operate in the digital domain.

To address the issue, the Ukrainian delegation proposed that a dedicated platform be developed for the exchange of best digital practices and tools applied around the world, similar to that of Europol's cybercrime cooperation.

He added that for truly effective cooperation in this area, it is especially important that all countries today share common data standards. In the future, this will facilitate data sharing and improve existing anti-corruption mechanisms.

The 9th Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption was held in Egypt on December 13-17.

https://www.ukrinform.net

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