Read on for the latest news and updates in bribery and corruption; money laundering; cyber crime; sanctions; environmental; and health and safety
Bribery and Corruption
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has announced that it has been granted freezing orders on eight bank accounts containing a total of more than £100 million, which it believes are derived from bribery and corruption in an overseas nation. The Account Freezing Orders (AFOs) represent the largest amount of money frozen through AFOs since their introduction under the Criminal Finances Act 2017. The NCA will now be able to investigate the funds further, and if they are found to be derived from or intended for use in criminal conduct, they could be confiscated.
NCA, 14 August 2019
Israeli billionaire, Beny Steinmetz, has denied allegations of bribing foreign officials brought by Swiss prosecutors over mining deals in Guinea. It is alleged that, in 2008 Mr Steinmetz's company, Beny Steinmetz Group Resources, was awarded mining rights in the region of Simandou in Guinea, shortly before the death of the then Guinean president, Lansana Conte. Prosecutors have accused Mr Steinmetz and two of his associates of paying USD 10 million to one of the wives of President Conte, in order to secure the lucrative mining licences.
Swiss prosecutors, who opened an investigation into the alleged bribery in 2013, are seeking prison terms of two to 10 years.
BBC, 13 August 2019
Singapore's central bank is looking to cut an increase in money launderers using onshore shell companies to mask transactions, according to the head of the anti-money laundering department at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Whilst money launderers have traditionally used hotspots worldwide to operate, the ease of setting up a business in Singapore makes the country "potentially more vulnerable to misuse of shell firms". This focus follows the discovery in 2015 of funds linked to the Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd being laundered through the Singaporean banking system. The situation eventually caused MAS to shut down local units of banks in 2016, freeze millions of dollars in bank accounts and issue a series of fines.
Reuters, 13 August 2019
The SFO has announced that it has charged a second former director, Omari Bowers, in connection with its Global Forestry Investments ("GFI") investigation. The former director has been charged with conspiracy to defraud, forgery and misconduct in the course of winding up and follows the announcement on the 9 July 2019 that Andrew Skeene, another former director of the GFI has been charged with the same offence. The charges relate to alleged fraud concerning GFI between 2010 and 2015.
SFO, 31 July 2019
Apple Inc has stated that it will offer cyber security researchers up to USD 1 million to detect security flaws in its iPhone software, its largest reward offered to date. The increased 'bounty' is in response to a "rising concern about governments breaking into the mobile devices of dissidents, journalists and human rights advocates". The company has also stated that it would open the bounty reward process to its Mac software as well.
Reuters, 8 August 2019
Liam Watts, a 20 year old man from Lancashire, has been sentenced to 16 months' detention following two deliberate DOS (denial of service) attacks on the Greater Manchester Police's and Cheshire Constabulary's websites. The judge described Watts' actions as "a fundamental attack on the heart of society". Watts aggravated the crime by posting taunts on Twitter about the pleasure he took in bringing the websites down. The DOS attacks rendered the websites inaccessible for 24 hours and left "thousands of people" without the ability to view vital information, report minor crimes or contact local officers.
Manchester Evening News, 12 August 2019
The Czech Republic Senate's security committee has stated that a foreign state has staged a cyber-attack against the Czech Foreign Ministry. Whilst the committee did not identify the nation responsible, the attack is believed to have originated in Russia. There have been calls on the government to "take cyber security seriously".
Reuters, 13 August 2019
Negar Ghodskani, has pleaded guilty to being part of a conspiracy to evade US sanctions on Iran and "illegally export controlled technology" in a Minneapolis court. Ms Ghodskani was employed by Fana Moj, an Iranian communications company whose main customer was the Iran government's Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting radio and TV network. She is alleged to have established a front company to falsely represent herself to US companies in order to acquire export-controlled technology. The 'plea deal' with US prosecutors entails up to 5 years imprisonment and an AUSD 369,000 (USD 250,000) fine.
The Guardian, 11 August 2019
A jury verdict allowing the US government to seize a skyscraper in Manhattan effectively controlled by Iran has been thrown out by a federal appeals court due to errors made by the trial judge. The decision is a blow to the Department of Justice who went to trial looking to sell the building for USD 1 billion (£829.26 million). Jurors learned that the Foundation which held 60% in the partnership that owned the building violated US sanctions against Iran from 1995 as it knew that the 40% owner was a mask for an Iranian state-owned lender, Bank Melli.
Reuters, 9 August 2019
Zong He of Long Eaton, Derbyshire has been ordered to pay a total of £406 after pleading guilty to fishing without a licence. The takeaway worker "insisted he was just hungry and denied [that the] illegally caught crayfish would be used in takeaway". Derby Magistrates’ Court ordered him to pay a fine of £276, £100 towards prosecution costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Gov.uk, 13 August 2019
Daniel Worboys of ‘Rubbish Clearance Portsmouth’, Jason Newman of ‘Load Of Rubbish’ and Sidney Simpson of ‘S&S Clearances’ have pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Magistrates Court to fly tipping household and commercial waste illegally at a site in Havant. It cost circa £100,000 to clear the site. The men were sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment (suspended for 12 months) and ordered to pay compensation.
ITV.com, 13 August 2019
South West Water has offered to pay £350,000 to the Westcountry Rivers Trust to help a Devon river recover from serious pollution that wiped out the local fish population. The pollution was traced to an overflowing manhole on South West Water’s combined sewer network. The payment has been accepted by the Environment Agency as an alternative to prosecution and will benefit urban watercourses in the Plymouth area.
Gov.uk, 13 August 2019
Health and Safety
An event management company, Sovereign Exhibitions & Events, has been fined for failing to ensure the safety of its employees during the transfer of a 14 ft. wide park home chassis through a 13 ft. wide opening. Due to the opening being too narrow for the chassis to pass through, employees were required to push down on the sides of the frame to angle it through the door whilst it was being moved by two forklift trucks. The chassis slipped off of the forklift truck forks and struck an employee on the shoulder, lifting him into the air, knocking him unconscious and resulting in a broken collar bone.
The HSE investigation found that the lift was not property planned, organised or carried out safely and the company had failed to properly assess the risks. Sovereign Exhibits and Events pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £161,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,345.
HSE, 7 August 2019
A construction company, Navkaar Limited, has been fined £35,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,860 by Preston Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive observed that between 12 December 2015 and 14 June 2018 workers had been working on a site in an unsafe manner without appropriate protection measures. The employees and contractors on site were also judged not to have the appropriate skillset to complete the work.
HSE, 7 August 2019