Sunday, February 28, 2010

Breaking News, Kenya, Africa, Politics, Business, Sports, Blogs, Photos, Videos�- Kenya militias turn into criminal gangs, pose threat

Breaking News, Kenya, Africa, Politics, Business, Sports, Blogs, Photos, Videos�- Kenya militias turn into criminal gangs, pose threat
Militias which perpetrated some of the worst violence in the last General Election have transformed into criminal gangs and pose a grave threat to the nation’s security.

Most of them are taking advantage of the community policing project to claim legitimacy as community-based vigilante groups, according to the latest monitoring report commissioned by the Kofi Annan-led Panel of Eminent African Personalities that negotiated the end to the post-election violence. Some 1,300 people were killed and another 650,000 displaced in the violence.

A move by the government to revamp the community policing project is reported to be yielding negative results. The project was revamped in 2005 and its budgetary allocation increased 20-fold to Sh84 million for the 2009/2010 financial year.

“Community policing through vigilantes is turning into a source of insecurity for communities. Illegal groups as well as vigilantes demand payment for security in poor neighbourhoods,” reads part of the report.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Global gangs exploit blind spots for drug trafficking | DefenceWeb

Global gangs exploit blind spots for drug trafficking | DefenceWeb:
International criminal gangs and traffickers are exploiting large geographic blind spots where radar, satellite or other surveillance is minimal or nonexistent, the UN crime and drugs czar said warned.

Northern Cameroon: Sahel, Savannah and Mountains

Northern Cameroon: Sahel, Savannah and Mountains:
The road runs very close to the Nigerian border at times and much smuggling goes on. Motorbikes loaded with fuel from Nigeria (it is incredible how much they can carry on a motorbike) would often pass. Martin directed us away from the last 100km of that road to Garoua because of the level of smuggling.

FT.com / Emerging Markets - UK moves to curb vulture fund court cases

FT.com / Emerging Markets - UK moves to curb vulture fund court cases:
The UK could on Thursday pave the way for wide-ranging laws that would for the first time ban private investors from pursuing the world’s poorest countries for debts in British courts.

Kenya’s Poor Suffer Under Corrupt Government | News One

Kenya’s Poor Suffer Under Corrupt Government | News One:
Transparency International says Kenya is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Graft has created a class of super-rich while more than 60 percent of Kenyans live on less than $2 a day.

That disparity is easy to see in the Kibera slum where Nyagilo’s family lives. A paved road separates the maze of rusty tin roofs that make up Africa’s largest slum from newly erected luxury apartments. Slum residents pay $15 a month in rent. Across the street, housing costs thousands.

Is Kenya heading for a meltdown? - Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source

Is Kenya heading for a meltdown? - Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source:
The problem is so bad that there is a significant risk the country will become a failed state, warned Transparency International's Kenya chief in a recent interview.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Prague Post - Opinion - The Balkans' European future

The Prague Post - Opinion - The Balkans' European future:
Yet, if these countries consistently fail to meet the conditions, Brussels cannot just walk away from the Balkans. The region is in many respects already part of the EU; it is an enclave within the EU, sharing borders with member states like Greece, Bulgaria and Italy that have been the source of much inward investment. The European single market is the Balkan region's most important trade partner, and problems in the region spill over into the EU very quickly - quite literally in the case of environmental accidents on the Danube and metaphorically with organized crime using the Balkans as a major route for the trafficking of weapons, drugs and people. EU interior ministers see lax border controls, failings in the rule of law and persecution of minorities causing migration as threats to the security of their own countries.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mafia extending its reach, Italians say - UPI.com

Mafia extending its reach, Italians say - UPI.com

The mafia is extending its influence from the South to wealthy Northern cities.

BBC News - Clashes in Greece strike against austerity plan

BBC News - Clashes in Greece strike against austerity plan:
The country's two largest trade union groups, the private sector GSEE and the public sector ADEDY, fiercely oppose the government's austerity measures and are predicting a substantial turnout among their two million members.

'The Greek people are well aware that the fiscal situation of the country is in terrible shape... but the measures are not fair,' said the head of the GSEE, Yiannis Panagopoulos.

The 10p cocaine by-product turning Argentina's slum children into the living dead | World news | The Observer

The 10p cocaine by-product turning Argentina's slum children into the living dead | World news | The Observer
A toxic and highly addictive mixture of raw cocaine base cut with chemicals, glue, crushed glass and rat poison, paco is the curse of Argentina's urban poor. And consumption of this bastardised, low-grade drug is eating away at the vitality and hope of the most deprived neighbourhood areas of the capital.

Essentially a chemical waste product, paco is what remains from the narco-kitchens producing cocaine bound for US and European markets. Since its appearance on the streets of Buenos Aires in the late 1990s, the drug has taken a deadly grip in slums such as Itatí. ­Levels of addiction rose by more than 200% in the first part of the decade and more than 400,000 doses are now being consumed daily.

Users are witheringly referred to as the muertos vivientes – the living dead – of Buenos Aires. Addictive after one or two hits, the drug systematically destroys the nervous system. Users quickly become skeletal and ravaged, resorting to crime, violence and prostitution to feed their habits. Enormous numbers die in short order.

Villa Itatí runs on paco: an economy that is an endless, grim cycle of illicit profit, addiction-fuelled crime and wasted lives, all witnessed by a despairing generation of parents.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cultural Heritage in Danger: Old collections: to what extent is it a convenient myth?

Cultural Heritage in Danger: Old collections: to what extent is it a convenient myth?

If the CPRI figures are an accurate indicator of the size of the private artefact holdings in the US, it is clear that in this case at least, the current pool of artefacts which has been on the market is to a very high degree composed of material which has indeed been freshly dug out of the archaeological record in foreign countries and illegally exported. They are by any definition illicit artefacts.

MOROCCAN, ALBANIAN, PUGLIAN DRUG RING SMASHED | Italy

MOROCCAN, ALBANIAN, PUGLIAN DRUG RING SMASHED | Italy:
Italian police on Monday smashed an international drug trafficking ring that brought 'huge' quantities of hashish cocaine and heroin into Italy from Morocco the Netherlands and the Balkans.

Flare Network � Blog Archive � India’s growing problem with illicit drugs

Flare Network � Blog Archive � India’s growing problem with illicit drugs:
Crime statistics in India, such as they are, do not tell the whole story concerning governance, crime and violence. There is evidence that India’s crime problem is seriously under-reported, and worse, that this under-reporting occurs in part due to a loss of faith in policing in India.

Transborder crime between Turkey and Greece: human smuggling and its regional consequences - Southeast European and Black Sea Studies

Transborder crime between Turkey and Greece: human smuggling and its regional consequences - Southeast European and Black Sea Studies:
Claims of increasing involvement of organized crime organizations in people smuggling and trafficking have recently attracted attention and concern at national and international levels. Over the last decade both Turkey and Greece have been exposed to the flow of irregular migrants often being smuggled through the Middle East to the Balkans, and then intending to sneak into western Europe. This article first elaborates the dynamics and mechanisms of human smuggling from Turkey to Greece, evaluates the nature of smuggling between Turkey and Greece on the basis of empirical evidence, and then shifts its attention to the question of how these two countries respond to the challenges of this transborder crime. In seeking a proper answer to this question, the article tries to relate the smuggling question in the Balkan region to its wider context in the European realm.

The Anatomy of Official Corruption and dysfunction of Kenya’s Coalition Government: Maize Scandal � African Press International (API)

The Anatomy of Official Corruption and dysfunction of Kenya’s Coalition Government: Maize Scandal � African Press International (API):
Time is long overdue to cut our losses folks; this coalition government has proved irrevocably unworkable; it is simply NOT working, I mean it hasn’t worked but isn’t it very clear by now? It is time we went back to the drawing board. The ongoing FPE, Maize saga once again prove that in Kenya, there are two sets of rules and standards; one for the High and Mighty in Society and their friends and one for everyone else.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Cocaine 'status symbol' for Indian elite

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Cocaine 'status symbol' for Indian elite:
The case of the son of a murdered politician who has been charged in India with drug-taking has highlighted the growth in cocaine use amongst the country's urban elite.

Recession forces cocaine gangs to move into the booming illegal cigarette market - The Irish Times - Mon, Feb 22, 2010

Recession forces cocaine gangs to move into the booming illegal cigarette market - The Irish Times - Mon, Feb 22, 2010:
Some gangland figures hit by the recession, mainly due to the falling demand for cocaine from recreational users, have begun to smuggle cigarettes, though the diversification is still in its infancy.

The same small number of gangs has also become involved in growing cannabis plants in industrial-sized growing facilities, a number of which have been found by garda�in recent months in Meath, Donegal and Wicklow.

“They’re looking to get into anything to make a few extra quid now that the cocaine market has fallen very flat,” said one Garda source.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The 'good', the 'bad' and the 'Charlie': the business of cocaine smuggling in Greece - Global Crime

The 'good', the 'bad' and the 'Charlie': the business of cocaine smuggling in Greece - Global Crime:
This article examines the social organisation of cocaine smuggling in Greece. Emphasis is placed on the involvement of professionals from the shipping industry and actors from the 'upper society echelons' who play a pivotal role in the transportation and importation of cocaine to Western Europe and Greece. After considering empirical evidence from a variety of sources, our findings indicate that the cocaine market in Greece is 'organised' by a system of collaborative relationships between state, business and civil society actors. It is suggested that to better understand the nature of this illegal market, further research is required to take a closer look into the economic, socio-cultural and political incentives of these actors.

West Africa: Is the Sub-Region a Periphery of Coups, Conflicts, Violence, and Vengeance? (PART VII)

West Africa: Is the Sub-Region a Periphery of Coups, Conflicts, Violence, and Vengeance? (PART VII):
West Africa’s peripheral volatility has once again come to light when a Thursday, Feb 18th 2010 deadly Military Coup ousted Niger’s President Momodou Tandja. With the military coup ending the Tandja dynasty’s political bigotry that fueled a constitutional crisis in the Uranium rich West African nation, violent and deadly political clashes between security forces and demonstrators in Gagnoa, Ivory-Coast further brought to light the sub-regions volatility as a Periphery of Coups, Conflicts, Violence and Vengeance.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Portuguese speaking countries meet in Cape Verde on drug trafficking - People's Daily Online

Portuguese speaking countries meet in Cape Verde on drug trafficking - People's Daily Online:
The forum held on Feb. 8-10 in the Atlantic Ocean island country brought together senior secret service officials from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor.

BBC News - Niger's military coup is condemned by France and Africa

BBC News - Niger's military coup is condemned by France and Africa:
But one opposition activist told the BBC the soldiers were 'honest patriots' who were fighting tyranny.

BBC News - No Kenya crisis, says President Mwai Kibaki

BBC News - No Kenya crisis, says President Mwai Kibaki:
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki says his country is not in crisis, despite repeated reports of a bitter power struggle among the nation's elite."

Cheaper Piracy Patrols off Somalia Needed, U.S. Official Says - BusinessWeek

Cheaper Piracy Patrols off Somalia Needed, U.S. Official Says - BusinessWeek

Fighting piracy is expensive.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guinea's gravely dubious appointments - Times LIVE

Guinea's gravely dubious appointments - Times LIVE:
Two powerful army officers accused of grave crimes have been appointed ministers in Guinea's new government, dashing hopes that the rogue soldiers blamed for bringing this country to the brink of conflict would be sidelined.

Art world worried about new rule on air cargo | Homeland Security News Wire

Art world worried about new rule on air cargo | Homeland Security News Wire:
As of 1 August, all items shipped as cargo on commercial passenger airplanes will have to go through airline security screening; as much as 20 percent of art shipped around the world travels this way, and museums, galleries, and collectors are worried: even the faint possibility of an airline inspector with a screwdriver uncrating a Calder sculpture or an early Renaissance tempera painting is enough to keep many in the art world awake at night.

Cayman Islands News

Cayman Islands News:
A number of people in the local business community have raised concerns, however, that trading with a country such as Kenya may fuel the long standing international criticisms about Cayman’s status as a haven for less than legitimate earnings of the world’s corrupt governments.

News Headlines - Peace in Kenya hangs in balance as leaders feud : Townhall.com

News Headlines - Peace in Kenya hangs in balance as leaders feud : Townhall.com:
A public feud between Kenya's prime minister and president, whose agreement two years ago to share power ended the country's worst violence since independence, has many of their compatriots worried that the bloodshed could resume if efforts by the U.S. and African powers fail to cool tensions.

Round Up the Usual Suspects!

Pakistan arrests 2 senior Afghan Taliban: official - washingtonpost.com

Pakistan's sudden, remarkable ability to capture leading Taliban officials gives rise to the question of what has taken them so long and why, oh why, are they arresting them just right now.

Flare Network � Blog Archive � Valencia: the biggest drug market in Europe

Flare Network � Blog Archive � Valencia: the biggest drug market in Europe:
...The drug came from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

The amount of cocaine getting in through the harbour of Valencia is higher than in other hot spots of Spain, like Barcelona, Algeciras and Vigo.....

Irish and Swedish join chorus of countries seeking austerity for the Greeks - Credit Writedowns

Irish and Swedish join chorus of countries seeking austerity for the Greeks - Credit Writedowns

Two points:

  • The obvious An economic recession is no time for austerity.
  • The practical The Greeks ain't going to accept no austerity. They will turn to organized crime for financing much as so many cash-strapped people are nowadays. Got it?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Opinion - Billions Laundered in Politicians - Standart

Opinion - Billions Laundered in Politicians - Standart:
The organized crime in Bulgaria has abandoned traditional methods for money laundering like expensive hotels and boutiques and has invented the purchase of politicians. Currently this is the easiest and safest way for laundering money earned from prostitution and drugs, explained experts from the Centre for the Study of Democracy. Their survey shows that unlike other European countries, Bulgaria has adopted a unique form of money laundering labeled political investment. The purchase of politicians provides underground bosses with direct access to the power, experts from the Centre explain.

FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - Foreign demand falls for Treasuries

FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - Foreign demand falls for Treasuries

China has become "saturated" with US Treasury securities.

Poverty muddies response to W African drug trade | DefenceWeb

Poverty muddies response to W African drug trade | DefenceWeb:
'There is a contradictory message coming from these countries,' Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN's Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said late on Monday.

'On the one hand you cannot build the societies using illegal money. On the other hand, these are countries not greatly appreciated by foreign investors, with mass unemployment, mass poverty. Therefore these resources coming in are better than nothing,' he added.

....


Real estate, tourism and casinos in the region are being used to launder vast sums of money, experts say.

Flare Network � Blog Archive � Colombian cocaine finances ETA terrorism

Flare Network � Blog Archive � Colombian cocaine finances ETA terrorism:
The terrorists of ETA have dealings with the Colombian drug cartels to finance their activities, using Portugal as a passageway to get the drug into the Spanish Basque Country.

The accusation was done by the Italian journalist and writer Roberto Saviano, who claims to have proof and to be familiar with the dealings of the business, since it results from a pact of the Basque terrorists with the Camorra and the Ndrangheta, the most bloodthirsty and powerful of Italian mafia organizations.

“I have little knowledge of ETA. But I know very well those who are doing business with them” said the Italian author, cited by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, guaranteeing that “the “etarras” buy cocaine from Colomb

Serbia’s grey market booming

Serbia’s grey market booming :
Although there is no official data on the grey economy in Serbia, according to estimates, its stake in the GDP exceeds 50 percent. The most active areas of the grey market are textile, construction and services sector, but also the workforce market. In some parts of Serbia, for example in the South, grey economy reaches as much as 60 percent of the total turnover.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dominican Republic:Satellite images to curb drug trafficking

Dominican Republic:Satellite images to curb drug trafficking: "With the inauguration of a modern Command and Control Centre to view satellite images and of the radars acquired together with the Super Tucano intercept planes and equipment to heighten border security, the Dominican Government aims to escalate the war against drug trafficking via air and land."

Guyana is not prosecuting the "bigger drug lords."

Guyana is not prosecuting the "bigger drug lords."
It seems clear that, as the US Department of State’s annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report iterates every year, “Guyana is a transshipment point for South American cocaine on its way to North America and Europe.” Simply, this country has become an entrepôt from which Guyanese drug-traffickers export their merchandise to foreign markets. It is clear, also, that “the bigger drug lords” have never been brought to justice in [Guyana].

Watching The World: Al-Qaeda's new oil strategy - Oil & Gas Journal

Watching The World: Al-Qaeda's new oil strategy - Oil & Gas Journal:
But now, it seems, the al-Qaeda terrorist organization is strutting its stuff over the Bab al-Mandab, the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Indeed, al-Qaeda is pondering the seizing of the Bab al-Mandab.

That's the word from London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, which last week filed a report on an audiotape attributed to Sa'id al-Shihri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Quds reported that al-Shihri's audiotape, which was broadcast by known Islamic web sites, 'contained much new information which reveals the present and future plans of this fundamentalist organization.'

Seize control

Among other things, the paper stressed the organization's scheme to seize control of Bab al-Mandab Strait 'at the entrance to the Red Sea through which most oil exports and US military reinforcements to the gulf region and the Mediterranean Sea pass.'

The Jawa Report: Yemen: Coast Guard Contracts Its Protection to Shipping Lines

The Jawa Report: Yemen: Coast Guard Contracts Its Protection to Shipping Lines
With renewed focus on al Qaeda threats emanating from Yemen, the US is substantially increasing support to several branches of the Yemeni military. However, Yemen’s military and security forces are often involved in for-profit ventures, on both overt and covert levels. The task of building up Yemen’s Coast Guard demonstrates such difficulties.

Last year, the Coast Guard complained several times to the Interior Ministry that the Border Guard was complicit in criminal activity and “aiding smugglers as smuggling takes place in an organized way,” the Yemen Post reported. The Border Guards prevented the Coast Guard from searching boats suspected of smuggling, sometimes resulting violent clashes between the forces’ members.

The diversion of US aid into private pockets is another area of concern. US support to Yemen’s Coast Guard began in 2003, and it seems a worthy investment in light of the wide variety of criminal networks operating in Yemeni waters.

BBC News - Kenya faces political 'meltdown'

BBC News - Kenya faces political 'meltdown':
Transparency International warned Kenya risked turning into a failed state.


Kenya abuts Somalia.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Liberia: Drug Trafficking is Increasing

Liberia: Drug Trafficking is Increasingt:
Drug trafficking is on the rise in the country, including via air transport, and Liberia is also a transit point for human traffickers, Justice Minister Christian Tah said last week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Monetnegran Connection

Cocaine Is Being Smuggled from Latin America into Europe through Monetenegro.

Reuters AlertNet - W. African cocaine use rises along smuggling routes

Reuters AlertNet - W. African cocaine use rises along smuggling routes

Rising cocaine use in West Africa is contributing to disorder in these societies.

BBC News - Kenya officials step down amid corruption inquiries

BBC News - Kenya officials step down amid corruption inquiries:
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has asked eight senior officials to step down pending inquiries into two corruption scandals.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Balkans nations to take on drug traffickers — EU Business News - EUbusiness.com

Balkans nations to take on drug traffickers — EU Business News - EUbusiness.com:
'We estimate that 80 percent of heroin transported from Afghanistan and Pakistan to western Europe transits through our region ' Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told reporters here. 'Moreover most smugglers of cocaine from Latin America to Western Europe are from our region.'

Spotlight: Blood Antiques | Link TV

Spotlight: Blood Antiques | Link TV:
The European art trade, synonymous with wealth and glamour, has always involved a degree of stolen and smuggled art. Now, Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage is financing terrorism and the Taliban. From Afghans scrabbling in the sand for treasures, to the dazzling show rooms of unscrupulous dealers and private collectors – ‘Blood Antiques’ uncovers one of the most outrageous illegal trades since blood diamonds.

Bosnia: Federation PM Fears “Economic Collapse” :: BalkanInsight.com

Bosnia: Federation PM Fears “Economic Collapse” :: BalkanInsight.comBosnia: Federation PM Fears “Economic Collapse” :: BalkanInsight.com

The World Bank is threatening to withhold funds unless veterans' benefits are slashed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BBC News - Italy immigrants fall into clutches of mafia

BBC News - Italy immigrants fall into clutches of mafia:
Illegal immigrants to Italy get little shelter from the law - leaving them prime targets for exploitation by the local mafia, finds the BBC's Emma Wallis in Castel Volturno, near Naples.

Serbia mafia threatens president

Serbia mafia threatens president: "Serbian drug traffickers are sending daily death threats to the country's top officials, including president Boris Tadic, Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said."

Caribbean investors eye Kenya

This is an optimistic viewpoint on how investments from the Cayman Islands will affect Kenya:

Caribbean investors eye Kenya: "A trade delegation from Caymans islands, the tiny islands in the Caribbean that is home to some of the largest and most sophisticated financial services in the world will be visiting Kenya to explore investment opportunities in coming months.

Contrary to the perception that Caymans was a tax haven associated with negative financial activities such as money laundering , a visit by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka revealed that the islands country has transformed dramatically since the heady days of the sixties , seventies and eighties when money barons from across the globe would walk in and set up shops, hiding billions of dollars without questions being asked."

Scotland overtakes USA as world’s cocaine capital

Scotland overtakes USA as world’s cocaine capital:
The documentary claims that consumption of the so-called glamour drug in Scotland has spiraled out of control because America’s drug enforcement agencies have been so successful at winning the battle against suppliers there. This has forced the Colombian drug cartels to seek out fresh markets and Scotland has been targeted.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International:
Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules. At some point the so-called cross currency swaps will mature, and swell the country's already bloated deficit.

The Tanzanian Connection


Tanzanian drug barons nabbed in major narcotics crackdown in Spain
: "Reports from that country say the gang appears to be an organized network of mostly Tanzanian nationals, with horizontal structures and cells acting independently but in coordinated fashion, united by ties of kinship and fellow vendors who had settled in Argentina, Brazil, Greece and Turkey."

Cocaine: The continuing threat to Haiti |West Palm Beach News, South Florida Breaking News, Forecast, Video from WPTV

Cocaine: The continuing threat to Haiti |West Palm Beach News, South Florida Breaking News, Forecast, Video from WPTV:
'The gang people want you to know they are in control. You can do good, but don't interfere with their business,' says Dr. Larsen. 'There is no Army, no Navy, no Coast Guard, no Marines. It's a wide open country.'

Not policed, largely lawless and crushingly, poor Haiti has long been on the DEA's radar.

There is every reason to believe the further collapse of a country already broken will open the doors to smugglers who find it a safe midway point on runs north.

Drug Trafficking in West African Criminal Networks | World Gazette News

Drug Trafficking in West African Criminal Networks | World Gazette News

This is an overview of West African drug smuggling that emphasizes the role Nigerian and South African elements play.

BBC News - Sierra Leone leader lambasts 'corrupt' ministers

BBC News - Sierra Leone leader lambasts 'corrupt' ministers:
Ernest Bai Koroma detailed a long list of allegations - including claims that a Sierra Leonean passport can be bought by any African for $250 to $500.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Muslim drug smugglers using the Dutch post - Counter Jihad

Muslim drug smugglers using the Dutch post - Counter Jihad:
Last year, customs officers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport intercepted more than 2000 packages contained cocaine. That is 40 percent up on the year before.

Most of the drugs had been sent from Surinam, many were packed as presents. Almost no packages were intercepted in Surinam itself. Surinamese Justice Minister Chandrikapersad Santokhi blames this on a lack of staff.

Investors move billions out of Greece | Pj News| Latest Daily News About World News, Business, Tech and Entertainment

Investors move billions out of Greece | Pj News| Latest Daily News About World News, Business, Tech and Entertainment:
Traditionally, the country’s super-rich, not least ship owners and mercantile elite, have favoured the Swiss bank and off-shore account. But now huge sums are also being spirited away to banks in Cyprus. “Very big transactions are going through Cypriot banks,” added Pana�gopoulos. “Greeks feel that Cyprus is not only close, but safe.”

Drug cartels tighten grip; Mexico becoming 'narco-state'

Drug cartels tighten grip; Mexico becoming 'narco-state':
Since 2008, Mexican drug smugglers have been arrested in Australia, New Zealand and the African nations of Sierra Leone and Togo. U.S. prosecutors say the Gulf Cartel has struck deals with the New York mob and the Ndrangheta Mafia of Italy to smuggle cocaine into Europe.


The drug economy pervades Mexico; while narco lords are often seen as Robin Hoods.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Corruption Watchdog Warns Kenya Could Become a Failed State | East Africa | English

Corruption Watchdog Warns Kenya Could Become a Failed State | East Africa | English:
The corruption watchdog Transparency International has blasted Kenya's draft constitution and warned that unless lawmakers deliver an improved version, the country could collapse into a failed state. Mike Sunderland reports for VOA from Nairobi the warning is in response to a new constitution proposed by politicians from all of Kenya's political parties.

Dennis Blair - Events in the Balkans will again pose the principal challenges to stability in Europe in 2010

Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence - Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Events in the Balkans will again pose the principal challenges to stability in Europe in 2010. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s (BiH) continuing uneasy inter-ethnic condominium and the issue of the Serb minority in Kosovo, particularly in northern Kosovo, remain sources of tension requiring Western diplomatic and security engagement. We assess that the US and Europe retain significant influence in the Western Balkans. The nature of their engagement including the ability of Washington, Brussels, and key EU members states to work together and present a common front—will importantly influence the region’s future course.

I remain concerned about Bosnia’s future stability. While neither widespread violence nor a formal break-up of the state appears imminent, ethnic agendas still dominate the political process and reforms have stalled because of wrangling among the three main ethnic groups. The sides failed to agree on legal changes proposed jointly by the EU and the US at the end of 2009, undercutting efforts to strengthen the central government so that it is capable of taking the country into NATO and the EU. Bosnian Serb leaders seek to reverse some reforms, warn of legal challenges to the authority of the international community, and assert their right to eventually hold a referendum on secession, all of which is contributing to growing interethnic tensions. This dynamic appears likely to continue, as Bosnia’s leaders will harden their positions to appeal to their nationalist constituents ahead of elections this fall.


More than 60 nations, including 22 of 27 EU members, have recognized the state of Kosovo, but in the coming years Pristina will remain dependent on the international community for economic and development assistance as well as for diplomatic and potentially security support to further consolidate its statehood. Much of the Serb population still looks to Belgrade and is resisting integration into Kosovo’s institutions, though this appears to be slowly changing in Kosovo’s south. Kosovo government influence in the Serb-majority area in the north of Kosovo is extremely weak. NATO’s presence, although reduced, is still needed to deter violence, and its mentoring of the nascent Kosovo Security Force is crucial to the force’s effectiveness and democratic development.

Serbia’s leaders espouse a European future and President Tadic desires quick progress toward Serbian EU membership, but Belgrade shows no sign of accepting Kosovo’s independence or accepting constructively. Belgrade appears to be awaiting an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legality of Pristina’s declaration of independence— expected mid-year—before determining how to advance its claim on Kosovo. Serbia frequently turns to Moscow for political backing and economic support.

FT Alphaville � Portugal heads for crisis

FT Alphaville � Portugal heads for crisis

Concern over sovereign debt is spreading.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kenya's Grip on its Illicit Economy Is Weak

Business Daily�- Editorial: Arms seizure shows govt’s grip on economy weak
But the repeat discovery of a large stock of arms in a private residence in Narok is a reflection of the grim realities of our economy.

Kenyans should be deeply worried that someone has been able to move such large amounts of dangerous weapons without detection by the country’s rather elaborate security machinery or with its tacit participation.

If indeed it is true that the arms moved without the knowledge of the police, it is largely because our security apparatus has not moved with the times.

The truth is that lucrative but illicit trade in illegal substances such as arms, counterfeits and drugs has to be oiled by large sums of money.

That such business appears to be smoothly going on in our economy clearly betrays the loose grip that supervisors have on the financial services sector.

On this front, Kenya appears to be a pure reflection of Peruvian economist Harnando De Soto’s thesis that governments of the so-called Third World countries know and are in control of a mere 30 per cent of their national economies.

They have no idea of the real happenings in the remaining 70 per cent where citizens are making fortunes from a wide range of licit and illicit activities including micro-entrepreneurship, small-scale agriculture, unauthorised harvesting of natural resources, counterfeits and drugs trade.

US Senate Investigates Money Laundernig Loopholes in the US financial system

United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs : Hearings


The Subcommittee hearing will examine how some politically powerful foreign officials, their relatives, or close associates – referred to in international agreements as “Politically Exposed Persons” or PEPs – have used the services of U.S. professionals and U.S. financial institutions to bring millions of dollars in suspect funds into the United States to advance their interests. Four case histories will illustrate how some PEPs have used U.S. lawyers, realtors, escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and others to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anti-corruption safeguards. It will also look at how some U.S. professionals have actively helped PEPs avoid bank scrutiny or facilitated suspect transactions with no questions asked. The hearing will also examine whether U.S. policies and practices to combat foreign corruption and money laundering need strengthening. Witnesses will include government agencies, including the State Department, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), as well as lawyers, a realtor, and representatives of financial institutions.


The hearing was accompanied by a staff report. Its findings and recomendations are as follows:

A. FINDINGS
This Report makes the following findings of fact.
(1) Lawyers. Two U.S. lawyers helped Teodoro Obiang, son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, circumvent anti-money laundering and PEP controls at U.S. banks by allowing him to secretly use a series of attorney-client, law office, and shell company accounts to be used as conduits for his funds.
(2) Realtors. Two realtors helped Mr. Obiang buy and sell multi-million-dollar residences in California, and a real estate escrow agent facilitated his purchase of a $30 million property by handling millions of dollars wire transferred from Equatorial Guinea, without verifying the source of the funds, since they had no legal obligation to do so.
(3) Escrow Agents. After one U.S. escrow agent, as an AML precaution, refused to complete the purchase of a Gulfstream jet without obtaining information on the
source of $38.5 million to be paid for the aircraft, another U.S. escrow agent stepped in and completed the transaction with no questions asked. The escrow agents had no legal obligation under current law to inquire about the source of the funds.
(4) Lobbyist. A U.S. lobbyist helped President Omar Bongo of Gabon obtain six U.S.- built armored cars and U.S. government permission to buy six U.S.-built military cargo aircraft from Saudi Arabia to support his regime, while allowing his U.S. bank accounts to be used as a conduit for $18 million in suspect funds in connection with those transactions, with no questions asked.
(5) Offshore Corporations. Jennifer Douglas, a PEP through her marriage to Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria, used a series of U.S. bank accounts to bring over $25 million in suspect funds into the United States via wire transfers from offshore corporations.
(6) University. A U.S. university accepted over $14 million in wire transfers from unfamiliar offshore shell corporations to pay for consulting services related to development of a university in Nigeria founded by Mr. Abubakar.
(7) Personal Accounts. Pierre Falcone, a PEP through his close association with the President of Angola and appointment as an Angolan Ambassador, was able to use personal, family, and U.S. shell company accounts at a U.S. bank in Arizona to bring millions of dollars in suspect fundinto the United States and move those funds among a worldwide network of Falcone accounts, despite his status as an arms dealer and a long history of involvement in criminal proceedings in France.
(8) Government Accounts. Dr. Aguinaldo Jaime, using his authority as head of the Angolan Central Bank, attempted without success, on two occasions in 2002, to transfer $50 million in government funds to a private account in the United States. (9) Correspondent Accounts. Banco Africano de Investimentos, a $7 billion private
Angolan bank that caters to PEPs, is not treated as a PEP client subject to enhanced monitoring by its U.S. correspondent bank.
(10) Vendor PEP Lists. Some vendors relied on by U.S. financial institutions to screen clients for PEPs used incomplete and unreliable PEP lists.
B. RECOMMENDATIONS
This Report makes the following recommendations.
(1) World Bank PEP Recommendations. Congress should enact a law and the U.S. Treasury Department should promulgate rules implementing the key recommendations of a recent World Bank study to strengthen bank controls related to Politically Exposed Persons (“PEPs”), including by requiring banks to use reliable PEP databases to screen clients, use account beneficial ownership forms that ask for PEP information, obtain financial declaration forms filed by PEP clients with their governments, and conduct annual reviews of PEP account activity to detect and stop suspicious transactions.
(2) Real Estate and Escrow Agent Exemptions. Treasury should repeal all of the exemptions it has granted from the Patriot Act requirement for anti-money laundering (AML) programs, including the 2002 exemption given to real estate and escrow agents handling real estate closings, and sellers of vehicles, including escrow agents handling aircraft sales, and use its existing statutory authority to require them to implement AML safeguards and refrain from facilitating transactions involving suspect funds.
(3) Attorney-Client and Law Office Accounts. Treasury should issue an AML rule requiring U.S. financial institutions to obtain a certification for each attorney-client and law office account that it will not be used to circumvent AML or PEP controls, accept suspect funds involving PEPs, conceal PEP activity, or provide banking services for PEPs previously excluded from the bank; and requiring enhanced monitoring of such accounts to detect and report suspicious transactions.
(4) U.S. Shell Corporations. Congress should enact legislation requiring persons forming U.S. corporations to disclose the names of the beneficial owners of those U.S. corporations.
(5) Immigration Restriction. Congress and the Administration should consider making significant acts of foreign corruption a legal basis for designating a PEP and any family member inadmissible to enter, and removable from, the United States.
(6) Visa Restriction. The State Department should strengthen its enforcement of the law and Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying U.S. visas to foreign PEPs involved with corruption, and law enforcement agencies should increase the assistance they provide to State Department investigations of PEPs under review.
(7) Professional Guidelines. Professional organizations, including the American Bar Association, National Association of Realtors, American League of Lobbyists, and American Council for Education, should issue guidance to their members prohibiting use of any financial account to accept suspect funds involving PEPs, conceal PEP activity, facilitate suspect transactions involving PEPs, or circumvent AML or PEP controls at U.S. financial institutions.
(8) FATF Recommendations. The United States should work with the international Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering to amend its existing 40+9 Recommendations to strengthen anti-corruption and PEP

FT Alphaville � Moody’s warns on US credit rating

The bell tolls for the American political system. He who pays the piper calls the tune:

FT Alphaville � Moody’s warns on US credit rating
Moody’s Investors Service warned on Wednesday that America’s triple A sovereign credit rating would come under pressure unless tougher action was taken to tackle the US budget deficit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can Greece Avoid the Lion? - Project Syndicate

Can Greece Avoid the Lion? - Project Syndicate

Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University and former chief economist at the IMF, discusses Greece's economic woes.

Outside The Walls: Kosovo: Even in the Cold…

Power politics in Kosovo.

According to Outside The Walls: Kosovo: Even in the Cold…, Serbs and Albanian Kosovars, in order to control north Kosovo, are wrestling over control of that ethnic Serb inhabited region's electricity supplies.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Casting a wider net: National cargo-theft database system launches

Casting a wider net: National cargo-theft database system launches:
Hugh Burgess, global marine head-the Americas for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty Marine Insurance Co., which is a member of CargoNet, said other developments are in the works that go well beyond the database portion of the information-sharing network....

James Bond, Meet Dubai - CBS News

James Bond, Meet Dubai - CBS News

Another overview of Dubai's dark side.

Monday, February 1, 2010