Archive for May, 2015

President of SEF inspectors association casts doubt on SEF’s future

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

According to the president of the union of inspectors, SEF has not admitted inspectors for 12 years and that the service is “aged” and “on the verge of collapse. He also accused “other police forces” of wanting to absorb the service.

This was stated on Friday 29th May by the president of the Association of Research and Control Career (SCIF), the opening of the XVIII Congress of the union in Lisbon. According Acacio Pereira, the SEF currently has 714 inspectors with an average age of 42 years. “These are few professionals who, day and night, every day of the year, have to control all seaports, land and air borders in continental Portugal and islands, while developing research and prevention activities,” he added.

The President of SCIF complained of “disinvestment” in government service – a policy, illustrated recently with the suspension of participation of SEF in the missions of the European agency Frontex due to a “absolute and complete lack of human resources.” Acacio Pereira attributes the lack of investment, will mean “other police forces will have to absorb an excellent service; a step that he warns, is “wrong” of the efficacy point of view. “If the SEF, which is a modern force, efficient,
technologically capable and financially sustainable, generating 60% of revenues for their expenses, is absorbed by larger forces, all its qualities will be diluted with greater inefficiency.

A former Minister of Internal Affairs, Rui Pereira, who attended the Congress, admitted that when he reached the government he had the “intention to extinguish” SEF, but “I was completely against. It’s  bad idea and would create disorder in the internal security system”.

The XVIII Congress of the union SEF inspectors was held last Friday at the Institute of Social and Political Sciences.

Large Chinese Money Laundering network dismantled

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

In mid-May, Europol supported the Spanish Guardia Civil in carrying out Operation Snake. The operation targeted and dismantled a large transnational organised crime network which operated in Spain and was composed of Chinese citizens laundering the proceeds of various criminal activities.

Operating since at least 2009, this criminal network is thought to be the subsidiary of an even larger criminal network based in China. Over the last six years, the European branch of the group collected and laundered more than Euro 300 million primarily in southern European countries. Most of the laundered funds are believed to have already been transferred out of the EU.

The network imported various types of products into the EU, including counterfeit products, using fraudulent document and engaging in excise tax fraud. The criminal network facilitated its activities by establishing complex corporate structures and relying on front men and third parties in their transactions.

Imported products were sold in the EU without declaring excise taxes and generated significant profits of at least Euro 14 million. These undeclared profits were laundered using a large number of low-level associates, who deposited small sums of money in hundreds of personal bank accounts and transferred the money back to China.

Having established an infrastructure to successfully launder significant amounts of money, the Chinese network also offered money laundering and international remittance services to other organised crime groups in exchange for the payment of a negotiated percentage of the laundered funds. The Chinese network had contacts in various EU Member States including Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The group also operated several clothing factories in the vicinity of Madrid where Chinese labourers were exploited.

Operation Snake involved more than 200 Spanish law enforcement officers and was supported by Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group. The Operation was the result of a complex international criminal investigation lasting for more than two years.

Operation Snake so far resulted in the arrests of 32 members of the Chinese network, the search of 65 private residences and company premises in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia as well as the seizure of 20 high-value vehicles and more than Euro 1 million in cash.

Europol was able to make valuable and tangible contribution to this successful operation by assisting the Spanish Guardia Civil with the deployment of a Europol team to Madrid. The team provided on-the-spot real-time intelligence analysis, which allowed for the identification of several transnational links.

Person arrested for sixteen armed bank robberies

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

It was reported on 28th May that the Judicial Police, through the National Counter Terrorism Unit (UNCT) following an investigation by DIAP Lisbon, had arrested a 56 year old man, allegedly the perpetrator of armed robberies at various banks.

The detainee is suspected to be responsible for at least sixteen armed robberies (including two attempted robberies) committed over a period of several years in Lisbon metropolitan area and neighbouring localities. A gun and clothing used in the robberies were found in his possession.

The detainee will be brought before the first court hearing for the application of appropriate enforcement measures pending

Lisbon Airport – Two persons detained carrying (equivalent) 6 million Euros in cash in suitcases

Monday, May 25th, 2015

On 25th May 2015, the Judicial Police, through the National Unit for Combating Corruption in connection with an investigation led by DIAP Lisbon, seized, at Lisbon Airport, two suitcases containing about one million euros and 3.5 million yuan (Chinese currency) bundles of notes wrapped in cellophane.

The money was in the possession of a woman and a man, who were preparing to board a flight to Shanghai.

The suspects, aged 22 to 47 years of age with permanent visas in Portugal, were made defendants in connection with money laundering offences. The investigation is continuing.

Public Statement by PSP Police concerning football violence at Guimarães and Lisbon

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

On 17th May 2015 there were several football games played in the penultimate round of the 1st Football League at stadiums located in areas under the ​​responsibility of Public Security (PSP), specifically in the cities of Lisbon and Guimaraes. Because these are games that potentially could dictate the winner of this year’s championship, PSP, based on the available information, including historical information concerning these games and in association with the Clubs themselves, assessed these as high risk in terms of the threat to public order.

Consequently the PSP employed police units considered appropriate to deal with the risk.

At the end of the games celebrations took place is various cities under the responsibility of the PSP without any of significant security incidents.

However, as is common knowledge and has been widely reported by various media outlets; in the cities of Guimarães and Lisbon challenges to public order, necessitated police intervention in order to restore public order, to ensure the security of persons and property.

Specifically, on May 17 in the city Guimarães, including in the vicinity of D. Afonso Henriques Stadium, the following took place:

a) At about 17:45 hrs there were several areas of tension before the football game, with especially in the vicinity of Stadium involving about 500 Benfica (SLB) fans and about 300 Victory Sport Club fans from Guimarães (VSC). The clash between fans of both teams included the throwing bottles, stones, pyrotechnic articles (commonly known fiery lights and firecrackers) and aggression. The PSP was forced to intervene to stop the disorder which had resulted in damage to vehicles parked on public roads and outdoor furniture;

b) Upon arrival at the stadium of the bus carrying the Benfica team, was attacked with various objects, resulting in broken windows;

c) The game itself passed without any significant challenges to public order;

d) At the end of the game, a group of supporters who, caused extensive damage to existing furniture on site, with partial destruction of some toilets and a bar (the sports arena) and the theft of storage material and the subsequent theft of merchandising belonging to another group of fans;

e) At the end of the game, in the vicinity of the stadium, there was a police action that resulted in the arrest of a citizen. This occurrence was filmed by a television station and widely publicized. After viewing the images in question, the PSP decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the police element involved in the arrest.

f) As a result of the various police interventions, six arrests were made for contempt, insults, threats with a replica firearm and possession of fireworks;

g) Assistance was provided by teams of Red Cross to deal with injuries both to police officers and citizens arising from the disorder.

Specifically, on 17 and 18 May in Lisbon, there was:

a) At about 21:45 on the 17th, disorder took place requiring police intervention at the in public transport area of Campo Grande, involving supporters of both teams which resulted in three people injured as well as two policemen;

b) At about 00:45 on the 18th, the team and entourage of Sport Lisboa e Benfica (SLB) arrived at Marquis of Pombal with escorted by police without any incident during the journey;

c) At approximately 01:20 of the 18th, there was a security incident in the vicinity of Eduardo VII Park, with serious public disorder due to an altercation between some supporters, which included throwing various objects, including glass bottles. In order to contain the incident in question and prevent this becoming worse, police intervened, with glass bottles and other objects being thrown at the police.

d) The initial police intervention located, was not able to put an end to the disorder and it was therefore necessary to gather police reinforcements using force to restore public order;

e) During the incident 16 police officers were injured with multiple abrasions, mainly due to throwing stones, glass bottles and fireworks, and a traffic division vehicle was damaged with a broken glass;

f) The PSP is unaware of the number of citizens who also may have been injured on site;

g) Thirteen arrests for possession of fireworks and attacks on policemen in service were made;

h) During the operation several pyrotechnic material, was seized and is being analysed;

i) The PSP also received 13 complaints of robberies that occurred on public roads during the festivities;

j) At about 0400 hrs on the 18th law and order was restored in the Marques de Pombal and the vicinity and the area was open to traffic by 0530 hrs.

Finally, in Oporto police intervention was required in different parts of the city, in the context with the festivities, but were dealt with without the need for greater operational employment interventions However, seven people were arrested for drug trafficking, possession of fireworks, possession of a prohibited gun and through the execution of an arrest warrant.

In total the police operation resulted in the arrest of 26 people for various offences.

The PSP regrets that the festive events degenerated into violent situations that required police intervention to restore public order and ensure the safety of people and property.

Issued in Portuguese by the PSP National Office, May 18, 2015

An eight-year-old boy smuggled into Spain from Morocco inside a suitcase

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Spanish Police have reported that the, Abou, was found inside the case being carried by a 19-year-old woman into Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on Thursday.

When police opened the case, they found the boy in a “terrible state”, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil told AFP.

The boy, from Ivory Coast, is now in the care of authorities in Ceuta.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the 19 year woman is not related to the boy and was paid by his father to carry the suitcase.

The boy’s father lives in the Canary Islands and had hoped to be reunited with his son, El Pais said.

The Spanish news agency Efe said the boy’s father, also named Abou, had travelled back to Ivory Coast to pick him up, having moved to Gran Canaria in 2013.

The father then reportedly paid the courier to carry the suitcase. A police spokesman told Efe: “She seemed to hesitate, and it looked as though she didn’t want to come through the border.

“At first we thought that there could be drug packages, but gradually discovered that it was a human body.”

The boy’s father travelled across the border an hour-and-a-half after his son. At that point, Efe said, he was detained by border guards.

Ceuta and another Spanish enclave, Melilla, sit on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, and are each surrounded on three sides by Morocco.

Madrid says they are integral parts of Spain and manages their borders, but Morocco claims sovereignty over the territories.

Despite being surrounded by six-metre-high fences, the enclaves have proved to be popular areas for migrants to try to cross into Europe from Africa.

Human Rights Watch says that at least 4,300 people entered Ceuta and Melilla illegally in 2013, compared to 2,804 the year before.

In February last year, hundreds of migrants stormed the fence in Melilla in one day and around 100 managing to make it into the enclave.

 

Local Lodging Seminar a Success

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Some 300 plus people attended the Local Lodging Seminar in Faro on 21st April, in Faro. It was certainly a full house with a multi-national audience, representing various industries including, property management agencies, letting companies, lawyers as well as individual property owners.

The Secretary of State for Turirsm Adolfo Mesquita Nunes was present and gave an overview of the introduction of the regulations stating that he was open to constructive comment and suggestions on bringing about further improvement.

The seminar included introductions from the Mayor of Faro also representing AMAL, the Vice President of Turismo do Algarve and myself. There were then a number of presentations from Turismo de Portugal, ASAE, SEF, the Judicial Police, GNR and finally the National association of Local Lodging Establishments. As expected the presentation from SEF, which included an on-line demonstration of the reporting procedures, drew many questions as it was clear that not everyone who attended was aware of the reporting conditions, and why they had been put in place.

The seminar also served to launch the National Association of Local Lodging Establishments.

The Secretary of State unfortunately had to leave after about an hour and a half to attend an urgent meeting in Lisbon.

During the question time, which lasted 90 minutes, there were many questions concerning the new regulations, the necessity of reporting to SEF, data privacy, etc, etc. An excellent suggestion was made that the need for carbon monoxide detectors should be included in the regulations where a gas supply was being provided. Also there was a lengthy debate on how to get more owners to comply. This culminated with a pledge by me that we would meet with Turismo de Portugal, ASAE and NALLE shortly to see the best way to seek the cooperation of the large rental advertisers in the UK, to mention on their websites the need for properties to have an AL in Portugal.

An evaluation was conducted at the end of the seminar and there was an overwhelming consensus, that the attendees had found the seminar useful and had improved their knowledge.

This is the first time that a seminar of this type involving nearly a dozen government officials had been held on this subject.

For those who could not attend the seminar, the presentations can be found on the SCA website here. Questions concerning local lodging can be directed to NALLE at info@nalle.pt.

Sintra – Four arrested for drug trafficking

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

On 28th April the Metropolitan Command PSP, through the Police Division of Sintra, arrested four men aged between 23 and 29 years old, following the execution of six house search warrants in the area

Following an investigation that lasted a few months ago, the PSP obtained several search warrants in Mem-Martins area to conduct the operation during which the following items were seized;

– 13,800 doses of suspected Hashish ;
– 10 does of suspected Cocaine ;
– 3 gr. amphetamine;
– 2 precision scales;
– 1 Knuckle duster;
– 1 Taser;
– 11,000 € in cash;
– 3 Cars;
– Several mobile phones and cards to use;
– Diverse material used in cutting and drug packaging.

The detainees, two of whom had already served time for the same type of crime, and one of them is serving a sentence on probation, appeared at the Judicial Court of Lisbon West District, for 1st Judicial Interrogation and application of the respective remand/reporting conditions.

 

Police dismantle criminal group laundering money in Europe and USA

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

The Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza), supported by Europol, arrested on 28th April 2015, 10 members of a transnational criminal group. The criminals, mainly Nigerian citizens, were involved in laundering the proceeds of online fraud, amounting to over EUR 2.5 million.

More than 130 police officers were involved in the operation, supported by experts from Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), leading to 10 arrests and 32 searches in different locations.

Hundreds of individuals and tens of companies in Europe and beyond have become victims of the sophisticated techniques employed by the criminal group via so-called payment diversion fraud and Internet romance scams.

With payment diversion fraud, fraudsters hijack a company’s means of communication and provide company staff in charge of payments with different account details for suppliers or customers. Money is therefore inadvertently transferred to bank accounts controlled by the criminal group members who then send the money abroad and ultimately withdraw it as cash.

With the second type of fraud – romance scams – fraudsters target victims by creating fake profiles on legitimate Internet dating websites. They then gain the interest and trust of their victims and feed them with false information, to convince them to send money.

Law enforcement analysed thousands of financial transactions to reconstruct the money flows and their destinations across several jurisdictions. The criminal group relied on a network of accomplices who operated a sort of coordinated ‘bank run’ within a few hours in order to make withdrawals in cash from the bank accounts chosen as final destinations.

Head of Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group, Igor Angelini, said: “Criminals, too, operate in a completely integrated financial environment in Europe and beyond. Money can travel as fast as digital data across many jurisdictions and eventually become ready-to-use cash in the hands of fraudsters thousands of kilometres away from the money’s criminal origin. Sharing and combining the financial intelligence available in the different Member States is the only way to tackle large-scale money laundering. Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group is here to support European countries with this challenge.”

The deployment of a Europol team in Turin, Italy, assisted Guardia di Finanza officers with real-time intelligence analysis and technical support, which aided the identification of transnational links.

Interpol issues Global Warrants on 100 corrupt Chinese officials

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Interpol has issued global arrest warrants for the 100 most-wanted corrupt Chinese officials who have fled overseas, 60 percent of whom allegedly committed bribery and graft, in what is China’s heaviest global crackdown on exiles in history.

Acting on the top-level red notice issued by Interpol China National Central Bureau, all 190 Interpol member states will carry out the warrant through their networks, issuing suspects’ information to their law enforcement departments and immigration departments, said Duan Daqi with Interpol’s China Bureau.

Interpol has published the suspects’ detailed personal information, including personal profile, ID number and birth date on their website to strengthen public involvement in hunting them. China Daily newspaper (China’s State run newspaper) has published the full list and details which can be viewed here

The International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, is an intergovernmental organization facilitating international police cooperation. It is the second largest international organization after the United Nations in terms of international representation.

“Most of the 100 Chinese fugitives are corrupt officials, and the suspects are accused of alleged graft issues, including embezzlement, abusing power, corruption and bribery,” said a senior official at the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection who declined to reveal his name.

The fugitives still at large include Yang Xiuzhu, former deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Construction Bureau, who fled to the US under suspicion of embezzling 250 million yuan ($40.3 million); Li Huabo, former senior official in the financial bureau of Poyang county, Jiangxi province, who immigrated to Singapore, was accused of embezzling 94 million yuan; and Huang Yurong, former vice-chairman of Henan Provincial Highway Development, who fled to the US under allegations of bribery.

Most of the 100 Chinese fugitives, who include 23 women, have probably escaped to the United States and Canada. The Ministry of Public Security is requesting that these countries assist in extraditing the fugitives to China to face trial.

In recent years, many corrupt Chinese officials have fled overseas to avoid punishment, transferring hundreds of millions of yuan through money laundering and underground banks.

The arrest of the 100 officials is an important part of the “Sky Net” action, initiated in early April to target corrupt officials on the run abroad, especially in the US, Canada and Australia.

During the action, the ministry will work closely with the People’s Bank of China to monitor the suspicious flow of funds remitted to foreign accounts, while enhancing efforts to combat the offshore companies and underground banks to prevent suspects from illegally transferring large amounts of funds abroad.

In addition, the ministry will cooperate with related authorities to investigate passports of government officers.

Comment

Countries that offer special visa investment schemes are potential targets for corrupt Chinese officials illegally transferring large amounts of money overseas.