Daily Archives: July 6, 2015

London is now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

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The City of London is the money-laundering centre of the world’s drug trade, according to an internationally acclaimed crime expert.

UK banks and financial services have ignored so-called “know your customer” rules designed to curb criminals’ abilities to launder the proceeds of crime, Roberto Saviano warned. Mr Saviano, author of the international bestseller Gomorrah, which exposed the workings of the Neapolitan crime organisation Camorra, said: “The British treat it as not their problem because there aren’t corpses on the street.”

His warning follows a National Crime Agency (NCA) threat assessment which stated: “We assess that hundreds of billions of US dollars of criminal money almost certainly continue to be laundered through UK banks, including their subsidiaries, each year.”

Last month, the NCA warned that despite the UK’s role in developing international standards to tackle money laundering, the continued extent of it amounts to a “strategic threat to the UK’s economy and reputation”. It added that the same money-laundering networks used by organised crime were being used by terrorists as well.

Roberto Saviano’s ‘Gomorrah’ has sold 10 million copies around the world (Teri Pengilley) Interviewed by The Independent on Sunday, Mr Saviano said of the international drugs trade that “Mexico is its heart and London is its head”. He said the cheapness and the ease of laundering dirty money through UK-based banks gave London a key role in drugs trade. “Antonio Maria Costa of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found that drug trafficking organisations were blatantly recycling dirty money through European and American banks, but no one takes any notice,” he said. “He found that banks were welcoming dirty money because they need cash, liquidity during the financial crisis. The figures are too big to be rejected …. Yet there was no reaction.”

Referring to HSBC’s record $1.9bn (£1.2bn) US fine for money laundering for the Mexican Sinaloa drugs cartel in 2012, Mr Saviano said: “The biggest UK bank! Yet it has scarcely been written about. The British treat it as not their problem, because there aren’t corpses on the streets.

“They think it’s all happening ‘over there somewhere’, so they needn’t worry about it. Sure, HSBC has been reported but there has been no debate. You need to fill the papers. The intellectuals have said nothing. [David] Cameron has said nothing. It’s his country. How can he say nothing on such a piece of news?”

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Sirisena-Chandrika-Ranil Alliance In Offing

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COLOMBO: Following the grant of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) parliamentary election ticket to former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his rival and serving President Maithripala Sirisena is set to form an anti-Rajapaksa alliance with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

This was evident on Sunday when Sirisena and Wickremesinghe attended Kumaratunga’s 70 th.birthday celebrations and spoke about Kumaratunga’s contribution to Sri Lanka in glowing terms.

While the function was attended by key supporters of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe, supporters of Rajapaksa were conspicuously absent.

Speaking on the occassion, Sirisena praised Kumaratunga for not being corrupt and for promoting ethnic reconciliation when she was Lankan President from 1995 to 2005.He was indirectly contrasting her with Rajapaksa who had become known for being corrupt and being against ethnic reconciliation.

Sirisena also praised Kumaratunga for the respect she enjoyed internationally, the kind of respect Rajapksa did not get from the international community.

Sirisena openly acknowledged that it was due to the recommendation of Kumaratunga that he had become the common opposition candidate backed by the UNP in the January 2015 Presidential election.

Wickremesinghe recalled the long ties his family had had with Kumaratunga’s family and the way the two of them worked to make Sirisena Lankan President and bring about a “revolution” in the country.

Sirisena had made it quite obvious that he gave the UPFA ticket to Rajapaksa against his will when he spoke at a function in Matara recently.

He promised that he would not let down the revolution that he had ushered in in January.He said he was still committed to ridding the country of family rule and corruption by which he meant the “Rajapaksa Raj.”

According to informed sources, the Sirisena-Ranil-Chandrika group will fight the August 17 parliamentary polls as an alliance with the “Swan” as the symbol- their symbol for the Presidential election.

This means that Sirisena will be breaking away from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the UPFA along with other anti-Rajapaksa elements.His continuation in the two outfits had become untenable after the General Secretaries of the two outfits opted to side with Rajapaksa along with the majority of the outfits’ leaders and members.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU ),an anti-Rajapaksa party, announced on sunday that it has quit the UPFA.

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Dalai Lama to Celebrate 80th Birthday in California

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LOS ANGELES: The Dalai Lama launches three days of celebrations today in California for his 80th birthday at what is billed as a Global Compassion Summit but which is expected to draw protests.

Thousands of followers and fans of the Tibetan spiritual leader are to attend events in Anaheim and at the University of Irvine, including on his actual birthday tomorrow.

“This milestone occasion is a joyous opportunity for people to come together in celebration of His Holiness’ life and achievements,” said Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, founder of the non-profit Friends of the Dalai Lama.

“On this very special birthday we will have a chance to celebrate his accomplishments in many areas and hear his exciting view for the years to come.”

The celebrations start with a speech by the Dalai Lama today on “awakening compassion” and the “transformative power of creativity and art” at the Honda Center in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles.

Tomorrow, the Tibetan religious figurehead will discuss climate change and “wisdom, vision and experience,” including with other Nobel laureates, while on Tuesday events wrap up with a session on youth leadership.

The Dalai Lama already marked his official 80th birthday last month — on June 21 according to the Tibetan lunar calendar — in Dharamsala, his hometown in exile in India.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from the rest of China and has called him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In 2011 the Dalai Lama delegated his political responsibilities to a prime minister elected by Tibetan exiles in an attempt to lessen his own totemic status and secure the movement’s future after his death.

But he remains the most powerful rallying point for Tibetans, both in exile and in their homeland. Not everyone is celebrating his birthday in California: protests are expected by Shugden Buddhists, who revere a deity denounced since 1996 by the Dalai Lama — whom they accuse of religious persecution.

“We will be loudly and vividly protesting outside all three days of the Dalai Lama’s events in Anaheim and at UC Irvine,” spokeswoman Rachael Jeffrey told AFP, saying hundreds of Buddhist demonstrators were expected to turn out.

Ticket prices for the Anaheim event, which can host 18,000 people, range USD 35-USD 180, while tickets for the UC Irvine events cost up to USD 93.

Any profits from the three days will go to charities chosen by the Dalai Lama.

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