#AceNewsReport – Dec.21: He appeared today at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court and has been remanded into custody until his next court date: The charge relates to an alleged incident in the early hours of Sunday 2 June 2019 where a then-36-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries after a disturbance on Westbury Road.
#AceDailyNews GM Police Report: Petre Dumitru (20/03/1983), a Romanian national of no fixed abode, was charged on Friday 17 December by detectives in Central Park CID with attempted murder after being flown back to Manchester from Amsterdam…
Detective Sergeant Jamie Heaton, of GMP’s North Manchester division, said:
” Our investigation into what led to a man sustaining such serious injuries that day in June 2019 has seen us conduct a wide range of enquiries to ensure that anyone we suspect is responsible is prosecuted.
“In order to bring Dumitru back to the United Kingdom to stand accused at a Manchester court, we have worked tirelessly with the vital support of the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency, as well as Dutch and Romanian law enforcement agencies.
“We’ve demonstrated our commitment to go to whatever lengths is necessary to bring suspects before the courts, no matter where they may be, and our work will not relent until justice is brought.”
#AceNewsReport – Dec.14: Europol coordinated operation Shield II, a global effort to target trafficking of counterfeit and misused medicines and doping substances: The operation was led by the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale/OCLAESP), the Finnish Customs (Tulli), the Hellenic Police/Financial Police Division (Ελληνική Αστυνομία / Διεύθυνση Οικονομικής Αστυνομίας) and the Italian Carabinieri Corps (NAS Carabinieri). It also involved law enforcement authorities from 26 countries (20 EU Member States and 7 third-party countries), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the World Anti-Doping Agency and the private sector. The operation took place from 1 April to 15 October 2021.
#AceDailyNews Europol Report: More than 6 500 doping checks performed during Europe-wide operation Shield II
The illegal consumption of medicines out of the regulated medical supply chain generates demand for the trafficking of illegally obtained genuine medications and of counterfeited pharmaceutical products. Medicines are abused for different reasons, including for psychotropic or performance-enhancing effects. Users inject non-injectable products such as sublingual pills, patch contents, and eye-drops, or consume them without a medical prescription.
The abuse represents a significant threat to users’ health. Even greater is that posed by the use of counterfeit medications. Contrived in underground labs with no hygiene or security procedures in place, these products often contain harmful ingredients. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals have further invested efforts into counterfeiting medications that are in the highest demand. To increase their profits, criminal networks have focused on distributing fake “corona-cures” and counterfeiting medical devices and sanitisers, which are then sold online.
During Operation Shield II, law enforcement officers targeted criminal groups trafficking doping substances (hormone and metabolic regulators) and various medications such as anti-cancer drugs, erectile dysfunction medicines, pseudoephedrine, painkillers, antioestrogens, antivirals, hypnotics, antihistamines and anxiolytics.
Operation Shield II in a nutshell
Seizures worth nearly €63 million
More than 25 million units of medicines and doping substances seized
Doping and “corona-cures” at the top of the seizures list
Traffickers target mainly non-professional athletes, selling illegal doping substances mostly either through social media accounts or in person. Many athletes from certain sports groups are often interested in doping substances, with products differing from one sport to another depending on the desired enhancement effect. The illegal market of performance-enhancing drugs has remained relatively unchanged, while the amount of COVID-19-related medicinal trafficking has significantly decreased. Law enforcement authorities have intercepted several fraud attempts targeting national bodies, offering medicines and medical devices such as facemasks and sanitisers. At the same time, the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines within the legal supply chain created a disadvantageous situation for criminals seeking to feed an illegal market.
Fake food supplements off the market
Adverts for food supplements, claiming to be made of natural ingredients but in fact containing the pharmaceutical ingredient Sildenafil, were spotted online. The investigation by law enforcement authorities under Operation Shield in Italy and Spain led to six arrests and the seizures of 2 500 packages of food supplements.
Underground lab closed
Spanish authorities dismantled an underground lab and arrested 21 individuals. During the raids of 20 locations, the officers seized more than 3 million doses of medicines and 65 kg of active ingredients. The lab produced two “brands” with 30 sub-products, and had the capacity to manufacture 1000 kg of drugs per year.
Illegal production of sedatives targeted
A joint investigation of Hungarian and Norwegian authorities, supported by Eurojust, led to the dismantling of a criminal network producing fake medicines in Hungary and selling them in Norway. The actions led to five arrests and the seizures of 9 million counterfeit tablets, two tablet machines, more than a hundred thousand medicine bottles, and tens of thousands of stickers used to mark bottles.
Catherine De Bolle, Europol’s Executive Director highlighted:
“Joint law enforcement efforts have successfully curtailed the trafficking of COVID-19-related counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Fewer seizures of COVID-19-related drugs during Operation Shield II show that the rapid analysis of the situation and the proactive approach from the start of the pandemic has confined the spread of potentially dangerous counterfeits. On the other hand, the use and trafficking of illegal doping substances is a growing threat for the safety of society and the health of athletes. Operation Shield II strengthens the fight against doping by bringing regulators and law enforcement authorities closer, to ensure healthier sport and safer treatments.”
OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä said:
“Under Operation SHIELD II, OLAF led a targeted action against counterfeit and substandard hormonal substances, food supplements and medicines for erectile dysfunction. 17 EU countries took part in the targeted action. Together, we discovered various irregularities and kept away from the EU market 254 731 tablets and 131 027 vials of various medicines, as well as 278 kg of food supplements. It is quite sad to see how criminals will not hesitate to put people’s health on the line to make profit. I am pleased that we could once again work closely with Europol and with national authorities to protect the health of consumers, public revenues and legitimate business.’’
Europol supported the investigation with operational coordination and analysis. Europol supported the actions through the deployment of experts on-site to crosscheck operational information in real-time and provide support to the investigators in the field. Europol also provided technical expertise during the operational activities. Europol’s IPC3 (Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition), which supported the investigation, is a project to combat intellectual property crime co-funded by the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office).
EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.
Third-party countries: Bosnia Herzegovina, Colombia, Georgia, North Macedonia, Norway, Switzerland and the United States.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.29: There were 61 positive #COVID19 cases on a flight from South Africa which landed on Friday at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, with 13 of them contracting the new variant.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says according to the Dutch public health institute said in a statement that testing was continuing on the samples of 61 people who tested positive for #COVID19 after arriving from South Africa: The Dutch public health authority said on Sunday that 13 people in the Netherlands have so far tested positive for the new coronavirus variant….
The people who tested positive are being kept in isolation at a hotel near the airport.
“In our (virus) sequencing investigation, which is still ongoing, we have so far found 13 cases of the Omicron variant among the positive (passenger COVID-19) tests,” the National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in a statement.
‘Urgent request’ to get tested
Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge made an “urgent request” to people returning from southern Africa to get tested “as soon as possible.”
“It is not unthinkable that there are more cases in the Netherlands,” De Jonge told reporters.”We are concerned.”
“What is important now is that we keep our finger on the pulse, and keep up with the sequencing,” he added.
#AceNewsReport – Nov.23: The VIDTF is a Europol initiative which this year gathered specialists from 26 countries and partner agencies to identify victims and offenders depicted in child sexual abuse material.
#AceDailyNews Europol VIDTF Report: Global Europol taskforce identifies 18 child victims of sexual abuse: Between 25 October and 5 November 2021, these experts combed through some 580 sets of images and video files depicting unknown victims of child sexual abuse, some as young as a few days old….
They were supported by Europol specialists and intelligence analysts in the field of combating the sexual exploitation of children.
In addition to the 18 children identified, the likely country of production has been located in 211 instances and intelligence packages sent by Europol to the relevant countries for investigation.
Officers from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, the United States, Europol and INTERPOL took part in the 10th VIDTF.
Combining efforts to rescue children
Since 2014, Europol has been gathering victim identification specialists from across the world on a regular basis in order to focus on unsolved cases of child sexual abuse. The VIDTF is the largest recurring operation of its kind in the world, and has inspired a number of similar initiatives at the national and regional levels, such as in Italy and Australia. Now in its 10th iteration, the VIDTF has yielded the following results since it was first convened:
290 specialists from over 35 countries have taken part in this operational activity;
A likely country of production was identified in 1 726 instances;
Over 533 children have been safeguarded and 182 offenders arrested as a result of the VIDTF operations.
Europol’s Executive Director Catherine de Bolle said: “Changing global circumstances in recent decades have changed the way child abusers commit their crimes and hide their tracks. Results such as these from the VIDTF show that law enforcement has kept up with these changes and built a formidable united front against this type of crime. This is echoed by the public’s support through the Trace An Object initiative, and together we can hopefully rescue more children and infants from abuse and sexual exploitation.”
#AceNewsReport – Oct.10: Quinn is the 87th person detained as part of Operation Captura, the agency’s most wanted campaign run in conjunction with Crimestoppers…..
#AceDailyNews reports on Operation Captura and arrest of a man MOST WANTED CAMPAIGN in Scotland who has been arrested in the Netherlands on Friday: 57-year-old Mark Francis Quinn was apprehended in Maastricht yesterday (8 October) as a result of joint working between the NCA’s international network, Dutch police and Police Scotland this is the 87th person in this operation …..
A man listed on the National Crime Agency’s ‘most wanted’ list has been arrested in the Netherlands: He is wanted over drug offences allegedly committed in Scotland between 2013 and 2014, and will now face extradition proceedings.
NCA deputy director Matt Horne said: This operation has once again demonstrated that the NCA can reach outside the UK’s borders to track down and apprehend wanted fugitives: It should serve as a warning to those remaining on our most wanted list. We have a global reach, we never give up, and they can never rest easy.”
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Pat Campbell said: I am grateful for the assistance of our law enforcement partners, including the National Crime Agency, in arresting the man who is wanted in Scotland for drugs offences: He will now be subject to extradition proceedings and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
#AceNewsReport – Oct.06: On 28: September, a coordinated strike between the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), the Ukrainian National Police (Національна поліція України) and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with the coordination of Europol and INTERPOL, has led to the arrest in Ukraine of two prolific ransomware operators known for their extortionate ransom demands (between €5 to €70 million).
#AceDailyNews reports that a ‘Ransomware Gang’ was arrested in Ukraine with Europol’s support together with other ‘law enforcement agencies’ the organised crime group is suspected of having committed a string of targeted attacks against very large industrial groups in Europe and North America from April 2020 onwards. The criminals would deploy malware and steal sensitive data from these companies, before encrypting their files.
Results of the action day:
2 arrests and 7 property searches
Seizure of US$ 375 000 in cash
Seizure of two luxury vehicles worth €217 000
Asset freezing of $1.3 million in cryptocurrencies
They would then proceed to offer a decryption key in return for a ransom payment of several millions of euros, threatening to leak the stolen data on the dark web should their demands not be met.
Close cooperation between the involved law enforcement authorities, supported by Europol’s Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), led to the identification in Ukraine of these two individuals.
Six investigators from the French Gendarmerie, four from the US FBI, a prosecutor from the French Prosecution Office of Paris, two specialists from Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and one INTERPOL officer were deployed to Ukraine to jointly conduct investigative measures with the National Police.
Europol supported the investigation from the onset, bringing together all the involved countries to establish a joint strategy. Its cybercrime specialists organised 12 coordination meetings to prepare for the action day, alongside providing analytical, malware, forensic and crypto-tracing support. A virtual command post was set up by Europol to ensure seamless coordination between all the authorities involved.
The following law enforcement authorities took part in this investigation:
France: National Cybercrime Centre of the National Gendarmerie (C3N)
Ukraine: Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine
United States: Atlanta Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Europol: European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)
INTERPOL : Cyber Fusion Centre
This operation was carried out in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).
In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 – 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Cybercrime is among the priorities for the Policy Cycle. From 2022, the mechanism becomes permanent under the name EMPACT 2022+.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.05: The week-long operation, which was led by France and supported by Europol, involved law enforcement bodies from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands and Spain…….
#AceDailyNews reports that a major Europe-wide sting operation identifies ‘human trafficking for labour exploitation on farms & vineyards …..
The action week resulted in:
12 arrests (8 in France and 4 in Spain)
54 suspected traffickers identified (27 in France, 21 in Italy, 2 in Latvia, 4 in Spain)
269 possible victims of exploitation identified, 81 of which of trafficking of human beings (17 in Cyprus, 91 in France, 134 in Italy, 24 in Spain and 3 in Latvia)
704 locations (vineyards, farms and others) checked
273 vehicles checked
4 014 people checked
126 new investigations initiated (14 in Finland, 93 in France, 2 in Italy, 9 in Latvia, 4 in the Netherlands and 4 in Spain)
Focus on seasonal workers
Law enforcement authorities carried out inspections in working places identified as more vulnerable to exploitation, such as farms and vineyards. The checks focused on the working conditions of the employees. Non-EU nationals have been identified as most vulnerable to exploitation in seasonal employments, while EU nationals are reported to be exploited in the agricultural sector year-round. The action days targeted criminal networks and facilitators involved in the trafficking of human beings, specialised in ‘brokering’ employment on the illegal market. Labour exploitation is a very lucrative criminal activity, damaging the health and rights of the victims. A successful operation in France dismantled a criminal network, which has generated an estimated € 5 million in damages for victims and authorities. During the actions against this network, authorities searched 25 locations and arrested winegrowers, service providers and intermediaries.
The fight against human trafficking for labour exploitation requires a consolidated, cross-border effort by different authorities. During this action week, the European Labour Authority organised the first joint inspection, which took place in France and involved officers from the Bulgarian General Labour Inspectorate.
Europol coordinated the action days and facilitated the information exchange between the participating countries. Europol provided analytical and operational support 24/7 and facilitated the real-time exchange of communication between the participating authorities.
Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organized 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.
In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 – 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Trafficking of human beings is one of the priorities of the Policy Cycle. From 2022, the mechanism becomes permanent under the name EMPACT 2022+.
In France, a criminal network, which generated an estimated €5 million, was dismantled. Twenty-five locations were searched and a number of winegrowers, service providers and intermediaries were arrested.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.02: Since the beginning of the year, operational cooperation between UK law enforcement agencies and EU Member States via EUROPOL has continued effectively and without interruption…..
#AceDailyNews reports on the NCA Director General Dame Lynne Owens and EUROPOL Executive Director Catherine De Bolle having signed a working arrangement between the NCA and Europol which will sit under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement…..
The Working and Administrative Arrangement, which complements and implements the TCA by providing further clarity on how cooperation should be undertaken at operational level, will ensure this continues.
Shared capabilities protected under the TCA, and now also the new arrangement, include the presence of UK/NCA liaison officers based in Europol headquarters, access to EUROPOL’s secure messaging system, the ability to attend and organise operational and other meetings at EUROPOL, the ability to contribute to EUROPOL analysis projects in order to benefit from the agency’s coordination and analytical functions, and the fast and effective exchange of data…..
In the last nine months, the continued working relationship between the NCA and our EU partners via Europol has resulted in:
The takedown of both the Emotet malware and the DoubleVPN cybercrime service;
The arrest of a man wanted by Belgium authorities in connection with the smuggling of 39 migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex in October 2019;
The capture of six fugitives wanted in Romania, Hungary and Lithuania for offences linked to modern slavery, human trafficking and people smuggling.
Attended or initiated more than 150 operational meetings between Jan and May 2021
NCA Director General Dame Lynne Owens said: “This arrangement with EUROPOL supports our continued work to tackle the full range of crime threats facing the UK and our European neighbours: We are relentlessly focused on tackling serious and organised criminals, including those who abuse children, who fuel violence through trafficking drugs and firearms, who steal money and information through fraud and cyber crime, and those behind the people smuggling which risks the lives of migrants for profit: The TCA, and our arrangement with EUROPOL, reflects the scale of the NCA’s contribution in protecting the UK from serious and organised crime, and we look forward to continued collaborative working with our EU law enforcement partners.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Keeping the public safe remains the Government’s top priority: This arrangement builds on the security measures we negotiated with the EU in our Trade and Cooperation Agreement last year. It will ensure we can continue effective cooperation with our partners, both to protect the public from serious organised crime and bring criminals to justice.”
#AceNewsReport – Sept.07: In the Netherlands, the trial in the case of the downed flight MH17 has been resumed – the floor will be given to the relatives and friends of the victims, who intend to tell the court about their grief and the consequences of the disaster.
#AceDailyNews says that the Dutch court resumes hearings in case of downed #MH17: Victims relatives to appeal to court: In the Netherlands, this process has already been called historical and unprecedented – for the first time in the history of the country’s legal proceedings, more than 90 relatives of the victims will go to court. This will be the most emotional moment in the hearings.
They will speak in court for three weeks with short breaks. It is expected that not only representatives of the Netherlands, but also Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Great Britain and Indonesia will go to court. For those who intend to physically be present in the court complex, a special room has been equipped in Schiphol, those who cannot, for various reasons, attend the hearings, will speak via video link, or provide a video recording. Given that most speakers will speak Dutch, the court will provide translation from German and English.
Earlier, lawyer of the relatives of the victims Peter Langstraat suggested that if each of the relatives, wishing to speak, speaks for 15-20 minutes, plus it will take time to take a seat in the hall and additional time for possible emotional moments, then 25-30 minutes should be reserved for each. “This [speech by relatives] will be difficult not only for the speakers, but also for those present. Taking everything into account, it looks like ten people can speak per day,” he said.
As reported, on March 9, at the Schiphol court complex near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a trial began over four accused of the tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. There were to be three Russian citizens and one Ukrainian on the dock: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko. Only one of them, Pulatov, is represented by lawyers from a Dutch firm, assisted by Russian lawyer Kutina. The trial took place in the absence of the accused.
As reported, on July 17, 2014, the MH17 flight was shot down over Donbas, killing all 298 people on board. Two-thirds of passengers are citizens of the Netherlands. Citizens of Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, the UK, Belgium, the United States, Germany, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand were also onboard. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which includes law enforcement from Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and Malaysia, is probing the incident.
In September 2016, the Joint Investigation Group released its findings, according to which the airliner was shot down by a missile launched from a Buk air defense system, and a year ago it announced that the Buk belonged to the Russian 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade stationed in Kursk.
The JIT named Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko as suspects in the MH17 crash on May 19, 2019. All of them were put on the international wanted list. They are charged with the murder of 298 passengers onboard and its crash.
#AceNewsReport – July.30: On 19 December, Hart had travelled to Eersel in the Netherlands, later telling officers the trip had been to buy Christmas presents, as well as to collect a motorcycle and parts for his family’s hobby of international motocross racing……..
#AceDailyNews reports that a man tried to smuggle drugs into the U.K. after Netherlands Christmas shopping trip with his wife and ‘The National Crime Agency’ investigated after a van hired by Sean Hart, 40, from Newcastle, was stopped at the Eurotunnel controls in Coquelles, France in December 2016 he was arrested and later charged.
After stopping the van on its return journey to the UK, Border Force officers discovered two packages of cocaine weighing a total of 2kg concealed in the dashboard. The cocaine would be worth an estimated £60k at wholesale and £160k at street level.
Today [27 July], Sean Hart was convicted of importing a class A drug after a seven day trial at Newcastle Crown Court: He is due to be sentenced on 15 September at the same location.
NCA Operations Manager Julie Booker said: “This was a blatant attempt to smuggle illegal drugs into the UK under the guise of travelling to do his Christmas shopping. Not only was Sean Hart prevented from making money from importing class A drugs, he now faces the prospect of prison time: “Illegal drugs are at the root of considerable violence and exploitation. We will continue to work with partners like Border Force to keep our communities safe by preventing class A drugs from entering the country.”
A second defendant was found not guilty after the same trial.
#AceNewsReport – July.07: This is an attack on journalism, a cornerstone of our rule of law”, King Willem-Alexander told reporters during a state visit to Berlin: And as such it is an attack on our constitutional order.”
PRESS FREEDOM: Shooting of Dutch crime reporter attack on democracy, king says: De Vries, the best-known crime reporter in the Netherlands and winner of an international Emmy award for his work investigating the disappearance of teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, was shot on an Amsterdam street on Tuesday evening. read more
Reuters: July.07, 20219:23 AM BSTLast Updated 33 minutes ago
He was taken to a hospital, where he was fighting for his life, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said.
The Dutch royal house does not generally comment on individual incidents, so the king’s remarks were a sign of how de Vries is a hugely popular figure and a household name who has featured on television for decades.
Natalee Holloway’s mother Beth, who worked closely with De Vries on the investigation of her daughter’s disappearance, told Dutch broadcaster SBS she was “devastated” by the news of the attack.
“I am trying desperately to get through to his family”, she said. “I am shocked.”
The attack on De Vries also drew outrage throughout Europe.
“This is a crime against journalism and an attack on our values of democracy and rule of law,” European Council President Charles Michel said in a tweet.
“We will relentlessly continue to defend the freedom of the press.”
The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli said that the media was the backbone of democracy.
“Attacks against journalists are attacks against all of us,” he said.
Police said three suspects had been detained in the hours following the attack, including the possible shooter, but gave no further details.
Reporting by Bart Meijer, Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Angus MacSwan:
#AceNewsReport – June.30: A deal that gave one of the wealthiest families in Africa a lucrative stake in a large Portuguese energy company could be a step closer to dissolution, following a new ruling from a Dutch court.
Dos Santos partnership with Angolan state oil company ‘null and void,’ court-appointed director says, following an inquiry prompted by ICIJ’s Luanda Leaks.
Scilla AlecciJune 28, 2021Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos and her husband, Congolese art collector and businessman Sindika Dokolo in 2018.
The ruling validates a damning report from a court-appointed director of Esperaza Holding BV, a vehicle used by Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol, to buy shares in Galp, the Portugese energy firm. That report concluded that the 2006 sale of 40% of Esperaza to Exem Energy BV, a company owned by Congolese businessman Sindika Dokolo, was “an act of corruption” and should be voided.
At the time of the acquisition Dokolo was married to Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former autocratic president. He died in 2020.
The details of the acquisition were first reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of Luanda Leaks, a global investigation into a decade of inside deals made by the dos Santos family at the expense of Angola, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Last year, following the ICIJ investigation, a special division of Amsterdam’s Appeal Court ordered an inquiry into the Exem deal with Sonangol. The court also froze Exem’s assets and removed Mario Silva, a key dos Santos business associate, from Esperaza’s board, appointing Camilo Schutte, a lawyer, as director. The inquiry is ongoing.Dutch court documents included this diagram on the relationship between the entities involved in a controversial shareholding deal now being investigated.
In his report, Schutte concluded that Dokolo’s company had obtained its stake in Galp at a steep discount, ultimately paying less than 10% of the share’s value.
Lawyers representing Exem challenged the report and claimed that Schutte was not sufficiently independent and should be replaced, according to Dutch court records first obtained by Het Financieele Dagblad, an ICIJ partner. The Dutch court rejected that argument.
Schutte’s assessment shows that the purpose of the transaction was to give Dokolo and dos Santos “a very sizeable and unjustified advantage to the detriment of the Angolan State,” a five-judge panel said.
After being appointed Esperaza director, Schutte examined company records and court filings to make sure they were in compliance with the law, he told ICIJ. He determined the acquisition was clearly designed to favor the dos Santos family. “It’s a travesty of a real business transaction.”
“Exem has been revealed to be a front company with the sole goal to be part of a money laundering scheme to embezzle funds” ultimately belonging to the Angolan people, he said.
The unlawful nature of the transaction makes Exem’s shareholding in his company “null and void,” he said.
An Exem lawyer told ICIJ that Schutte’s findings were incorrect and that the company continues to pursue legal actions regarding his conduct.
Exem’s acquisition “was carried out in a transparent manner” and “the transaction has been hugely beneficial to Sonangol and – thus – the Angolan taxpayers,” Dan Morrison wrote in an emailed response.
Representatives for dos Santos didn’t immediately respond to ICIJ request for comment.
Schutte said he plans to notify the Dutch commercial register that Exem is no longer a shareholder of Esperaza, a move that could further imperil the dos Santos family’s stake in Galp.
In the meantime, Sonangol and Exem are embroiled in separate arbitration proceedings on the lawfulness of Exem shareholding. Sonangol lawyers expect a decision by September, they told ICIJ.
“There’s a difference between the old Sonangol and the new Sonangol,” said Maarten Drop, one of the legal counsels representing the company in the Dutch action. “The new Sonangol is trying to clean up the past and there’s a lot to be cleaned up.”
Criminal investigations into dos Santos and her companies are ongoing in a number of countries, including Angola where the government alleges she embezzled more than $1 billion in public funds.
Dos Santos has maintained her innocence and denied any wrongdoing.
#AceNewsReport – June.13: The last man arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into the alleged importation of cocaine and heroin has been extradited from the Netherlands to face the UK courts.
NCA Report: ‘The Dutch national was brought to the UK officers following the conclusion of his extradition hearings in the Netherlands’
Dominique Anthony Ventura Da Costa, 36, was detained by Dutch police on a European Arrest Warrant in August 2018.
The gang he is alleged to have been part of was responsible for importing millions of pounds worth of class A drugs into the UK from the Netherlands hidden in loads of chicken in 2016 and 2017.
On three occasions, heroin and cocaine worth around £5 million was seized hidden in chicken shipments. However NCA investigators, working in partnership with the Dutch police, subsequently identified another 16 importations which they suspect contained drugs, which would have brought the overall street value to around £12 million.
Da Costa is alleged to have been part of the Dutch arm of the operation, where drugs were placed within consignments for shipment to the UK.
He is due to appear before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court today (11 June).
NCA Senior Investigating Officer Gary Winch said: “This case shows that there is no hiding place for those attempting to evade UK law enforcement.
“We are determined to track down fugitives, and neither the passage of time or international borders are a barrier to us doing so.
“We are grateful for the assistance of our Dutch partners in this operation, and Da Costa will now go before UK courts.”
Eleven people have previously been convicted in connection with the NCA investigation, with prison sentences totalling around 100 years handed out.
A further individual, Dutch national Shahzad Butt, 33, was extradited to the UK from the Netherlands in December 2020 as part of the same investigation. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import controlled drugs into the UK at Birmingham Crown Court on 16 April 2021 and will be sentenced following the conclusion of Da Costa’s court proceedings.
#AceNewsReport – June.13: The Wellington had a six-man Czech crew, five of whom died. It was downed by a German night fighter, crashing at Nieuwe Niedorp, a village about 60km (37 miles) north of Amsterdam.
The dig is part of a wider Dutch project to find wartime crews’ remains.
In World War Two the RAF’s 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron had airmen who had fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and had then had combat experience in Poland or France. It was based at RAF East Wretham, near Thetford in Norfolk.
The squadron flew Vickers Wellington and Liberator bombers.
More than 5,500 aircraft crashed during the air war over the Netherlands in 1940-1945, and as many as 50 are believed to have crews’ remains.
Geert Jonker, a member of the identification team at Nieuwe Niedorp, told Czech TV: “They never returned home to Czechoslovakia, so the least we can do is go out and search for them and give them a proper burial.”
The Wellington’s pilot, Flight Sgt Vilem Bufka, parachuted out of the burning plane, broke a leg on landing and was captured by the Germans. He was imprisoned in Colditz Castle, with many other Royal Air Force POWs, and returned to Czechoslovakia in August 1945. He wrote a memoir – Bomber T2990 Gone Silent – and died in 1967.
The five crew who died were: co-pilot Alois Rozum, radio operator Leonhard Smrcek, navigator Vilem Konstacky, front gunner Jan Hejna and rear gunner Karel Valach.
In its tribute to the crew, the Czech Foreign Ministry says Valach had “met an English girl Doreen Francis Todd and they were married on 10 December 1940”. It adds: “Their son was born in 1941.”
The RAF Museum says 311 Squadron focused mainly on bombing the cities of Bremen and Cologne.
“The squadron’s greatest success was the sinking of the blockade runner Alsterufer, which transported over 300 tons of rare tungsten from Japan to Germany,” it says. The operation took place off the French Atlantic coast in 1943. During the war the Allies imposed a naval blockade to stop cargo ships bringing essential supplies to Nazi Germany.Stevie Stevens flew 29 missions during World War Two
#AceNewsReport – Apr.11: NCA investigators found that prior to getting the flight, he had attempted to take a Eurostar train from Amsterdam but walked out of the station before being questioned by UK officers at the immigration control:
NCA Investgation uncovers a drug smuggler who swallowed dozens of lethal cocaine pellets: Martinus Gunning, 42, was investigated after arriving at London Gatwick Airport from the Netherlands on 10 January 2021: When stopped by Border Force, he initially claimed he was in the UK to visit a girlfriend but shortly afterwards said he had swallowed 50 packages and a total of 463g of the class A drug was ultimately recovered.
Later that day, he took a flight to Gatwick instead.
The purity of the cocaine in the packages was between 76% and 78%, which NCA forensic experts estimated would be worth £37,040 once cut to street level purity.
Yesterday [7 April] at Lewes Crown Court, Gunning was sentenced to 32 months in prison after pleading guilty to the importation of Class A drugs.
NCA Branch Commander Mark McCormack said: “This method of smuggling is dangerous. The rupture of a single one of the 50 pellets in the body could have been fatal: Organised crime groups use individuals like Martinus Gunning to transport drugs across borders for profit, with no thought for the safety of either the smuggler nor users of the drug, who should understand the unpleasant reality of how what they consume can be transported: “Working with Border Force, we have ensured that these drugs did not reach the UK market. The NCA continues to work with partners to tackle the class A drugs trade, which fuels violence and exploitation in the UK and around the world.”
#AceNewsReport – Apr.08: The drugs, which totalled 55 kilos of heroin and 60 kilos of cocaine, were found hidden in jump starters and followed a pattern seen in other drug seizures that had come into the UK from The Netherlands:
NCA Report: 57 years for Dutch drug traffickers who smuggled Class A drugs into UK officers launched an investigation in 2016 when drugs valued at over £12.5 million were found at Purfleet Docks, in a delivery of car batteries that were heading to an industrial site in Essex’
Yesterday [29 March] in Utrecht, five of the men were found guilty and sentenced to a total of 57 years in prison.
NCA officers obtained evidence which led to the arrest of seven men in The Netherlands, and the seizure of firearms, grenades and cash.
The ringleader of the group, Marcel Doest, a 38 year-old from Nieuwegein, was sentenced to sixteen years in prison.
His second in command, a 33 year-old, also from Nieuwegein, was sentenced to fourteen years.
Three other men who were involved in the conspiracy were also convicted and received sentences of seven and eight years.
The leaders of the group were found guilty not only of organising large drug transports from The Netherlands to the UK between 2013 and 2018, but also money laundering and dealing in stolen cars.
Regional Head of Investigations at the National Crime Agency, Jacque Beer, said: “This outcome concludes an investigation that began in the UK and through close collaboration with our partners across Europe, ends in The Netherlands: “ Following a huge drugs seizure in the UK in 2016 and further analysis by NCA officers, information that was crucial to the arrest of the main subject and the apprehension of the others was uncovered: “ These men were clearly serious and organised criminals, who sought to profit from trafficking drugs and other criminality: “ Through joint working with our colleagues both in the UK and abroad, we’ve stopped a huge amount of Class A drugs from reaching the streets and yesterday’s result will have fractured a key source of drugs from entering the market.”
#AceNewsReport – Jan.06: The latest “yellow vest” marches began peacefully but degenerated in the afternoon as protesters threw missiles at riot police blocking bridges over the Seine: Officers fired tear gas to prevent protesters crossing the river and reaching the National Assembly. One riverboat restaurant was set ablaze and a policeman was wounded when he was hit by a bicycle hurled from a street above the river bank………………Two months after they started blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging sometimes-violent street protests in Paris, the yellow vests wanted to inject new momentum into a movement that weakened over the holidays…………….Macron’s government, shaken by the unrest, had this week hardened its stance, branding the protesters agitators seeking to overthrow the government…………….Driving the unrest is anger, particularly among low-paid workers, over a squeeze on household incomes, and a belief that Macron is deaf to citizens’ needs as he enacts reforms seen as favouring the wealthy………………“They have no right to leave us in the shit like this,” said protester Francois Cordier. “We’re fed up with having to pay out the whole time, we’ve had enough of this slavery, we should be able to live on our salaries.” #AceNewsDesk reports
With no police in sight, Sweden’s ambassador to France called on neighbors to help put out a small fire lit outside her Embassy during “yellow vest” protests against high living costs and the policies of President Emmanuel Macron………….“And where are the police??? Thanks to friendly neighbors we were able to put out the fires,” ambassador Veronika Wand-Danielsson tweeted on Saturday, attaching photographs to her post………..While some social media users apologized for the protesters’ behavior, others were more tongue-in-cheek. One responded to her tweet: “Thank you Madame Ambassador for coming out with a bucket of water to douse the burning box. A true Viking!” Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough and David Holmes
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux escaped from his office through a back door after a small number of protesters broke into the compound and smashed up vehicles: Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said about 50,000 people had protested in cities nationwide, including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rouen and Marseille……………….The turnout was higher than last week but a small fraction of the numbers seen in the first weeks of the protests.
As darkness fell, officers dispersed scores of yellow vests gathered on Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Elysees: Television images showed hooded youths setting a car alight on a side street, but there was no repeat of the scenes in November when shops were looted, banks vandalised and the Arc de Triomphe was defaced……………….Authorities have blamed the worst of the violence in recent weeks on anarchists, anti-capitalists and extreme groups on the fringes of the yellow vest movement………..The protests come 18 months into Macron’s tenure and his drive to reshape the economy, and have already forced him into concessions.
Last month, Macron promised tax cuts for pensioners, wage rises for the poorest workers and the scrapping of planned fuel tax increases, at a cost to the Treasury of 10 billion euros ($11 billion): It was the first big U-turn for a president elected 18 months earlier on a platform to break with traditional French politics and liberalize the heavily regulated economy.
In a New Year’s Eve address, Macron vowed to press on with his reform agenda, saying: “We can’t work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending.” Faced with record low popularity ratings, Macron is expected soon to set out his plans for the coming months. These include a nationwide debate on ecological, fiscal and institutional questions, the results of which he says will feed into policy.
Elsewhere …… #Netherlands Demonstration Alert: Demonstrations expected from the “Yellow Vests” group on Saturday, January 5, from approximately 10 am to 7 pm. The group will assemble in The Hague inner city near government buildings. Avoid areas of demonstrations. http://ow.ly/HUpG30nbSh2pic.twitter.com/17sQ5DMRfe Published: January.05: 2018: Reporting by Richard Lough, Elizabeth Pineau and Johnny Cotton; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Evans and David Holmes
#AceNewsReport – UKRAINE: #MH17 July.17: On the first anniversary of downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a UN agency) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association uniting more than 260 airlines, have joined forces in seeking a global convention on anti-aircraft weapons, RIA reports.
#AceWorldNews – UKRAINE – Wednesday – July 23 – Bloody Conflict Continues and many more Die ! As first 16 bodies of victims of crash are transported from crash site.
A Dutch air force transport plane carrying the first 16 coffins with the remains of victims of the downed Malaysian airliner took off on Wednesday from an airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv for the Netherlands.
Honour guards carry a coffin of one of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine for loading on to a transport plane heading to the Netherlands at Kharkiv airport July 23, 2014. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
Honorary guards placed wooden coffins on the plane after a short and sombre ceremony held on the tarmac before it took off.
All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 perished when it was brought down last Thursday over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev is struggling anti-government forces.
Many of the victims were Dutch and the Netherlands will carry out their identification.
At the ceremony, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said the downing of the plane was an “inhumane terrorist act” carried out with help from Russia.
Kiev will do everything in its power to bring those guilty to justice, he added. Russia denies its involvement.
On Monday the Russian military presented information that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter had been gaining altitude in the direction of the Malaysian Boeing prior to the catastrophe.
A Canadian military transport plane is due to leave Kharkiv with 24 more coffins later on Wednesday.
The black boxes from Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 have been handed over to British experts, UK investigators have told press.
The inflight recorders recovered from the wreckage of the downed Malaysian plane have arrived in Britain to be analyzed, the Ukrainian government’s investigation committee told press. The Ukrainian investigators confirmed they had seen the recorders, but not handled them as per an agreement reached with the Malaysian and Dutch inspectors.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday that it was still unclear how many bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 had arrived in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and how many may have been left behind at the crash site. (Reuters)
Dutch experts have said they were given 80 fewer corpses than indicated by the eastern Ukrainian militia.
“There were human remains that had not been picked up,” said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the OSCE after visiting the crash site.
“What struck us is that we did not monitor any recovery activity in place,” he added, indicating at least two areas where there still were human remains.
Moscow has handed over to the European Union the Ministry of Defense’s monitoring data on the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine, Russian envoy to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said.
The documents, which are in both Russian and English, were sent “to all the interested parties,” he told journalists in Brussels, as quoted by RIA Novosti. Russia hopes the investigation of the tragedy will be “truly unbiased, independent and international,” as called for by the UN Security Councilresolution unanimously adopted Monday, Chizhov said.
“I’m surprised by statements made by certain European representatives,” he said. Even European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – who is on a visit in Brazil – “voiced certainty that the plane, as he said, was shot down by ‘separatists.’”According to the Russian diplomat, attempts to foresee the results of an investigation “can only be considered as an attempt to put pressure on the probe.”
“I hope that will not happen,” Chizhov said.
Ukrainian State Emergency Service employees collect bodies of victims at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine on July 20, 2014.(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic )
Tuesday, July 22
The Dutch government has declared Wednesday a day of national mourning as the country prepares for the arrival of the first bodies of victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The country’s king and queen will be at an air base in Eindhoven to greet two military planes that are scheduled to arrive around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) Wednesday carrying the first victims’ remains.
Serb forces commander Ratko Mladic is currently on trial on genocide and war crimes.
(Guardian) Reported that the Netherlands has been ordered to pay compensation for the deaths of Bosnian Muslims in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in a ruling that opens up the Dutch state to compensation claims from relatives of the rest of the 8,000 men and youths who died.
The judgement by the Dutch supreme court is the final decision in a protracted claim brought by relatives of three Muslim men who were expelled by Dutch soldiers from a United Nations compound during the Balkans conflict, then killed by Bosnian Serb forces.
Although the case related only to the murder of three victims, it sets the precedent that countries that provide troops for UN missions can be held responsible for their conduct.
The case was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic, an interpreter who lost his brother and father, and relatives of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician who was killed. They argued that all three men should have been protected by Dutch peacekeepers. Mustafic and Nuhanovic were employed by the Dutch, but Nuhanovic’s father and brother were not.