News Briefing – Week of 25 January

Ghana, Benin and Senegal are proposing a progressive approach to drugs in line with the AU Common African Position for UNGASS 2016. Rather than focusing on disproportionate law enforcement and repression, this common position will emphasise harm reduction over punitive measures. Ghana is currently reviewing its drug law, and it has set up an inter-ministerial committee on UNGASS 2016 that will focus on drug policy.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been subpoenaed in connection to the money laundering scheme involving the Petrobras oil company. Brazilian authorities have already arrested more than 100 individuals and 50 politicians in relation to the Petrobras case. Lula and his wife will be questioned on 17 February.

Fourty-eight kg of cocaine hidden in cocoa beans shipment from Panama have been seized by Hong Kong customs officers. According to the authorities, the cocaine was destined to Southeast Asian market. One man from Hong Kong and a Panama national were arrested in connection to the case.

During a hearing at the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee, Siân Jones, co-founder of the European Digital Currency and Blockchain Technology forum, suggested MEPs limit EU legislative action to anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing. Accrding to Jones, it is crucial that the EU focuses on financial crime control around virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari requested the abroagation of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended in 2012. According to the President, the reenactment of the original version of the Act would widen the scope of supervisory bodies and make comprehensive provisions to prohibit criminal asset laundering.

Ecuadorian anti-drugs authorities have seized 1.5 tons of cocaine, mainly hidden in artificial bananas. Last week only, 30 US-bound boxes loaded with fake bananas containing 126.8 kg of cocaine were seized at the port of Fertisa in Guayaquil.

Ismael Garcia, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, declared that the new opposition legislature will focus on investigations of government enterprises for possible links to money laundering and drug trafficking operations. The national agencies governing the sale of food and responsible for distributing edibles (PDVAL) will be the first two bodies to go under scrutiny, as potentially implicated in the food shortages that have affected the country in the last two years.