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Drug dealers and gangsters are pumping their profits into bitcoin cash machines across Britain to launder the dirty money, police have warned.
Detectives say they have seen an explosion in the use of digital currency by criminals who are strolling into cafes, newsagents and corner shops to dump their ill-gotten gains in virtual currency ATMs.
The cash machines, found in 93 locations in London and other cities, allow anyone to deposit sterling in exchange for bitcoin and other ‘crypto currencies’, which are held electronically and only exist in cyberspace.
The funds can then be transferred across borders to criminal associates who can withdraw them in any currency or spend them on the dark web, without being traced.
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Police have described crypto currencies as one of the biggest emerging threats in organised crime because gangs have realised that the cash machines offer the perfect opportunity to offload large quantities of cash.
Traditionally, casinos and bookmakers have been used to launder crime proceeds, but detectives believe that crypto currency ATMs will soon overtake them.
The cash machines allow anyone to deposit sterling in exchange for bitcoin and other ‘crypto currencies’
All online currencies are highly encrypted and some are marketed specifically for the ‘privacy conscious’.
Criminals are using pay-as-you-go mobile phones, bought with cash and soon thrown away, to set up bitcoin accounts so these ‘online wallets’ cannot be traced back to them.
There is also no paperwork trail for police to follow because there are no bank statements or bitcoin certificates.
Criminals can put bank notes directly into a bitcoin ATM and turn them into bitcoin currency, without the notes being checked by a bank clerk or bank cash machine.
With the value of bitcoin shooting up by 1,000 per cent alone this year, the move to stash their profits online could even make more money for web savvy criminals.
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher, who leads the Metropolitan Police’s Organised Crime Command, said: ‘Drug dealers know how to use this.
‘Officers from Trident [the Met’s gang crime command] are finding that street dealers are loading up local ATMs and standing on street corners cashless, which decreases the risk for them. If you move large quantities of cash it lowers your vulnerability to other criminals.’
Drug dealers are now straying outside their traditional patch and instead basing their activities near a bitcoin ATM where they deposit up to £1,500 a day.
He said the number of bitcoin ATMs was growing because shopkeepers get around £1,200 a month to have the machines, which resemble ordinary ATMs, in their stores.
There are 76 bitcoin ATMs in London alone, and they are also available in cities including Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Coventry, Leicester, Derby and Manchester.
Many of them are hidden away at the back of corner shops and newsagents, but they are also popping up in hairdressers, mini-cab offices and restaurants.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that emerged in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
It can be bought and sold using regular cash, but the coins exist only in cyberspace in the form of a numerical code.
Once purchased, they can be exchanged for some goods and services, like normal money, or transferred into other currencies.
Unlike money issued by banks and regulated by governments, bitcoins can be exchanged anonymously with anyone in the world at the click of a mouse or a button on a mobile phone.
They can be bought for cash via the ATMs with no questions asked.
Before her fairytale engagement to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle was married to Trevor Engelson.
The couple split after two years of marriage in 2013 citing “irreconcilable differences,” and much has been made about the royal family’s willingness to accept Markle’s status as a divorcee (old-school royal rules consider divorce to be unacceptable), but not much has been known about Engelson’s post-Markle life.
In a new report, details on the film producer’s love life have come to light. Shortly after his divorce from Markle, Engelson was linked to future “Baywatch” actress Charlotte McKinney. In August of 2014, he shared a glamorous couples photo with the model, writing “way out of my league here, but loving it.”
Around the same time, another photo surfaced of the couple cuddling on the beach together in their swimsuits. McKinney was 21 and Engelson was 39.
According to reports, Engelson is now dating 41-year-old dietitian Tracey Kurkland, who he met through mutual friends and has been dating for about a year. Over the summer, they took a trip to Italy together.
The details come a couple months after news broke that the producer was developing a comedy about being left for a royal, based around his own experience with Markle.
“Divorce is hard. Sharing custody is harder. Sharing custody with the British Royal family in the unforgiving spotlight of London’s tabloid media is next level,” the logline reportedly reads.
Not much else is known about the show.
Chiefs of Staff from Islamic countries met in Riyadh in March 2016, and affirmed “their determination to intensify efforts in fighting terrorism through joint work according to their capabilities, based on the desire of each member country to participate in operations or programs within the IMCTC framework as per its policies and procedures, and without compromising the sovereignty of the Coalition member countries.”
They also expressed the importance of activating the launch of the IMCTC, during an upcoming meeting of the Ministers of Defense of Coalition Member Countries.
IMCTC Strategic Objectives:
- Strengthen the contribution of Islamic countries towards global security and peace, and complementing international counter terrorism efforts.
- Reinforce solidarity and collaboration among coalition member countries to present a unified front against terrorist organizations and their attempts to destabilize security and distort the image of Islam and Muslims.
- Counter radical ideology in Coalition member countries through strategic communication campaigns to refute the radical and extremist narratives and propaganda.
- Reaffirm the moderate values of Islam and its principles of peace, tolerance and compassion.
- Combat terrorism financing in collaboration with Coalition member countries and international CTF authorities, to promote compliance with international agreements and advance legal, regulatory, and operational frameworks.
- Establish strategic partnerships between member countries, supporting nations and international organizations to share counter terrorism information and expertise.
Terrorism nowadays is considered a critical issue that receives considerable attention in many countries worldwide and causes all human communities to suffer alike.
Our Islamic world is regarded as the first and highly affected victim of terrorism as many Islamic nations languish in this global epidemic, suffering from its scourges and tragedies. This harsh reality requires that Islamic countries play a more effective role to combat this issue. This must be done by working hard, collectively, and in an organized manner.
In response to these significant challenges, the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) was established to form a genuine active coalition of 41 member countries. The objective behind establishing IMCTC is to rally countries and present a pan-Islamic, unified front to counter the ever-evolving threats of violent extremist organizations within the Coalition and elsewhere. In cooperation and by supporting nations and international organizations, IMCTC seeks to bring peace to affected regions and promote stability and prosperity to the Islamic world as well as the entire world.
As an official platform for open and transparent cooperation, the IMCTC is a coalition of willing countries that brings together those who look forward to participating in an active effort to combat terrorism. Furthermore, the IMCTC actively seeks to collaborate with international’s organization’s efforts in countering terrorism.
The Coalition’s headquarters, the Counter Terrorism Center (CTC), based in Riyadh, is working to lay down the key elements of the organized action to unify and coordinate counter terrorism efforts and capabilities. This will involve launching various fundamental initiatives to advance future activities across four domains of countering terrorism: Ideology, Communications, Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF), and Military.
These four domains are taken as the general scope within which the Coalition will achieve its goals in the war against terrorism, counter various terrorist and violent extremist ideologies and launch awareness efforts to promote a consistent message that reaffirms the principles of tolerance. It will also establish strategic regional and international partnerships to strengthen collaboration, and achieve inclusive efficiency in countering terrorism efforts in the CTF and military domains.
Indeed, the war against terrorism requires collective, integrated efforts and consistent work on different levels to undermine future terrorist threats and limit their impact. IMCTC seeks to achieve its strategic vision by working collaboratively alongside member countries, supporting nations and partners in the present and the future.
Barely 24 hours after his arrest, detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday grilled a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, on how he allegedly laundered over N13billion out of N58, 146,983,677.85 in the Ecological Fund account.
He was also asked to explain how the ecological cash ended up in the accounts of about 15 companies linked with him.
A third peg of the interrogation bordered on why Anyim collected N520million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on the eve of the 2015 general elections.
The reasons for the payment of the N520million were described by investigators as “unclear” as at the time of filing this report.
According to findings, Anyim, who was described as sober in custody, was said to have used two of the 15 companies to make several transfers to 37 entities.
It was learnt that the EFCC opted to arrest the ex-SGF after he failed to respond to a letter of invitation from the agency.
It was gathered that Anyim, who was aware of the EFCC trail on him in the last one year, had banked on a political solution to his travails.
His sudden attendance of a dinner in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abakaliki on Tuesday was said to be one of the rapprochements he was banking on to stave off the EFCC’s arrest.
But top sources close to investigation, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, claimed that Anyim had a lot of garbage to clear based on his conduct in office.
One of the sources said Anyim, who was SGF from May 2011 to May 29, 2015, was under probe for alleged “false declaration of assets, abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering”.
“After reaching an appreciable stage, we invited Anyim, but he refused to honour the 10am appointment given to him. We had no choice than to effect his arrest at about noon on Thursday.
“We executed a search warrant in his house and we were able to recover some documents relevant to the investigation.”
Asked to be specific on the allegations against Anyim, another source added: There was the wild disbursement of cash from the SGF Ecological Fund account when Anyim was in charge. Most of the beneficiaries of the cash had nothing to do with ecological contracts.
“For instance, from May 2012 to May 2015, the SGF Ecological Fund Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria received an inflow of N58,146,983,677.85. From this fund, three of the companies linked to Anyim (Foundation Years, Obis Associate and Eldyke Engineering) received contracts worth over N13billion. Foundation Years alone received a net payment of N10,308,017,838.85 between 2014 and 2015.
“Curiously, on receiving the fund, Foundation Years and another Anyim’s company, Br-Kthru, made several transfers to 37 entities. Some of the organizations and individuals have no nexus at all with ecological issues. Investigators are probing the reasons behind the wild disbursement.
The source listed companies which Anyim allegedly used as fronts to “obtain contracts or laundered proceeds of the ecological funds contracts as Foundation Years Limited, Precious Integrated, Precious Petroleum, Mak & Mak, Chap Construction, Eldyke Engineering, Pryke Limited, Chipa Nigeria Limited, Prima A11 Limited, Pima International, Chanto Engineering, Ishiagu Microfinance Bank, Mulak Ventures, Vitro Engineering and Tip Top Nigeria.”
A third source said Anyim has cases to answer in connection with alleged “false assets declaration, receiving N520m from the Office of the National Security Adviser on the eve of the 2015 general elections for unclear reasons and using proxies and companies in which he had interest to corner contracts from the Ecological Fund.
“So far, he is looking sober in our facility, but we have asked him to give account of the N13billion curious payments/ withdrawals/ transfers from the Ecological Fund account. We have conducted searches on the 15 firms, identified their accounts.
“More amazing was the transfer of the N520million to Anyim by ONSA on the eve of the 2015 general elections. He needs to account for this cash too.
“We have other strands of investigation, including the Centenary Project, alleged cornering of NDDC projects by cronies and alleged building of a 297-bed hotel within two years of becoming SGF. But we have not gone into these other allegations.
“Anyim knew all along that the EFCC had been on his trail. At a point, he wanted a political solution to his travails, but this has not worked for him. What is at stake has to do with public funds.”
All the efforts to contact Anyim or any of his aides for comment did not succeed as the mobile telephone numbers of virtually all the contacts were switched off.