British woman arrested for smuggling cash to Dubai

Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases. (National Crime Agency)
Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases. (National Crime Agency)
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Updated 27 July 2021

British woman arrested for smuggling cash to Dubai

Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases. (National Crime Agency)
  • British border officials said the seizure was the biggest cash capture that the force had made in 2020

LONDON: A 30-year-old British woman has been jailed for almost three years over money laundering offences worth more than £5 million ($6.8 million).

Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases.

She pleaded guilty at a London court in June having previously admitted to three counts of removing criminal property relating to cash amounts.

When arrested, Hanlon had been travelling with a friend to Dubai for a holiday with pals and told arresting officers that she had many suitcases because she “wasn’t sure what to wear” while away.

British border officials said the seizure was the biggest cash capture that the force had made in 2020.

Hanlon had hidden the cash in vacuum-packed bags surrounded by coffee to keep sniffer dogs off the scent.

She told investigators it was her first trip, but when they searched her phone and checked with her airline, they found she had made three previous visits as a courier. These were in July and August 2020, and she was paid approximately £3,000 for each trip.

Hanlon had texted friends that her job gave her the “perfect life,” and said: “Few days in the sun and a few at home.” She also bragged about her job and added: “Three big ones … with this wage and the next my debts go bye.”

Hanlon’s lawyer argued in court that she was vulnerable at the time of the offences because the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic meant that she had lost access to work. He added that her crimes were committed shortly after the unexpected death of her mother in March.

Judge Karen Holt said: “Although you were vulnerable at the time, I don’t find that you have been exploited and find that you knew what you were doing.”

National Crime Agency (NCA) senior investigating officer, Ian Truby, said: “Tara Hanlon thought that she was going to be living a jet-set lifestyle, instead she is now serving a prison sentence.

“I hope her story is a cautionary one for others who would consider doing the same. Stopping the flow of illicit cash is a priority for the NCA and our partners.”


IAEA says Iran refused to allow monitors access to Tesa Karaj centrifuge assembly site

IAEA says Iran refused to allow monitors access to Tesa Karaj centrifuge assembly site
Updated 59 min 27 sec ago

IAEA says Iran refused to allow monitors access to Tesa Karaj centrifuge assembly site

IAEA says Iran refused to allow monitors access to Tesa Karaj centrifuge assembly site
  • Iran failed to fully honor agreement on monitoring equipment, IAEA says

VIENNA: Iran has failed to fully honor the terms of a deal struck with the UN nuclear watchdog two weeks ago allowing inspectors to service monitoring equipment in the country, the watchdog said on Sunday.
Iran allowed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to replace memory cards in most of the equipment, as agreed on Sept. 12, the IAEA said. But it did not allowed that to happen at a workshop that makes centrifuge components at the TESA Karaj complex, the watchdog added.
“The (IAEA) Director General (Rafael Grossi) stresses that Iran’s decision not to allow Agency access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop is contrary to the agreed terms of the Joint Statement issued on 12 September,” the IAEA said.


Algeria postpones trial of Bouteflika’s brother

Algeria postpones trial of Bouteflika’s brother
Updated 26 September 2021

Algeria postpones trial of Bouteflika’s brother

Algeria postpones trial of Bouteflika’s brother
  • The corruption trial of ousted Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s younger brother, slated to begin this month, will be postponed for two weeks
  • He remains in custody on corruption charges, along with several other political and business leaders from the Bouteflika era

ALGIERS: A court in the Algerian capital on Sunday postponed the corruption trial of the younger brother of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who died this month, local media reported.
Defense lawyer Miloud Brahimi requested the postponement, citing Said Bouteflika’s “psychological condition” after the Sept. 17 death of his brother.
Algerian media said the 63-year-old who served as presidential adviser appeared pale and weak at the court hearing.
The trial of Bouteflika and several co-defendants in the capital’s Dar el-Beida suburb was delayed until Oct. 10, but a defense request for their release on bail was turned down.
Said Bouteflika was detained in May 2019, a month after his brother quit office following mass protests against his bid for a fifth presidential term.
Said was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “plotting” against the army and the state, but a retrial in January cleared him of those charges.
He remains in custody on corruption charges, along with several other political and business leaders from the Bouteflika era.
The once-mighty presidential aide was long seen as the real power running the North African country after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.


Gaza to begin rebuilding homes destroyed in May conflict

Gaza to begin rebuilding homes destroyed in May conflict
Updated 26 September 2021

Gaza to begin rebuilding homes destroyed in May conflict

Gaza to begin rebuilding homes destroyed in May conflict
  • About 1,800 destroyed or damaged homes will be rebuilt in the first phase of work, according to an official
  • Palestinian officials say 250 people, including 66 children, were killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza

GAZA: The reconstruction of homes in Gaza that were destroyed or damaged in the May conflict between Israel and Hamas will begin in the first week of October using aid from Qatar, a senior Palestinian housing official said on Sunday.
Gaza’s Hamas-run government says Israeli air strikes destroyed about 2,200 homes in the enclave during the 11-day conflict and damaged 37,000 others. Some homes in Israel were damaged by rockets launched by Hamas and other Gaza militant groups.
About 1,800 destroyed or damaged homes will be rebuilt in the first phase of work, according to Naji Sarhan, Gaza’s deputy minister for housing and public works.
He said that Israel had lifted some restrictions on steel and cement entering the territory in recent days. Last week, Egypt began repairing Gaza’s main coastal road, part of a broader plan to revamp Gaza infrastructure.
Palestinian officials say 250 people, including 66 children, were killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Israeli officials says 13 people, including two children, were killed in Israel by militant rockets.
Following a May 21 cease-fire, mediated by Egypt, access to reconstruction funds and materials has been a key Hamas demand. Israel limits construction materials entering the territory, saying Hamas uses them to build weapons to wage attacks.
But following an agreement with the United Nations and Qatar, Israel allowed about $20 million in aid from the Gulf state to enter Gaza this month. That disbursement will be followed by $50 million of Qatari funds earmarked for rebuilding homes, Sarhan said.
Gaza officials estimate it will take $479 million to rebuild homes and infrastructure damaged in the May fighting. Qatar and Egypt have each pledged $500 million for Gaza reconstruction.


Egypt stresses need for binding deal on Renaissance Dam

Egypt stresses need for binding deal on Renaissance Dam
Updated 26 September 2021

Egypt stresses need for binding deal on Renaissance Dam

Egypt stresses need for binding deal on Renaissance Dam
  • Egypt describes the dam as an existential threat because it suffers from water scarcity
  • The country fears that the process of filling the dam will affect its share of the river’s water

CAIRO: During a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry reiterated the need to reach a binding legal agreement on the operation and filling of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam in a manner that takes into account the interests of all parties.

Egypt describes the dam as an existential threat because it suffers from water scarcity and receives 95 percent of its water needs from the Nile. Egypt fears that the process of filling the dam will affect its share of the river’s water. 

Since 2011, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been negotiating an agreement on filling and operating the dam, which is intended to be the largest source of hydroelectric power generation in Africa. However, all negotiating attempts have failed.

Shoukry said there is no specific date for the resumption of talks, and the three countries are waiting to hear proposals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the current chair of the African Union.

He added that during his meetings in New York, he was keen to highlight Ethiopia’s “stubborn” position on the crisis.

 

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Sudan ruling body chief pledges reforms to army after coup attempt

Sudan ruling body chief pledges reforms to army after coup attempt
Updated 26 September 2021

Sudan ruling body chief pledges reforms to army after coup attempt

Sudan ruling body chief pledges reforms to army after coup attempt
  • Al-Burhan said the armed forces are committed to holding elections on the date fixed for ending the transition

KHARTOUM: The general who heads Sudan’s ruling transitional authority on Sunday pledged to reform the army, days after a failed coup.
“We are going to reorganize the armed forces... Partisan activities are banned in the army,” Sovereign Council chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan said at the opening of a military hospital in Khartoum.
“The armed forces are committed to holding elections on the date fixed for ending the transition” in 2023, he said.
“After that, the army will leave the political scene and its role will be limited to protecting the country.”
Sudan is led by a civilian-military administration under an August 2019 power-sharing deal signed after president Omar Bashir’s ouster by the military in April that year following mass protests against his iron-fisted rule.
Sudan’s government said it thwarted a September 21 coup attempt involving military officers and civilians linked to the regime of imprisoned Bashir. At least 11 officers were among those arrested.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has since called for reforms within the army, a highly sensitive issue in Sudan.
A transition to full civilian rule has remained shaky, reeling from deep fragmentation among political factions, economic woes and a receding role for civilian leaders.
Paramilitary leader and Burhan’s deputy in the Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has pointed a finger of blame at politicians after the failed coup.
“Politicians are the main cause behind coups because they have neglected the average citizen... and are more concerned fighting over how they can stay in power,” Daglo said.