Dienstag, 5. April 2016

Mossack Fonseca - not so unknown

Regarding the Panama Papers the next weeks seems to become interesting. But one can say that some of the until now mentioned entities are not so unknown or even shrouded in absolut secrecy: Take the company which is seen now as pure evil and responsible for the activities of the bad guys around the world: Mossack Fonseca. Nearly all newspaper talk about an "unknown", "secret", "hidden" company, somewhere located in the more shady corners of the world. But is this true? As far I can trust my own database I already found entries and documents e.g. from 2000, when Mossack Fonseca was enlisted in a directory of "Banking, Trust & Financial Services":

In the face of successfull business no wonder that in 2003 a worker of the company came to this statement:

There are a lot of more entries to find and I only came to those I find in my own database. Some of them were already leaked or hacked years ago and also the name the companies and people, who benefit from off-shore services:

Or this:

Years ago thousands of entities from a Panama database were ready to be analysed with software - as it is done today again. Panama is only one little, of course important place in this network:

And already 2003 Mossack Fonseca was mentioned in a paper about "Money Laundering, Global Financial Instability, and Tax Havens in the Pacific Islands", written by Anthony B van Fossen. Another one in 2008 was "Competing for criminal money", written by Brigitte Unger and Gregory Rawlings. All I want to say is: This company was never unknown and there are a lot of them.

A discussion about Offshore (and Onshore!) service providers is necessary and it seems not to be legitimate or even feasible to condemn now every company in this business. Too many people without any deeper knowledge or expertise now start to argue on a low level.

Sonntag, 29. November 2015

Calls in North Korea

When you are in North Korea and you want to phone someone in North Korea you may be interested in Orascom Telecom and Media Technology, the Egypt company which is struggling somehow with Cheo Technology or CHEO Technology JV Company Hq, to be precise. Cheo uses the name of Koryo Link.

The old times, when Orascom was the dominant business partner, are obviously gone and so one can read this: Koryolink Sales & Customer Service Center, CHEO Technology JV Company Hq. No words anymore about Orascom. First it was difficult to to find their office place, but then...:

And more detailed:

A helpful remark: A few minutes away is a restaurant where you can eat dog meat – if you like it and will not be nauseated by the smell during it is cooked.

Obviously you can buy the things you are familiar from any other country in the world:


While getting a contract as a customer it comes to the more bureaucratic and financial aspects, another adress seems to turn up. It was a little bit tricky to get this one:

It took a while and a good manipulating software, but after work was done I was able to read the contact details. Collecting phone and fax numbers in regions as North Korea, China or Hong Kong is fun and always thrilling: You start from raw data, check other databases and with imagination and creativity you first come to information and finally to pure intelligence:

In the meantime there are lot of people around who worked in the field and these people know how to do business in North Korea. They should be of interest for every intelligence agency snooping into North Korea. I came along this one:

This person seems to be experienced.

Well, as David Tucker wrote in his book about "The End Of Intelligence": "...Espionage is not a secret power. More than luck, though less than science, it is art..."

Samstag, 17. Oktober 2015

Out now! East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime

More than twenty experts from all over the world take a look at one of the most mysterious and vibrant regions when it comes to intelligence and organised crime: East Asia. Scientists, journalists and practitioners describe the reasons for current developments and analyse future problems – not only for East Asia, but for Western intelligence and police agencies as well.

"Asia is among the most important regions for not just for economic but also for strategic security issues. Almost 20 international experts allow exclusive and up-to-date insights into the security and intelligence world. They also focus on cyber and organised crime, both with serious impacts for Europe. The expert opinions of this study contribute notably to our to understanding of security structures, policies and mindsets as well as of those who challenge them in and out of China, Japan, Mongolia, South and North Korea."
(Dr. Christian Ehler, Member of the European Parliament, 1st Vice Chairman SC Security & Defence, and EP-Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula)

"Stephan Blancke’s book reveals in-depth expert opinions as to the intelligence communities and organised crime scene of East Asia’s most important nations. Though some is known about China’s or Japan’s security apparatus, Mongolia and North Korea have mostly remained in the dark, at least until now. It is as faszinating as informative to read these current studies by such a variety of well-respected authors and scholars."
(Dr. Bodo Wegmann, Member of the Board and CEO of the Forum Intelligence Services in Germany)

"Blancke’s East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime is a fascinating and excellent book. The beauty of his book lies in its exploratory examination of the most politically sensitive areas: intelligence agencies and serious organized crime in East Asia. "
(Dr. Peng Wang, Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Hong Kong)

The table of contents can be found here. 

You can order directly at the publisher's email: info@verlag-koester.de

Freitag, 7. November 2014

Mafia State: The Evolving Threat of North Korean Narcotics Trafficking

….is the title of an article, Peng Wang published with me in the RUSI Journal. The concise abstract describes it:

„The North Korean government has long been suspected of involvement in state-sponsored drug production and trafficking. Research in this field is hampered by the secrecy of the DPRK regime and the dearth of reliable sources. Nonetheless, using Chinese- and English-language sources, Peng Wang and Stephan Blancke look at developments over the past decade, intensified counter-narcotics co-operation between the Chinese and South Korean police forces, and the failure of the North Korean government to control private involvement in the illicit drug business, which has had an unexpected outcome: a crystal-meth epidemic. These trends expose a severe threat to Northeast Asia and the wider international community.“

For those who want to know the detail behind the business:

You can find the article here: RUSI Journal, Oct 2014, Vol. 159, No. 5

It´s an ongoing discussion about the question, if North Korea is a weak state or not – not to talk about a failed state. Thinking about this means thinking about the consequences, if North Korea would be this or would develop in this way. One can assume that problems would arise not with nuclear weapons or related systems – therefore the technical and social control mechanism inside the North Korean system are too tight and e.g. control flights have a close look on the nuclear facilities inside the country. In fact the problems would develop in a way Peng Wang and me described it in our paper.

I recommend a valuable analysis from Stewart Patrick, which is more a general overview and is not focused only on East Asia: Weak Links. Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security
Reading his descriptions of fragile states it becomes clear that the GDP, financial avtivities of the elite, military and security spendings and black market revenue in North Korea are highly connected and should be investigated in a more sophisticated way.

Beside this I also recommend a paper from Nikos Passas, which was published in „Transnational Financial Crime“. In a way it deals with the problems we tried to describe for the border region between China and North Korea: Cross-border Crime and the Interface between Legal and Illegal Actors.

Montag, 2. Juni 2014

North Korea – Still an intelligence problem

Just a short note about a paper I wrote after speaking on North Korea and the problems in analysing organised crime in East Asia at a conference in Adelaide, Australia. 

A  few  years  after  Kim  Jong  Un  came  into  office,  North  Korea  is  still
attracting controversy  in  the  headlines, and  political  sanctions  are  still  in
operation.  Despite the harsh measures in place to isolate Pyongyang from
sources  of  money  and  luxury,  the  rulers  are  able  to  get  what  they  want
using front companies or the help of other states.  The reasons for this are
deeply rooted in the North Korean political structure.  A network of high
ranking  officials,  their  children,  and  political  minions  are  grappling  for
power and wealth.  Beside the powerful Kim clan there exist other families
in North Korea whose loyalty must be secured with bribes.  If the loyalty of
the influential families is eroded, the power base of Kim Jong Un is likely
to soon diminish.  As a result, the North Korean government is searching
for sources of money.  Illicit drugs may be one solution the ruling regime
find attractive to this problem, but there appears to be a twist: struggling
ordinary  citizens  are  showing  signs  that  they  too  are  taking  part  in  this
illegal  enterprise.    This  is  manifested  by  their  willingness  to  become
involved in crime in the same way as the corrupt regime. 

Read here: 

Analytical Essay: North Korea – Still an intelligence problem, in: SALUS Journal, Issue 2, Number 2, 2014, Special Issue on the Storage and Use of Information in an Intelligence and Security Context – Beyond 2014. Charles Sturt University, Sydney, pp. 2 – 15.