International Adviser reported on 18th December that Appleby, the law firm at the heart of the Paradise Papers hack is seeking damages and has demanded that the Guardian and the BBC hand over documents.
On 18th December the OECD said in a news release that Lithuania has taken significant steps to strengthen its legislative framework to combat foreign bribery. However, it said further efforts are needed to ensure effective enforcement of anti-bribery laws with regard to corporate liability and imposing sanctions for foreign bribery, including confiscation, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
On 18th December, HM Treasury published its response to its consultation which sought views on whether the draft Oversight of Professional Body AML and Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) Supervision Regulations (“the OPBAS Regulations”) delivered on the government’s intention that the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS) helps to ensure that professional body AML supervisors (PBS) comply with their obligations in the Money Laundering Regulations; and the impact on business from establishing OPBAS. The OPBAS regulations have now been laid in Parliament, and will take effect on 17th January when OPBAS will become operational. HM Treasury has to review whether OPBAS is the most effective and efficient way to fulfill requirements by June 26th 2022.
The response makes clear that the powers of OPBAS to publicly censure or recommend the removal of a PBS will apply to all relevant breaches. The government has also clarified that OPBAS may publicly censure or recommend the removal of a PBS, or both, in response to a single contravention. An appendix to the response is in Q&A format, answering many of the questions posed by a number of respondents.
Baker Mckenzie has issued an extremely useful December 2017 update on the political and economic boycott of Qatar, which began on 5th June when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and moved to close off access to the Gulf country, and which continues to have a significant impact on international trade in the Middle East. The indications are, is says, that the dispute is unlikely to be resolved in the short term and will continue to be even more disruptive. Some of the highlights from the briefing –
- in August 2017, Qatar restored diplomatic ties with Iran by sending an ambassador to Tehran.
- Qatar also asked the WTO to set up a dispute panel to adjudicate on its row with the UAE.
- there are still no publicly released restrictions on investment between Qatar and the boycotting countries.
- Qatar inaugurated a new $ 7.4 billion deep sea port along its Gulf coast in September 2017 as a regional transport hub to help shield its economy against the sanctions. The port has been receiving large quantities of food and building materials for construction projects since the boycott began, and allows Qatar to import goods directly from countries such as China and Oman instead of through a major re-export hub in Dubai.
- Qatar has expanded shipping routes to India, Oman, Turkey and Pakistan and announced plans to raise its liquefied natural gas (LNG) output by 30% in an apparent effort to prepare for greater economic independence in the long term.
- there is now a clear practice by the Qatar authorities to prohibit the import of goods of Saudi, UAE, Bahraini or Egyptian origin, including indirect shipments.
- Qatar opened up its visa regime in September 2017, offering visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries and becoming the first GCC country to create a permanent resident status for expatriate workers who have “given service to Qatar” or possess “skills that can benefit the country.”
- UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt further extended their terrorist watch lists on 22nd November, adding 2 organisations and 11 individuals. The latest additions bring the list to 79 individuals and 23 organisations, including from 9 Arab countries, suspected of sponsoring terrorism and linked to Qatar.
For more detail, including Q&A on the main points, see the full article at –
On 17th December the EU External Affairs Sub-Committee published a report on sanctions policy post-Brexit. This report concludes that the effectiveness of UK sanctions will be undermined unless the UK can quickly agree arrangements for future sanctions policy co-operation with the EU. Without this, the UK could be left with the choice of imposing less effective unilateral sanctions or aligning with EU sanctions it has no influence over.
Key findings –
- After Brexit, the UK will be able to unilaterally impose sanctions, but restrictive measures are most effective when imposed at the same time as other countries.
- The principal interests and threats facing the UK and the EU-27 will not change fundamentally when the UK leaves the EU.
- The Committee welcomes the Government’s intention to continue to work in close partnership with the EU and other international partners after Brexit, but notes that the Government’s proposed “tailored” and “unprecedented” approach to UK-EU collaboration on sanctions policy is untested.
- The UK should pursue informal engagement, as the US does, with the EU on sanctions. However, this is not a substitute for the influence it currently exercises through formal inclusion in the EU meetings where the bloc’s sanctions policy is agreed.
- If participation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy after Brexit is not possible—or not sought by the UK—then the Government should propose that a political forum be established between the UK and the EU, for regular discussion and co-ordination of sanctions policy.