2nd January 2018
FACTORS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN DEALING WITH A REQUEST TO INSPECT A UK COMPANY’S REGISTER OF MEMBERS
Dentons has issued a briefing detailing a case where the Court of Appeal for England and Wales has considered 2 issues regarding a request to inspect a company’s register of members. First, whether a request is valid if it does not contain all the information required by the Companies Act 2006 and, secondly, the circumstances in which a request by a non-member satisfies the proper purpose test. It points out that whilst the Companies Act 2006 does not itself contain guidance, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) has published guidance which is intended to provide an industry view, with examples, of what ICSA considers should constitute a proper purpose and what is likely to be an improper purpose. See Richard Charles Fox-Davies v. Burberry plc  EWCA Civ 1129.
THE PROLIFERATION OF TRUSTS AND WHAT THEY ARE USED FOR
A new paper from the faculty of Law at the University of Oxford is concerned with what is described as the proliferation of trusts. It starts by saying that the last few decades have seen a global expansion and transformation of both trust law and trust practice. The trust, a legal institution once unique to England and its erstwhile colonies, has now spread to dozens of additional jurisdictions, from the Far East to Russia and Eastern Europe to nearly every Latin American jurisdiction. Many states of the US, UK Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have developed innovative trust models directed primarily, and sometimes exclusively, at a non-resident clientele. More than ever before, the trust is now heavily used across most of the globe as a key means for individual and family wealth planning, for structuring transactions, for secured lending and securitization, for individual and collective investment, for pension management, charitable giving and more. The paper follows a survey conducted of 409 trust service providers worldwide complimented by interviews with 28 additional providers in 5 jurisdictions: the UK, US, Italy, Switzerland and Israel. These found the law of Delaware to be the most popular legal system governing trusts, with that of England in second place and the rest of the top 10 nearly exclusively populated with trust regimes offered by various offshore jurisdictions. The abstract concludes that, according to trust practitioners themselves, many of their wealthy clients use offshore jurisdictions’ trust regimes to obstruct their creditors and minimise their tax burden. Offshore trust regimes permit, indeed encourage, the settling of trusts the ostensible beneficiaries of which know nothing about the trust and their entitlements thereunder and are unlikely to eventually enjoy any benefit.
HOW FAKE NEWS ABOUT WMD IS PLANTED AND SPREAD
NTI carries an article explaining how a fake news story concerned with WMD (or anything else , for that matter) can be planted and become accepted. It describes the 4 steps as follows –
- A false story or a forgery is planted in a newspaper or other media outlet, preferably one with the appearance of editorial independence;
- State-affiliated media sources pick up the story, often running multiple articles and commentary in order to draw attention to it;
- The story diffuses throughout global media outlets with friendly ideological agendas or sloppy editorial policies; and
- The “fake news” becomes stubbornly embedded in public discourse, frequently reappearing despite expert efforts to discredit it.
It concludes that, as policymakers become more reliant on social media and online news sources, they are increasingly vulnerable to fake news, including disinformation deliberately planted and cultivated by foreign adversaries. When dealing with WMD, believing fake news could have very real—and catastrophic—consequences.
An example it cites is where in 2016 nuclear-armed Pakistan threatened nuclear-armed Israeli after a fake warning said to be from Israel’s PM warned Pakistan against intervening in the Syrian civil war.
CHINESE COMPANIES OWN SHIPS DETAINED IN SOUTH KOREA, SAYS VOA
Yonhap News in South Korea on 2nd January reported that Voice of America claims that the real owners of 2 foreign tankers that have been seized in South Korea for allegedly transferring oil products to North Korea in breach of UN sanctions turn out to be Chinese shipping companies. The owner of the 5,100-ton KOTI, detained at the South’s Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port, is the Dalian Grand Ocean Shipping Management Co., based in Dalian, Liaoning Province, Voice of America said, citing data from the Asia-Pacific Port State Control (PSC). The owner of the Lighthouse Winmore is Lighthouse Ship Management, headquartered in Guangzhou, according to the broadcaster.
THE EU AND COUNTER-TERRORISM
On 2nd January, the EU Parliamentary Research Service produced a summary of recent publications and graphics on developments in EU security and counter-terrorism policies –
- EU Legislation in progress: Directive on combating terrorism (Sept 2017)
- Interoperability of European information systems for border management and security (June 2017)
- European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs: an overview (May 2017)
- EU Legislation in progress: Revision of the Schengen Information System for law enforcement (March 2017)
- Cost of Non-Schengen: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Aspects (Sept 2016) – which identifies the costs of the (temporary) reintroduction of border controls between the Schengen Member States.
CATERPILLAR’S $2 BILLION TAX FIGHT
CNBC on 2nd January reports that the company’s court case could change how US companies do business. The IRS has been investigating Caterpillar Inc’s taxes and profits processed through its Swiss subsidiary, Caterpillar SARL. The outcome of that investigation could influence other American companies’ tax strategies. Federal officials raided Caterpillar’s offices in March.
PROFILE OF THE ZIMBABWE GENERAL BEHIND THE PRESIDENT
Defence Web on 2nd January carries a profile of the general behind new Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa, saying that his wife is a beauty queen, his troops unseated Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, and his motorcade is fit for a president. General Constantino Chiwenga, head of the armed forces until earlier this month, is on a roll.
UK TO REGULATE BINARY OPTIONS
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism on 2nd January reported that Britain will finally begin regulating the binary options market on January 3rd some 15 months after the Bureau first exposed the enormous scale of the fraud. It says that up until now binary options has been regulated by the Gambling Commission but this left a huge loophole because the Commission can only regulate companies with “remote gambling equipment” in the UK, which does not apply to most binary options companies.
HMRC UPDATES ITS MONEY LAUNDERING GUIDANCE
CCH Daily reports that HMRC have updated guidance for businesses about its approach to money laundering enforcement measures to reflect the money laundering regulations changes effective from December 2017.
CRIMINALS PREFER MONERO OVER BITCOIN
Business live reports that Bitcoin is losing its lustre with some of its earliest and most avid fans — criminals — giving rise to a new breed of virtual currency. Privacy coins such as monero, designed to avoid tracking, have climbed faster over the past two months as law enforcers adopt software tools to monitor people using bitcoin.
DIRECTOR GIVEN 13-YEAR BAN FOR VAT EVASION
Accountancy Live reports that the director of a wholesaler – Naeem Shakoor, director of Raptor Commerce Ltd – has been given a 13-year disqualification after an Insolvency Service investigation discovered the company had failed to pay over £1.2 million in VAT.
PAKISTAN – THE FORGOTTEN CONFLICT IN BALOCHISTAN
This House of Commons Library Briefing provides a brief background to the protracted, but all but forgotten conflict in Balochistan (aka Baluchistan), a marginalised but resource-rich and strategically important province of Pakistan. Only developments in the provincial capital, Quetta, also known as ‘Taliban Central’, and the ‘Pashtun belt’ in the north of the province, feature regularly in the international media. Armed groups inspired by sectarian and international Islamic extremist agendas have also been active in the province.
NEW IRISH FERRY BY 2020
Customs Today reports that Irish Ferries owner, Irish Continental Group, has greenlighted a €165.2 million investment for a new cruise ferry for the Dublin-Holyhead route. The new vessel, to be built by Germany’s Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co.KG, will be the world’s largest cruise ferry by vehicle capacity and it is due to be service by mid-2020.The company highlighted that the new ferry will provide a significant increase in both its freight & tourism carrying capacity on the fast-growing Dublin-Holyhead route.
UBS TRADER CHALLENGES FCA BAN
Law 360 reports that a former UBS AG trader, Arif Hussein, former head of the pound sterling interest rates desk, began court proceedings in London to fight the FCA decision to ban him from the financial sector, claiming that the regulator has made a “serious mistake,” as his actions were neither dishonest nor reckless.
DUTCH SETBACK FOR ATTEMPTS TO CONTROL ONLINE GAMBLING
Intergame on 2nd January reported that the Council of State in the Netherlands had ruled in favour of payment service provider, CURO Payments, in a case against the country’s gaming authority. It had appealed against a court decision in November 2016 that the provisions of payment services to illegal gambling websites is prohibited. The ruling is a major setback for the authority which was attempting to use regulations that date back to 1964.
BRAZILIAN REGULATOR CHARGES 8 FORMER PETROBAS EXECUTIVES
Risk and Compliance Hub reports that Brazil’s securities regulator, CVM, has formally accused 8 former executives of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA of corruption, as the world’s largest graft investigation (aka “Car Wash”) continues into its third year. The accusations relate to possible irregularities in the contracting process for 3 drill ships, and stem from an investigation started in March 2016, and include 2 former CEO of Petrobras, as the company is commonly known.
NEW SLIMLINE NUCLEAR CARGO SCREENING SYSTEM
Janes.COM on 2nd January reported that Passport Systems Inc has developed a new cargo-screening system called Smart Scan 3D for automatic identification of nuclear materials. The US government provided most of the development funding. A full-scale system is in operation in Boston to scan maritime containers. It says that the original Smart Scan 3D design is too bulky for deployment at airports for cargo screening.
4 DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS FOR EUROPE’S RUSSIA POLICY
The European Council on Foreign Relations on 19th June published a paper worth reviewing now, outlining possible scenarios whereby the EU policy with Russia could collapse –
- an ‘enforced Minsk’, in which Europe forces Kyiv to accept the Minsk agreements on Russian terms;
- a normalisation of the status quo in which Europe loses interest in Ukraine and accepts another frozen conflict in Europe;
- an abandonment of the sanctions framework on Russia and support for Ukraine; and
- a ‘great power bargain’ between the US and Russia on European security.
It points out that Europe has managed to remain united and firm on its policy towards Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. To continue to do so, the paper argues that the EU must stay the course by maintaining a strong and united Russia policy. It says it can do this by automating the sanctions renewal process and stepping in where the US is stepping out in Ukraine.
US ANTI-TANK MISSILES AND SNIPER RIFLES TO UKRAINE
The Firearms Blog reports that, along with the recent defense deal that the US is in with Ukraine over Javelin anti-tank missiles, is the news that the State Department just approved an export licence for Barrett Firearms to sell M107A1 sniper rifles, valued at $20,000 each to Ukraine.
PRIVATELY-OWNED FULLY-AUTOMATIC FIREARMS BANNED IN PAKISTAN
On 2nd January, the US-based Firearms Blog reported that in November that the Pakistan ministry of the interior had ordered that owners of fully-automatic weapons had to convert them to semi-automatic by January 31st or surrender them. It appears that there are some 90,000 licensed fully-automatic weapons in Pakistan.
INDIA TEST FIRING OF ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE MISSILE
Proliferation News reports a story from The Diplomat saying that India has successfully test-fired its indigenously-designed and built Advanced Air Defense (AAD)/ Ashvin Advanced Defense interceptor missile on December 28th, destroying a ballistic missile. This third successful test-firing can only add to potential (and actual) tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals, India and Pakistan – with the latter also looking to upgrade its defensive and offensive systems.