UK COMMITMENT TO REPLACING NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS UNDER EURATOM
World Nuclear News reports on an Impact Assessment published by the UK Government in connection with its Nuclear Safeguards Bill in December. The document contains clarifications in respect of developing a domestic safeguards regime as part of the UK’s exit from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The UK confirmed it would exit Euratom in its Brexit Bill. The peaceful use of nuclear energy within the EU is governed by the 1957 Euratom Treaty – the Euratom Community is a separate legal entity from the EU, but it is governed by the bloc’s institutions.
The article quotes the impact assessment as stating that the civil nuclear sector is subject to robust international non-proliferation measures, which include nuclear safeguards. Nuclear safeguards arrangements are essential, it says, to enable the UK to engage in civil nuclear trade, allowing nuclear generation to play an important role in energy security and decarbonisation objectives, and to fulfil international standards as a responsible nuclear state, which are an important part of the international non-proliferation regime to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. A new safeguards regime is needed to continue meeting international standards following withdrawal from the Euratom Treaty, and the policy objective of the UK is to ensure arrangements are in place to fulfil international nuclear safeguard standards.
SEIZED OIL TANKER SAID TO BE LINKED TO CHINESE INTERESTS
NK News carries an article claiming to provide more information about the ultimate ownership by Chinese interests of the 2 tankers recently seized by South Korean on suspicion of supplying oil to North Korea via ship-to-ship transfers at sea. It says that “KOTI” was acquired in late July 2017 by the Panamanian-registered Koti Corp, which also gives a “care of” address back to the ship’s operator, Harmonized Resources Shipping Management Co Ltd in Hong Kong, which it says is a common practice among shell companies hoping to obfuscate ultimate ownership of a vessel. It notes that another oil tanker named the “KOYA” – also Panamanian-flagged and acquired on the same day in July – is listed as being operated by Harmonized Resources Shipping and owned by Koya Corp. However, it claims documents seen provide links to Chinese interests and an address with “several other companies in North Korea’s weapons proliferation networks have also been based out of the same building”.
AUSTRALIA TO EXPORT MEDICINAL CANNABIS
The Financial review reports that shares in medicinal cannabis companies have surged in the wake of the federal government in Australia giving the green light for exports, saying it would allow exports of medicinal cannabis products for the first time, part of efforts to boost the growing domestic market and secure supply for domestic patients. The Japan Times notes that the country’s first medical marijuana farm received its growers’ license in March 2017 and others have followed, with the government seeing a big future for the industry. While recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in Australia, federal laws were changed in 2016 to allow its use for medical purposes, in a broadly supported move. The newspaper reports that US-based Grand View Research estimated last year that the global market would reach $55.8 billion by 2025. http://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/financial-services/medicinal-pot-stocks-surge-on-export-tick-20180104-h0d995#ixzz53C3yMC4r
Meanwhile, Dope Magazine carries an article claiming that since 2005 Africa has produced more than 10,500 tons of cannabis each year in 19 out of 53 African countries, according to a UN survey. This accounting for roughly 25% of the total global production of cannabis. It says that Lesotho has now became the first African country to grant a licence for medical marijuana to a South African company (Verve Dynamics) that produces botanical extracts and specialty ingredients and that this is the first time in Africa that cannabis has been viewed as a source of revenue instead of a criminal activity.
ADOBE END-USER AGREEMENT “DISCRIMINATES AGAINST IRANIANS”
Iranian.com reports that on December 27th the National Iranian American Council wrote to Adobe Systems Inc expressing concern that its End User Licensing Agreement requires users of its products to certify they “are not a national of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or any other country to which the United States embargoes goods” – saying that it is concerned that this requirement discriminates against Iranian nationals – including those in the United States – and is not required by US sanctions laws. NIAC is a US-based non-profit organisation whose stated role is strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people.
FIJI ANNOUNCES CORAL EXPORT BAN ON FACEBOOK
ABC in Australia reports that one of Fiji’s largest coral and rock exporters claims to have been left in shock after the Government announced a ban on the export of live rocks and corals in a Facebook post. The Fisheries Minister said the move reflected Fiji’s international commitments to reef conservation, but the industry said there was no consultation or even warning about the ban, and some major players have already had to lay off staff due to lost income. Fiji’s vibrant rocks and corals are popular with aquariums around the world looking to add a splash of colour to their tanks, but the harvested materials are important for maintaining local fish ecosystems.
TIGHTER AML/CFT REQUIREMENTS IN THE PHILIPPINES
PhilStar.com reports that banks, insurance firms and securities dealers in the Philippines will face stricter AML/CFT registration and reporting guidelines from 4th January. GGR Asia also reports that new rules also apply to casinos.
CHANGES TO HONG KONG CDD REQUIREMENTS
King & Wood Mallesons reported on 10th December that Hong Kong’s financial institution regulators have announced a significant change to the customer due diligence AML/CFT purposes. Financial institutions are no longer required to undertake address verification procedures as required under the respective regulatory guidelines. It says that they are only required to collect address information of customers and/or beneficial owners without the need to collect address proof for AML/CFT purposes. The article says that the regulator is clarifying its AML/CTF expectations to ensure requirements imposed by banks are not “disproportionate to the likely risk level”, and address proof was recognised as a common potential barrier to account opening.
NIGERIAN SUPREME COURT SENDS FORMER LAGOS SPEAKER’S AIDE BACK FOR FRESH CORRUPTION TRIAL
Sahara reporters carries a piece saying that the Supreme Court in Nigeria has upheld a Court of Appeal decision which set aside the ruling of a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court that cleared former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and Mr. Oyebode Atoyebi, of money laundering charges. The court held that that appellate court was right in declaring that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had established a prima facie case against Mr. Atoyebi, an aide to Mr. Ikuforiji. The Supreme Court will deliver a separate ruling on Mr. Ikuforiji’s application on January 15th. The decision upheld dates back to 2016, and that in turn relates to a hearing in 2014 which had discharged Mr. Ikuforiji and his aide of a 54-amended count charge of conspiracy and laundering money belonging to the Assembly.
US COURT CONVICT TURKISH BANKER IN SANCTIONS CASE
The VoA reports the outcome of a prominent Iran sanctions-related case in the US. A Turkish banker has been convicted for participating in a billion-dollar plot to evade US sanctions against Iran. A court in New York City has convicted Mehmet Hakan Atilla – a deputy general manager at Turkey’s state-run Halkbank – on 4 counts of conspiracy, including conspiracy to defraud the US, plus 1 count of bank fraud. However, the 47-year-old Turkish national was acquitted on a charge of money laundering. The case has strained relations between Turkey and the US, and involved allegations of a deal in which Iran traded oil and gas for gold, moving some of the transactions through US banks without their knowledge. He was heard on telephone recordings setting up fake food and agriculture deals with Iran to disguise deals that were really sales of oil. Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian trader who has admitted arranging the deals, told the court he paid about $50 million in bribes in 2012 to the Turkish finance minister to push the deals through, and testified that he believed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was aware of the scheme.
US SENATE TO DEBATE AML/CFT CONTROLS
The American Banker reports on 3rd January that the US Congress may look to reform illicit financing and money laundering regulations in 2018. It says that the Senate Banking Committee’s first hearing of the year is entitled Combating Money Laundering and Other Forms of Illicit Finance: Opportunities to Reform and Strengthen BSA Enforcement.
SLE OF MAN FAKE PARROT WEBSITE WARNING
IOM Today carries a quite bizarre story that the Isle of Man financial regulator, the FSA, has issued a warning about a fake online parrot pet shop. The website globalparrotsandmore.com claims on its glossy-looking website to be based in an industrial estate in the Island, but at an address occupied by another legitimate business. The FSA says there is no such company there – and advises that anyone who has paid money to it should contact police without delay. The website claims to have breeding centres in South Africa, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Senegal, gives 2 UK mobile telephone numbers, and has a Facebook page giving an address in London. However, the photo of a parrot it uses is in fact a hijacked and modified one. The FSA public notices issued on 17th December is at –
ISLE OF MAN PROLIFERATION POLICY
On 20th December the Isle of Man FSA formally informed regulated businesses on the Island that the Government’s Customs and Excise service had “recently” published notices regarding proliferation financing and sanctions, including Notice 1009 MAN, which details the Government’s policy on proliferation and proliferation financing risks. This Notice was, in fact, published in June 2017 (as its author I can confirm this!), and should be read alongside Notice 1008 MAN, which provides guidance to business on proliferation and proliferation financing, including suggested “red flags” etc (and last amended in November to take account of the Final Report on Typologies of Proliferation Finance published by Project Alpha). The Customs and Excise service published a wide range of guidance and information material on AML/CFT, sanctions, export and trade controls and proliferation which can be accessed at –
FRENCH WHISTLEBLOWING REQUIREMENT FROM 1st JANUARY
Bird & Bird on 3rd January reported on the obligation for French companies with at least 50 employees to put in place a whistleblowing system as of 1st January under the “Sapin II Law”.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICISM OF SPAIN ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRESS
The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO has published a report assessing Spain’s compliance with its recommendations to prevent and combat corruption in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. 4 years after the adoption of the 4th round evaluation report in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. The report concludes that there has been limited progress in Spain in complying with its recommendations and that the country’s level of compliance remains “globally unsatisfactory”. Spain has not yet fully implemented any of the 11 recommendations GRECO issued in 2013. 7 recommendations have been partly implemented and 4 have not been implemented at all.
DOUBT OVER TURKISH PORT BASE IN SUDAN
On 4TH January Defence Web reported confusion over whether or not Turkey will build a naval dock at Suakin in Sudan, as Turkey has denied initial reports about naval facilities at the historic port. It reports that on 26th December Reuters, quoting Sudan’s foreign minister, reported that Turkey will rebuild the ruined Ottoman port city of Suakin on Sudan’s Red Sea coast and construct a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels. If correct, this would be a further indication of an extension of Turkey’s military reach in the Middle East and Africa.
6 CHARTS THAT EXPLAIN THE IRAN PROTESTS
On 4th January the BBC published an article seeking to explain why, despite the fact that Iran has the second largest economy in the Middle East, ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves and fourth in proven crude oil, many ordinary Iranians are facing hardship.
JERSEY FSC TO AMEND CODES OF PRACTICE
Tax News reports that the Jersey FSC is proceeding with amendments to its Codes of Practice, which were the subject of a consultation last year. They affect regulatory requirements for registered persons, including funds, insurers, deposit-takers, and other entities. The amendments to the Codes which take effect during 2018 and are concerned with “routine maintenance” (e.g. to improve the clarity of certain provisions in the Codes); modifying regulatory requirements in order to address issues the FSC has identified during the course of supervising registered persons; and amendments to ensure the FSC regulatory requirements comply with international standards.
SHEARMAN & STERLING BIANNUAL FCPA ENFORCEMENT REPORT
On 3rd January, Shearman & Sterling published the latest edition of its bi-annual Trends & Patterns in FCPA Enforcement report provides insightful analysis of recent enforcement trends and patterns in the US, the UK and elsewhere, as well as helpful guidance on emerging best practices in FCPA and global anti-corruption compliance programmes. The sections are –
- recent trends and patterns in FCPA enforcement
- foreign bribery criminal prosecution under the FCPA
- foreign bribery civil actions instituted by the DoJ under the FCPA
- SEC actions relating to foreign bribery
- DoJ FCPA opinion procedure releases
- ongoing investigations under the FCPA
- pre-FCPA prosecutions
- parallel litigation
62% IRAN CRUDE OIL GOES TO ASIAN MARKETS
Customs Today reports that OPEC’s third largest producer, Iran, exported 62% of its crude oil in 2017 to buyers in the Asian market, mostly China and India, according to the country’s oil ministry news service, Shana.
CHIQUITA TO FACE TRIAL ALLEGING IT SUPPIORTED COLOMBIAN GUERILLAS
Law 360 reports that a Florida federal judge has largely denied an attempt by Chiquita Brands International Inc to escape litigation claims under the US Anti-Terrorism Act, ruling the company has to defend itself against allegations by murdered Americans’ family members alleging the company supported a Colombian terrorist organisation that kidnapped and killed the 6 Americans in the 1990s, paving the way for a trial in February.
JERSEY LAWYER ON TRIAL FOR MISUSE OF CLIENT FUNDS
Jersey Evening Post reports that a lawyer, solicitor Kevin Robert Manning (52), has appeared in the Magistrate’s Court to face 38 charges involving the alleged criminal and fraudulent use of more than £100,000 of client money. The charges involve 29 allegations relate to the alleged use of specific client funds for purposes other than that for which they were originally intended. The amounts allegedly involved are said to range from £360 to £30,000. https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2018/01/03/lawyer-in-court-charged-with-misusing-client-money/#lsUQkchB3uGjBVEC.99
PHILIP MORRIS TO QUIT CIGARETTE BUSINESS
Tobacco Journal International reports on 4th January on full-page adverts ran in numerous newspapers across the UK, where Philip Morris International (PMI) has said it will try to stop selling cigarettes in the UK as a New Year’s resolution for 2018
UK HORSE RACING BUSINESS RECEIVES COMPENSATION FROM ISRAEL
I Gaming Business reports that GBI Racing (A joint venture between UK pay-television broadcasters Racing UK and At The Races) is to receive £4.9 million in compensation from the Israeli government after a ban on horse racing betting came into force in the country. GBI Racing distributes coverage of British and Irish racing to betting operators based overseas. According to the Racing Post, GBI Racing had a contract in place with the Israel Sports Betting Board that was due to run through to August of this year.
COLOMBIA’S COCAINE EXPLOSION STOKES POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CRISES
Insight Crime on 3rd January provided a fascinating article saying that Colombia has reclaimed its title as the world’s biggest cocaine producer, but it has also seen unprecedented expansion, according to the 2 most respected coca estimate reports. Indeed, while Bolivian and Peruvian coca levels have fallen slightly over the past decade, Colombia’s coca explosion has singlehandedly put global cocaine production on an upward trajectory. Colombia’s cultivation of illegal crops grew by over 50% between 2015 and 2016, from 96,000 hectares to 146,000 hectares, according to the UN. According to US estimates, coca cultivation rose nearly 20% to 188,000 hectares. The article asks will Colombia’s eradication gamble pay off? The President announced in December that authorities had surpassed their ambitious goal for 2017, and he set a new, higher goal for 2018. However, the article says that not only that Colombia has far more coca than is being reported, but that according to Colombian military sources, figures of eradication may have been inflated. More importantly, the article argues, there is little evidence that destroying coca fields will lead to a long-lasting reduction in cocaine levels. Many if not most farmers re-cultivate crops after they have been destroyed, and if no alternative income is available, they have little choice.
IRAN’S ECONOMIC SITUATION 2 YEARS AFTER THE REMOVAL OF THE SANCTIONS
For an Israeli perspective, this paper from INSS at Tel Aviv University argues that the JCPOA has not resulted in wave of foreign direct investments that would propel the Iranian economy to new heights. It says that the continuation of the US economic sanctions that are unrelated to the nuclear issue, as well as the uncertainty about the Trump Administration’s future policy, leave in play the most critical variables shaping Iran’s potential economic integration with the global economy, and structural difficulties and deep corruption continue to pose serious economic challenges to the Iranian regime.
CRYPTO-SECURITIES REGULATION: ICO, TOKEN SALES AND CRYPTOCURRENCIES UNDER EU FINANCIAL LAW
The Oxford Faculty of Law on 3rd January published a paper that distinguishes between 3 archetypes of tokens: currency, investment, and utility tokens. It analyses the differential implications of each of these types, and their hybrid forms, for EU securities regulation. It concludes that only a joint international regulatory regime can efficiently balance investor protection and investor access in the face of the novel generation of decentralised blockchain applications.
THE CRISIS IN IRAN: A BROADER PERSPECTIVE
The Center for Strategic and International Studies on 2nd January produced this briefing on the background to causes of the recent public unrest in Iran.
NEW FAQ ON US SANCTIONS AGAINST VENEZUELA
On 29th December, US law firm Squire Patton Boggs reported that OFAC had published 2 new FAQ concerning economic sanctions adopted in August against the Government of Venezuela to –
- explain the treatment of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), a state-owned entity; and
- discuss US persons participating in meetings regarding the restructuring of PdVSA debt that existed prior to 24th August 2017 (i.e. the date when the relevant US sanctions measure, EO 13808, took effect).
ISRAEL CLAIMS TERRORIST CELL WITH SOUTH AFRICAN LINKS
Defence Web on 4th January reported that Israel had said it had cracked a Palestinian militant cell suspected of having been recruited and handled by Iranian intelligence officers who worked out of South Africa. Israel intelligence, Shin Bet, said the suspects’ point of contact was a Palestinian who lived in South Africa and had been recruited by Iranian intelligence. It gave no indication whether the South African government knew of the alleged Iranian activity, or of the Palestinian man’s whereabouts.
UK COUNTER-TERRORISM ASSET-FREEZING REPORTS
On 4TH January, HM Treasury released its latest quarterly report on the operation of UK’s counter-terrorist asset freezing regime, with a collection up to 30th June 2017.
FinCEN DATA ON BANKS PROVIDING SERVICES TO MARIJUANA BUSINESSES
On 4th January, Fox Rothschild reported that FinCEN has released updated statistics showing a steady increase in the number of depository institutions that actively bank US marijuana businesses. By September 30th a total of 400 banks and credit unions provided services to marijuana-related businesses, up from 334 as of December 31st 2016. FinCEN’s data is based upon SAR required to be filed by financial institutions on activity involving a marijuana-related business. In guidance issued in February 2014, FinCEN required financial institutions providing services to marijuana businesses to file one of 2 types of SARs depending upon the type of services being provided.
RUSSIA REFUSES VISA TO SPONSOR OF MAGNITSKY ACT
European Sanctions Blog reported 4th January that a visa to US Senator Jeanne Shaheen has been refused due to her being present on a Russian blacklist. She was an original co-sponsor of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, which later became part of the final US Magnitsky Act (which imposes travel restrictions and asset freezes on Russian individuals responsible for human rights violations).
COMPANY CEO PLEADS GUILTY TO “PUMP AND DUMP” FRAUD
Law 360 reported on 4th January that Boris Rubizhevsky, the CEO of BioCube Inc, a company supposedly developing a marijuana breath tester, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for what prosecutors say was multimillion-dollar “pump and dump” scheme with a Philadelphia attorney and a barred broker, Chris Messalas, to falsely inflate the company’s stock.
NEW UKRAINE MISSILE FUNDED BY SAUDI ARABIA
Missile Threat website reports on the unveiling on 2nd January of the Ukrainian-built Grom-2 (“Thunder-2”) surface-to-surface, short-range ballistic missile with a reported range of up to 280 km. The site notes that “additional reports” indicate that Saudi Arabia financed the development of the Grom-2, and seeks to purchase the missile system when ready for production.
THE NEW UK DEFINITION OF DISHONESTY
On 3rd January, Rahman Ravelli provided another briefing that seeks to explain how the Supreme Court in the UK has rewritten how juries should decide dishonesty – and considers what this means for those in business.
WHAT ACCOUNTANTS MUST DO TO AVOID MONEY LAUNDERING ACCUSATIONS
Law firm Rahman Ravelli says that with HM Treasury in the UK warning about accountants’ vulnerability to money laundering in its latest national risk assessment, Aziz Rahman examines what they can do to protect themselves.
ZURICH SAYS TAX DISCLOSURES RISE THREE-FOLD
KYC 360 reports that Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest canton, saw a three-fold rise in the number of tax cheats turning themselves in during 2017 as an international accord, the OECD Automatic Exchange of Information, to share information on offshore wealth takes effect.
US ATTORNEY GENERAL BACKS REVIEW OF DEA PROJECT CASSANDRA
Homeland Preparedness reports that the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has renewed his support for a full review of Project Cassandra, in the light of allegations that the DEA initiative targeting Hezbollah drug trafficking was improperly handled. It was launched in 2008 to counter a reportedly $1 billion international drugs and weapons racket. It is alleged that approval for investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions were reportedly denied by the DoJ and US Treasury – with allegations that this was because the investigations could have jeopardized the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
WESTERN UNION SETTLES NEW YORK MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE FOR $60 MILLION
Reuters reports on 4th January that Western Union has reached a settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) follows the company’s previous agreement in January 2017 to pay $586 million to resolve similar claims by the DoJ and the Federal Trade Commission. DFS alleged that from 2004 to 2012, Western Union failed to implement and maintain an effective AML programme aimed to deter criminals’ use of its electronic network to facilitate fraud and money laundering.
CITIBANK FINED $70 MILLION FOR AML COMPLIANCE SHORTCOMINGS
Reuters also reported on 4th January that the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fined the bank in late December and announced it on 4th January. The regulator assessed the civil penalty because the bank had failed to address concerns about shortcomings in its AML policies that it had first flagged in 2012.
RUSSIAN SANCTIONS DEADLINE FOR THE US IN JANUARY
Cozen O’Connor on 4th January pointed out a deadline for the US President to impose new Russian sanctions is the 29th January. The article refers to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of August 2017, which imposed sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. The legislation calls for sanctions against people and entities on several grounds, including those that relate to Russia and list a dozen types of sanctions that can be imposed against Russia by the President, including freezing assets, revoking visas, and banning exports. The Act required the issuing of guidance on which Russian entities in the military and intelligence sectors should be sanctioned, due by 1st October this did not take place until 26th October. The next deadline is 29th January when the Administration is supposed to provide a list of businesses and enterprises from different countries that have continued to do business with those Russian entities and which will face sanctions as a result.
UN AMENDS SANCTIONS LISTS
On 4th January the European Sanctions Blog reported that the UN Security Council had amended the entry on its ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions list relating to a Ben Omar Seifallah (who also has many other aliases), and removed the entry relating to a Al-Abidin Muhammad Hussein Zayn. See the relevant UN news releases at –
WORLDWIDE FREEZING ORDERS
Law firm Quinn Emanuel Urqhart & Sullivan has issued a briefing on the availability and uses of a worldwide freezing order obtained in the courts of England and Wales. Likened in the briefing to a WMD of civil litigation and are said to be available to force potential fraudsters to disclose their assets wherever they may be based, freeze those assets, and ultimately prevent them from being dissipated. The orders can be made in support of English proceedings or in support of foreign proceedings, and they can be made against parties domiciled outside England.