REAL AND FAKE VIDEO OF UNREST IN IRAN
Research website Bellingcat on 6th January published an article following analysis of video footage claimed to be of the street protests in Iran, warning to be aware of mislabeled or misattributed footage. Examples include recycled shots from Bahrain and a “missing” student where the photo is actually of a porn actress.
NEW OBJECTS IDENTIFIED IN EUROPOL’S “STOP CHILD ABUSE” CROWDSOURCING CAMPAIGN
Europol asks the public for help in countering child pornography. Despite all their detection methods, they sometimes encounter objects in child abuse footage of which they have no idea what or where it is, but Bellingcat believes that members of the public may be able to help identify these objects and places, and so it started a crowdsourcing project that has successfully identified several objects for the “Stop Child Abuse – Trace An Object” campaign. Since the start of the campaign in mid-2017, Europol has repeatedly uploaded new objects onto its website that need to be identified. You can join the digital search by joining the Bellingcat verification team on Check, a crowdsourcing platform
2 YACHTS, A JET AND $1.8 MILLION SEIZED IN VENEZUELA MONEY LAUNDERING CASE IN US
The St Louis Post Disptahc reports that US prosecutors here are in the process of seizing a business jet (seized in October 2016), 2 multimillion dollar yachts (seized in 2016-17) and more than $1.8 million from 2 men linked to allegations of money laundering in Venezuela – being among the assets bought by Venezuelan nationals Hjalmar Gibelli-Gomez and Fabrizio Della Polla De-Simone. Both have consented to the seizure and admitted the money laundering. The assets were bought with profits from an illegal scheme to swap Venezuelan currency for U.S. dollars on the black market. A former federal prosecutor is quoted as saying that forfeiture cases like the one in St. Louis have become common since the Venezuelan financial crisis and Venezuela’s efforts to control inflation by keeping currency in the country.
FIRMS’ SUPPLY CHAINS FORM AN IMPORTANT PART OF UK-EU TRADE: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FUTURE TRADE POLICY?
On 8th January the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a paper which points out that the bulk of UK exports and imports are “intermediate” supplies (e.g. the export engines to a foreign car factory and the import of cotton to make into socks). It says that this sort of trade is particularly important for understanding the UK’s trade with the EU. Over half of the UK’s imports from the EU are of such intermediate goods and services, as are nearly 70% of our exports to the EU. These shares have also been growing over time. This pattern of interdependence is crucial for understanding trade policy. It concludes that, as a result, even if the UK decides to make its own way in striking future trade deals, it will still pay to co-ordinate its efforts with others – including the EU.
IFS also has an article published in The Times – “Misconceptions abound when it comes to trade” – somehow exports are good and imports bad; about the exchange rate; the majority of the UK’s imports and exports are transactions between, or even within, companies; components may cross borders several times before a final product results; the majority of imports are not of the final products but rather components and materials; a successful trading nation needs low barriers to imports and to exports; the UK will continue to be dependent on trade deals that the EU strikes with the rest of the world; multilateral trade deals are much more valuable than a series of bilateral deals; the complexity of international supply chains that makes so-called non-tariff barriers so important.
COUNTERFEIT BALL BEARINGS
Website Eureka! Reports on how ball bearing producer Schaeffler has sought to fight counterfeits and help customers source real products, citing cases where –
- in 2013, Schaeffler destroyed 26 tonnes of counterfeit bearings with a value of more than €1m;
- in 2016, a total of 182 seizures worldwide were made due to trademark violations suffered by the Schaeffler Group; and
- In March 2017, an importer in Turkey was imprisoned and counterfeit rolling bearings with a nominal value of €250,000 were destroyed
It asks why do companies still continue to purchase counterfeit bearings – and, of course, price is the overriding factor. It reports that Schaeffler has introduced the free OriginCheck app, which provides end customers, distributors and authorities with an easy method of clarification when suspicion about a bearing arises.
US DISPUTES EU BLACKLISTING OF GUAM AND SAMOA
KYC 360 reports that the US Treasury Secretary is disputing a decision by the EU to place Guam, and American Samoa, on its blacklist of non-cooperating tax jurisdictions, saying that “there is no basis for concluding that American Samoa and Guam have any role in promoting the evasion or avoidance of taxes imposed by European Union member states.”
SWISS IMPLEMENTS UN SANCTIONS ON MALI
Squire Patton Boggs reports that on 22nd November, the Swiss Federal Council implemented UN sanctions against Mali, which include travel bans and asset freezes and target individuals and entities acting directly or indirectly to undermine peace, security and stability in the country.
FACILITATION OF TAX EVASION – CONSIDERATIONS FOR BANKS
On 6th December law firm Gateley issued a briefing that focuses on how the new UK tax facilitation offences are relevant to banks.
UKRAINE UPDATES LOW TAX BLACKLIST FOR TRANSFER PRICING PURPOSES
CMS Law reports that Ukraine adopted a new extended list of “low-tax” jurisdictions on 27th December which came into effect on 1st January. The list includes UK Crown Dependencies. Transactions carried out by Ukrainian residents with counterparties from the jurisdictions are subject to transfer pricing control in Ukraine (subject to de minimis thresholds), limitations on deductibility and other anti-tax avoidance instruments.
CLAIM THAT FORMER KENYAN MINISTER IMPLICATED IN ALLEGED FRAUD CASE
Pindula in Zimbabwe carries an article saying that Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reports that former Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo is wanted in Kenya in connection with an alleged $6 million fraud case committed in 2000 while he was programme director for an American-based charity, Ford Foundation.
TRIAL OF “KIDNAPPED” OIL EXECUTIVE IN VIETNAM
Deutsche Welle reports that the trial of a Vietnamese oil executive allegedly kidnapped in Germany begins in Hanoi. Germany has accused Vietnam’s security forces of kidnapping one of the defendants from Berlin and forcing his return to Vietnam. He is one of 22 executives facing corruption charges
SINGAPORE INVESTIGATING KEPPEL BRIBERY CASE
Channel News Asia reports that the Singapore Government’s intention is to move as “expeditiously as possible” on investigations relating to Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) and has sought assistance for evidence from authorities in other jurisdictions. The company received a $422 million penalty in the US (and a total of $567 million in settlements with 3 countries) in 2017 for giving bribes of more than $50 million over 13 years to officials in Brazil in exchange for business deals
RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION AD INTERVENTION IN FOREIGN POLITICS
ETH Zurich publishes the latest edition of the Russian Analytical Digest, its 4 articles look at –
- how Russia’s contemporary ‘activities’ directed against the West reflect Cold War-ear KGB disinformation operations known as ‘active measures’;
- the nature of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 US presidential election as well as the impact of Moscow’s on US politics;
- Russia’s influence in France, particularly when it comes to culture, politics, economics and the media; and
- the effect of Russian disinformation efforts on Germany’s 2017 federal elections.
UPDATED UK GUIDE FOR CONVEYANCERS ON PROVING IDENTITY
A guide that explains when evidence of identity is required to prevent land registration fraud and how it should be given. It is aimed at conveyancers (HM Land Registry Practice Guide 67).
COMPANY DIRECTOR JAILED FOR VAT EVASION
CCH Daily reports that Billa Dhand from Southall, West London, the director of Dysan Fresh Ltd, which delivered fruit and vegetables to be processed for the UK’s big supermarket chains, giving 7-year sentences (suspended for 2 years) for VAT evasion. Investigators from HMRC found he had charged his customers and created hundreds of false invoices between 2006 and 2016 to hide VAT receipts and reclaim VAT repayments totalling £153,764.
JAPAN CRITICISES CHINA EXPORT CONTROLS
World ECR reports that Japan’s Center for Information on Security Trade Controls (CISTEC) has published its response to China’s proposed new export control law which, it says, could lead to confusion and “includes more than a few elements to its system that differ from those of the usual export control systems of the sorts agreed to under the international export control regime”. These elements, it says, “greatly inhibit China’s trade and investment environment”.
REPORT CONTAINS PREDICTIONS FOR SANCTIONS, EXPORT CONTROL ETC IN 2018
World ECR provides a free downloadable pdf document: “The Global Agenda”, looking at prospects for sanctions etc in 2018. Its article include –
- Sanctions: what next? Now? – if it wasn’t totally clear before, the past few years have demonstrated without doubt that politicians like sanctions and embargoes. And it’s not just traditional regimes imposed on the usual suspects that have captured the headlines. Sanctions are changing and approaches to compliance with them will have to change as well;
- Impact of the JCPOA;
- Sanctions compliance as a competitive advantage in 2018: the challenge and opportunity of increasing complexity – today’s complex sanctions require a smarter approach to compliance and that, in itself, can put a company more than a step ahead of its competitor;
- Targeted sanctions and the obligation to self-disclose dealings with potentially sanctioned individuals: UK, US, Japan;
- Coping with the US secondary sanctions tsunami – secondary sanctions seek to target and restrict the activities of non-US persons; how best to deal with them;
- US sanctions: adapting compliance programmes to address new challenges – increased complexity appears to be an ongoing feature of new US sanctions programmes, this offers advice on how to manage the challenge;
- While sanctions may have stolen the headlines in 2017, the ongoing and planned evolution of export control regulation under the United States ECR initiative, the EU’s dual-use recast, and a host of standalone national changes seeking international harmonisation, will continue to provide the foundations of the trade compliance challenge;
- Things to watch for in 2018 – including OFSI in UK to “bare its teeth”, China’s export control reforms (see article from World ECR above), the Saudi/Yemen conundrum continues;
- US Export Control Reform: where are we headed?;
- Preparing for BREXIT – businesses need to keep aware that the UK framework will be different from that of the EU, and understand the potential implications of that for them;
- Advanced economies tighten inbound investment screening regimes – a new research report from Baker McKenzie has found that 7 out of 9 advanced economies have strengthened or are proposing to tighten their foreign investment review procedures in recent years.
5 NIGERIAN CUSTOMS OFFICERS SACKED OVER ILLEGAL IMPORT OF 661 RIFLES
WCO Iris reports that, following allegations of aiding and abating illegal importations of firearms into the country, 5 customs officers have been sacked from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). In January 2017 customs intercepted a container at Tincan Island port loaded with arms; when it was searched, a total of 661 automatic pump action rifles, carefully concealed behind steel door, were recovered. 8 persons, including 5 officers of the service, the clearing agent, the driver of the truck and his conductor were arrested.
SYDNEY AIRPORT BAGGAGE HANDLER GETS 33 YEARS FOR DRUGS IMPORT ROLE
The Mail Online reports that a Sydney Airport baggage handler who made more than $5 million helping smuggle in 100 kg of cocaine from South America is jailed for 33 years. Anthony Robert Parker helped traffic 100 kg of cocaine through Sydney Airport, using his access to baggage conveyor to intercept large bags of drugs. The cocaine was worth $18.96 million. He was only caught after baggage handlers found one of his packages
GOVERNMENT AND GANGS BATTLE FOR BRAZIL
Insight Crime carries an article saying a new war between Brazil’s 2 biggest crime groups has contributed to escalating violence across the country, which authorities are struggling to contain due to flawed crime control policies as well as ongoing political and economic uncertainty. It reports that deepening insecurity in major urban centres like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro has received much attention from both local and international observers, particularly as the military is increasingly being tasked with domestic policing functions. Brazil’s 2 most powerful gangs, the Rio-based Red Command (Comando Vermelho) and the São Paulo-based First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) recently broke their alliance and now are fighting one another.
US BLOCKS $2 BILLION MILITARY AID TO PAKISTAN
Janes.com on 8th January confirmed that the US government will hold back nearly $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan as it looks to prompt Islamabad into playing a more meaningful role in counter-insurgency operations.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CENTRAL ASIAN FOREIGN FIGHTERS
The Center for Strategic & International Studies on 5th January published an article “From the Ferghana Valley to Syria and Beyond: A Brief History of Central Asian Foreign Fighters”. It says that it is commonly known that Russian-speaking militants from Central Asia are a critical element of today’s Salafi-jihadi terror threat, and that terrorists from Central Asia have also struck beyond the immediate battlefield, at civilian targets in Turkey, Russia, Sweden, and the US. It mentions the best known group being the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which arose in opposition to the Uzbek regime of Islam Karimov in the 1990s.
ISLE OF MAN INSISTS IT DID RESPOND TO INDIAN REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE
On 8th January the Isle of Man Government issued a news release insisting that it did respond to requests from the Indian authorities regarding an investigation and prosecution in that country concerning bribery and corruption.
UK GOVERNMENT ISSUES GUIDE TO TRADE BILL
On 8th January the Department for International Trader published a “Guide to the Trade Bill”; about a new trade policy after leaving the EU, and the trade-related tax measures in the Taxation (Cross-Border) Trade Bill.
NEW US SANCTIONS A HARBINGER FOR 2018?
On 8th January Baker Donelson published an article on the recent Magnitsky human rights sanctions imposed by the US, in it it says that for US businesses, the implementation of the first major global Magnitsky sanctions is a harbinger of things to come, and that global sanctions programmes are only becoming more complex and it is critical to screen all parties, and related parties under some programmes, before doing business. The Magnitsky-related sanctions regime is described as the broadest implemented by the US to date, and regrets that there is no firm definition of key terms like “corruption” and “bribery”. It also notes that other countries, including the UK, have passed similar regimes targeting human rights abusers from any country.
EU AMENDS NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS
On 8th January the EU issued a news release advising that it had added 16 persons and 1 entity, the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces (MPAF), to the lists of those subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions, transposing part of the new sanctions imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 2397. The names can be found in the UN news release of 22nd December
POLITICAL AND SECURITY RISKS FOR 2018
In an online video, Control Risks predicts the key political and security risks that are likely to impact and shape the operating environment for businesses in 2018.
COLOMBIAN NAVY BRINGS DOWN DRUGS SMUGGLING GROUP USING CONTAINERS
Dialogo, a digital military magazine for the Americas, reports that in October the Colombian Navy at Cartagena’s have brought down a narco-trafficking network that shipped cocaine in refrigerated containers. For nearly a year, the organization camouflaged cocaine headed to the US, Europe, and Central America in container floors. The smugglers used refrigerated food containers that require special conditions, the Navy explaining that “narcotraffickers use these containers because they believe it’s less likely for authorities to check them. These are the risks of the job that must be mitigated even if there is a risk of spoiling the goods”. During another operation in mid-November 2017, in the port of Cartagena, the Colombian Navy found almost 500 kg of cocaine under the false-bottom floor of a container headed to Europe. The article notes that in 2013 the World Shipping Council estimated the number of containers worldwide at almost 35 million, but the Navy said that only around 2% are inspected and an international policy on narcotrafficking in containers does not exist.
ULTRA-RELIGIOUS DUTCH TOWN INFILTRATED BY DRUGS SMUGGLERS
On 31st December the Guardian carried an article about the Netherlands’ most religiously devoted community, the small town of Urk, where television and dancing are spurned by some as the devil’s work. However, during an ongoing trial of 5 people, including 3 of the town’s fishermen, suspected of attempting to smuggle 261 kg of cocaine worth €6.5 million in their cutter boat, claims have emerged that the town’s fishing community has been infiltrated by a gang using financial favour and threats of violence, and even murder, to keep their hold.
HONG KONG SEIZURE OF ENDANGERED AGARWOOD FROM TRAVELLERS’ BACKPACKS
The Hong Kong news service reports that 2 people have been sentenced to 6-week and 4-week jail terms for illegally exporting agarwood, which is classified as an endangered species. Customs officers seized 4.4 kg of agarwood wood chips and 2.2 kg of incense tree wood chips from the men’s backpacks at Shenzhen Bay Control Point in December.
NEW YACHT OWNER FINDS COCAINE MISSED BY CUSTOMS WHEN THEY SEIZED YACHT
The New Zealand Herald on 31st December reports that a catamaran that was boarded and seized by French Polynesian officials in January 2017 was then sold to a new buyer with some of the cocaine still aboard. It was sold in December, and the new owner cleaned the yacht, finding 1 kg of cocaine hidden and handed it over to the police.
MEXICAN CARTELS INFILTRATING AIRPORTS
The Yucatan Times reports that criminal gangs in Mexico, such as the Sinaloa Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, have infiltrated airports in the country in order to smuggle drugs and money with the help of pilots, ground handlers, private security personnel, flight attendants, and even members of the Federal Police, with the Federal Police saying that seizures made at the airports are only a fraction of the amount of drugs involved.
COMPLIANCE AND CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA
In the latest TRACE podcast: “Spotlight on Nigeria”, Olukayode Dada of Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie in Lagos discusses the compliance climate and corruption in Nigeria.
ITALIAN COURT CLEARS 2 EXCEUTIVES IN INDIAN BRIBERY CASE
Risk & Compliance reports that an Italian appeals court has acquitted 2 former Leonardo (the helicopter manufacturer, formerly Agusta AND Agusta Westland) executives in a bribery case related to a large 2010 helicopter contract with the Indian government.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF ARREST FOR PROFESSIONALS
On 5th January the blog at law firm Corker Binning detailed the consequences of an arrest for professionals such as lawyers, providing constructive advice on how to minimise the risk of being arrested in certain circumstances, what is “wrongful arrest” and how to get the record of arrest deleted.
UK INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT REGULATIONS
On 8th January the UK Home Office released explanatory memorandums relating to the 4 sets of regulations under the Investigatory Powers Act that were laid in Parliament in draft on 18th December and concerned, amongst other things, with codes of practice for the interception of communications and record-keeping by businesses.
CAMEROON ANGLOPHONE LEADER DETAINED IN NIGERIA
Defence Web on 8th January reported that Julius Ayuk Tabe, Nigeria-based chairman of the Governing Council of Ambazonia separatist movement, a leading member of Anglophone separatist movement in Cameroon has been taken into custody in the capital of neighbouring Nigeria with his aides. The secessionists represents the gravest challenge yet to the 35-year rule of President Paul Biya who will seek re-election this year, and there has been a military crackdown in the country.