LEGAL BIDS TO BLOCK CANADIAN WEAPON SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA
On 9th January the Globe & Mail reported on 2 attempts by University of Montreal law professor Daniel Turp’ to mount a legal challenge of the $15 billion sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, after evidence emerged of Canadian-made Terradyne armoured vehicles taking part in a fight with residents of the Saudi kingdom’s Eastern Province, and saying the sales broke the government’s own export control rules. Federal government attempts to lock the challenges have so far failed.
US CUSTOMS CAN STILL DOWNLOAD YOUR PHONE IF LOCKED OR ENCRYPTED
An article on Law.com repeats a Twitter message from a law professor re the recently updated US Customs rules on examining mobile phones etc. University of California Davis law professor Elizabeth Joh is reported as tweeting that the agency now requiring “reasonable suspicion” before searching devices may not mean a whole lot — it can still download your phone if it’s not “readily accessible for inspection” (i.e. locked or otherwise encrypted).
CHANGES TO CHARITY AND CROWDFUNDING LAWS IN SINGAPORE
Channel News Asia reports on 10th January that members of the public in Singapore who appeal for funds on crowdfunding platforms and charities that raise funds will face more scrutiny in ensuring their processes are in order, following changes to the Charities Act. A minister said that the changes come as the charity landscape has evolved since the last time the Act was amended in 2010. The amendments are designed to, among other things, strengthen the governance, accountability and transparency of charities and fundraisers, and are expected to take effect within the first half of 2018. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/crowdfunding-platforms-charities-to-face-more-stringent-9846284
TRIAL IN WALES OF BERMUDA MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
Bernews Reports that 4 people – Jeffrey Bevan, 50, Samantha Bevan, 52, Joel Ismail, 42, and Paul Charity, 52 – are to stand trial in Wales in connection with allegedly money laundering $2.5 million stolen from the Bermuda Government. The charges are said to stem from a number of financial transactions conducted by Mr. Bevan whilst employed in the office of the Accountant General in Bermuda.
SURVEY: A THIRD OF BRITS WOULD APPLY FOR “MONEY MULE” JOBS
The Mirror reports on 10th January that 1 out of 3 people would apply for a job as a “money mule”, with some even going ahead if they knew it was to launder cash, a new study from Santander bank shows. A survey of 2,000 adults found that only 15% spotted that a fake advert for a financial transaction control analyst at a fictitious company transferring funds to accounts was actually for a money mule. Once they heard the job was a front for criminal activity, 7% said they would accept it anyway.
AUSTRALIAN TAX TASK FORCE ON CRYPTOCURRENCIES
Financial Review reports that the Australian Tax Office is to create a task force and consult with tax experts and lawyers to help it identify and track cryptocurrency transactions to ensure all taxes are being paid. It says that a top team of industry specialists will work with the tax officials to “explore common queries and practical issues” involving transactions using the digital distributed ledgers that have no central data storage, which make it difficult to trace and track. The ATO is also believed to be also working closely with banks, Austrac, state revenue offices, which collect revenues, particularly for property transactions.
US ACTION AGAINST “PILL MILLS” AND RED FLAGS FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
In the light of the US “opioid crisis”, the over-prescription and overuse of prescription-type opioid painkillers, US law firm Burr Forman has been running a multi-part series of articles by a former prosecutor on the DoJ attention on the aggressive investigation and prosecution of so-called “pill mill” cases (being described as a pain management clinic that allegedly prescribes narcotics for illegitimate purposes) –
Part 2 – http://www.burr.com/2017/11/28/burr-alert-white-collar-courier-delivering-news-providing-guidance-white-collar-matters-2/ – on what consequences doctors and other medical professionals could face as the result of a “pill mill” investigation;
Part 3 – http://www.burr.com/2017/12/13/burr-alert-part-iii-white-collar-courier-delivering-news-providing-guidance-white-collar-matters/- a detailed explanation of how the government investigates these cases; and
Part 4 – http://www.burr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ALERT_Part4_White-Collar-Courier_Pill-Mill-Red-Flags-and-Strategies-to-Avoid-Them_AO.pdf – the “red flags” investigators look for and suggest practices that pain management professionals can implement in order to avoid government scrutiny.
Part 4 says that the US government will heavily rely on evidence of these supposed red flags at trial to establish that the doctor was prescribing drugs for an illegitimate purpose and outside the usual course of professional medical practice, and for that reason it is important for medical professionals to identify those red flags.
NEW YORK REGULATOR PENALTY FOR SOUTH KOREAN BANK
On 5th January Paul Weiss reported that the New York Department of Financial Services on 21st December announced a consent order against NongHyup Bank, a major South Korean bank, and its New York branch that imposed an $11 million penalty for failing to maintain an adequate AML programme. The New York branch processes approximately $2 billion worth of US dollar transactions each year. Deficiencies mentioned include in transaction monitoring (including alleged inadequate rules, manipulation of rule thresholds solely to reduce workload, and failure to timely review alerts for potentially suspicious activity), inadequate CDD (including of the NongHyup Head Office and other foreign correspondent bank accounts), and inadequate compliance personnel expertise.
WHY RUSSIA’S LEADERS ARE HAPPY TO CELEBRATE THE CENTENARY OF ITS SECRET POLICE
In the Power Vertical podcast from Rferl on 22nd December, those Kremlin-watchers taking part discuss why, though it felt it had problems celebrating the Russian Revolution of 1917, Putin and co had less problem in celebrating 100 years of the Cheka (which became MGB, OGPU, NKVD and, eventually, KGB)- the Cheka secret police itself was the successor to the Tsar’s Ochrana.
WHO CLASSIFIES VIDEO-GAMING ADDICTION AS ILLNESS
EurActiv on 10th January reports that World Health Organisation has classified addiction to video-gaming as an illness, in another sign that the condition is gaining recognition from medical professionals and mental health experts around the world. WHO included gaming addiction in its 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the global basis for the identification and classification of diseases due for publication in mid-2018.
STRUGGLE TO REPLACE DUBLIN’S KINAHAN DRUGS GANG
Dublin Live reports that rival gangs have started to take over Kinahan drugs territory as that cartel begins to implode. 3 gangs are identified.
2017 MARITIME PIRACY REPORT PUBLISHED
The International Chamber of Commerce reports that a total of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in 2017, according to the latest IMB report. This is the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995, when 188 reports were received. In 2017, 136 vessels were boarded, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked. The report highlights the continued risks in the Gulf of Guinea off Africa, and in SE Asia piracy off the Philippines doubled.
UK NATIONAL REPORT ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT
In the UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published the 6th national report to be submitted by the UK in compliance with Article 32 of the Joint Convention on the safety of spent fuel management and the safety of radioactive waste management. It includes reference to the Transfrontier Shipment of Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Regulations 2008 which transposes into UK law the requirements of Directive 2006/117/Euratom (the Shipments Directive), which provides a regulatory framework for supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel into, out of, or through the EU. In the UK, the Environment Agency (EA) is the competent authority for authorising shipments into and out of England; National Resources Wales (NRW), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) are the competent authorities for their respective parts of the UK. One interesting point is that there is a standing ban on shipments to destinations south of latitude 60 degrees south.
KOI SMUGGLING CASE IN CHINA
Customs Today on 10th January reports Chinese customs officials show koi fish smuggled from Japan in Shenzhen City, after the discovery of 23 koi carp, measuring up to 100 centimeters in length, and 120 koi fry in a vehicle, the first such smuggling case in recent years.
TOWER HAMLETS ALLEGED CORRUPTION CASE
The latest edition of the Dorsey Anti-Corruption Digest includes an item saying that a businessman with links to London’s Labour Party-led Tower Hamlets Council offered to obtain planning permission for the development of 2 skyscrapers on Alpha Square in Canary Wharf in exchange for the payment of a £2 million premium, according to recordings obtained by the Sunday Times. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson approved the 600-home development in April 2016, but the plans did not come to fruition. The Council has referred the case to the NCA.
HONG KONG CORRUPTION WATCHDOG CONVOY CASE
The latest edition of the Dorsey Anti-Corruption Digest also reports that 3 senior executive officers of Convoy Financial Services were arrested on corruption charges by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Hong Kong corruption watchdog. Convoy is one of Hong Kong’s largest international financial adviser firms. Convoy also announced that it will commence a civil lawsuit against 28 individuals, including its executive director, directors in other Convoy affiliating companies, and other third parties for “gross breach of fiduciary duty and illegitimate diversion of the company’s funds” in connection with the corruption scandal.
341 AFRICAN PARROTS SEIZED IN ISTANBUL
Customs Today on 10th January reported that Turkish Customs seized 341 rare African grey parrots that were smuggled via Iraq from the Congo and kept at a warehouse in Istanbul, State-run Anadolu News Agency reported, later to be sold to markets in Turkey. Turkey remains a key transit route for illegal trafficking of endangered species, especially from Africa and Asia, to European markets. Trading African grey parrots was banned in 2016 under CITES.
GUERNSEY-BASED PFI COMPANIES PAY LITTLE OR NO TAX
Guernsey Press on 10th January carries an article on 3 Private Finance Initiative (PFI) companies based in Guernsey are in the spotlight after claims they have made more than £1 billion in profit between them while paying little or no corporation tax either here or in the UK.
US POLICE AGENCIES CLAIMED TO USE ILLEGALLY-OBTAINED EVIDENCE
On 9th January website Jurist reported that US authorities are deliberately concealing information about how they obtained evidence in criminal proceedings, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. It says that HRW investigated a police practice known as “parallel construction,” in which law enforcement illegally obtain evidence and then hide the illegality through legally obtaining supporting evidence. It claims that, in April 2016 to October 2017, HRW suspected 95 criminal cases of parallel construction. The group also utilised interviews, court records, documents disclosed by the government and media reports to prove the practice. The nature of secrecy for the illegal activity makes it hard to prove.
ONLINE MARKETPLACE CONTROLS ON HAZARDOUS/DANGEROUS MATERIALS INADEQUATE
Project Alpha carries a thought-provoking paper from Christina Krawec that says that, in attempts to regulate the trade of hazardous materials used in explosives or weaponry, internet marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba have all implemented seller policies on their sites. Alibaba, for example, has a list of 410 radioactive, poisonous, toxic, flammable, explosive, and ozone-depleting substances that are prohibited from being listed. eBay has a list of 16 “explosives precursors” that are also restricted. However, her study shows that eBay’s listing policies are not effective in deterring users from selling what the site considers to be hazardous material.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE CBSA SEIZES MY CURRENCY/MONETARY INSTRUMENTS?
On 9th January the Mondaq online service published an article from Lex Sage dealing with what one could do is Canadian customs seized currency or monetary instruments from you, bearing in mind that Canada has a CA$10,000 declaration threshold similar to that in place in the EU.
VENEZUELA PARLIAMENT SAYS NEW CRYPTOCURRENCY ILLEGAL
Flipboard carries a Reuters report saying that Venezuela’s opposition-run parliament has outlawed a “petros” cryptocurrency promoted by socialist President Nicolas Maduro, calling it an effort to illegally mortgage the cash-strapped country’s oil reserves. He had said his government would issue nearly $6 billion of petros as a way to raise hard currency and to evade financial sanctions imposed by the US.
VIDEOS: RADIOLOGICAL RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CESIUM-137 BLOOD IRRADIATORS
NTI on 9th January said that the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has released a series of educational videos to address the risks posed by high-activity radioactive material used in hospitals, specifically cesium-137 blood irradiators. These videos—designed for hospital staff and administrators as well as others interested in the issues–feature presentations and discussions from a June 2017 event.
FCPA CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT POLICY
On 10th January, Baker McKenzie published the latest issue of the Ethics & Compliance in the Americas newsletter which covers the new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, which replaced the FCPA Pilot Program that had been in effect since April 2016.
TRADER FINED FOR ILLEGAL IVORY SITS ON HONG KONG GOVERNMENT BOARD
On 10th January KYC 360 reported that a Hong Kong ivory trader recently fined sits on a government advisory group for protecting endangered species, potentially an embarrassing blow as Hong Kong fights ivory smuggling. Lau Sai-yuan, a member of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Art Craft Merchants Association, has pleaded guilty to illegal ivory possession and was fined £755. His conviction came less than 2 weeks after China implemented a total ban on ivory sales in the country.
US TO MAKE DIPLOMATS ARMS SALESMEN?
Defence Web on 10th January reports that the Trump administration is nearing completion of a new “Buy American” plan that calls for US military attaches and diplomats to help drum up billions of dollars more in business overseas for the US weapons industry, going beyond the limited assistance they currently provide, officials said. A key policy change would call for embassy staffers around the world to act essentially as a sales force for defence contractors, actively advocating on their behalf. It was unclear, however, what specific guidelines would be established. This change is or would be accompanied by a review and further revision of export control laws.
By coincidence, at the same time the non-partisan Stimson Center in the US has published a report. This starts by saying that human rights groups and research organisations have documented numerous cases of diversion and instances of civilian harm caused by arms and munitions sold by the US, suggesting that existing legal, regulatory, and policy controls may not be adequate. This report assesses existing controls and identifies ways to modify the US arms sales process to reduce civilian harm associated with US-sold weapons, while preserving the intended policy benefits of international arms sales.
The report also includes the 2 charts below.
ADVOCATE GENERAL: FISHERY AGREEMENT WITH MOROCCO DUE TO PROBLEM WITH WESTERN SAHARA
A reminder of the continuing dispute in north-west Africa in an Opinion from the EU Advocate General in ECJ Case C-266/16 – By concluding a Fisheries Agreement between the EU and Morocco, the EU was in breach of its obligation to respect the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and not to recognise an illegal situation resulting from breach of that right and has not put in place the safeguards necessary to ensure that the exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara is for the benefit of the people of that territory. The news release 01/18 of 10th January reminds one that Western Sahara is a territory bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the north-east, Mauritania to the east and south and the Atlantic to the west. Currently, the greater part of Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco, which considers it to be an integral part of its territory. A smaller part of that territory, in the east, is controlled by the Front Polisario, a movement which seeks to achieve the independence of Western Sahara.
SWISS COURT REFUSES INFORMATION EXCHANGE REQUEST
Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that information relating to certain third parties of a tax evasion case cannot be handed over to US tax authorities, upholding a decision of a lower court. The US citizen involved was not named in the article. The information involved that of the US citizen residing in Switzerland and details of third-party individuals including bank employees and lawyers. The court held that there had been no convincing argument that the information was absolutely necessary for proving that tax evasion had taken place, and that there was no legal basis for requesting specific information about these individuals through administrative assistance channels, even if tax evasion had taken place.
BANKS SUE US FAMILY BEHIND COCOA TRADER
In an article dated 11th January the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Macquarie Group is chasing $US40.7 million from an American family that ran a billion-dollar-plus cocoa trading business, after emails between staff allegedly revealed one of the biggest fraud cases in recent US history. Macquarie has joined forces with several other banks including Dutch financial giant ABN AMRO to sue the father-son duo that ran one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocoa products, Transmar. The civil lawsuit filed in the US alleges that the banks were hoodwinked into believing Transmar was financially sound ahead of lending the company a total of $US360 million in 2016. Former Transmar chief executive Peter G Johnson and his son Peter B Johnson, who ran Transmar’s Euromar Commodities business were charged in the US over their alleged fraud in August. The charges include bank fraud, wire fraud affecting a financial institution and conspiracy to commit fraud. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
JURY SELECTION FOR TRIAL OF FORMER ANGLO IRISH BANK CHIEF
The Irish Independent reports that the selection of a jury has begun in the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm for allegedly conspiring to defraud depositors and investors. The trials is expected to last 5 months. He pleaded “not guilty” to 2 charges relating so-called €7.2 billionn “back to back” transactions involving Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life and Permanent (IL&P) in 2008, and dishonestly creating the impression that deposits in 2008 were €7.2 billion larger than they were.
UK CONSULTATION ON DEFAULT COUNTY COURT JUDGMENTS
A reminder that in the UK the MoJ launched a consultation on 27th December on ensuring the default county court judgments process works fairly, for both creditors and debtors, in particular in limiting the circumstances in which an individual may have a judgment made in default against them without their knowledge. It closes 24th February.
MICROSOFT EMAILS APPEAL REACHES SUPREME COURT
On 10TH January US law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler reported that the court case involving Microsoft and concerning the privacy of electronic communications and the US government’s ability to reach emails stored abroad in criminal investigations and the applicability of warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act is scheduled for oral argument before the Supreme Court on 27th February. Meanwhile, it reports that Google has put its own SCA warrant appeal on hold.
TEMPORARY IMPORT OF YACHTS INTO SPAIN: PROCESS CLARIFIED
Superyacht News reports that the process by which yachts qualify for Temporary Admission (TA) in Spain has been confirmed following uncertainties. The article explains that The TA Customs regime is used by non-EU flagged yachts entering the Customs Territory of the EU and allows yachts to enjoy total relief from import duties and be exempt from VAT on imports in Spain and other Member States. The Union Customs Code in 2016 threatened to affect the process under which yachts qualify for the regime. This article examines how the requirements have been affected in Spain. However, it also cautions that it would be necessary to ensure that the Spanish simplified procedure is also acceptable for the yacht to be considered under the TA customs regime in other Member States.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH EU DRC SANCTIONS
On 9th January the EU announced that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Liechtenstein, members states of the EEA, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Armenia had aligned themselves with a Council Decision imposing and extending sanctions against the Democratic Republic of Congo to 12th December 2018.
CAYMAN YACHTS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR COMMERCIAL CHARTER IN EUROPEAN WATERS
Superyacht News on 10th January reported that the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry (CISR) has followed the lead of the Marshall Islands by introducing a Yacht Engaged in Trade (YET) certification. This allows a yacht registered in the jurisdiction and over 24 metres to charter up to 84 days per calendar year in European waters (though currently limited to France and Monaco). The YET certification was introduced in December.
SPECIAL REPORT ON RHINO POACHING
BBC special report on rhino poaching asks what do Thai lap dancers, Vietnamese criminals, wealthy Chinese, poor Mozambicans, ex-cops from South Africa and North Korean diplomats have to do with the demise of the African rhinoceros?
ISRAELI HUMAN ORGAN TRAFFICKER ARRESTED
News 24 reports that that Kosovo police have said that the Israeli ringleader of a global gang of organ traffickers has been arrested in Cyprus. Moshe Harel is suspected of organising dozens of illegal kidney transplants at the Medicus clinic in the capital Pristina in 2008 and is the man being held, according to local media. Recipients, mainly Israelis, would pay up to €100 000 for the transplant. The organ trafficking network came to light in 2008 after a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport after having a kidney removed. Police raided the Medicus clinic, which shut down following the scandal.
APPLE AND ONION SMUGGLING IN ZIMBABWE
Newsday in Zimbabwe reports that the smuggling of onion and apples from South Africa is depriving the state of millions of dollars in potential tax revenue, the Fresh Produce Marketers’ Association of Zimbabwe has said.
IS LEBANON SET FOR AN OIL BONANZA?
Chatham House reports that the Lebanese government is banking on oil and gas discoveries to fuel a bright new future. But the challenges are just starting for the small country beset with public mistrust in politicians and ongoing geopolitical disputes. Lebanon holds estimates of potential natural gas reserves of 25 trillion cubic feet (tcf) based on seismic studies of its share of the Mediterranean Sea, but these have not have been confirmed by drilling and may not amount to reserves that are commercially viable.