1st February 2018
IMF STAFF CONCLUDE VISIT TO THE KYRGYZ REPUBLIC
On 31st January, an IMF news release issued an Ed-of Mission statement of preliminary findings. This included the statement that – the authorities remain committed to carry out reforms aimed at improving the business climate, including by improving governance and continuing to combat corruption. In that regard, efforts should be pursued to resubmit an AML/CFT law in line with international standards. Public finance management reforms should be accelerated to enhance the transparency and credibility of the fiscal framework.
AUSTRALIA “A MONEY LAUNDERING HAVEN”
Macrobusiness in Australia on 1st February related the litany of recent criticism of Australia and its property sector. In 2015, FATF released its report which found Australian homes are a haven for laundered funds, particularly from China. In March last year, Transparency International ranked Australia as having the weakest AML laws in English-speaking countries, failing all 10 priority areas. In June 2017, FATF placed Australia on a watch list for failing to comply with AML/CFT reforms. In December 2017, the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions urged Australia to implement the second tranche of AML legislation covering real estate, noting that the entire ecosystem for the buying and selling property using cross-border fund flows is beyond the reach of regulators. Now, the Tax Justice Network has released its Financial Secrecy Index for 2018, shaming Australia for failing to police the international dirty money flooding into the housing market.
THE END OF BEARER SHARES IN SWITZERLAND?
On 31st January, Pastalozzi Attorneys at Law published an article in which it said that on 17th January, the Swiss Federal Council published a draft Bill which proposes the conversion of bearer shares into registered shares by operation of law and thereby would abolish bearer shares. The draft legislation aims at implementing certain recommendations of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum). More specifically, the draft Bill addresses, amongst others, the concerns raised in Global Forum’s Peer Review relating to Switzerland regarding the transparency of ownership of bearer shares. The wording of the contemplated legislation is currently subject to a legislative consultation process and expected to be discussed in Parliament in winter 2018. Any respective changes in Swiss law are not to be expected before 2019.
REMINDER FOR COMPANY OWNERS IN ISLE OF MAN ON BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REGISTER
On 31st January, Isle of Man Today reported that “the clock is ticking” for all companies to submit details on to the Island’s new central database of beneficial ownership. Details of principal owners and controllers must be submitted by June 30th this year at the latest.
US PROSECUTORS ISSUE SUBPOENAS SEEKING INFORMATION FROM FIFA, IOC AND IAAF
On 31St January, the Guardian reported that US federal prosecutors are conducting an extensive investigation into global sports corruption, including at Fifa and the international and US Olympics organisations. As part of the probe, the DoJ looking at possible racketeering, money laundering and fraud charges related to the world athletics championships and the business executives who have consulted on bids for various other elite competitions. The investigation is being conducted by the US Attorney’s office for the eastern district of New York in Brooklyn.
BERMUDA LAUNCHES AML CAMPAIGN
The Royal Gazette in Bermuda on 31st January reported that The Premier launched a new campaign today to combat money laundering. Mr Burt, also the Minister of Finance, said the campaign would recruit the entire island in a bid to fight financial crime. The campaign, called “It’s just good business”, will highlight efforts to ensure Bermuda meets the highest AML standards.
NEW LAW ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND PREVENTION OF TERRORISM IN BELGIUM
On 12th December, Peeters Advocaten published a briefing saying that on 16th October a new law on money laundering and prevention of terrorism has entered into force. As well as the introduction of the UBO register into Belgian law by the law of 18th September, law contains numerous essential modifications in comparison to the law of 19923 that it replaces. This article briefly presents those modifications.
MORE SANCTIONS AHEAD AFTER US TREASURY’S REPORTS TO CONGRESS ON RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS?
On 30th January, law firm Steptoe & Johnson published an article that followed the publication on 29th January of list of potential additional sanctions targets and other reports.
KENYA “NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT” DECLARED CRIMINAL
On 31st January, Defence Web reported that the Kenyan government had declared the opposition’s ‘National Resistance Movement’ – a loosely organised coalition of opposition lawmakers – a criminal group, paving the way for potential arrests.
SOUTH AFRICAN TRIBUNAL TO EXAMINE ARMS DEALS
Also on 31st January, DefenceWeb reported another investigation into the multi-billion Rand Strategic Defence Procurement Packages that saw the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) acquire new, high-tech equipment for its airborne and maritime services in the late 90s. The first hearings of the People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime in South Africa open on February 3rd to examine “the continuities between apartheid era economic crime, the post-apartheid arms deal and contemporary state capture”. The first hearings will focus on the arms trade over the past 40 years. These, it is said, contributed to the loss of thousands of lives during the apartheid era.
ARMS PROCUREMENT OFFICIALS REFERRED TO PROSECUTION FOR CORRUPTION IN PRODUCTION OF SOUTH KOREAN MISSILE
On 1st February, the Yonhap News Agency in South Korea reported that the Board of Audit and Inspection said it has referred 3 former and incumbent officials of the state arms procurement agency for alleged corruption in the course of awarding contracts to produce the Cheongung medium-range surface-to-air missile.
FORMER STEINHOFF CEO REPORTED TO SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE BY COMPANY
The Nation in the UAE reports that Steinhoff International Holdings has reported former CEO Markus Jooste to South Africa’s anti-graft police, pinning the blame for an accounting scandal squarely on the man who built the retailer into a global force. The owner of Mattress Firm in the US, Conforama in France and Liener in Austria, among many others, referred Mr Jooste to the unit known as the Hawks based on its investigation into financial irregularities.
CAMEROONIAN TROOPS ENTER NIGERIA SEEKING SEPARATISTS
Defence Web on 31st January reported that Cameroonian troops had crossed into neighbouring Nigeria in pursuit of separatist rebels. Cameroon has been fighting Anglophone separatists who have taken up arms over the past year in an attempt to create a nation which they call Ambazonia. The insurgency represents the gravest challenge yet to the 35-year rule of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya. More than 43,000 Cameroonians are said to have fled as refugees to Nigeria
Meanwhile, on 30th January Defence Web also reported that a key Cameroonian separatist leader arrested in Abuja was deported by Nigerian authorities to Cameroon. Nigerian authorities deported Julius Ayuk Tabe, president of a self-declared breakaway state made up of the Anglophone regions of majority-Francophone Cameroon.
‘DEVIOUS’ £1.4 MILLION BOILER ROOM SCAMMER JAILED IN UK
iExpats on 1st February reports that £1.4 million boiler room scheme mastermind Samrat Bhandari has been jailed in the UK for 42 months. Between 2009 and 2014, Bhandari sold thousands of worthless shares in Symbiosis Healthcare for around £1.4 million by cold-calling elderly investors and pressurising them to buy a stake in the company. Fellow gang member, Dr Aleem Mirza, had set up the company as a business operating healthcare services in Dubai, which was untrue.
SOUTH KOREAN GOLF EQUIPMENT IMPORTS INCREASE DESPITE ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW
On 1st February the Yonhap News Agency reported that imports of golf equipment into South Korea increased more than 10% last year, despite expectations that the popularity of the costly sport would be dampened by a new anti-corruption law. Golf is considered a luxury sport in South Korea, and rounds are often paid for as gifts. An anti-corruption law that took effect in September 2016 heavily limits the monetary value of such gifts between people with personal interests at stake.
ISLE OF MAN FOR FAMILIES AND BUSINESS – IN SPANISH
Dixcart in the Isle of Man has issued an article in Spanish extolling the benefits for business and families of the Island.
HALF A MILLION US DOLLARS SEIZED LEAVING SOUTH AFRICA
On 29th January, Defence Web reported that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has intercepted currency worth $568,480 from leaving the country. It intercepted 2 passengers travelling to Dubai as they were about to board their flight, and upon inspection of their checked luggage, brown envelopes containing US Dollars in various denominations were found inside.
UK ONLINE GAMBLING FAIR TERMS GUIDANCE
On 31st January, the Competitions and Markets Agency in the UK issued advice for gambling customers around unfair terms in online gambling promotions.
and a “60-second summary” for online gambling operators about using fair terms and practices.
COINCHECK EXCHANGE LEAK EXPOSES CHINKS IN JAPAN’S REGULATORY ARMOUR
On 29th January, M Lex reports that the biggest cryptocurrency leak in Japanese history has underscored the difficulty regulators face in striking the precarious balance between overseeing an industry that thrives on innovation while also protecting consumers against fraud and security lapses. Japan’s FSA issued a compliance order against Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, after the company announced that it had lost $534 million worth of NEM coins, a virtual currency. It also mandated all existing crypto exchanges to review their security in advance of urgent FSA inspections. Although the FSA’s swift action was made possible by Japan’s legalisation of cryptocurrencies, putting exchanges under the jurisdiction of Japan’s powerful financial watchdog, it has also called into question the effectiveness of the FSA’s vetting process.
US DOJ ISSUES MEMORANDUM PRECLUDING RELIANCE ON AGENCY GUIDANCE IN ENFORCEMENT CASES
On 31st January, Holland & Knight reported that on January 25th, the US Associate Attorney General issued a memorandum limiting use of agency guidance documents in affirmative civil enforcement cases brought by the DoJ. In a move which could have wide-ranging impact, the “Department may not use its enforcement authority to effectively convert agency guidance documents into binding rules” and “may not use noncompliance with guidance documents as a basis for proving violations of applicable law.” The Memorandum does permit the use of guidance for proper purposes to explain or paraphrase regulations or statutory legal requirements, but it may not be used to establish that a party violated the applicable statute or regulation.
UN SCR 2399 (2018) EXTENDS SANCTIONS REGIME AGAINST CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
On 30th January, the UN announced that it had extended its sanctions regime against the Central African Republic, consisting of an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on listed individuals and entities, until 31st January 2019, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts facilitating those measures until 28h February 2019. The arms embargo would not apply to supplies intended solely for the support or use by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), EU training missions, French forces and other State forces providing training. Nor would it apply to supplies brought into the Central African by Chad or Sudan forces solely for their use in the tripartite force established on 23rd May 2011.
MALDIVES PRESIDENT DISMISSES CORRUPTION ACCUSATIONS
On 31st January OCCRP reports that Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has dismissed a petition from opposition leaders that called on the island nation’s Supreme Court to temporarily remove him from office and investigate allegations of corruption against him.
UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDERS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
With the introduction of UWO in the UK, Field Fisher has produced a briefing on them.
BREXIT & EXPORT CONTROLS: IMPLICATIONS FOR PROLIFERATION AND NATIONAL SECURITY
On 31st January, Project Alpha published an article on the risks, challenges and ramifications of Brexit for the maintenance and continued enforcement of strategic trade controls.
SPANISH POLICE ARREST MD OF CADIZ FC
The Local on 31st January reported that the managing director of Spanish second-tier side Cadiz was arrested in relation to a money-laundering investigation, sources close to the operation told AFP. Police investigating player transfers arrested Quique Pina in the south-eastern region of Murcia, while raids were carried out in Andalusia, including at the offices of Cadiz. They also raided offices at Granada, the second-tier club Pina served as president between 2009 and 2016 before moving to Cadiz. An entrepreneur and player agent, Pina also used to own Ciudad de Murcia, a club that rose to the second division before going out of business in 2007.
FIRST LOOK AT AUSTRALIA’S PROPOSED NEW ANTI-BRIBERY LAW
On 31st January, Control Risks published a briefing on a series of new laws covering foreign bribery and other economic offences that, if passed into law they will make it much easier to prosecute companies for bribery offenses committed either at home or abroad.
ACCOUNTANT, FRIEND AND FINANCIAL ADVISER ‘LAUNDERED THOUSANDS STOLEN FROM BERMUDA GOVERNMENT’
Baker McKenzie reports on 30th January about a Wales-based accountant who has admitted to laundering thousands of pounds stolen from the Government of Bermuda. Jeffrey Bevan, 50, was accused of transferring nearly $2.5 million from his employer into his own bank account and then spending it on properties in Swansea, gambling, and automobiles. A friend of Bevan’s and a financial adviser are on trial for their alleged roles in the scheme. They deny converting criminal property.
POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND CRIME INCIDENT REPORT, Q4 2017
Control Risks has published its Political Violence and Crime Incident Report Q3, which is based on our incident mapping and analysis service. It is a quarterly report designed to help organisations gain a better understanding of incident trends throughout the year, using risk monitoring tool CORE. The report analyses global incidents of war, terrorism, unrest and crime, with commercial relevance.
Control Risks also reports that political violence and crime rise across the world in 2017-
SAUDI COALITION SAYS REMOTE-CONTROLLED BOMB BOAT INTERCEPTED
On 31st January, Janes.com reported that another remotely-controlled boat carrying explosives was intercepted on 26th January, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen told journalists in a briefing.
RUSSIA’S UNTAPPED ARCTIC POTENTIAL
On 29th January, a Chatham House article explains that company turf wars and Western sanctions are preventing Russia from extracting oil and gas from the Arctic.
HOW THE MAFIA INFILTRATED ITALY’S ASYLUM SYSTEM
On 1st February, a Guardian “long read” article is entitled: ‘Migrants are more profitable than drugs’: how the mafia infiltrated Italy’s asylum system.
FCPA CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT POLICY: CO-OPERATION AS A MITIGATING FACTOR
This issue of Baker McKenzie’s Ethics & Compliance in the Americas newsletter covers what the DoJ considers as co-operation, as updated by the new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy. Under the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, there will be a presumption of declination if a company self-discloses misconduct, fully co-operates and remediates, absent aggravating circumstances. If a criminal resolution is warranted, there will be a reduction of the fine. Even in situations where there has been no self-disclosure, the company may still have a reduction of the fine, as long as it fully co-operates and timely and appropriately remediates.
UK: FIRMS TO BE LIABLE TO FINES UP TO £17 MILLION FOR LAX CYBER SECURITY
KYC 360 on 31st January reports that organisations in Britain’s most critical care industries face fines of up to £17 million if they fail to implement effective cyber security measures. As part of the government’s strategy, new sector-specific regulators will be appointed and will assess critical industries – such as energy, transport and health – to ensure plans are as “robust” as possible. The new rules will also cover other threats affecting IT such as power outages, hardware failures and environmental hazards. Also included is ransomware, which makes data or systems unusable until the victim makes a payment.
GIBRALTAR DEFENDS STANCE ON TOBACCO SMUGGLING
The Gibraltar Government has said it is determined to “stamp out the menace of smuggling” as it lashed out at suggestions the Rock was seeing a return to the ‘the Bad Old Days’.
“UKRAINIAN KILLER ROBOTS”
Medium carries an article about Ukrainian soldiers using a remote-controlled turret on 6 wheels and with an attached camera to fire at Russian-led separatist fighters in a nearby house. That was in May 2017, and it was said to have been developed with only $10,000 by a group of Donbas-native volunteers. The article includes photos and video.
CYPRUS CITIZENSHIP THROUGH INVESTMENT – ADVANTAGES AND HOW IT WORKS
On 30th January AGP Law Firm published a briefing explaining that there are 4 legal ways of obtaining citizenship of Cyprus for non-EU citizens.
RUSSIAN EX-GOVERNOR CONVICTED ON ‘ABSURD’ BRIBERY CHARGES
Rferl on 1st February reports that a Russian court has convicted former Kirov Oblast Governor Nikita Belykh of taking a bribe, delivering a widely expected guilty verdict after the high-profile trial of the prominent liberal politician. He pleaded not guilty and has called the charges “absurd,” saying he was the victim of a “banal provocation” by law enforcement authorities. After his arrest, federal investigators published a photo of a man they said was Belykh sitting at a table covered with stacks of €100 notes.
UKRAINE TAX CHIEF NASIROV FIRED AMID EMBEZZLEMENT PROBE
Rferl on 31st January reported that the Ukrainian government has fired tax and customs service chief, Roman Nasirov, who was suspended from the post after his arrest on suspicion of embezzlement in March 2017. Nasirov is being investigated on suspicion of defrauding the state of $70 million. He is one of the highest officials to face prosecution in Ukraine. He was arrested after the National Anticorruption Bureau accused him of signing off on grace periods for a number of taxpayers, including companies linked to a former lawmaker who fled the country in 2016 while facing a corruption investigation.
REVISITING THE EU’S SECURITY PARTNERSHIPS
On 30th January the European Institute for Security Studies published a new paper. Common Security & Defence Policy (CSDP) partnerships have traditionally focused on 2 sets of issues: the role of third countries in CSDP operations and missions; and partnerships between the EU and international organisations, the UN, NATO, the African Union and the OSCE in particular. More recently, the EU has started to reach out to third states on other security matters, such as terrorism and migration, but also hybrid threats, cyber, and resilience issues. The revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) also features security (and CSDP) more prominently than had been the case initially.
FRONTEX NAVAL OPERATION TO LOOK FOR ‘FOREIGN FIGHTERS’
EU Observer on 1st February reports that the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex is stepping up intelligence-gathering of migrants plucked from the sea following the launch of a new Central Mediterranean naval operation. It launched its Themis mission, geared towards cracking down on alleged terrorist suspects and criminals. Vessels will still perform search and rescue, when required. But its redoubled security-centric mandate marks a departure from previous Frontex naval operations, and exposes a broader EU refocussing on people rescued at sea as potential threats.
EUROPEAN ONLINE GAMBLING OPERATORS FILE DATA PROTECTION COMPLAINT AGAINST UNLAWFUL PAYMENT BLOCKING SCHEME IN NORWAY
On 18th January the European Gaming & Betting Association issued a news release saying that it has asked the Norwegian Data Protection Inspectorate (DPI) to urgently investigate a Norwegian payment blocking scheme for serious breaches of the privacy of Norwegian citizens when conducting online payments. The scheme established by the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) is in contravention of Norwegian Data Protection laws and the European Convention on Human Rights according to the EGBA.
CRIMINAL FINANCES ACT 2017
On 1st February the Home Office issued a set of publications about the contents of the Criminal Finances Act 2017, including about Unexplained Wealth Orders, confiscation reconsideration, extending the SAR moratorium etc.
CRIMINAL FINANCES ACT 2017: CONFISCATION, ENFORCEMENT, DEFENDANT’S MONEY HELD BY A THIRD PARTY
On 1st February, Home Office Circular 012/2018 which provides information on relevant amendments introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017. It explains that amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 provides for 2 sets of powers relating to the enforcement of a confiscation order in relation to defendant’s money which is held by another person; notably, by a bank in an account or by a law enforcement agency following its seizure.
OTHER HOME OFFICE CIRCULARS PROVIDING INFORMATION ON CRIMINAL FINANCES ACT 2017 CHANGES
On 1st February, the Home Office issued a whole series of Home Office Circulars explaining new or changed procedures under proceeds of crime and anti-terrorism legislation –
· Circular 011/2018: Criminal Finances Act: confiscation reconsideration
· Circular 010/2018: Criminal Finances Act: further information orders
· Circular 009/2018: Criminal Finances Act: extension of powers and new assault and obstruction offence
· Circular 008/2018: Criminal Finances Act: extending the moratorium period for suspicious activity reports
· Circular 007/2018: Criminal Finances Act: sharing information within the regulated sector
· Circular 006/2018: Criminal Finances Act: disclosure orders
· Circular 005/2018: Criminal Finances Act: forfeiture of money held in bank and building society accounts
· Circular 004/2018: Criminal Finances Act: unlawful conduct, gross human rights abuses or violations
· Circular 003/2018: Criminal Finances Act: unexplained wealth orders
EXPORT CONTROL (VENEZUELA SANCTIONS) ORDER 2018
SI 2018/108 provides for the enforcement in the UK of trade restrictions against Venezuela specified in Regulation (EU) No. 2017/2063 concerning restrictive measures against Venezuela.
PYRAMID SCHEMES CAUSE HUGE SOCIAL HARM IN CHINA
On 1st February, The Economist carried an article which begins by explaining that authorities call them “business cults”. Tens of millions of people are ensnared in these pyramid schemes that use cult-like techniques to brainwash their targets and bilk them out of their money. In July 2017 victims of one such fraud held a rally in central Beijing (pictured), an extremely unusual occurrence. The police quickly dispersed it and the government, in panic, declared a 3-month campaign against the scams. Hundreds of them were closed down and thousands of people arrested. But the cults are adopting new guises. The problem may still be growing.
AER LINGUS WORKER ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND ORGANISING PEOPLE SMUGGLING AT DUBLIN AIRPORT SENT FORWARD FOR TRIAL
On 1st February the Irish Independent reported that Peter Kernan, 57, of Co Kildare. He had been originally charged in January 2017 with unlawfully facilitating the entry of 2 non-nationals into the State on January 9th and January 22nd, 2017, with 20 further charges since being laid.
SWISS REGULATOR SANCTIONS RUSSIA’S GAZPROMBANK AFTER PANAMA PAPERS LEAK
Breaking News reports that Switzerland’s market regulator has banned the national affiliate of Russia’s Gazprombank from taking new private clients over money laundering concerns during a 10-year period which emerged from the Panama Papers leak. The move marks the first time that Swiss markets authority FINMA has specifically identified any company over wrongdoing following the leak that exposed international tax avoidance worldwide.
FRANCE TO FINANCE EXPORTS TO IRAN, AIMS TO SIDESTEP US SANCTIONS
Reuters on 1st February reported that France will start offering euro-denominated credits to Iranian buyers of its goods later this year, a move to bolster trade while keeping it outside the reach of US sanctions, the head of state-owned investment bank Bpifrance said.
BLACK LISTING OF UKRAINE CREATED DISTRUST IN ESTONIA
The Post Times in Estonia reports that Ukraine’s decision to add Estonia to the list of countries it considers tax havens managed, in just a few weeks, to create a situation where Estonian companies were avoided by both banks and business partners. The Ukrainian government added Estonia, Latvia, Iran, Cuba, Laos, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, UAE, Singapore, Georgia, and Hungary to its list of tax havens in late 2017.
OFAC LISTS HEAD OF HAMAS POLITICAL BUREAU
On 1st February, the Middle East Monitor reports on the US listing the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, on the OFAC terrorism list.
THE ILLEGAL CIGARETTE TRADE IN BULGARIA
The Bulgarian News Agency BTA reports on the size of the illegal cigarette market in Bulgaria on 1st February. It mentions that in 2007, illegal cigarettes were 11.2% of the entire cigarette market in Bulgaria. By 2010, this share had risen to 30.7% and the cigarette market was virtually inundated by contraband cigarettes. Despite the shrinking illegal market in the years that followed, criminal revenues remain too big to be neglected. Its authors bring to attention the huge illegal market in loose tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes. Contraband loose tobacco makes up as much as 75% of the total market. This quantity is equal to 861 million cigarettes (0.75 gr per cigarette). Some 86% of the contraband loose tobacco is locally produced.
EU’S COURT OF JUSTICE UPHOLDS FINES ON KUEHNE & NAGEL, DEUTSCHE BAHN AND OTHERS FOR FORMING CARTELS IN THE AIR FREIGHT SECTOR
On 1st February, New Europe reported that the ECJ said the Commission was right to fine a group of freight forwarding companies over cartel charges, dismissing an appeal brought by logistics groups Kuehne & Nagel, Panalpina, Schenker, Deutsche Bahn and others, 13 in all. In March 2012, the Commission imposed fines amounting in total to €169 million on a number of companies by reason of their participation, in periods between 2002 and 2007, in various agreements and concerted practices on the market for international air freight forwarding services. Those services included the organisation of transportation of items, and could also include activities such as customs clearance, warehousing or ground services, on behalf of customers according to their needs.
CANADA’S FINTRAC’S MONEY LAUNDERING PENALTIES IN LIMBO AFTER COURT RULING
CBC News in Canada reported on 1st February that Canada’s watchdog against terror financing and money laundering has been partially neutered after losing a landmark court case over the way it penalises offending businesses. Since May 2016, the federal agency known as Fintrac has been unable to levy fines on firms that violate tough financing regulations — and will remain toothless until at least the summer when a review of its penalty programme is completed.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU OVER RUSSIA SANCTIONS
On 31st January the EU announced that Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, Norway, members of the EEA, as well as Ukraine align themselves with Council Decision 2017/2426/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine.
VENZUELA CRYPTOCURRENCY TO GO ON PRE-SALE IN FEBRUARY
The European Sanctions Blog reports that Venezuela’s President Maduro has announced that a ‘pre-sale’ of the country’s proposed ‘Petro’ cryptocurrency will commence on 20th February.
TAIWANESE ACCUSED OF SUPPLYING COAL TO NORTH KOREA
On 1st February, the European Sanctions Blog reports that a former High Court judge and his son, as well as 2 others have been accused of violating UN sanctions against North Korea (though Taiwan is not a UN member state). Specifically, for having chartered a vessel (using a Chinese intermediary) in order to transport North Korean coal to Vietnam in 2017.
GIBRALTAR GOVERNMENT DOES NOT TURN A BLIND EYE TO SMUGGLING
A news release from the Gibraltar Government on 1st February refutes allegations that it does not do enough to combat tobacco smugglers.
PLANS FOR JERSEY AIRCRAFT REGISTER
Jersey Evening Post reports that new plans to transform Jersey’s struggling Aircraft Registry are due to be announced soon, the Economic Development Minister has said. There is currently just 1 aircraft – a privately owned Cessna – on the list.
ITALY ARRESTS CAMORRA MEMBER WHO HID IN MEXICO
OCCRP reports that Italian authorities detained a member of the Camorra crime syndicate who landed in Rome after having been expelled from Mexico where he lived for more than a decade under a false name. A court in Verona sentenced Salvatore Longo in 2007 to more than 9 years in prison for extortion and usury. However, Longo had already left Italy. He acquired a new identity and lived in Mexico with a local woman and ran a pizza restaurant in Tijuana.
HONG KONG BANS IVORY TRADE IN ‘HISTORIC’ VOTE
On 1st February the BBC reported that ivory sales will be phased out gradually in Hong Kong, stopping completely in 2021.
BENFICA CLUB PRESIDENT NAMED SUSPECT IN CORRUPTION PROBE
Baker McKenzie reports that Portugal’s prosecutors named the head of football club Benfica, Luis Filipe Vieira, as a formal suspect in an investigation into a corruption scheme, the second high-profile inquiry to involve the Lisbon club in less than a week. The prosecutor general’s office said Benfica Vice President Fernando Tavares was also a suspect in the case, along with a high-ranking judge and 9 other people.
SUSPECTED BALKAN CRIME BOSS JAILED FOR 6 YEARS IN KOSOVO
Reuters reports that Suspected Balkan crime boss Naser Kelmendi was sentenced to 6 years in prison in Kosovo for trafficking drugs, but cleared of murder, organized crime and other charges. the Kosovo-born ethnic Albanian with Bosnian citizenship was blacklisted in 2012 by U.S. authorities, who have accused him of heading a family network distributing heroin and other drugs through Afghanistan to Turkey and into Europe.
OVERSIGHT REGIME NEEDED TO IMPROVE SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT
KYC 360 on 1st February carried an article that began by saying that in December 2017, the Institute for Science and International Security issued a report detailing the breadth of non-compliance with UN sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In particular, it determined that the DPRK has either co-operated with or took advantage of apparent deficiencies in the regulatory regimes of 49 countries to conduct commerce despite the prohibitions imposed on the country. In addition, ISIS has also identified where another 13 countries have apparently unintentionally been involved in sanctions violations, but not as part of an ongoing pattern of abuse. The 19 countries identified in providing financial services, facilitating the use of front companies, and other non-military transactions includes Germany, India and Poland. The 18 countries which were implicated in imports of sanctioned goods include Barbados, France, and Ireland. The 20 countries who assisted in vessel reflagging or otherwise facilitating shipments included Greece and Japan. The article suggests that what is needed to truly give sanctions more teeth – an oversight regime similar to FATF’s focused on export control standards and enforcement.