6th February 2018
FCPA CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT POLICY: CO-OPERATION AS A MITIGATING FACTOR
The latest 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. It begins by pointing out that under the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, there will be a presumption of declination if a company self-discloses misconduct, fully co-operates and remediates, unless there are aggravating circumstances, and if convicted there will be a lower fine. There might even be a reduced fine even if there has been no disclosure beforehand, as long as the company subsequently fully co-operates and applies timely and appropriately remedies. Hence. It clearly states, co-operation as a mitigating factor is vital.
THE GREAT BRITISH MONEY LAUNDERING SERVICE
Following up last year’s “Russian Laundromat” story has led to a BBC investigation that links the Eurovision Song Contest, Ukrainian cash and what it describes as “The Great British Money laundering Service”. A File on 4 radio programme was broadcast on 4th February. In the programme, Tim Whewell investigates the scams designed to circumvent new regulations and untangles the global networks behind the Great British Money Laundering Service. It says that new transparency rules designed to reveal the true owners of British companies are being flouted, and billions of pounds of dirty money is alleged to have passed through opaque UK companies in recent years. How, it asks, does this square with UK’s international reputation for financial probity?
BAKER McKENZIE INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMPLIANCE UPDATE
On 6th February, Baker McKenzie issued the February 2018 edition of this newsletter, which aims to provide articles and comments intended to provide readers with information on recent legal developments and issues of significance or interest. It covers all parts of the world. Seemingly all you need to know in its 117 pages…
US FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS HIGHER FRAUD LOSSES IN 2016
On 6th February, American Banker reported that a survey of 283 banks and credit unions in the US revealed that US financial institutions recorded higher fraud losses in 2016 across all major payment types, indicating that they have not been keeping pace with criminals’ advances.
RESULTS OF CASE INVOLVING £1.6 MILLION THEFT FROM BERMUDA GOVERNMENT
On 6th February the BBC reported that 2 men connected to a £1.6 million theft from the Government of Bermuda have been cleared of money laundering offences. Paul Charity, 52 and Joel Ismail, 42, were found not guilty but Charity was convicted of hiding information from police investigating the theft. He will be sentenced together with Jeffrey Bevan, 50, who previously pleaded guilty to 3 counts of transferring criminal property and 10 counts of converting criminal property.
MALI ORDERED TO PAY $48 MILLION TO MILITARY SUPPLIER
News 24 on 6th February reports that Mali’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to pay more than $48 million to a local military equipment firm, in a legal case dating back to 2014 triggered by corruption allegations. It also reports that the World Bank and IMF froze aid to Mali in 2014 over state dealings with the supplier, Guo Star, and over a separate purchase of a $40million presidential plane for leader, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (see https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/may/16/mali-president-boubacar-keita-private-plane-international-aid-donors)
NETHERLANDS STEPS INTO TO TACKLE MISMANAGEMENT IN CARIBBEAN ISLAND
Tax News on 6th February reported that the Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius will lose its self-governing powers if a Bill recently introduced into the Netherlands’ Parliament is passed. It authorises the Dutch Government to dissolve the island’s governing council and to remove its commissioners and acting governor from office. In their place, a government commissioner will be appointed. The Dutch Government is quoted as saying that the current administrative situation is marked not only by lawlessness and financial mismanagement, but also by discrimination, intimidation, threats and offensive behaviour, arbitrary decisions, and the pursuit of personal power.
DOJ AND CFTC RECENT ACTIONS HIGHLIGHT THEIR INCREASED FOCUS ON “SPOOFING”
On 6th February an article from Shearman & Sterling says that recent cases and an announcement are intended to serve as a “strong signal” to financial institutions that US regulators take spoofing activities seriously and are investing in the surveillance and enforcement tools necessary to identify and deter this high-tech crime which, it explains, entails using algorithmic trading to place bids with the intention of withdrawing those bids before orders are filled in order to manipulate the market price of a security.
LIBYA FORCES MAY BE COLLUDING WITH MIGRANT SMUGGLERS: UN REPORT
On 5th February, the Modern Ghana website reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, according to a report by a UN panel of experts which found that Libyan forces may be helping rebel groups tighten their control of smuggling routes, and that the report also said the Islamic State group is seeking to join migrant smugglers in southern Libya after it was pushed out of Sirte in 2016.
SECTARIANISM IN SYRIA’S CIVIL WAR
This geopolitical study from the Washington Institute, illustrated with 70 original maps and graphics, is intended to foster a deeper understanding of the role that sectarianism has played in Syria’s war, and to reassess the notion that the regime’s divisive efforts singlehandedly transformed the secular and democratic revolution of 2011 into the brutal sectarian conflict of today. The war has compelled Syrians to cling to their sectarian identities more tightly, whether out of socioeconomic self-interest or simply to survive. Examining these identities is therefore crucial to answering the most fundamental questions about the ongoing upheaval, and understanding the proxy war between regional and international forces that often exploit the country’s divided society for their own benefit.
7th February 2018
GERMAN MATERIAL DISCOVERED IN IRANIAN-MADE SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS
World Israel News is one of major sources that features a report saying that German federal authorities approved an export licence to sell Iranian businesses militarily applicable equipment that was used in a chemical attack in Syria. According to the German newspaper Bild, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control allowed the Krempel Group to sell electronic press boards (an insulating material) to Iranian companies. Photos of the rocket debris displayed the Krempel company’s logo. These products, Pressspan PSP-3040 insulation material, are dual-use technology, and a spokesman for Krempel told Bild that the company was “shocked… that its Pressspan PSP-3040 apparently was used in motors that were applied to weapons of war”.
IMF EVALUATION OF NICARAGUA
On 6th February, the IMF issued a statement following the end of its evaluation visit and this included saying that Nicaragua needed to enhance the supervisory perimeter and reinforce its AML/CFT framework. It said that the mission welcomes the authorities’ efforts to implement the recommendations of the 2017 FATF Mutual Evaluation Report, and that laws to enforce record keeping, due diligence and notification of suspicious operations have been approved by the National Assembly. It noted that the authorities’ plan includes additional legal initiatives to address the remaining FATF recommendations.
FURTHER IMPORTANT CHANGES TO CAYMAN ISLANDS AML REGIME
On 6th February, Maples published an article saying that a number of major developments impacted the Cayman Islands AML regime in December 2017, as the CFATF 4th round mutual evaluation of the Cayman Islands was being conducted. This followed the introduction of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, 2017 in November 2017. The article provides a high-level summary of the most recent developments.
884 COMPANIES UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR MONEY LAUNDERING IN INDIA
On 7th February, the Free Press Journal in India (together with many other outlets) reported that as many as 884 companies are under the scanner in various money laundering cases, according to Union Minister P P Chaudhary.
BRAZIL POLICE ARREST SECT MEMBERS FOR ENSLAVEMENT
On 7TH February, the BBC reported that Brazilian police have arrested 13 members of a religious sect, The Evangelical Community of Jesus, the Truth that Marks, estimated to have around 6,000 followers, on suspicion of enslavement, human trafficking and money laundering. It says that sect leaders are accused of seizing the possessions of followers and making them work unpaid.
CANADIAN AML REGULATOR HIGHLIGHTS FLAGS FOR FENTANYL TRAFFICKING, MAINLY FROM CHINA
Reuters on 7th February carried a report saying that Canada’s AML agency, FINTRAC, has alerted financial institutions to newly identified transaction patterns used in the trafficking of fentanyl, an ultra-potent drug central to North America’s lethal opioid crisis. It says that traffickers procure fentanyl and its precursors mainly from China using wire transfers, money orders, and occasionally virtual currency, with Fentanyl and its analogues are typically smuggled into Canada through the postal system, prior to being distributed through networks in a small area surrounding the arrival point. The laundering of the proceeds in Canada generally takes place through Canadian banks, caisses populaires, and credit unions. The article goes on to list the indicators highlighted by FINTRAC.
AN A TO Z OF ENFORCING A UK MONEY JUDGMENT
On 9th January, Pennington Manches published what might be a useful A to Z of means of enforcing a money judgment in the UK – from “attachment to earnings” to “Zoopla” (an online estate agent which might be useful for valuing assets).
PAIN, NO GAIN: AFRICA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH INTERNATIONAL TAX HAVENS
Following the revelations of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, this article from ENACT Africa on 17th January looks at illicit financial flows (IFF) that affect Africa, the differences between wholly illegal tax evasion and questionable tax avoidance saying, as one might expect, that tax evasion tends to generate a much greater response than tax avoidance and provokes stronger political will to crack down on use of tax havens. However, it contends that purely focusing on legality may undermine international efforts to combat tax-related illicit financial flows, and puts forward the definition of avoidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF), that tax avoidance practices are those existing in a grey area that exploits differences in legal standards across countries; weak legal systems in some countries; and different interpretations and acceptance of norms on international taxation. It says that, of particular relevance to the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers leaks, what is necessary is determining whether the flows are illicit, which takes into account both the legality and the legitimacy of the flow. It makes the valid point that both tax avoidance and tax evasion thwart Africa’s development and that Africa must have a stronger voice in international financial institutions.
ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS (IFF) – INDICATORS OF TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING AND OTHER ILLEGAL ACTIVITY
The IATF is a UN initiative, see –
It says that there is currently no single tool or process capable of eﬀectively measuring or estimating IFF. Indeed, measuring and tracking illicit ﬂows is extremely challenging, since there is as of yet no firm agreement on the conceptual framework of an illicit financial flow. The lack of a definition makes it hard for such flows to be transparently or systematically recorded in a co-ordinated fashion. IFF also, of course, may be indicators of, trade-based money laundering, and so the information provided by the IATF is always of interest from that perspective.
The following tables therefore have a money laundering interest as well as being relevant to the larger IFF debate.
SHIPPING ALONG THE ARCTIC’S NORTHERN SEA ROUTE WILL BE DETERMINED BY RUSSIA–CHINA COOPERATION IN THE REGION
On 7th February, SIPRI published an “expert comment” by a researcher that began by addressing a white paper issued by the State Council Information Office in China in January which clarified China’s vision of the Arctic, its intentions, goals and objectives in the region – in which China describes itself as a “near-Arctic state”. This white paper refers to ‘opportunities for parties concerned to jointly build a “Polar Silk Road”’ to complement the Belt Road Initiative being pursued by China, and as a form of “maritime Silk Road”.
VERMONT TO LEGALISE RECREATIONAL CANNABIS
On 6th February, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that on 22nd January Vermont became the 9th US state to legalise possession of cannabis for recreational purposes.
PIRATES RELEASE SHIP IN GULF OF GUINEA
Defence Web on 7th February reported that pirates freed a ship, the Marine Express, carrying 22 Indian crew and 13,500 tonnes of gasoline, Hong Kong-based Anglo-Eastern, manager of the ship, said in a statement. It went missing in the Gulf of Guinea after contact was lost in Benin on 2nd February.
ECOWAS SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON GUINEA-BISSAU RESIDENTS
On 7th February, Defence Web reported that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had imposed sanctions on 20 Guinea-Bissau politicians and businessmen, including travel bans and asset freezes accusing them of undermining efforts to resolve a prolonged political crisis. The affected persons include: Braima Camara, Rui Dia de Sousa, Soares Sambu, Abel da Silva Gomes, Manuel Nascimento Lopes, Eduardo Mamadu Balde, Maria Aurora Abissa Sano, Florentino Mendes Pereira, Orlando Mendes Viegas, Certorio Biote, Domingos Quade, Carlitos Barai, Domingos Malu, Antonio Sedja Man, Bacari Biai, Botche Cande, Herson Gougjabi Vaz, Victor Madinga, and Fernando Vaz.
OLAF: ALLEGED ORGANISED CRIME AND OTHER IRREGULARITIES IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS IN HUNGARY
On 7th February, the Budapest Beacon reported that an online daily in Hungary claims to have obtained a copy of an OLAF report on public procurement irregularities involving a company co-owned at the time by István Tiborcz, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law. Elios Zrt. was contracted by numerous local governments to modernise public lighting. The projects were funded in large part with EU development grants. OLAF conducted a 2-year investigation during which the investigators inspected 35 public procurements awarded to Elios between 2011 and 2015.
MADE IN AMERICA, BY FORCE – HOW LOCAL INDUSTRIES RELY ON COERCED LABOR
On 25th January this article and podcast detailed how forced labour was used in the Midwest US, including a major egg producer that, between 2011 and 2014, held contracts with a company that supplied workers who were mostly underage — some as young as 14 — to clean the company’s chicken coops, load and unload crates of chickens, and perform the grueling work of debeaking and vaccinating chickens. The workers originated from Guatemala and were coerced by violence to travel to Ohio. It highlights that forced labour in the US exists not just in border states.
COLOMBIAN EMBASSY CONDEMNS SINGAPORE BAR NAMED AFTER DRUG LORD
The South China Morning Post reports that the country’s Central narcotics Bureau has also taken issue with ‘Escobar’.
KOREAN ACCUSED OF LARGE-SCALE FRAUD ARRESTED IN PHILIPPINES
GMA News Online on 7th February reported that authorities have arrested an undocumented Korean wanted on a 2005 warrant in his home country for alleged large-scale fraud worth $100 million in a construction investment scam. The suspect’s passport expired in 2009, and has never been renewed since.
NEARLY 140 HONDURAN OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN EMBEZZLEMENT SCANDAL
Telesur on 6th February reported that an international anti-corruption commission says that the organised crime ring within the Honduran government involved upwards of 140 elected officials and functionaries. The network, comprised mainly of congress members and NGO leaders, illegally channelled approximately $55 million in state funds meant for community social projects, into their own pockets. Of the 140 implicated, 30 are NGO leaders. However, in January the parliament passed a law that effectively sidelined the work of the investigators, a law described by the lead spokesman and investigator as “an impunity pact”.
NOVARTIS: BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST 10 FORMER GREEK MINISTERS
On 7th February, the BBC reported that Greek prosecutors have named 8 former ministers and 2 former prime ministers in connection with a major corruption investigation. Investigators allege the pharmaceutical company Novartis paid doctors to prescribe its drugs at high prices. Those allegedly involved held office from 2006-2015. Novartis said it is co-operating with the investigation.
US PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SANCTIONS – AND HOW SECONDARY SANCTIONS WORK
The Atlantic Council has published on 6th February an edition of its EconoGraphic blog which explains the difference between primary and secondary sanctions, outlines how secondary sanctions work, and uses a case study to demonstrate how the US employs secondary sanctions in the real economy.
Primary sanctions, such as asset freezes and trade embargoes, prohibit citizens and companies of the sanctioning country from engaging in certain activities with their counterparts from the sanctioned country. Secondary sanctions put pressure on third parties to stop their activities with the sanctioned country by threatening to cut-off the third party’s access to the sanctioning country. Recent US sanctions against Iran illustrate this example well, it says.
The blog emphasises that it is important to note that secondary and primary sanctions technically function in the same way, in that they are enforced by targeting domestic entities rather than the third party.
The blog uses the application of sanctions against the Chinese Bank of Dandong as a case study.
A further, more detailed briefing on secondary sanctions is to be published by the Atlantic Council in due course.
STATISTICS ON DRUG MISUSE, ENGLAND 2018
On 7th February, NHS Digital published a news release that presents a range of information on drug use by adults and children drawn together from a variety of sources.
UK GOVERNMENT “CHAMPION” RAISES PROFILE FOR PRIVATE FLYING
On 7th February, the UK Department for Transport reported that the government has appointed Byron Davies as its first-ever General Aviation Champion to help identify a network of UK aerodromes that are most important for non-scheduled flying to flourish.
US CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE REPORT ON BSA/AML ENFORCEMENT
On 7th February, Kenneth Rijock recommended reading of this report from 12th January and which provides an overview of recent trends in the enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the principal US AML law regulating financial institutions.
RUSSIA DENIES PORT ENTRY TO NORTH KOREAN CARGO SHIP
On 7th February, Customs Today reported that Russia has denied port entry to a North Korean ship carrying cargo from China after port officials suspected the vessel was violating UN sanctions on the North. The Mangyongbong, which usually transports cargo between the North’s Rajin port and Vladivostok, reportedly applied to enter a port in the Far Eastern Russian city on 31st January. According to the Russian operator of the ship, the ship was carrying 6 containers of Chinese feed for livestock loaded from Rajin, adding that a Chinese exporter of the animal feed asked the ship to move it for eventual sale in South Korea.
FRAUDSTERS POSING AS THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CENTRE (DIFC)
International Adviser warned on 7th February that the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has issued a warning to the financial services community and the public about a scam using fake emails and documents purporting to come from the DIFC.
UK GOVERNMENT ASKS LAW COMMISSION TO LOOK AT TROLLING LAWS
On 6th February, the Law Commission reported that the Government had asked it to review the laws around offensive communications and assess whether they provide the right protection to victims online.
VIRGINIA SENATE APPROVES MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Jurist reported on 6th February that Virginia’s Senate had approved legislation allowing doctors to prescribe oils containing mostly non-psychoactive cannabis extracts, making Virginia part of the majority of states to approve medical marijuana.
PORTUGUESE POLICE SEIZE 4.5 TONS OF SYNTHETIC DRUG MATERIAL
On 7th February, Xinhua reported that police in Portugal have seized 4.5 tonnes of benzyl methyl ketone (BMK), a precursor substance used to make synthetic drugs such as ecstasy. It was intercepted as it arrived via air from an unspecified Asian country, ready to be transported by land to another European country.
HONG KONG’S IVORY TRADE IS DEAD BUT IT REMAINS A HUB FOR OTHER ENDANGERED SPECIES
Quartz on 7th February reported that Hong Kong remains a busy and lucrative trading hub for all sorts of endangered flora and fauna. Most of these products are bound for China, with its voracious demand for all kinds of animals and their by-products for use in traditional medicine.
8 MILLION CIGARETTES SEIZED BY CUSTOMS AT BELFAST PORT
The Irish Times reported on 7th February that a load listed as bed linen with a delivery address in Co Down was 8 million cigarettes destined for sale in the UK were discovered hidden on a ship from Singapore. The 40 pallets comprised a total of 800 boxes containing the cigarettes. This is the biggest single seizure of cigarettes at the port in 6 years.
LANDMARK FREEZING ORDER GRANTED IN INTERNET FRAUD AGAINST ‘GHOST’ PERPETRATORS
Osborne Clarke on 7th February reported that a worldwide freezing order (WFO) has been granted against ‘Person(s) Unknown’ who, in what appears to have been a cyber-attack, caused several million dollars of the claimant’s funds to be transferred from the claimant company’s bank accounts in London to a number of banks across different jurisdictions. It will allow the claimant company to trace and secure the money that had been stolen from its accounts by the as-yet unidentified individuals.
HONDURAS ANTI-GRAFT BODY “CLOSING IN ON EX-PRESIDENT”
Insight Crime on 6th February reported that an internationally backed anti-corruption body in Honduras – The Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH) – is reportedly assisting local authorities with gathering evidence in an investigation targeting a powerful former president, Porfirio Lobo, suggesting the commission’s efforts have helped judicial officials withstand attempts to interfere with such high-profile cases. It is alleged that the former president and members of the governing National Party to which he belongs were involved in dealings that saw the Cachiros drug trafficking group obtain state contracts for hydroelectric power projects.
REPORT HIGHLIGHTS HOW VENEZUELA CRISIS FUELS PIRACY, CONTRABAND IN THE CARIBBEAN
Insight Crime on 5th February reports that a recent journalistic investigation shows how a small patch of water between Venezuela’s eastern coast and the shores of Trinidad and Tobago has become a dangerous haven for pirates and criminals smuggling contraband between the nations, underscoring the consequences of Venezuela’s failure to control the country’s political and economic crisis.
TECH ENTANGLEMENT — CHINA, THE US, AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
An article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reflects on the complex bilateral relationship between China and the US, where artificial intelligence has emerged as a new domain of both cooperation and competition. Even as China and the US increasingly compete in artificial intelligence on the national level, the 2 countries’ business and technology sectors are deeply entangled, competing and collaborating by turn.
MILITARY AUDIT CONFIRMS US TANKS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT SUPPLIED TO IRAQ ENDED UP WITH IRAN-BACKED MILITIAS
Al-Monitor on 6th February reported that as many as 9 US tanks provided to Iraq’s military for the fight against the Islamic State (IS) have ended up in the hands of Iranian-backed militants, a government audit revealed. It confirms a string of on-the-ground reports that M1 Abrams battle tanks and other lethal equipment provided by the US government have ended up with the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). The news adds credence to reports that Abrams tank manufacturer General Dynamics has suspended maintenance support for 160 of its tanks amid allegations that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) broke an agreement on their use. The article says that the challenge of keeping US-supplied weapons and equipment out of the hands of groups with ties to Iran has grown over the course of the 3-year mission.
US TO UNVEIL “TOUGHEST” SANCTIONS YET ON NORTH KOREA
KYC 360 on 7th February reported that Vice President Mike Pence said the US is preparing to announce the “toughest and most aggressive” economic sanctions against North Korea in the coming days. Pence made the announcement in Japan, following meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
SENATE BILL AIMS TO ESTABLISH FRAMEWORK FOR US LAW ENFORCERS TO ACCESS INFORMATION STORED OVERSEAS
A framework would be established for US law enforcers to legally access email communications stored on overseas cloud-based servers, and US officials would be authorised to negotiate bilateral data sharing agreements with foreign countries, under a Senate Bill announced on 5th February – the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act.
PUBLIC WARNING – BANQUE LOUIS – LOUIS GROUP ISLE OF MAN
On 7th February, the Isle of Man FSA issued a news release saying it has recently become aware of the website http://labanquelouis.com representing the purported entity Banque Louis claiming to be a Swiss family bank. Within the website there is a link to a purported subsidiary company namely Louis Group Isle of Man.
US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT MOVES AGAINST ILLICIT TURKISH-BASED IRAN AIRCRAFT NETWORK
On 5th February, the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) reported that it has acted against Turkish national Gulnihal Yegane and 3 affiliated Turkish companies who are involved in illicitly procuring and supplying Iranian airlines with US-origin aircraft engines and spare parts. The action, called a “temporary denial order” (TDO), suspends the export privileges of Gulnihal Yegane (“Yegane”), Trigron Lojistik Kargo Limited Sirketi (“Trigron”), Ufuk Avia Lojistik Limited Sirketi (“Ufuk Avia”), and RA Havacilik Lojistik Ve Tasimacilik Ticaret Limited Sirketi (“RA Havacilik”). Gulnihal Yegane was previously added to the BIS Entity List for smuggling parts to Iran’s Mahan Air.
Temporary Denial Orders are issued by the Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement of the Bureau of Industry and Security, denying the export privileges of a company or individual to prevent an imminent or on-going export control violation. These orders are issued for a renewable 180-day period and cut off not only the right to export from the US, but also the right to receive or participate in exports from the US.
RECENT AL-SHABAAB ACTIVITY AND COUNTERMEASURES
The Oxford Research Group has published an interview on 31st January with the expert on jihadi-insurgency groups, Christopher Anzalone, where he talks about the recent activity of Al-Shabaab and the effectiveness of the countermeasures against the group.
GEOSTRATEGIC NUCLEAR EXPORTS: THE COMPETITION FOR INFLUENCE IN SAUDI ARABIA
On 7th February, War on the Rocks reports that the US is taking steps to counter the Russian and Chinese nuclear export strategy. During the Cold War, the US was a dominant force in the nuclear marketplace, building dozens of power reactors in countries like West Germany, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, India, and Taiwan. It used promises of assistance, and the threat of cutting exports off as a way of preventing proliferation, helping to steer countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Sweden away from nuclear weapons. However, the article says that the US nuclear industry is in precipitous decline as demand for nuclear reactors largely stagnated, at a time when Russia and China are competing with it for influence, especially in the nuclear energy sector. The article puts forward the case for nuclear co-operation with Saudi Arabia.
WITH EYES ON THE INDIAN OCEAN, NEW PLAYERS RUSH INTO THE HORN OF AFRICA
Another War on the Rocks article on 7th February which says that a race is underway between Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Turkey to build naval and military bases right across the Horn of Africa. This threatens to change the naval balance in the northwest Indian Ocean. But it may also presage the beginnings of a new strategic order in this complex and multipolar region where a host of major and middle powers jostle for influence and position. Turkey signed a deal with Sudan to rebuild the old Ottoman-era port of Suakin on the Red Sea, which will reportedly include naval facilities. Djibouti hosts naval and military forces from France, US, Japan, Italy, China, and the Saudis, among other countries. A factor is is the growing rivalry in the Horn of Africa between the 2 new Middle Eastern blocs: Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt on one side; and Turkey, Iran, and Qatar on the other.
US DOJ INDICTS 36 PEOPLE FOR ROLES IN $530 MILLION CYBERCRIME
Marketwatch, Reuters and others on 7th February reported that the US DoJ had indicted 36 people for their alleged role in an internet-based cybercriminal enterprise called the Infraud Organisation and engaged in the large-scale acquisition, sale, and dissemination of stolen identities, compromised debit and credit cards, personally identifiable information, financial and banking information, computer malware, and other contraband. The DoJ said 13 people were arrested in the US, Australia, the UK, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia. Members of the group allegedly caused more than $530 million in actual losses to consumers, businesses, and financial institutions.
UK RENEWS 4 TERRORISM SANCTIONS DESIGNATIONS
On 7th February, HM Treasury renewed its terrorism sanctions designations for 4 persons – Khalid Mishaal; Musa Abu Marzouk; Usama Hamdan; and Imad Khalil Al-Alami.
EU-NORWAY VAT CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT
On 7TH February, Tax News reported that the EU and Norway have signed a new agreement on administrative co-operation on VAT compliance which will provide legal framework for administrative co-operation in the prevention of VAT fraud and for mutual assistance in the recovery of VAT claims. Norway is the first country with which the EU has signed an agreement in this area and it has a similar VAT system to the EU.
SENEGAL MAYOR SAYS GOVERNMENT KNEW ABOUT “SLUSH FUND”
On 7Th February, the Mail Online reported that the mayor of Dakar in Senegal, Khalifa Sall, has said that the government had full knowledge of a slush fund held outside official accounts. He is charged with embezzlement accusations in a high-profile corruption trial where it is alleged that he and 7 others misappropriated $3.3 million. He says the allegations are intended to prevent him running for president.
EU PARLIAMENT BACKS KEEPING TUNISIA, SRI LANKA AND TRINIDAD& TOBAGO ON MONEY LAUNDERING BLACKLIST
On 7th February, Law 360 reports that the European Parliament has voted to keep 3 countries on Europe’s money laundering blacklist, despite “intense efforts” by some members to get them removed. Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago should be kept on the list as being of a high risk for money laundering and terrorist financing due to what are considered strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes.