NOW WITH UNNECESSARY DUPLICATION OF ALREADY-PUBLISHED POSTS REMOVED!
10th February 2018
IMF – LUXEMBOURG: CONCLUDING STATEMENT OF THE 2018 ARTICLE IV MISSION
On 9th February, the IMF issued a news release about the preliminary findings of IMF staff at the end of an official staff visit to Luxembourg. Amongst other things, this said that AML challenges should continue to be addressed and risk monitoring of Fintech should be strengthened. It summarised that the authorities should continue to address risks related to AML/CFT. The recent transposition into national law of the 4th EU ML Directive is an important step, to be followed by the establishment of registries of beneficial owners for firms, trusts, and other entities. The National Risk Assessment should focus on the specific AML/CFT risks related to tax evasion and activities of trust and company service providers, and develop remedial actions where needed. Luxembourg is actively engaged in Fintech developments which may impose changes in business models in the banking and asset management sectors, including by creating new opportunities. Adequate regulatory and supervisory arrangements should be put in place to safeguard financial stability.
US INTEREST IN TURKISH SANCTIONS INTENSIFIES
On 9th February, the Ahval website reported that interest from US lawmakers in imposing sanctions on NATO ally Turkey is increasing, a closed-door meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee showed. It said that participants invited to the discussions, entitled “Turkey and the Way Ahead”, included a representative from the US Treasury, as well as the state and defence departments. Spokespersons from a lobby group suggested that such sanctions could focus on 3 factors –
- measures against Turkish state-run Halkbank for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran;
- because of Turkey’s planned purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia; and/or
- targeted sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, which permits visa bans and sanctions on individuals for committing human rights abuses or persons engaged in significant corruption.
GOLD SCAM MONEY LAUNDERING JAILED AFTER BBC INVESTIGATION
On 9th February the BBC reported that 5 men who helped launder more than £1.2 million stolen by cold-callers who phoned a BBC reporter have been sentenced. City of London Police launched their own probe into the “boiler room” gold scam in 2013 after an investigation by BBC Radio. The men, who helped launder the money stolen by the scammers, were given sentences ranging from 2½ years in prison to 12 months’ community service. They had all opened bank accounts to launder money received from victims. A police spokesman is quoted as saying, “This should act as a warning to any other people who are thinking of allowing their account to be used for criminal activity in order to make some extra money. Money laundering is a serious offence and one which could see you go to jail.”
SPANISH SINGER ISABEL PANTOJA DENIED US VISA AFTER SERVING PRISON TIME FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
Billboard on 9th February reported that the Spanish diva’s comeback concerts in Miami and San Juan have been cancelled, but promoters are “confident” they will announce new dates soon. Billboards reminds one that US State Department regulations stipulate that “any alien who has engaged…in an offense…relating to laundering of a monetary instrument” is inadmissible for entry into the United States. In addition, the regulations state that anyone who is convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude,” or of a conspiracy to commit such a crime, which is interpreted to include money laundering, will not be allowed to enter the US. Pantoja, who has sold over 6 million albums and released some 30 recordings, had signed a contract with Universal Music Spain before her sentence. Pantoja is an iconic artist in Spain known for her dramatic flair.
MALAWI GOVERNMENT SETS UP UNIT TO CONFISCATE ALL ‘CASHGATE ASSETS’, RECOVER MONEY
The Nyasa Times on 9th February reported that the Malawi government has launched a special unit that will be responsible for confiscating wealth proven to have originated from proceeds of crime, primarily “Cashgate”, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has confirmed. An Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) will facilitate the State’s wish to recover all assets originating from proceeds of various financial crimes, it says. It is also reported that the EU will also provide technical support to the Director of Public Prosecutions in helping to acquire skills to investigate and prosecute cases of money laundering as well as to undertake asset forfeiture at the conclusion of cases. “Cashgate” was a scandal uncovered in 2013, where the state was defrauded of around $32 million, almost 1% of Malawi’s annual GDP, in just 6 months – central element to the fraud being the manipulation of a government software system that was supposed to help control spending. For more information see The Economist article of 2014 –
RECEIVER CONFIRMS RECOVERY OF ADDITIONAL $2.5 MILLION IN BINARY OPTIONS FRAUD CASE
On 9th February, Finance Feeds reported on the latest report by a Permanent Receiver in an enforcement action brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) against a number of binary options firms and their principals in the US. The case targets Jason B. Scharf, doing business as Citrades.com and AutoTradingBinary.com, his companies CIT Investments LLC, a Nevada limited liability corporation; Brevspand EOOD, a Bulgarian business entity; CIT Investments Ltd., a Marshall Islands business entity; CIT Investments Ltd, an Anguillan business entity; and A & J Media Partners Inc, a California corporation. The case also names their affiliate marketers Zilmil and its owner Michael Shah among the defendants. The Receiver reports that he has recovered an additional $2.5 million, bringing the total amount, including interest earned, in the Receiver’s fiduciary accounts to over $5.9 million, with a total of more than $7.9 million frozen in all.
HOW A HONG KONG MILLIONAIRE’S BRIBERY CASE EXPOSES CHINA’S CORRUPTION PROBLEM IN AFRICA
A feature on CNN on 10th February concerned with the trial of Patrick Ho is said to reveal the range and depth of Chinese investment, and contribution to corruption, in Africa.
AIRBUS ORDERED TO PAY €81 MILLION TO END GERMAN CORRUPTION PROBE
Deutsche Welle reports that German prosecutors have ordered Airbus to pay €81 million to settle an investigation into alleged corruption. The long-running probe concerns the firm’s multi-billion euro sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria.
UK COUNTER-PROLIFERATION PROGRAMME
On 9th February, the UK FCO published an updated version of information on the UK’s counter-proliferation programme, which supports the National Counter-Proliferation Strategy primarily by improving international controls, and assisting other countries. The reissue is because of the call on 5th February for bids for funding from the programme. Successful bids will adopt a multi-country, regional or globally approach to the policy objectives covered, the FCO says. A further release details the programme’s objectives for 2018-19.
UKRAINE “TO BE ABLE TO MORE QUICKLY RECEIVE INFORMATION FROM U.S., UK, INTERPOL IN ANTI-CORRUPTION SPHERE”
The InterfaxNews Agency in Ukraine reported on 10th February that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has established a contact with the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC, London), which would allow speeding up the exchange of information in the sphere of fighting grand corruption. From now on, Ukrainian law enforcers do not have to wait for several years to receive information from the US, Britain, Singapore, Interpol, and other agencies. The deputy chief of the PGO said.
DRAFT US BILL TO TARGET MYANMAR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
On 10th February, the European Sanctions Blog reported that the US Committee on Foreign Relations has unanimously voted to report the Burma Human Rights and Freedoms Act 2017 with amendments favourably to the US Senate. If enacted, this would allow for sanctions against those involved in human rights abuses, including against the Rohingya. It would also prohibit co-operation with the Burmese military until sufficient improvements had been made. The Act is available at –
SWISS LENDER ZKB SAYS PROGRESS ON US TAX CASE STALLED
Customs Today reported on 10th February that Zuercher Kantonalbank’s tax case with US authorities is stalled without a resolution in sight, showing little or no progress over the past year. The US DoJ is investigating government-owned ZKB on suspicion of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes, and 2 ZKB employees pleaded not guilty in 2016 to helping people hide hundreds of millions in offshore accounts.
JERSEY: RESULTS OF DECEMBER 2017 BUSINESS TENDENCY SURVEY
On 9th February Jersey released the quarterly Jersey Business Tendency Survey (BTS) provides timely, qualitative information about the Island’s economy.
FINCEN ADVISORY REMINDER RE FATF AML/CFT DEFICIENCIES LIST
On 9th February, FinCEN in a news release reminded that, on November 3rd, the FATF had updated its list of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.
EU MIGRATION CHIEF EMBROILED IN GREEK MEDICINE BRIBERY SCANDAL
OCCRP reported that EU’s migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has branded Greek prosecutors “perjurers” after he was named in a major corruption investigation into whether top politicians were paid bribes in exchange for fixing the price of various medicines. It is alleged that that around €50 million was paid to politicians in numerous bribes between 2006 and early 2015. With Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis also one of the drugs companies named. The investigation is said to have implicated 10 politicians by name – in addition to Avramopoulos, it lists former Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, former caretaker PM Panagiotis Pikrammenos , and former finance minister and vice-president Evangelos Venizelos. All deny any wrongdoing.
LATVIA PASSES MAGNITSKY LAW
On 9th February, OCCRP reported that Latvia became the 6th country in the world and the last of the 3 Baltic countries to pass a version of the Magnitsky law. Its parliament voted to impose travel restrictions to 49 Russian citizens who were involved with to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky or other human rights abuses.
UN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS ON PAPUA NEW GUINEA TO ENFORCE HUMAN RIGHT AND CORRUPTION LAWS
On 9th February, Jurist reported that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the government of Papua New Guinea to provide greater enforcement of their laws and to combat corruption. He is quoted as saying that the country has exemplary laws and policies in place to protect human rights, but they are reportedly often not enforced, and that major corporations in the country have violated the laws with impunity.
US CUSTOMS COUNTERFEIT GOODS SEIZURES
SINGAPORE AIRSHOW 2018: SINGAPORE TECHNOLOGIES UNVEILS 6X6 JAEGER UGV
Janes.Com on 9th February reported that Singapore Technologies Kinetics has revealed a 6×6 variant of its Jaeger multirole unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). The article suggests that a number of mission fits are available for the UGV, including a remote weapon station, mast-mounted electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) payload for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) missions, stretchers for medical evacuation, and a communications relay package.
GUIDE TO ANTI-CORRUPTION LEGISLATION IN ASIA PACIFIC 5TH EDITION
On 9th February law firm Clifford Chance released the latest edition of our Guide to Anti-Corruption Legislation in Asia Pacific. It says that its lawyers continually strive to provide the most up-to-date guidance to help you comply with the anti-corruption laws and regulations in the countries of Asia Pacific.
SPYING CONCERNS PROMPT US BILL BARRING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S USE OF CHINESE TELECOM PROVIDERS
On 9th February, Homeland Preparedness reported that, amid concerns about potential espionage, the federal government would be prohibited from procuring telecommunications equipment or services from China-based Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. under a Bill introduced in the US Senate – the Defending US Government Communications Act.
ICC TO OPEN EXAMINATIONS OF PHILIPPINES ‘WAR ON DRUGS;’
On 9th February, the UN News Service reported that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has announced that she will open preliminary examinations into the so-called “war on drugs” campaign launched by the Government of the Philippines and, separately analyse alleged crimes committed by Venezuela related to the demonstrations and ongoing political unrest there.