Info News reports that French customs authorities say they have seized a giant stash of weapons found hidden in a sports store in the northern French region of Picardy – officers seized nearly 500 weapons, more than 100 kg of ammunition and myriad grenades. It remains unclear why the weapons were amassed.
On 14th February the EU announced that the Candidate Countries – the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the EEA, as well as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia have aligned themselves with EU sanctions on Venezuela.
On 15th February, Rferl reported that the EU will extend the EU arms embargo on Belarus by another year but to make an exception for small-calibre sport guns. Officials have now until 28th February, the deadline for renewal of the embargo.
Rferl on 15th February reported that the US Treasury Secretary says he will, “in the near future,” issue new sanctions against wealthy Russians in retaliation for Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. “We are actively working on those sanctions, you should expect them in the near future,” he told the Senate Finance Committee during a hearing on February 14th.
On 12th February, Pinsent Mason, the law firm behind the Out-Law legal news website, published an article saying that the ease and growth of so-called ‘invoice hijacking’ fraud cases should be seen as a warning by businesses and individuals to be careful before sending fund transfers. This follows a case a recent case in which an individual was defrauded of £103,670 by persons unknown, who had hacked his email account and intercepted a genuine invoice raised by the individual’s builder. It reminds businesses of the risks involved, and the problems with seeking assistance if caught out, and that it was vital for victims to act quickly after becoming aware that a fraud had taken place.
KYC 360 on 15th February reported that the World Chess Federation (Fide) says its Swiss bank accounts have been closed after its president was accused of facilitating transactions on behalf of the Syrian government. Russian millionaire Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was added to a US Treasury Department sanctions list in 2015 for his alleged dealings with the Assad government. He denies wrongdoing, and stepped back from Fide to try to resolve the issue. But Fide says Swiss bank UBS closed its accounts as he is still sanctioned.
On 14th February, PNLD issued a Q&A on this issue. It points out that the definition of a “firearm” in the UK Firearms Act includes an accessory to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon where the accessory is designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon. The answer does say that silencers for air weapons do not carry any licensing requirements. Therefore, whether an offence is committed in relation to a silencer, for example, possession without a licence under section 1 or possession by a convicted person under section 21, will depend on what weapon it is designed to be used with.
WHAT’S WHAT IN FINTECH? HERE IS A GLOSSARY OF THE MOST USED TERMS, CREATED BY JENNIFER DOHERTY, HEAD OF INNOVATION AT HSBC ASIA
Relevant for KYC and CDD? On 14th February, US Customs and Border Protection in a news release reported that the Swinomish (native American) tribe began issuing Enhanced Tribal Cards (ETC) on 6th February. ETC serve the mutual interests of CBP and the tribe by expediting and facilitating cross-border trade and travel for members of the tribe, as well as providing a tribally issued secure travel document to eligible tribal members. Since 2008, federally recognised tribes to work with CBP to produce an ETC, denoting citizenship and identity that is acceptable for entry into the US through a port of entry. Modelled on passport and enhanced driver licences, ETC have machine-readable facilitative technologies, contain security features to prevent counterfeiting, and allow data-sharing between tribes and CBP for real-time validation. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho was the first tribe to sign a memorandum of agreement with CBP in March 2009.
For more background on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), under which ETC are issued, and details the various types of documents that can be used at land, sea or air entry and exit points.
On 14th February, in its Africa Focus for Spring 2018, White & Case reported on the status of mining in 2018. It remarks, for example, on the 100% rise in the price of cobalt – used in lithium-ion batteries that power vehicles, with about 60% of global output coming from the DRC. Copper, too, it says, is linked to electric vehicles and renewable energy—not to mention global growth – good news for African producers of copper, which includes DRC, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Africa accounts for more than 20% of global gold output. Unsurprisingly, it says that mining in Africa is not without its challenges, though, citing the DRC as a case in point, with a humanitarian crisis brought about by civil unrest and political instability means there is significant country risk. A survey revealed that the biggest challenge in Africa highlighted country/political risk, though the article also referred to bribery and corruption risks, increased taxation demands etc.