17th February 2018
MAJOR PROS AND CONS OF THORIUM NUCLEAR POWER REACTORS
On 16th February, the Nuclear Energy Business Review carried an article that starts by saying that to generate power, a nuclear reactor uses some fissile isotopes that include uranium-235, plutonium-239, and uranium-233. Low-enriched uranium (LEU) is used widely in the nuclear power generation. However, discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, Thorium is a naturally-occurring nuclear fuel source. The isotope uranium-233 produced from thorium is used to generate nuclear fission in a thorium-based nuclear power. Due to its huge potential, thorium as fuel to generate nuclear power has attracted considerable attention. The article claims that, as well as being abundant and producing less waste than other fuels, the risk of proliferation is reduced considerably. This is because thorium-based power reactor fuel is a poor source for fissile material that can be used to make an explosive device illegally, U-233, which is present in the used thorium fuel. It contains U-232 that can lead to a formation a strong gamma radiation field. The creation of such a field enhance the traceability and ability to safeguard the material, thereby addressing proliferation issues.
THE PLAYBOY WHO GOT AWAY WITH $242 MILLION – USING ‘BLACK MAGIC’
My Joy Online recounts a story from the BBC about Foutanga Babani Sissoko, colourful and mysterious businessman from a remote village in Mali, who managed to defraud the Dubai Islamic Bank by claiming black magic powers. It says that Sissoko could soonfulfil his dream of opening an airline for West Africa. He bought a used Hawker Siddeley 125 and a pair of old Boeing 727. This was the birth of Air Dabia, named after his village in Mali. Then in July 1996, Sissoko made a serious mistake as he tried to buy 2 Huey helicopters dating from the Vietnam War, for reasons that remain unclear. Because they could be refitted as gunships, the helicopters needed a special export licence, and a $30,000 bribe was offered to a customs officer. Interpol issued a warrant for Sissoko’s arrest too, and he was caught in Geneva, where he’d gone to open another bank account. He was extradited to Miami and released on $20 million bail, then pleaded guilty and fined and served 20 days in jail. Then a Dubai court sentenced him to 3 years for fraud and practising magic (!). Interpol issued an arrest warrant and he remains a wanted man. Never brought to justice for his frauds, a BBC reporter tracked him down in Mali, surrounded by armed guards, and perhaps 70 years old, and he agreed to an interview.
DRONE PARTS FROM US COMPANY ILLEGALLY EXPORTED TO HIZBALLAH
Fox 9 News in the US reports that 2 men have been arrested for allegedly illegally exporting parts used for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and technology from the US to the terrorist group Hizballah in Lebanon. Usama Hamade and Issam Hamade, both of Lebanon, are in custody in South Africa. Another man, Samir Ahmed Berro of Lebanon, has also been charged, but is not in custody. In 2009-13 they conspired to export and attempt to export items and technology from unnamed companies in the US to Lebanon and Hizballah, including a jet engine, piston engines, recording binoculars and devices usable for UAV, including digital compasses. A digital compass can be used with another device, an inertial measurement unit or IMU, to make a usable guidance system for UAV.
OECD SUPPLY CHAIN GUIDANCE MOVES TOWARDS IMPLEMENTATION
The Just Style website on 16th February reports that clothing and textile companies are grappling with supply chain management guidance for the garment and footwear industries published by OECD in May 2017. In January, the OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector was held in Paris. It was attended by governments, businesses, trade unions and NGO. One NGO expressed the concern that some countries of concern, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, are not OECD members.
See also the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) (CHRB) released its results at an event in London in March 2017. The Benchmark ranks 98 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies on human rights performance.
The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct: Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector.
SRI LANKA IS SETTING OUT FRAMEWORK TO BE REMOVED FROM BLACKLISTS
Colombo Page on 17th February reported that the Sri Lanka Central bank claims to have set out a sound framework to bring the commitment and coordination of all the stakeholders in the country to enhance the AML/CFT standards in order to improve its compliance and the country rating. In July 2015 FATF recommended Sri Lanka to initiate a number of actions to rectify the AML/CFT deficiencies identified during a mutual evaluation review, and this year the EU added Sri Lanka to its blacklist. It had been added to the FATF “grey list” in October 2017 as a jurisdiction with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.
FORMER WATFORD CHAIRMAN TO APPEAR IN SPANISH COURT AFTER ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
First Post on 17th February reported that the ex-chairman of Premier League club Watford has been charged and called to appear in court in Spain in relation to tax fraud involving second-tier club Granada. The Italian Raffaele Riva is suspected of involvement in “presumed irregularities” committed by former Granada president Enrique Pina and ex-club owner Gino Pozzo “as well as the companies and clubs linked to them).
‘CURTIS WARREN’S SUCCESSOR’ WALKS FREE AFTER ADMITTING £69,000 OF MONEY LAUNDERING
On 16th February, the Liverpool Echo reported that a “drugs baron” once described as the successor to Curtis Warren walked free from court after admitting a £69,000 money laundering charge. John Parry became a millionaire after stepping into the shoes of Merseyside’s most infamous drug dealer when Warren was locked up in 1997 and was jailed for 17 years in 2002.
NIGERIAN UAV (DRONE) UNVEILED
On 16th February, Defence Web reported that the Nigerian Air Force has unveiled a new indigenously produced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Tsaigumi, which will be used to enhance its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
SOUTH AFRICA – AJAY GUPTA HAS LEFT COUNTRY
Defence Web on 16th February reported that Ajay Gupta, one of the 3 Gupta brothers under investigation over accusations of corrupt links to ousted South African president Jacob Zuma, left the country for Dubai 10 days previously, a Johannesburg airport spokeswoman said.
PNB SCANDAL IN INDIA: NIRAV MODI FRAUD INVESTIGATION MAKES FIRST ARRESTS
On 17th February, the BBC carried a report saying that 3 people have been arrested on suspicion of helping a billionaire jeweller to defraud one of India’s largest banks of millions. Nirav Modi, a diamond broker and luxury jeweller to celebrities, is being investigated in a $44m fraud case at Punjab National Bank (PNB). India’s federal police arrested 2 bank officials and a business associate of Mr Modi’s. Mr Modi has not yet commented on the case, and no charges have been filed.
PAPERLESS JUSTICE EXPANDS TO TAX BILL APPEALS IN UK
On 17th February, the Law Society Gazette reported that the MoJ is going ahead with its £1 billion court modernisation plans by allowing online appeals to the First-tier Tax Tribunal (FTT). People unhappy with their bill will no longer have to print out, manually fill in and post their forms, it said. The ministry says more than 2,000 people have already benefitted from the ‘quicker, streamlined’ system, with almost a third of appeals being made online since the initiative was introduced in June last year. The new system allows people to appeal decisions made by HMRC in relation to all appeals to the FTT. In some circumstances, applicants must already have lodged an appeal with HMRC. A judge will consider the appeal and, if necessary, proceed the case to a hearing. The forms spell out what steps applicants must have already taken.
INDIA’S CITY UNION BANK SAYS HIT BY FRAUDULENT REMITTANCES VIA SWIFT SYSTEM
Reuters on 17th February reported that India’s City Union Bank said it had suffered 3 “fraudulent remittances” of nearly $2 million that had been pushed through the SWIFT financial platform. It said the transfers had been made through correspondent banks even though the Indian lender had not requested the transfers. The Indian lender said it had been able to block one remittance of $500,000. One for €300,000 was routed through a Standard Chartered Bank account in Frankfurt to a Turkish account, while a third totalling $1 million was sent through a Bank of America account in New York to a China-based bank.
GIBRALTAR MARKS 25TH YEAR OF HNWI RESIDENCY SCHEME
Tax News on 17th February reported that Gibraltar is marking the 25th year of its special tax residency program for high-net-worth individuals, known officially as Category 2 status, which limits taxation on worldwide income to a maximum of £30,000 per year. Individuals with net assets in excess of £2 million are able to establish residency in Gibraltar under the scheme provided they have not been resident in the past 5 years. They are free to choose whether to rent or purchase a residence.
LUXEMBOURG: A JURISDICTION OF CHOICE FOR THE MARITIME INDUSTRY
On 15th February, law firm Loyens and Loeff published an article saying that Luxembourg has always been on the shortlist as a jurisdiction of choice for the maritime industry. The proximity to the harbours of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam plays an important role in Luxembourg attractiveness. Many important ship-owners, classification companies and maritime suppliers are located in Luxembourg.
SHIFTING LEGAL PARADIGMS IN THE REGULATION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN THE US
An article in Jurist on 17th February discusses the recent reversal of US federal legal guidance on the enforcement of federal law in respect of marijuana.
LATVIAN MEDIA SAY CENTRAL BANK CHIEF’S OFFICE RAIDED
The Seattle Times on 17th February reported that Latvia’s state broadcaster says the national anti-corruption agency (KNAB) has raided the office and a property of the head of the country’s central bank, Ilmars Rimsevics.
DIAMONDS TO DUST: HERE ARE THE DIAMOND TYCOONS WHO GOT EMBROILED IN CONTROVERSIES
The Economic Times in India has an interesting feature providing summaries of various “diamond tycoons” who became embroiled in controversies – Nirav Modi (re the current PNB bank scandal); Alejandro Mendieta; Jatin Mehta; Hanan Abramovich; Michel Desaedeleer; Barry Steinmetz; Bharat Shah. Worth a read.
ANALYSING A SCAM COIN AND INITIAL COIN OFFERING (ICO)
BTC Manager on 17th February produced an interesting article which begins by saying that scams are unfortunately commonplace in the cryptocurrency world and can be attributed to the lack of regulation that has plagued the sector for the last 9 years. This article will serve as a how-to approach for analysing a coin while also implementing this approach on a specific coin, Skycoin is one of many currencies with little purpose with definite red flags that scream “SCAM!” to conscientious investors. It asks:
- Why are scams prevalent in cryptocurrency?
- What is “hard forking” and “soft forking”?
- What are token releasing platforms?
The article says that, with minimal consumer protections and initial coin offerings (ICO) coming from across the world, investors need to proceed cautiously, and it then goes on to analyse Skycoin to demonstrate how easy it is to stumble onto a scam coin, the use (misuse) of social media.
SWITZERLAND SETS OUT GUIDELINES TO SUPPORT INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS (ICO)
Customs Today on 17th February reports that Switzerland’s financial supervisor has bucked the trend of global regulators cracking down on cryptocurrencies by announcing guidelines that should help local initial coin offerings, where start-up companies sell digital tokens to investors.
UK WASTE EXPORTERS IN CRISIS BECAUSE OF CHINA BAN
Customs Today on 17th February reported that China’s ban on the import of recyclable material has pitched exporters in the UK into a desperate scramble to find new markets for an estimated 80,000 TEU a year in what UK Recycling Association CEO Simon Ellin has labelled a crisis. Finding and developing supply lines to these new markets is urgent as they can accommodate far less volume than China and are fast filling up with major exporters from the world’s top 3 supplying countries — the US, UK, and Japan — all trying to source alternative destinations for their recycled waste.
THAILAND IRIS SCANNING EFFORT TO COMBAT SLAVE LABOUR IN FISHING
On 17th February, Customs Today reported that Thailand has been using optical scanning technology on workers in its fishing industry since October to help it combat slave labour and human trafficking, with optical scanning to 70,000 people who work on fishing boats so that authorities can track their identity.
NEW ZEALAND TAX FRAUDSTER GRANTED PAROLE ON FIFTH ATTEMPT
Customs Today on 17th February reports that a Wellington accountant who received the country’s longest sentence for tax fraud, has been granted parole on his fifth attempt. In 2012, Barrie Skinner was convicted of 80 counts of dishonesty using a document, 7 charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and 5 of providing false information to Inland Revenue, having run a false invoicing scam. Skinner was jailed for 8½ years, and a co-accused David Rowley for 8 years in August 2012. At the time they were the longest sentences ever imposed for such offending.
US BIPARTISAN EXPORT CONTROL REFORM BILL
The US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee released a news release on 15th February which reports that Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) had introduced bipartisan legislation to modernize US export control regulations of dual-use items. The Export Control Reform Act 2018 will help ensure the US maintains its technological advantage in science, engineering, manufacturing and other industries critical to our national and economic security. This Bill is said to represent the first real push to establish permanent export controls since the Cold War-era Export Administration Act of 1979 (EAA) lapsed in 2001. The Bill –
- Repeals the lapsed EAA and replaces it with a modern, permanent statutory authority to better regulate US dual-use and Department of Commerce-licensed military exports.
- Requires that export controls ensure continued US leadership in science, technology, engineering, manufacturing and other sectors.
- Provides new authority to identify and appropriately control critical emerging technologies.
- Supports US diplomatic efforts to promote greater international coordination and cooperation on export controls.
A detailed breakdown of the Bill is at –