On 21st March, the EU published a news release saying that the guidelines mark the first step in stopping the transit of EU funds through non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, and will ensure that EU funds do not inadvertently contribute to global tax avoidance. They should guarantee in particular that EU external development and investment funds cannot be channelled or transited through entities in countries on the EU’s common list. In order to safeguard the EU’s development policy, an exception is made for direct financing, where a project is physically implemented in a listed non-cooperative tax jurisdiction and is not linked to money-laundering, terrorism financing, tax fraud or tax evasion.
The Guidelines are at –
On 20th March, Defence Web reported that a sealed bid auction has opened to buy 55,000 tonnes of phosphate aboard a ship seized by South African authorities last year over the Moroccan cargo from the disputed Western Sahara region. The starting bid for the cargo was $1 million. The Polisario Front, the political organisation representing Western Sahara, alleged the phosphate shipment en route to New Zealand was illegally taken from Western Sahara territory and went to court to have the cargo seized. The Marshall Island-flagged ship, NM Cherry Blossom, has been in Port Elizabeth since May after a South African court ruled the vessel should remain until the case goes to trial or security is posted. The court case is a test of Polisario’s new legal tactic in its long-running conflict with Morocco over Western Sahara, a disputed territory where the two sides fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire and where UN talks failed to reach an accord. A Panama court last year dismissed a similar case by the Polisario to block a phosphate cargo in Panama, saying there was no evidence it belonged to the group and court was not the venue to judge political matters.
On 19th March, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer published a briefing on the TRACE International 2017 Global Enforcement Report with the most up-to-date statistics on cross-border bribery investigations and enforcement actions involving government officials. The report contains such details as authorities in the US and Europe (including the UK) together are conducting nearly 90% of the foreign bribery investigations, with investigations equally divided between them. US authorities appear to be focusing most closely on US and European companies allegedly paying bribes in Asia-Pacific, and Europe was also home to a surprising proportion of alleged recipients of bribery by US companies. Authorities in Brazil, India, China and Nigeria were by far the most active in investigating foreign bribery of their own domestic officials.
The TRACE report is at –
Coinweek on 20th March reported that US gold refinery Elemetal LLC, based in Dallas, Texas (t/a “Elemetal” and “NTR Metals”), had pleaded guilty to a single-count information charging Elemetal with failure to maintain an adequate AML programme. According to filings, from August 2012 through November 2016, Elemetal purchased and refined billions of dollars of gold from countries around the world, including from Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Because of the high risk of gold-based money laundering, federal law requires precious metals dealers to establish AML programmes. However, the company failed to adhere to the requirements, ask sufficient questions or seek adequate or appropriate information and evidence.