16th April 2018
HACKERS BROKE INTO A CASINO’S HIGH-ROLLER DATABASE THROUGH A FISH TANK
Digital Trends on 15th April carried a story claiming that a cybersecurity executive has revealed how a high-roller database of gamblers was accessed by hackers — through a thermometer in an aquarium in the lobby of the casino. She said that the attackers used that to get a foothold in the network. They then found the high-roller database and then pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat, and up to the Cloud.
PUERTO RICO A GROWING HUB FOR COCAINE, HEROIN SHIPMENTS TO THE US
The Washington Examiner on 16th April reported that Puerto Rico has become a hotbed for drug traffickers attempting to smuggle cocaine and heroin from South America to the East Coast of the US. It says that US Customs and Border Protection officers seized 65,890 lb of narcotics in and around Puerto Rico from drug cartels and smugglers in fiscal year 2017, more than any previous year on record, according to federal data. A CBP official is quoted as saying that the eastern Caribbean has served as a trafficking pit stop for decades, but the recent uptick indicates cartels are using the 100 mile wide island to circumnavigate the southwest border.
PHILIPPINES NAVY SEIZES VESSEL ALLEGEDLY SMUGGLING RICE
ABS-CBN News on 15th April reported that 11 Bangladeshi and 4 Chinese crew members of a cargo vessel were apprehended by Philippine Navy personnel for allegedly smuggling over 20,000 sacks of rice. It also found aboard the vessel at least 34 undocumented Filipinos, including a minor, and 17 others whose identities are still being established.
THE ONGOING FIGHT AGAINST DRUG SMUGGLING IN SOUTHERN SPAIN
Euro Weekly on 15th April carried a feature saying that although criticised in local circles for a slow response to drug smuggling through La Linea de la Concepcion, recent action by the government has led to the seizure of hashish worth millions of euros. It was claimed that La Linea was becoming a lawless town where the police were ineffective and unable to undertake their work properly. Additional resources have been made available to combat the escalating drug smuggling which has included increasing the number of Guardia Civil and National Police officers on the ground and the ongoing financing of a mobile X-ray system (including scanner and van), a contraband detector, 2 canine units and adequate equipment including a dog-friendly van.
EGYPT: AHMED EZZ CLEARED OF FINAL CORRUPTION CASE AFTER FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT
On 15th April, the Egypt Independent reported that Cairo Criminal Court dropped the final corruption case against Egyptian businessman Ahmed Ezz relating to Dekheila Steel by applying the Reconciliation Law in exchange for dropping charges Ezz and 3 other individuals paid $96.4 million to the Egyptian government. In June 2011, Ezz, along with former Minister of Industry Ibrahim Mohamedein, Managing Director of Dekhila Steel Alaa Abul Kheir, and other company officials, were referred to trial on charges of profiteering and squandering huge amounts of public funds between 2001 and 2011. Ezz, the former owner of Ezz Steel Co, was charged after Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising with using his position as a leading official in former president Hosni Mubarak’s dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) to make illegitimate gains. It is also reported that Swiss authorities handed Egypt $24.2 million that were in Ezz’s blocked bank accounts. Since 2011, Egypt has asked Switzerland to freeze the assets of several Egyptians including former President Hosni Mubarak, his sons and his close circle, including Ezz, over charges of corruption and money laundering. Some was was unfrozen after charges were dropped against some suspects since December 2016, making the current amount of frozen money around SF 430 million.
PUBLIC INQUIRY MAY BE NEEDED INTO ROLE OF MONEY LAUNDERING IN HIGH BRITISH COLUMBIA HOUSING PRICES
The Globe & Mail reported on 15th April that British Columbia Attorney General David Eby flew to Ottawa to brief the federal government about his probe into money laundering in the province. It is said that the link between casinos and money laundering was not a huge surprise, thought the scale of it was. However, Eby’s asserted that laundered money is connected to Vancouver’s real-estate market and a growing chorus of Vancouverites from all sides of the political spectrum are calling for a public inquiry into the role money laundering played in foreign-buyer real estate deals, which have helped push housing prices sky high. The article explains the “Vancouver model” of money laundering involving money from wealthy Chinese trying to circumvent China’s currency controls, and local gangsters who also have bank accounts in China. The dirty cash is used to buy cars and casino chips and to pay down Canadian mortgages, many of which are held by unregulated private lenders.
KUWAIT KEEN ON ENFORCING WORLD’S HIGHEST ANTI-GRAFT STANDARDS
The Kuwait News Agency on 15th April reported that Kuwait is eager to enhancing anti-graft policies through applying the world’s highest standards, chairman of the national anti-corruption authority has stated. Kuwait is prioritizing all efforts to combat corruption and address its root causes, he said. He noted that Kuwait had rushed to sign international and regional anti-corruption conventions such as the UN Convention against Corruption; Arab Anti-Corruption Convention; the Arab Convention on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing; The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC); Arab Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and the International Anticorruption Academy agreement.
BRITISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL SAYS CORRUPTION REMAINS GREATES SETBACK IN MALAWI
On 16th April, the Nyasa Times reported that the UK Department for International Development’s outgoing head in the country made this statement at the end of her 4-year tour of duty.
MARKETING CHIEF BANNED FOR ‘MANIFESTLY CORRUPT’ USE OF AXIOM LOAN
The Law Society Gazette on 16th April reported that Francisco Rodriguez-Purcet, a former marketing boss has been barred from the legal profession after diverting loan monies from his firm into personal bank accounts. He is said to have used his role as head of marketing and business development at liquidated north-west England firm Tandem Law to pay referral fees to a third party run and owned by his friend, with money derived from the Axiom Fund, a £100m investment fund which has been at the heart of a string of solicitors of solicitors relating to its misuse.
POLAND – 1% BITCOIN SALES TAX
On 14th April, VAT Live reported that the Polish Finance Ministry has made all bitcoin trades subject to a 1% turnover tax, Podatek od czynności cywilnoprawnych, a limited financial transaction tax on certain loans and mortgages. It says that under EU VAT rules, following an ECJ ruling, cryptocurrencies are treated as a private currency and therefore not subject to VAT on trades. Gains are still though subject to capital gains tax or corporation tax.
TRADING BITCOINS SUBJECT TO TAXATION IN POLAND
On 6th April, Wolf Theiss published an article saying that on 6th March, the Polish Administrative Supreme Court issued the first ruling concerning taxation of income made from trading bitcoins by individuals. According to the ruling, income derived by individuals from trading bitcoins is subject to taxation in Poland at the progressive tax rate. Further, bitcoins should not be considered as a means of payment under Polish tax law. Even though the ruling refers to personal income tax, the approach of the Polish Administrative Supreme Court should be considered as a precedent for Polish tax resident companies as well.
ECUADOR REQUESTS US IMPORT RESTRICTIONS FOR CULTURAL PROPERTY
World ECR reports that the government of Ecuador has asked the US State Department to impose an import restriction on cultural property, in particular “archaeological and/or ethnological materials representing Ecuador’s cultural patrimony from the pre-Colombian through Republican periods”, but not just for archaeological materials but also for paintings and sculpture over 100 years old, Colonial and Republican period coins, and other ethnological materials over 50 years old, such as manuscripts and tools and utensils, as well as “certain works by modern artists”. It reports that the US is a major market for cultural property from Ecuador, as are Germany, France and Spain.
DRUG TRAFFICKING BY KIWIS USING DARK WEB IS BOOMING – REPORT
Newshub reported on 16th April that a Police Drug Intelligence report shows drug trafficking by New Zealanders who use the dark web is booming and illegal seizures at the border show no sign of slowing down.
HOW DOES AN IRISH GP TREAT WOMEN WHO’VE TAKEN ABORTION PILLS IN IRELAND?
The Journal on 15th April posed this question, saying that estimates are that around 1,500 abortion pills are used on the island of Ireland each year, or around 5 pills a day. These are pills that are illegal in Ireland because of its abortion laws, but which are considered medically safe. In cases where women have taken abortion pills to end their pregnancy and experience side effects, there’s a danger that they will be slow to report those problems.
BITCOIN IN NIGERIA: REGULATORY CHALLENGES AND THE STUBBORN FRAUD FACTOR
An article in KYC 360 on 16th April says that cryptocurrency marketing and trading in Nigeria presents challenges to regulators and conventional banking, and fraud risks to potential investors. The Central Bank of Nigeria does not recognise bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a legal tender. However, it appears that Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria views investment in cryptocurrencies as a ponzi scheme, probably because companies that deal in cryptocurrencies ask the unsuspecting public to exchange cash for bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies by depositing money into the exchangers’ bank accounts.
POLISH ANTI-BRIBERY LAWS – REVOLUTIONARY CHANGES
On 4th April, Hogan Lovells published an article saying that the Polish anti-bribery law is shortly expected to be thoroughly amended. The changes will, not only concern public entities, but will also have a fundamental impact on private sector business. The Act on the Transparency of Public Life is at an advanced stage of public consultation.
ASEAN: COUNTRY PROFILES
Available from HKTDC are country profiles for each of the ASEAN nations in the Far East. They contain analysis of trade policies, current economic situation and recent developments.
UK: STATUS OF TAX POLICY CONSULTATIONS
On 16th April, HMRC published a table enable one to discover the status of ongoing and closed tax policy consultations.
EU COUNCIL ADOPTS POSITION ON A NEW LEGAL FRAMEWORK AGAINST UNFAIR TRADE COMPETITION
On 16th April, an EU news release advising that the European Council had formally adopted a new Regulation which amends the existing legal framework which allows higher tariffs to be imposed on dumped or subsidised imports in order to improve the protection of EU producers from damage caused by unfair competition. The new Regulation makes EU trade defence instruments more predictable, transparent and accessible, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). The formal signature of the Regulation is expected in late Man, and it should be published in the Official Journal shortly thereafter.
CHEMICAL DISARMAMENT AND NON-PROLIFERATION: EU COUNCIL ADOPTS CONCLUSIONS
On 16th April, the European Council stated the Council’s position ahead of the 4th special session of the conference of states parties to review the operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction, which will take place in The Hague on 21st-30th November.
The EU policies on export control, disarmament, non-proliferation etc is at –
UK PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002 – POCA CODES OF PRACTICE
On 16th April, the Home Office published 2 codes of practice following amendment of POCA by the Criminal Finances Act 2017. Taking effect from 16th April, one of the covers search powers for cash, and the other search powers for certain listed assets.
DRC SACKS MORE THAN 250 ‘FAKE’ OR CORRUPT JUDGES
News 24 on 16th April reported that the Democratic Republic of Congo has sacked more than 250 magistrates who did not have a law degree or were accused of corruption.
IRISH HIGH COURT RULES MONIES SEIZED FROM FIRMS LINKED TO ASSOCIATES OF ‘SLAB’ MURPHY ARE PROCEEDS OF CRIME
The Irish Examiner on 16th April reported that money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) from businesses linked to associates of Republican, Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy following an investigation into “an elaborate fuel-laundering scheme” are the proceeds of crime, the High Court has ruled. CAB sought the orders after it commenced an investigation into fuel laundering in 2012. Orders had previously been made against some of those entitles while other parties involved in the investigation previously made settlements with CAB totalling €775,000.
THOUSANDS OF CALLS TO UK MODERN SLAVERY HELPLINE IN ITS FIRST YEAR
Rightsinfo on 16th April reported that Britain’s modern slavery helpline received thousands of calls in its first full year and identified nearly 5,000 potential victims being exploited in car washes, construction sites, nail bars and brothels, an anti-trafficking charity said. Unseen, which runs the hotline, said 3,710 calls from the public and from victims last year led to about 1,450 referrals to anti-slavery groups, the NCA and every police force in the country. At least 13,000 people across Britain are estimated by the government to be victims of forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude – but police say the true figure could be in the tens of thousands with slavery operations on the rise.
BERMUDA SEEKS PUBLIC FEEDBACK ON KYC/AML RULES FOR CRYPTO BUSINESSES
Finance Magnate reports this on 16th April, also saying that many blockchain firms are showing their interest to migrate to the island.
ROMANIAN BANKS TO REPORT MONEY TRANSFERS FROM ABROAD OVER €1,000
Business review on 16th April reported that Romanian banks will be compelled to report all transfers of funds from a foreign country to Romania if the amount exceeds €1,000, according to a project proposed by the National Office for Prevention and Control of Money Laundering (ONPCSB). Romania has millions of citizens living abroad, who send billions of euros each year to their families, and the new project could target these remittances. ONPCSB is the Romanian FIU of administrative type, with leadership role on drafting, coordination and implementation of the national system of combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
MODERN SLAVERY GANGMASTER JAILED FOR 7 YEARS IN UK
Construction News on 16th April reported that a Romanian man who enslaved up to 15 men, offering demolition work and then using violence to trap them, has been jailed for 7 years. 7 Romanian men said they had been offered jobs in July 2017, but after travelling to the UK, were expected to live in a small one bedroom flat in Leyton, east London. Up to 15 men slept wherever they could in the kitchen, bedroom, hallway and storage cupboard, on mattresses found in the street. Victims said they were only allowed out of the house 2 at a time, and were warned that they would be arrested if discovered.
FAKE GOLD BAR SELLER HUNTED BY GERMAN POLICE FOUND IN IRELAND
The Irish Mirror on 16th April reported that an international manhunt for an alleged German fraudster who allegedly tried to sell fake gold bars has come to an end as he was found in Ireland. Andreas Holst, 57, originally from Kiel, appeared at an extradition hearing in Dublin as the German authorities seek to have him sent back home to face justice. The man, known also as Aindriu MacHolst, was living in north-west Ireland and had been a prominent figure in the fishing community.
SYRIA AND SALISBURY: THE CONTINUING BATTLE TO MAINTAIN TRUST IN EVIDENCE OF ILLEGAL USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
A commentary from the Royal United Services Institute on 16th April says that chemical weapons’ usage in Syria clearly required an immediate and forceful response, but the handling of the aftermath of the targeted CW assassination attempt on Sergei and Yulia Skripal continues to pose a long-term challenge for the British government. It says that one element unites the handling of the chemical attacks by the Syrian regime against its own people and the Russian-perpetrated chemical attack in Salisbury early last month: the question of maintaining trust in the identification of the perpetrators in the face of Moscow’s relentless campaign of obfuscation.
FORMER SCOTTISH HAULIER BANNED FROM BEING A DIRECTOR AFTER RED DIESEL ABUSE
On 16th April, Commercial Motor reported that the former boss of a Scottish haulage firm has been banned from being a director for 9 years after several years of illegally using red diesel in vehicles to evade duty. Scott McClung was the sole director of SDS Logistics (Bonnybridge), which was based in Denny, Stirlingshire but ceased trading in August 2016, when it was placed into liquidation. Insolvency Service inquiries into the liquidation found that between May 2014 and April 2017, SDS Logistics misused close to 1.7 million litres of rebated Gasoil, otherwise known as red diesel, in their road vehicles.
YACHT MANAGERS DISCUSS WHAT RIGHTS CREW HAVE IN TERMS OF REPATRIATION
Superyacht News on 16th April carried an article on the rights of superyacht crew for repatriation home at the end of their employment. For those covered by the Maritime Labour Convention it is up to the crewmember to ensure their desired destination is stipulated in the Seafarers’ Employment Agreement (SEA).
ARE COUNTRIES AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS PREPARED FOR A BIOTERRORISM EVENT?
On 16th April, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) which looks at the findings from a 2015 report by the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) Working Group on Preventing and Responding to WMD attacks on Ensuring Effective Inter-Agency Interoperability and Coordinated Communication in Case of Chemical and/or Biological Attacks and other sources. The key findings pf the report also included a discussion on the threat of bioterrorism involving zoonotic disease agents (which can be transmitted from animals to people). Looking at NTI data, it is said that of 53 countries considered, 74% demonstrated limited or no capacity for overall biosafety and biosecurity and 64% demonstrated limited or no capacity for biosafety and biosecurity training and practices, while 43% showed limited or no capacity for linking public health and security authorities – demonstrating that individual countries have much work to do to be prepared for a potential bioweapons event.
CTITF was established by the UN Secretary General in 2005 and endorsed by the General Assembly through the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was adopted by consensus in 2006. The mandate of the CTITF is to strengthen co-ordination and coherence of counter-terrorism efforts of the UN system. The Task Force involves 38 international entities which by virtue of their work have a stake in multilateral counter-terrorism efforts. Each entity makes contributions consistent with its own mandate.
TABCORP FACES LICENCE REVIEW
i-Gaming Business on 16th April reported that Tabcorp, trading as Sun Bets, has been fined £84,000 by the UK Gambling Commission over the so-called “Piegate” incident. The Commission has now followed up on the case with its own investigation and ruled that the Tabcorp “failed to properly manage the risks associated with novelty bets. In addition, it found that Tabcorp allowed more than 100 self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts and gamble. Tabcorp now faces new conditions being attached to its UK gambling licence.
ZTE FACES REVIVED US EXPORT BAN OVER FALSE STATEMENTS MADE TO US AUTHORITIES
Yahoo Finance on 16th April reported that after the US Commerce Department imposed $1.19 billion in penalties on China-based ZTE for illegally shipping telecom gear to Iran and North Korea (and making false claims about it), it also said it would suspend a 7-year export ban as long as the Chinese company honoured an agreement and did not break the rules again. However, the website reports that the Department has revived the order banning ZTE from exporting US products after accusing the company of lying about punishing those involved in the scandal.
for some background on the original case, see –
BUSINESS CHALLENGES AND KEY ISSUES FACED BY MINING COMPANIES.
KPMG offers a range of webcasts & videos that demonstrate its understanding of the business challenges and key issues faced by mining companies.
RUSSIAN COUNTER-SANCTIONS LIKELY TO TARGET MULTIPLE SECTORS IN BILATERAL TRADE WITH US, INCLUDING PHARMACEUTICALS, AEROSPACE AND SERVICES
Janes.com on 16th April reported that a Bill before the State Duma proposed counter-measures to the recently introduced US sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.
ABOUT CLAIMS THAT BRITISH-MADE WEAPONS WENT TO ISLAMIC STATE
Middle East Eye on 16th April, responding to claims that Jeremy Corbyn made about UK-supplied weapons making their way from Saudi Arabia to militant groups in Syria, claimed that the only UK arms identified in Syria dated back to WW2. It does say that British-made weapons exported to Saudi Arabia have been used extensively over Yemen, and the Saudis do support rebel groups in Syria, but there is no evidence that Saudi Arabia has supplied UK-made arms to the Islamic State group (IS) or any other militant group. It also reports that a December 2017 report from Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which is based on 3 years of research and documents the origin of 40,000 recovered Islamic State weapons, does not support the Labour leader’s claim. The head of regional operations at CAR is quoted as saying that the only UK-made weapon recorded in the hands of Islamic State in Syria was a single Bren light machine gun dating from 1954, while three post-war Sterling machine guns and a Lee Enfield rifle dating back to 1936 were recorded in Iraq.
FRENCH ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY ISSUES DETAILED NEW GUIDELINES FOR COMPLIANCE WITH SAPIN II
Paul Hastings on 16th April reports that the new French Anti-corruption Agency (Agence Française Anticorruption, or AFA) recently issued a set of guidelines detailing the AFA’s expectations for corporate compliance programmes to comply with, and avoid actions under, the Sapin II corruption law. The briefing compares the guidance to that issued by the UK and US – saying that the AFA Guidelines go much further in describing requirements for the due diligence of third parties than recommendations found in the DoJ guidance documents referenced above and the UK Bribery Act Guidance. Like the US and UK, the AFA Guidelines identify “Risk Mapping” as one of 8 compliance programme requirements but go much further in detailing requirements for identifying risks. The AFA Guidelines also go much further in describing the requirements for an internal whistleblowing system than recommendations found in the US and UK guidance documents.
TACTICAL ISSUES SURROUNDING A US WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JCPOA IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT
On 16th April, the Washington Institute produced a briefing saying that re-imposing sanctions is not a simple flip of a switch: the process requires numerous steps without which withdrawal would have little meaning. This report by distinguished Iran expert, Patrick Clawson, outlines the options available to the Trump Administration should it choose to terminate its co-operation with JCPOA provisions, and the technical, legal, and administrative considerations related to reimplementation of sanctions.
TSA INTRODUCES ENHANCED CARRY-ON SCREENING AT ALL US AIRPORTS
On 13th April, Homeland Security Today reported that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced enhanced screening procedures for carry-on baggage to improve aviation security. The stronger screening measures, which began last summer, have now been rolled out to include all US federal airports. The new rules will require travellers to place all personal electronics larger than a cellphone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. In addition to screening personal electronic devices separately, including laptops, tablets, e-readers and hand-held game consoles, TSA officers may instruct travellers to separate other items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. It says that TSA has introduced the new screening procedures to allow officers to conduct quicker and more targeted checks, while maintaining the highest level of security to respond to evolving threats.