OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 19

19th April 2018

ITALIAN OFFICIALS AND GERMAN COMPANY FACE LEGAL ACTION OVER SAUDI ARMS SALES

The Guardian reported on 18th April that legal action has been launched against Italian government officials and a major European arms manufacturer over alleged involvement in the aerial bombardment of Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians.  A coalition of human rights organisations from Germany, Italy and Yemen filed a complaint with the prosecutors’ office in Rome against officials from the Italian foreign ministry and the local subsidiary of the German conglomerate Rheinmetall, RWM Italia, over arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/18/italian-officials-and-german-firm-face-legal-action-over-saudi-arms-sales

LIBYA OIL CHIEF SAYS FUEL SMUGGLING COSTING $750 MILLION A YEAR, CRACKDOWN PROPOSED

Bloomberg on 19th April reported that the head of the national oil company had claimed that About 30% to 40% of fuel produced and imported by Libya is stolen or smuggled.  Meanwhile, Marine Link on 19th April reported that Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) is considering using a chemical marking system to help trace oil products smuggled out of the country.  Its head also called on a EU naval mission to combat smugglers by seizing their ships in the Mediterranean, said the UN should consider sanctioning smugglers, and urged Libya to reform massive subsidies that allow fuel to be sold for as little as 2-3 US cents per litre.

https://www.marinelink.com/news/smuggling-cracking-libya436539

MALTA DAPHNE PROJECT: $1.6 MILLION TRANSFER TO COMPANY LINKED TO PANAMA PAPERS AND MALTESE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

On 18th April the Times of Malta reported that a total of $1.6 million was transferred to a Dubai company listed as one of the “target clients” which would pay in money to Keith Schembri’s and Konrad Mizzi’s once-secret Panama companies.  These findings come as part of an investigation by more than 18 media organisations, including Times of Malta, known as the Daphne Project.

https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20180418/local/mizzi-and-schembris-panama-target-client-received-16-million.676783

IRISH POLICE FIND €250,000 IN MATTRESS WOMAN WAS SLEEPING ON AS IT TARGETS DRUGS AND MONEY LAUNDERING GANG

The Irish Independent on 18th April reported that gardai who raided an apartment as part of an investigation into an operation involved in trafficking cocaine into Australia and New Zealand and then laundering the money back to Ireland, and being run from north Dublin, have found €250,000 in a mattress a woman was sleeping on.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/armed-officers-find-250000-in-mattress-woman-was-sleeping-on-as-garda-target-gang-led-by-socialite-36820278.html

THE NEW GERMAN TRANSPARENCY REGISTER

On 18th April, McDermott, Will & Emery published an article about the German transparency register established under the German money laundering Act that now applies to many international clients.  At the end of 2017, to implement the EU 4th AML Directive, Germany established a transparency register (Transparenzregister) containing information on the natural person who are the ultimate beneficial owners of almost every legal entity incorporated in Germany.  Since 1st October 2017 the ultimate beneficial owners of German legal entities, privately held corporations (e.g., GmbH, AG, KGaA, SE) and registered partnerships (i.e., OHG, KG) must be registered.  The article details the requirements.

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/372a8be8#/372a8be8/10

ACTION GROUP CALLS FOR INSURANCE FRAUD GARDA UNIT TO BE SET UP IMMEDIATELY

The Irish Independent on 19th April reported that businesses are demanding that a specialist garda unit to investigate false insurance claims be set up without delay.  The Alliance for Insurance Reform, made the demand.  The head of the alliance said there was also a need for false cases to be immediately referred to the gardaí.  The Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group has recommended that a dedicated garda unit be set up to focus exclusively on insurance fraud.  It would be funded by the insurance industry.

https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/action-group-calls-for-insurance-fraud-garda-unit-to-be-set-up-immediately-36820587.html?src=ilaw

POWER OF PASSPORT: WHY DID BILLIONAIRE SURENDRA HIRANANDANI DITCH INDIA FOR CYPRUS?
The Economic Times in India posed this question on 19th April after Real estate tycoon Surendra Hiranandani, co-founder of the Hiranandani Group, gave up his Indian citizenship to become a citizen of Cyprus.  Hiranandani says tax is not his reason to embrace Cyprus.  The article says that India witnessed the second largest number of millionaire outflow globally after China with 7,000 high net worth individuals changing their domicile during 2017, 16% more than last year, according to a report by New World Wealth.  7,000 ultra-rich Indians shifted overseas in 2017.  In 2016, the figure stood at 6,000, while in 2015 as many as 4,000 millionaires shifted base.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/power-of-passport-why-did-billionaire-surendra-hiranandani-ditch-india-for-cyprus/articleshow/63826128.cms?src=ilaw

MURDERED MALTESE JOURNALIST WAS INVESTIGATING ISLAND’S GOLDEN VISAS

OCCRP on 18th April reported that when Maltese blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bombing in October 2017, she had been digging for months into the island’s hugely profitable “passports for sale” programme, which had brought in an estimated €850 million since January 2014.  The contract with Malta specifies that Henley & Partners is the “unique concessionaire” of the IIP programme.  Since the IIP programme began in 2014, more than 1,300 people from around the world have ​used it to apply ​for Maltese passports, and more than 1,000 have been approved.  This means just over 1 in 5 applications is rejected.  What is clear is that anybody who applies for an IIP is, by definition, rich. The base cost is €650,000 for each primary applicant, with additional, smaller fees charged for family members.  Russians appear to make up nearly half of the new Maltese, but it is hard to be sure since the government does not release detailed information on country of origin.  The article contains several allegations about the use or misuse of the programme.

https://www.occrp.org/en/thedaphneproject/murdered-maltese-journalist-was-investigating-islands-golden-visas

HUMAN TRAFFICKING FROM HAITI TO CHILE

On 18th April, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Chile have dismantled a transnational network that used travel agencies to traffic Haitian migrants, highlighting how push factors from Haiti and the appeal of Chile’s relative stability are making migrants increasingly susceptible to illegal schemes. It is claimed that legal travel agencies were used to facilitate the illegal entry of thousands of Haitians, according to information from Chile’s Attorney General’s Office – charging Haitian migrants up to $2,000 for “travel packages” promising to help migrants enter Chile as tourists in order to acquire jobs and longer-term visas later.  However, upon their arrival, the trafficking network stripped the migrants of the cash and left them without hotel accommodations, job prospects or visa help as initially promised.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/insecurity-haiti-laid-groundwork-trafficking-ring-chile/

BRITAIN’S FIRST WHATSAPP FINGERPRINT CONVICTION LEADS TO FLOOD OF NEW CASES

PNLD on 18th April reported a telegraph article from 15th April about how South Wales police used pioneering techniques to enhance a photograph of 3 fingers holding ecstasy tablets, which was found on a mobile phone after an arrest linked to a drug-dealing investigation in Bridgend.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/15/britains-first-whatsapp-fingerprint-conviction-leads-flood-new/

EU URGES MOLDOVA TO HUNT DOWN CASH FROM $1 BILLION FRAUD

KYC 360 on 19TH April reported that the EU has called on Moldova to retrieve funds from a one billion dollar banking fraud and bring to book the criminals behind the scam.  It says that the banking fraud occurred in 2014, involving 3 banks.  Funds worth $1 billion – roughly 13% of Moldova’s GDP – are believed to have been shifted from Moldova to shell firms in the UK and Hong Kong, and then routed into individual bank accounts.

https://kyc360.com/news/eu-urges-moldova-hunt-cash-1-billion-scam/

CFTC LAUNCHES LEGAL ACTION ALLEGING FRAUD INVOLVING BINARY OPTIONS AND ATM COIN

On 18th April, Mondo Visione reported that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had announced the filing of a complaint against a number of persons, including Blake Harrison Kantor (aka Bill Gordon) and a UK business, Blue Bit Blanc, alleging operation of a  fraudulent scheme involving binary options and a virtual currency known as ATM Coin.

http://www.mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/cftc-charges-multiple-individuals-and-companies-with-operating-a-fraudulent-sche/

ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION OF SALES IS INTRODUCED IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND  A TAX “LOTTERY” INCENTIVE

Bird & Bird on 18th April provided a briefing on this new requirement introduced in the Czech Republic to counter long-term and systematic tax evasion that is said to have become common practice in certain areas of business in the Czech Republic.  The electronic registration of sales is aimed at all entities that pay or are obliged to pay income tax in the Czech Republic.  That means all individual entrepreneurs as well as legal entities with business activities.  Retail trade and wholesale has been required to comply since 1st March 2017, and since 1st March 2018 it applied to other professions (except those in the fourth phase), such as freelance professionals, transport and agriculture providers.  On 1st June, the fourth phase should be in force and thus, the electronic registration of sales should be applicable others, including selected crafts and manufacturing activities providers.  Businesses are obliged to register sales that come from their business activities and are paid in cash, by credit card, cheque, promissory note or other similar means such as a meal ticket.  However, direct bank account transfers are exempt from the registration of sales.

A novelty is the Receipt Lottery started on 1st October, having as its main purpose to support the effectivity of sales registration and proper tax revenue.  Everybody who registers his or her valid receipt through the designated web page or mobile app takes part in monthly draw.  The draw is every 15 days in the following month after the registration. Distributed winnings reach approximately CZK 5.4 million each month.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2018/czech-republic/electronic-registration-of-sales-is-introduced-in-the-czech-republic

A NEW CORPS OF DEDICATED AFRICAN COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERTS

On 18th April, Defence Web reported that the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is assisting African police to understand and combat terrorism on the continent and to investigate and prosecute terrorism cases, and the Pretoria headquartered ISS is building a corps of properly trained African counter-terrorism experts and adapting international best practice to local conditions.  Threats are said to include Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, al-Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia and al-Qaida affiliates across the Sahel and North Africa, and 3 African countries – Nigeria, Somalia and Egypt – are in the global top ten countries most affected by terrorism, according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index.  Police and prosecution services need specific skills to detect, combat, investigate and prosecute terrorism.  The ISS helps build these capacities through its expert staff and professional networks.  ISS training spans national, regional and international legal instruments, extradition, state-sponsored terror, counter-intelligence, border control, biological weapons, dirty bombs and evidence collection. ISS trainers are supported by African experts with top-class experience in subjects ranging from hostage negotiations, incident management and prosecution of terrorists.  Discussions are said to be underway with a top South African university to accredit training to diploma or post-graduate level and then offer it as a distance learning module.

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51402:a-new-corps-of-dedicated-african-counter-terrorism-experts&catid=49:National%20Security&Itemid=115

SFO PROBES UK COMPANY’S CONDUCT IN ALGERIA 

Insider media and others on 19th April reported that a criminal investigation is been launched by the SFO into a Staffordshire-based division of the defence, security and transport group, Ultra Electronics Holdings, and its conduct in Algeria.  The business, which operates from a plant in Rugeley, makes a range of power transformers and reactors, as well as substation equipment for the rail industry.

https://www.insidermedia.com/insider/midlands/SFO-probes-firms-conduct-in-Algeria?src=ilaw

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-ultra-electronic-fraud/ultra-electronics-under-sfo-investigation-over-suspected-corruption-in-algeria-idUKKBN1HQ0O6?src=ilaw

SOUTH AFRICAN ASSET FORFEITURE UNIT MOVES TO RECOVER POLICE COMMISSIONER’S ILL-GOTTEN GAINS

In South Africa, Business Day on 19th April reported that the Asset Forfeiture Unit has launched a confiscation application to recover money that former Western Cape police commissioner, Arno Lamoer, received through corruption.  The retired policeman pleaded guilty to corruption in February‚ after a 35-year career.  He faced more than 100 charges of corruption‚ racketeering and money laundering.  Lamoer was charged along with businessman Salim Dawjee and former police brigadiers Sharon Govender (who was acquitted)‚ her husband Colin Govender and Darius Van der Ross.

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2018-04-19-asset-forfeiture-unit-moves-to-recover-arno-lamoers-ill-gotten-gains/?src=ilaw

ENFORCING IP RIGHTS IN CHINA: A ROAD MAP FOR US COMPANIES

On 18th April, law firm Wilmer Hale published this briefing, originally published on Law 360 on 16th April.  The introduction says that the US loses between $225 and $600 billion each year due to misappropriation of intellectual property — an estimated 50-80% of which has been attributed to China.  While Chinese officials have taken steps to better protect IP owners, many American companies remain vulnerable.  It is imperative that US IP owners know what rights do exist and how to enforce them.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/enforcing-ip-rights-in-china-a-road-map-67372/

ASSET RECOVERY UNDER POCA VERSUS THIRD-PARTY PROPRIETARY RIGHTS

On 18th April, Berwin Cave Leighton Paisner published a briefing saying that the judgment in Faichney v Vantis HR Ltd reiterates that common law and equity cannot frustrate the operation of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), but equally POCA does not give rise to a general consideration of public policy to deprive third parties of their proprietary rights.  The briefing examines the interplay between recovery of the proceeds of crime from convicted fraudsters and common law proprietary rights of third parties.  The underlying dispute arose from attempted tax avoidance scheme promoted by VTL, a company at which Mr Faichney and Mr Perrin were directors.  The 2 former directors were found guilty of fraud offences involving cheating the Revenue in a subsequent criminal trial and a confiscation order was made in relation to their assets based on the fact that the benefit to them of their crimes was the £4.55 million.  The resulting case involved conflicting claims to the assets of the 2 former directors between the CPS and Aquila Advisory Ltd.

http://www.blplaw.com/expert-legal-insights/articles/clash-between-asset-recovery-under-poca-and-third-party-proprietary-rights-faichney-and-another-v

CHINA BANS IMPORTS OF 16 MORE SCRAP WASTE PRODUCTS FROM END OF 2018

On 19th April, Customs Today reported that China will ban the imports of 16 more scrap metal and chemical waste products from the end of this year, the environment ministry said.  The 16 banned products include steel smelting slag containing more than 25 percent of the metal manganese, and ethylene polymer waste, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) said in a document published on its website.  MEE also listed another 16 items that will be banned by the end of 2019, including timber waste and scrap metals such as stainless steel, tungsten and magnesium.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/china-bans-imports-of-16-more-scrap-waste-products-from-end-2018/

SRI LANKA SLAPS NEW TAX ON GOLD TO CURB IMPORTS – SUSPICION OF SMUGGLING TO INDIA

On 19th April, Customs Today reports that Sri Lanka has slapped a 15% tax on gold to curb surging imports that have impacted the trade deficit and put pressure on the exchange rate.  The finance ministry said the tax was reintroduced after a 5-year hiatus as authorities detected a rapid spike in imports in recent months.  The steep increase had not translated to a boon in jewellery manufacturing — sparking suspicions it was being spirited to neighbouring India, the world’s largest consumer of gold.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/sri-lanka-slaps-new-tax-on-gold-to-curb-imports/

MORE THAN 3 TONNES OF IVORY DESTINED FOR CAMBODIA SEIZED IN MOZAMBIQUE

The Phnom Penh Post on 18th April reported that 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique, according to CITES.  The information was based on a report from local media reports.  The amount of ivory was initially reported as 1.5 tonnes, but was later upped to 3.5 tonnes, with the shipment reportedly hidden underneath plastic bottles.

https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/more-three-tonnes-ivory-reportedly-bound-cambodia-seized-mozambique

US: COMPANY SETTLES CREDIT CARD LAUNDERING SCHEME WITH FTC

On 17th April, Reed Smith published an article saying that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had  announced a $1,384,500 settlement with Michael Abdelmesseh and KMA Merchant Services, LLC in a lawsuit regarding a deceptive credit card laundering scheme.

http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=692568&email_access=on&chk=1653392&q=960824

 

POWERFUL BRAZILIAN SENATOR FACES CORRUPTION TRIAL

Baker McKenzie on 19th April reported that Aecio Neves, a Brazilian senator who narrowly lost the 2014 presidential election, will face trial for corruption and obstruction of justice.

http://www.riskandcompliancehub.com/powerful-brazilian-senator-faces-corruption-trial/

ETHICS EXPERT CALLS ON SRA TO TAKE TOUGHER APPROACH TO NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS IN UK

Legal Futures on 19th April reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) needs to take a tougher approach to non-disclosure agreements (NDA), a leading legal ethics expert has told MPs.  The SRA issued a warning notice on NDA last month, telling law firms not use them to prevent the reporting of misconduct, particularly sexual harassment involving other employees or clients.  However, the expert quoted said that there was room for improvement in the area of clauses that are or might be void, which were “not clearly covered” in the notice.  He says it is important is to have clear statements of what the agreement permits; stating explicitly that, for example, NDA parties may report matters covered by the agreement to the authorities (police, regulators, and so on), and that the agreements clearly and concisely state the obligations in the agreement – in English as plain as possible.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/ethics-expert-calls-on-sra-to-take-tougher-approach-to-ndas

‘NDRANGHETA MONEY, JEWELS AND ARTWORK FOUND IN SWITZERLAND

The ANSA news agency reported on 19th April that a ‘Ndrangheta-linked family invested in artwork from the Caravaggio school in an attempt to launder money made from cocaine trafficking, La Spezia Carabinieri have found.  A painting was found in Switzerland, along with bank accounts and a safety box with watches and jewels worth over €700,000.

http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2018/04/19/ndrangheta-money-jewels-and-artwork-found-in-switzerland_7c6980b0-20b2-4461-9431-0191dc0843a0.html

ADOPTION BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT OF THE 5TH ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE

On 19th April, Mondo Visone published a statement by the EU Commission welcoming new rules that are said will bring more transparency to improve the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing across the EU.  The proposal was presented by the EU Commission in July 2016 in the wake of terrorist attacks and the revelations of the Panama Papers scandal, and is part of the Commission’s Action Plan of February 2016 to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing. It sets out a series of measures to better counter the financing of terrorism and to ensure increased transparency of financial transactions.  The 5th AML Directive will:

  • enhance the powers of EU Financial Intelligence Units and facilitating their increasing transparency on who really owns companies and trusts by establishing beneficial ownership registers;
  • prevent risks associated with the use of virtual currencies for terrorist financing and limiting the use of pre-paid cards;
  • improve the safeguards for financial transactions to and from high-risk third countries;
  • enhance the access of FIU to information, including centralised bank account registers; and
  • ensure centralised national bank and payment account registers or central data retrieval systems in all Member States.

For more information see –

http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/document.cfm?action=display&doc_id=48935

http://www.mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/european-commission-statement-by-first-vice-president-timmermans-vice-presiden/

IN ‘THE BURNING SHORES,’ LIBYA BLOSSOMS — BRIEFLY — BEFORE UNRAVELLING

Podcast: short interview (8 minutes) on the Carnegie Center website.  Speaking with US National Public radio, Carnegie’s Frederic Wehrey discussed the turmoil that Libya has experienced since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi and how lawlessness, inadequate medical care, and emigration continue to plague the beleaguered nation.  Wehrey’s book, with the same name, is available now.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/04/13/in-burning-shores-libya-blossoms-briefly-before-unraveling-pub-76095

WHAT SYRIAN REFUGEES NEED TO RETURN HOME

On the Carnegie Center website on 16th April, an article about the report “Unheard Voices”.  As the Syrian regime regains territory, there have been growing calls in neighbouring countries for refugees to go home, but as the living conditions for Syrian refugees worsen and the risks of going home mount, the notion of a voluntary return is rapidly losing meaning.  It argues that, essentially, the notion of a voluntary return of refugees is losing meaning. Restrictive policies in Lebanon and Jordan may force refugees to return to an unsafe environment in Syria; while the regime’s policies in Syria — on housing and property rights, military conscription, and vetting procedures — may make it difficult, if not undesirable, for them to return.  The report details the measures that would be conducive to encouraging return.

https://carnegie-mec.org/2018/04/16/unheard-voices-what-syrian-refugees-need-to-return-home-pub-76050

THE NEW KILLER PATHOGENS: COUNTERING THE COMING BIOWEAPONS THREAT

On 17th April, the Carnegie Center published an article (both fascinating and scarey) which says that recent breakthroughs in gene editing have generated massive excitement, but they have also reenergized fears about weaponised pathogens.  Using gene-editing tools, including a system known as CRISPR, scientists are now able to modify an organism’s DNA more efficiently, flexibly, and accurately than ever before.  On the one hand, as the article points out, these technologies offer vast potential for global good.  Researchers are studying the use of new gene-editing techniques to fix deadly genetic mutations, create disease-resistant crops, and treat cancer.  But it’s not hard to imagine how gene-editing technologies could be misused.  Some fear that terrorists with even moderate capabilities could develop deadlier pathogens.  One of the most worrisome questions today is whether advances in biotechnology could tempt states to revive their old biological weapons programmes or start new ones.  The article then looks back at the history of biological weapons since the 1940s.  The article then discusses various possible scenarios.  It points out that the vast majority of states (180) are parties to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which bans the development, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, and production of biological agents for nonpeaceful purposes.  Although the treaty is often criticised for its lack of a meaningful enforcement mechanism, it has helped establish a global norm that using biological weapons is immoral and unacceptable.  Although such norms may not constrain the worst actors’ behaviour, they do provide the rationale and motivation for the rest of the world to punish violators.  The article suggests some ways to maintain deterrence, including beefing up the BWC.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/04/17/new-killer-pathogens-countering-coming-bioweapons-threat-pub-76009

STATE-SPONSORED RADIOLOGICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMMES

In this 54-minute video from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, published on 9th April (the seminar itself took place on 6th April), CNS experts Sarah Bidgood, Fabian Hinz, Jeffrey Lewis, Sam Meyer, and Luisa Roemer explore the history of state radiological weapons programmes to understand why states pursue radiological weapons and how to deal with the challenges they present.

https://www.nonproliferation.org/state-sponsored-radiological-weapons-programs/

NON-EU COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS ON EGYPT, LIBYA AND SYRIA

On 19th April, news releases from the EU announced that Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, EEA members, Moldova and Georgia have aligned themselves with recent decisions.

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/04/19/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-european-union-on-the-alignment-of-certain-third-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-syria/

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/04/19/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-third-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-in-view-of-the-situation-in-libya/

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/04/19/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-certain-persons-entities-and-bodies-in-view-of-the-situation-in-egypt/

NORTH KOREA: EU ADDS 4 PERSONS INVOLVED IN FINANCING OF NUCLEAR PROGRAMME TO SANCTIONS LIST

On 19th April, a news release announced that 4 persons have been added to the list of those subject to the restrictive measures against the DPRK.  These restrictive measures consist of a travel ban and an asset freeze.  The news release says that the 4 individuals have been involved in deceptive financial practices which are suspected of contributing to the DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic-missile-related or other WMD-related programmes.  The names and specific reasons for listing and will be published in the Official Journal of 20th April.

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/04/19/north-korea-eu-adds-four-persons-involved-in-financing-of-nuclear-programme-to-sanctions-list/

16 NATIONS AGREE TO TRACK VENEZUELA CORRUPTION

The Seattle Times on 19th April reported that US Treasury officials say finance ministers from several Latin American nations as well as the US and Europe have agreed to work jointly to locate and seize assets arising from corruption by Venezuelan government insiders, following a meeting in Washington on the side lines of an IMF event.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/us-officials-16-nations-agree-to-track-venezuela-corruption/?src=ilaw

EU ANTI-FRAUD AGENCY PROBES ALLEGED MISUSE OF FUNDS IN SLOVAKIA

Politico on 19th April reported that OLAF has said that it has opened an investigation into alleged misuse of EU funds in Slovakia uncovered by journalist Ján Kuciak, who was killed earlier this year.  His, published posthumously, alleged links between the Italian mafia, Slovakian politics and fraud related to EU agricultural funds.

https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-anti-fraud-agency-probes-alleged-misuse-of-funds-in-slovakia-olaf-jan-kuciak/?src=ilaw

PATRICK HO’S LAWYERS ACCUSE US AUTHORITIES OF USING ‘ILLEGALLY’ OBTAINED EVIDENCE IN CHARGES FOR $2.9 MILLION CORRUPTION SCANDAL

The South China Morning Post on 19th April reported that his lawyers have asked a US court to suppress evidence including 35,000 pages of documents, a post-arrest statement made by Ho and contents of his mobile phone.  Ho is a former Hong Kong home affairs minister.  He faces 3 charges for money laundering and 5 for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering $2.9 million worth of bribes to African government officials in return for oil rights in Uganda and Chad for an unnamed Shanghai-based energy firm he represented.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2142504/patrick-hos-lawyers-accuse-us-authorities-using-illegally?src=ilaw

BAHAMAS: DRAFT GUIDANCE NOTES ON FINANCIAL CRIME RISK MANAGEMENT ISSUED

The Nassau Guardian on 19th April reported that recently released draft guidance notes on financial crime risk management and proliferation financing are expected help demonstrate the country’s commitment to global financial crime risk management standards (and have it taken off the EU blacklist).  The financial risk management draft guidance note and a proliferation and proliferation financing guidance note were issued for consultation on 16th April.  The proliferation and proliferation financing draft guidance note was issued to raise awareness of the Bahamian jurisdiction if a regulated entity knowingly or unknowingly plays an appreciable role in proliferation financing, according to the draft note.  The consultation period on these notes ends on May 1st.

https://thenassauguardian.com/2018/04/19/draft-guidance-notes-on-financial-crime-risk-management-issued/?src=ilaw

NEW ZEALAND CONFIRMS VIRTUAL CURRENCIES ARE PROPERTY FOR TAX PURPOSES

Tax News on 19th April reported that New Zealand has joined a number of territories in confirming this month that virtual currency transactions are taxable as property, in new guidance that was issued at the beginning of the month.

https://www.tax-news.com/news/New_Zealand_Confirms_Virtual_Currencies_Are_Property_For_Tax_Purposes____76731.html

ABU DHABI FREE ZONE IMPROVES BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP OVERSIGHT

Tax News on 19th April reported that Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the low-tax financial hub, has codified its corporate beneficial ownership and control regulations into a new regime, to harmonise the approach across all ADGM regulators and to support global efforts to combat financial crime by providing enhanced transparency.  It also brings ADGM compliance into line with FATF recommendations.

https://www.lowtax.net/news/Abu-Dhabi-Free-Zone-Improves-Beneficial-Ownership-Oversight-76730.html

INCREASED PROTECTION OF RESIDENTIAL ADDRESSES AT UK COMPANIES HOUSE

On 19th April, Dentons produced an article saying that new regulations, scheduled to come into force by the end of Summer 2018, will make it easier for directors and other individuals to remove their residential address information from the publicly searchable register at Companies House.  Originally, the Companies Act 2006 Act did not provide for the removal of any usual residential address information that was already publicly visible, and later changes did not fully address the situation as they did not affect addresses filed before 1st January 2003.  In addition, an individual whose usual residential address is on the public register will be able to apply to Companies House to make that address unavailable to public view without having to satisfy any conditions.  The rules will also apply to limited liability partnerships and align the rules for Scottish partnerships.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/increased-protection-of-residential-27916/

CONTINUAL CIGARETTE PRICE RISES ARE LINING THE POCKETS OF ORGANISED CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS

The Illicit Trade Network on 18th April published an article saying that lawmakers across the developed world seem to be united behind the idea that the best long-term approach to reducing levels of smoking is to keep on hiking the price of tobacco products until consumers can no longer afford them – the latest evidence coming from Canada.  As an example of the unintended effect, it says that a report published at the beginning of November by the Tax Foundation think tank revealed that New York, which levies the highest rate of state cigarette taxation in the US, is the country’s capital of illicit tobacco.  The Tax Foundation estimates that in 2015, the latest year for which data is available, 56.8% of all cigarettes smoked in New York were smuggled into the state.  In Europe, 9% of all cigarettes smoked were fake or smuggled last year, representing an overall tax loss to European governments of as much as €10.2 billion.  The article says, put simply, repeatedly raising the price of tobacco products both increases the profits organised criminals can make from the illicit cigarette trade, and makes it more likely that those who are determined to continue to smoke will seek out cheaper ways of doing so, be they legal or not.  As tobacco prices continue to rise in developed countries, more organised criminals will be drawn to the illicit cigarette trade, which is becoming all the more attractive to smugglers as potential profits soar; not least due to the fact that illicit tobacco is much less risky than drug dealing or people trafficking.

https://www.illicit-trade.com/2017/11/continual-cigarette-price-rises-lining-pockets-organised-criminals-terrorists/

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US AGENCIES NEED TO IMPROVE HOW THEY ASSESS EFFORTS TO COMBAT ILLICIT OPIOIDS

On 13th April, Homeland Security Today reported that the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the US Government watchdog akin to the NAO in the UK, found that federal agencies need to improve their efforts to assess how they are combating the spread of illicit opioids; and found that most of the agency strategies to combat opioids do not include outcome or results-orientated measures – only 1 in 5 of the strategies that GAO reviewed included such measures.  The study also found that law enforcement and public health agencies still face challenges with the timeliness, accuracy, and accessibility of the sharing of overdose data.  The GAO recommends that CBP should assess volume and risk at each port of entry to determine those with the greatest need for resources and use this information as a basis for staff allocations.

https://www.hstoday.us/briefings/government-reports-and-summaries/gao-agencies-need-to-improve-how-they-assess-efforts-to-combat-illicit-opioids/

US COMMITMENT TO PREVENTING NUCLEAR TERRORISM IS WANING

The Hill in the US on 19th April reported that the Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to vital programmes responsible for securing nuclear weapons-usable material around the world.  The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the agency primarily responsible for working with other countries to reduce nuclear terrorism risks, wants to reduce spending for nuclear security programmes by $115 million by 2019, a 26% reduction from last year, and cutting programmes to increase security at nuclear facilities by 60%.  However, the article does point out that, over the past 5 years, US funding for such efforts has dropped by nearly 50%, reducing some programmes to their lowest funding levels in more than 20 years.

http://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/383596-rhetoric-aside-the-us-commitment-to-preventing-nuclear-terrorism-is

NEW GUIDE WARNS CORPORATE LAWYERS OF ANTI-CORRUPTION COMPLIANCE CHALLENGES IN LATIN AMERICA

Corporate Counsel on 19th April reported that new anti-corruption laws are taking hold in Latin America, and general counsels (GC), even those based in the US, should take note.  It points out that the past 5 years have seen an explosion of corruption scandals in Latin America, leading to ousted presidents, investigations of government officials and a lot of new laws.  Now law firm network, Lex Mundi, has produced an anti-corruption guide for Latin America, which sets out a summary of the legal landscape in 18 jurisdictions in Latin America.

https://www.lexmundi.com/lexmundi/Anticorruption_Compliance_Guide.asp

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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