I am off on travels, though currently only in Liverpool – Birmingham, London, Paris, Lisbon and who knows where to come – so there may be the slight hiccup in the supply of posts and updates over the next 2-3 weeks. Hopefully not, laptop, connections and time permitting.
22nd April 2018
SUPERYACHT AT THE CENTRE OF ‘BRITAIN’S BIGGEST DIVORCE BATTLE’ WAS REGISTERED IN ISLE OF MAN
On 21st April, Manx Radio reported that a superyacht at the centre of what’s being dubbed ‘Britain’s biggest divorce battle’ was registered on the Island – being first registered to a company in the Marshall Islands, before being transferred to the Isle of Man, then onto Panama and Liechtenstein. Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov is engaged in a battle with his former wife Tatiana, as tries to prevent her gaining access to his fortune. However, he’s now been ordered to hand over his £180 million yacht, Luna, after a judge claimed he had tried to hide it from her. It has been detained in Dubai.
CORRUPTION INCORPORATED: THE ODEBRECHT STORY
A BBC Radio documentary first broadcast on 21st April starts by saying that Odebrecht was one of Brazil’s premier companies – the largest construction firm in Latin America. But some of its success in securing multimillion dollar contracts across the region was built on a policy of colossal bribery. This edifice of graft began to crumble when the Brazilian authorities started to investigate the state-owned oil company, Petrobras. The US DoJ called it “the largest foreign bribery case in history”. After Brazilian multinational Odebrecht admitted guilt in a cash-for-contracts corruption scandal in 12 nations, it vowed to change its ways. But Brazil’s authorities are still wrestling with an encrypted computer system used to run the firm’s illicit payment system.
LATVIA SECURES HELP FROM THE US TO CLEAN UP ITS SCANDAL-TAINTED BANKS
Bloomberg on 22nd April reported that Latvia’s financial investigators will receive more U.S. help as the Baltic nation races to emerge from a money laundering scandal that toppled its third-largest lender. It agreed technical assistance from the US Treasury for the country’s FIU. ABLV was the third Latvian bank the US has proposed to ban from the US financial system since the Treasury Department was given authority to do so in 2001.
Deutsche Welle on 22nd April reported that the IMF is calling on wealthier countries to limit potential safe havens for dirty money. The IMF announced new guidelines Sunday aimed at systematically addressing corruption and its impact on economic growth in all 189 of its member states. The announcement came at the IMF’s and World Bank’s spring meeting in Washington. The new policy also addresses how wealthy countries contribute to corruption in developing nations by failing to prevent bribery, money laundering and by allowing anonymous corporate ownership. The new guidelines on good governance take effect July 1st and follow a recent review of the IMF’s 20-year-old policy. The language of the outgoing policy was criticised in the review for sometimes using euphemisms addressing corruption in member states. That often left local officials uncertain about IMF concerns and expectations. The guidelines call for the fund to discuss good governance concerns in all annual economic reviews of member countries.
Bloomberg reports that to address the “supply side,” the IMF will study the legal and institutional systems of nations that volunteer to be scrutinised. It’ll check whether countries criminalize and prosecute bribery abroad, and whether they have rules to stop money laundering. G7 nations, as well as Austria and the Czech Republic, have volunteered so far.
See also the IMF Blog –
And the official news release –
The Jersey Evening Post on 22nd April reported that a South African fishing magnate who made a fortune selling illegally caught lobster has been told that he cannot get his hands on millions of pounds held in Jersey. The Royal Court has decided to maintain a freeze on the assets of Arnold Bengis, who admitted his involvement in a conspiracy to land huge amounts of the prized shellfish in excess of permitted quotas between 1999 until 2001. The illegally caught lobster were shipped to the US. An appeal had been launched by a Lichtenstein-based trust company. Bengis, who owned Hout Bay Fishing Industries, pleaded guilty in a South African court in 2002 to 28 charges under the country’s Marine Resources Act. Around $23.3 million of Mr Bengis’s money was ‘held by 3 companies with SG Hambos Bank (Channel Islands) Limited in Jersey’ according a judgment issued by the Royal Court setting out its reasons for rejecting the appeal. In July 2017, following a request from US authorities, the Attorney General granted a forfeiture order of $37.2 million.