The European Parliament Think Tank on 26th April produced a briefing paper saying that sanctions are one of the tools utilised to address human rights violations. They are also an increasingly prominent tool in the European Union’s foreign policy. This study analyses the evolution of targeted sanctions regimes imposed by the EU, as well as by the UN, against individuals on grounds of gross human rights violations. It focuses on the most recent developments in international sanctions practice. It provides recommendations on how this tool could be further developed at EU level, making reference to the option of adopting a Global Magnitsky-type legislation allowing for the designation of human rights abusers worldwide.
COMMERCIAL COURT CLARIFIES SCOPE OF STANDARD UNDERTAKING NOT TO ENFORCE WORLDWIDE FREEZING ORDER ABROAD WITHOUT COURT’S PERMISSION
Herbert Smith Freehills on 3rd May produced a briefing saying that the Commercial Court has recently considered the scope of the standard undertaking provided in connection with worldwide freezing orders, which requires the applicant to seek the court’s permission before seeking to enforce the order outside England and Wales, or seeking an order of a “similar nature”. The court held that the claimant bank was not in breach of its undertaking by obtaining orders in Lithuania and Switzerland seizing certain of the respondent’s assets, as the foreign courts had independent jurisdiction to make the orders which did not derive from the making of the worldwide freezing order in England.
UK VAT GROUPING RULES – “INFORMAL” CONSULTATION
RPC on 1st May reported that HMRC wrote to the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) in February inviting it to discuss HMRC’s “interim” views on possible changes to the VAT grouping rules, with a response requested by 16th March on 3 possible options for widening the scope of the VAT grouping rules, by allowing “non-corporate” entities to join a VAT group.
TRIBUNAL HOLDS THAT UK BROKER DID NOT CONSTITUTE A UK FIXED ESTABLISHMENT OF A NON-EU INSURER FOR VAT PURPOSES
On 1st May, RPC published a briefing saying that in January the First-tier Tribunal held9 that the resources of a UK insurance broker did not constitute a “fixed establishment” for VAT purposes in the UK of a non-EU insurer. As a result, the UK broker was entitled to recover input tax attributable to the supplies it provided to the non-EU insurer. The UK broker, a company incorporated in England and Wales, provided broking, underwriting and claims handling services to a Gibraltar-incorporated insurance company. The insurer made supplies of insurance, via the broker, to UK customers. The broker received a commission from the insurer.
PROCEDURES FOR RECOGNITION AND ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENTS IN THE BVI
On 9th March, Harneys published a guide to the recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments in the BVI.
5th May 2018
CYBER PIRATES: THE LATEST THREAT TO OCEAN SHIPPING
Homeland Security Today on 1st May published an article saying that high tech has reached the high seas, and there are no safe harbours. That point was made very clear in a recent webinar hosted by the National/International Maritime Law Enforcement Academy and presented by RiskSense, a New Mexico-based cybersecurity practitioner. It linked to a website, Supply Chain Dive, where a fuller article was available. This cites as an example a cyberattack which was among the biggest-ever disruptions to hit global shipping. The malware surfaced in Ukraine after being spread by a malicious update to MeDoc, the country’s most popular accounting software. Maersk picked up an infection that hooked into its global network and shut down the shipping company, forcing it to halt operations at 76 port terminals around the world.
In another article on Homeland Security Today on 1st May, the shipping sector is advised to avoid the next cybersecurity catastrophe by keeping the supply chain safe.
UKRAINE TO FORM ANTI-CORRUPTION COURT IN FIRST HALF OF 2018, TO GET IMF MONEY
Interfax reported on 5th May that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has expressed his confidence that the process of creating an Anti-Corruption Court will be completed in the first half of 2018, possibly in May.
BRITAIN’S ‘MOST WANTED’ MAN ARRESTED OVER SPANISH DRUG PLOT
The National in UAE and others reported on 5th May that armed police arrested one of Britain’s most wanted criminals over an alleged large-scale cannabis plot identified by UK and Spanish authorities. Jamie Acourt, 41, is accused of being part of a conspiracy to supply drugs in Britain. His arrest came after a joint police operation between Scotland Yard, the NCA and Spanish National Police. He was one of 5 white men suspected of murdering Stephen Lawrence in a racist 1993 knife attack that shocked Britain. He has always maintained his innocence and charges against him were eventually dropped for lack of evidence.
UK MODERN SLAVERY TRAINING: RESOURCE PAGE
On 4th May, the Home Office issued updated training and awareness raising resources available to public sector organisations to help their staff understand modern slavery and learn to spot the signs.
BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES TARGET $1 BILLION IN ANTI-GRAFT OPERATION
On 4th May, OCCRP reported that Brazil has conducted one of the country’s largest anti-corruption operations ever when authorities cracked down on a money laundering network of politicians and businessmen accused of moving US$1 billion to accounts in over 50 countries. The operation is related to “Car Wash” investigation, one of the largest anti-graft efforts in the world, that began in 2014. The recent operation came after a plea bargain with 2 money changers, Vinicius Claret and Claudio Barbosa. The men had transferred dirty money for Sergio Cabral, former governor of Rio de Janiero, according to Reuters.
TAIWAN CRACKING DOWN ON ORGANISED CRIME
On 4th May, OCCRP reported that Taiwan said it had arrested 310 known criminals, including several organised crime bosses. The among those arrested by the National Police Agency are 4 men affiliated with the Bamboo Union, the largest of Taiwan’s 3 Triad gangs involved in organised killings, sex trafficking and drug trade. The 4 men are also members of the Chinese Unity Promotion Party, which wants Taiwan to be back under full control of China and is led by Chang An-Le, also known as the “White Wolf.”
JTI REVEALS EXTENT OF ILLEGAL TOBACCO IN STAFFORDSHIRE
Talking Retail on 3rd May reported that an undercover operation conducted for Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has revealed the widespread availability of illegal tobacco in Staffordshire, with 17 out of the 48 stores visited in Stoke found to be selling illegal products.
TOBACCO SMUGGLING GANG JAILED AFTER FLOODING NORTH EAST ENGLAND WITH 12 MILLION ILLICIT CIGARETTES
The Chronicle on 3rd May reported that a smuggling gang who flooded the North East with more than 12 million illegal cigarettes after stashing then inside cable drum discs have been jailed. Ringleader Dainius Pranskaitis and his gang were caught red-handed by HMRC officers unloading cigarettes from the hollowed out concealments at an industrial unit in Durham.
TAIWANESE ARRESTED IN EUROPE FOR FRAUD IN JOINT OPERATION
Focus Taiwan on 4th May reported that Slovenian and Croatian police have cracked down on a cross-border telecommunication fraud group that included over 90 Taiwanese nationals, in a joint operation with Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB). It says that Taiwanese authorities have set up a big data-based monitoring system in which if a person who leaves the country is suspected of going abroad to commit fraud, local police at the person’s destination will be notified – due to the image of the country being tainted by its nationals being involved.
BAR COUNCIL SOUNDS PRIVILEGE WARNING AHEAD OF GDPR ROLL OUT
The Law Society Gazette on 4th May reported that barristers have warned that ‘clumsily drafted’ data protection laws due to go live this month could hand ‘big brother powers’ to data watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) by granting it access to privileged material without client consent. According the Bar Council, the government should properly scrutinise the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) bill, before it goes live on 25th May. A barrister is quoted as saying that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the ICO from both obtaining legally privileged material and then disclosing it to a third party for use in any sort of legal proceedings. That would run a coach and horses through the confidential nature of clients’ communications with their lawyers.
2 SLOVAKIAN MEN FROM LIVERPOOL ARRESTED FOR IMPORTING A MACHINE GUN
2 Slovakian men living in Liverpool have been arrested in connection with the seizure of a machine gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. The weapon, a Slovakian-made Stribog SR9, was found by Border Force officers as they searched a VW refrigerated van on the evening of 30th April. The weapon was loaded and hidden in a specially adapted concealment.
REMOTE GAMBLING ASSOCIATION OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR NEW DATA PROTECTION LAWS
On 4th May, the RGA has published guidance to help licensed gambling operators comply with obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
US CUSTOMS E-COMMERCE STRATEGY
US Customs and Border Protection has published its e-commerce strategy. This strategy highlights private industry and foreign governments as key resources in CBP’s continuous assessment of the e-commerce environment. The strategy includes efforts to educate the public and trade community to ensure they understand their responsibilities as importers to comply with customs regulations. The strategy also emphasises enforcement initiatives, such as streamlining enforcement processes affected by increasing e-commerce volumes, leveraging enforcement partnerships with partner government agencies and foreign governments, and improving data collection from CBP targeting systems and field personnel.
A SPECIAL ADVISER WILL HELP RCMP TACKLE BRITISH COLUMBIA’S ‘INFAMOUS’ MONEY LAUNDERING INDUSTRY
On 4th May, Baker McKenzie reported that, amid growing fears that the Vancouver region has become a hotbed for money laundering, Mounties in British Columbia have tapped a former Crown prosecutor to help them step up their investigation of financial crimes. The selection of John Ahern as a “financial crime special adviser” comes at a time of heightened concern that illicit money is being funnelled through Lower Mainland casinos, and possibly other sectors, on a large scale.
ISLAMIC STATE’S INTENT TO DISRUPT ELECTIONS IN IRAQ, LIBYA, AND TUNISIA WILL INDICATE GROUP’S ENDURING CAPABILITIES
Janes.com on 4th May reported that the Islamic State’s ability to follow through its threats will be a key indicator to assess the group’s current capabilities across the region and its ability to project guidance and provide support to multiple local affiliates.
GUN-MAKER BERETTA SAYS IT’S FOUND THE ‘KEY TO PENETRATING MARKETS’
Defense News on 4th May reported that Italian gun-maker Beretta is eyeing a new technology transfer deal with Argentina after concluding a similar deal with Qatar, claiming handing over technology to allow international customers to build their own guns is the future. The firm is looking at transferring technology to Argentinian state manufacturer Fabricaciones Militares.
HOW WESTERN SANCTIONS WILL ALTER TIES BETWEEN RUSSIAN BIG BUSINESS AND THE KREMLIN
The Carnegie Center on 3rd May published an article saying that the latest round of US sanctions has hit Russia hard. In the future, the Russian state will have to share the emerging risks and minimise socioeconomic consequences for the impacted regions and industries. This will lead to a new wave of property redistribution based upon state — not economic — interests.
ISRAEL LOOKS TO SUPPLY MORE ARMS TO AFRICA
Defence Web on 4th May reported that the Israeli ministry of defence has prepared a new plan to increase the export of military hardware to Africa starting this year. Israel’s defence-related exports in 2017 totalled $9.2 billion, an all-time record, and a 40% increase over 2016 when defence-related transactions totalled $6.5 billion. The majority of sales were for air defence systems (31%). According to the Israeli Ministry of Defence, 58% of these exports went to Asia and the Pacific, stemming primarily from the $2 billion defence contract Israel signed with India. As examples of efforts, it reports that in March the Israeli defence Minister visited Tanzania Rwanda, and Zambia. This was the first official visit by an Israeli defence minister to the continent in decades. Also, according to the Israeli press, an Israeli security mission made a secret visit to Rwanda in February in an effort to sell weapons and military technology to the country.
VENEZUELA SAYS IT IS TAKING OVER BANESCO BANK FOR 90 DAYS, ARRESTS 11 TOP BANK EXECUTIVES
On 3rd May, Reuters reported that Venezuelan authorities had seized the country’s largest private bank and announced the arrest of 11 top executives for “attacks” against the country’s rapidly depreciating bolivar currency.
BOSNIAN ARRESTED IN CROATIA IN CONNECTION WITH 2016 TUNISIAN ASSASSINATION
On 4th May, Defence Web reported that Croatian police had arrested a Bosnian citizen who may be extradited to Tunisia over alleged involvement in the killing of a Tunisian in 2016 that Palestinian group Hamas said was a member. Mohammed Zawari, an aerospace engineer and drone expert, was shot dead in December 2016. Tunisian authorities later arrested 10 Tunisians but 2 foreigners suspected of plotting the killing escaped. Hamas blamed Israel for the killing of Zawari, who was a member for 10 years.
US SHOULD PRIORITISE TRANSNATIONAL BIOTHREATS NOW, EXPERTS WARN
On 4th May, Homeland Security Today reports that America’s response to potential worldwide biological threats — either naturally occurring or imposed by terrorists — must evolve, experts told the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense during its April 25th public meeting addressing current transnational biothreats and the global security efforts to combat them.
On 4th May, HM Treasury issued a news release saying that firms are being invited to undertake consultancy work on a requirement to produce a diagnostic review of the Gibraltarian insurance regulatory regime. Gibraltar’s continued access to UK financial services will be underpinned by mutual confidence in regulatory standards, supervisory capacities and capabilities; and commitment both to information sharing specifically and to joint regulatory working more generally.
On 4th May, the European Parliament Think Tank produced a briefing paper, commissioned by the Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Special Committee on Terrorism of the European Parliament (TERR), examines the challenges pertaining to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) illicit trafficking that the EU faces. Taking into account the new October 2017 CBRN Action Plan as well as existing mechanisms and solutions, it focuses on means to prevent and detect the introduction into and movement within the EU territory.
Europol reported on 4th May that an organised criminal group involved in pan-European VAT fraud and money laundering has been dismantled in a joint operation led by the Spanish National Police, together with the Spanish Tax Agency and supported by Europol and Eurojust. The investigation also saw the involvement of national authorities from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Romania. In total, the damage caused to the EU economy due to this VAT fraud reached €60 million. The group carried out or simulated imports and purchases of electronic goods, both real and fake, which were sold online. Investigations also revealed that the money was layered among the large network of shell companies before being funnelled to Bulgarian or Hungarian bank accounts. The group then used different methods to integrate its profits, such as investments in real estate and real businesses, or the purchase and sale of luxury vehicles. The final destinations of the proceeds of crime were Italy, Spain and the USA.
The Sydney Morning Herald on 5th May reports that the Australian government has unveiled a plan to recover billions of dollars being lost to federal coffers from a combination of undetected tobacco imports, illegal tobacco crops known as “chop chop” and a thriving black market in stolen, untaxed cigarettes. It is said that a flourishing illegal trade was costing taxpayers billions while the proceeds were going on to fund other criminal activities. The Australian Taxation Office will be given expanded powers to charge tobacco duties and other tax liabilities on cigarettes when they enter the country rather than when the product leaves a licensed warehouse in Australia destined for the retail market. And a new multi-agency Tobacco Taskforce, to be formally announced in the budget on Tuesday, will crack down on criminal gangs and organised crime syndicates which each year, move a staggering amount of the product beyond the taxman’s reach in the black economy. Authorities believe significant quantities of cigarettes are illegally removed from tobacco warehouses for sale on the black market. Some of this theft may be piecemeal by employees, but larger-scale removal of cigarettes from warehouses is also occurring. The government says it has seized an estimated 98 tonnes of illicit tobacco this financial year alone, which would have netted the taxpayer almost $90 million in revenue had it been sold legally.
On 4th May, the BBC reported that a confidential settlement has been reached between the BBC, the Guardian and law firm Appleby over the reporting of leaked documents detailing offshore tax-avoidance schemes. Appleby began legal action after details from the documents, known as the Paradise Papers, were published. About half of the 13.4 million leaked documents were from Appleby, one of the world’s largest providers of offshore legal services. A joint statement said that it was now clear that the vast majority of documents that were of interest in the Paradise Papers investigation related to the fiduciary business that is no longer owned by Appleby and so were not legally privileged documents.
Out-Law reported that Ryanair should be able to deduct the VAT chargeable on costs it incurred in the context of its failed takeover bid for rival Aer Lingus in 2006, according to an EU legal adviser, the Advocate General. The European Court of Justice is not bound to accept the advice of its adviser. However, the opinion “clearly focuses on the economic reality of the situation”, according to tax expert Jamie Robson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.