MALAYSIAN POLICE STOP TANKER FULL OF MIGRANTS HEADING TO NEW ZEALAND
News Hub in New Zealand on 6th May reported that a rusty tanker crammed with illegal migrants and reportedly bound for Australia and New Zealand has been intercepted by Malaysian police. In a statement police said the tanker, called Etra, had 98 men, 24 women and 9 children on board. The migrants were from Sri Lanka and were being smuggled by a syndicate that transports people to Australia and New Zealand. A boat used to transport the migrants to the tanker was also raided and the 7 on board were arrested.
UK ARMED ROBBERY GANG THAT LAUNDERED MONEY THROUGH FOBT SENTENCED
On 6th May, Casino.org reported that a gang of thieves that terrorised North West England with a string of raids on armoued cash-in-transit vehicles, banks, and supermarkets laundered the proceeds of their crimes through fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) in bookmakers’ shops, a court heard. Between June 2016 and August last year, dozens of raids netted the gang £193,000. This was literally dirty money: in most of the robberies, the loot was protected by explosive dye packs, which would stain banknotes as the robbers fled.
PILATUS BANK MOVES TO TAKE BACK CONTROL
The Times of Malta on 6th May reported that the bank directors were preparing legal action against the Malta FSA. The bank’s move has raised concerns within the MFSA that money held by the bank could potentially be moved if the attempt is successful, according to a source at the MFSA. Other sources said it might have implications for an ongoing investigation of the bank’s servers being conducted by the MFSA and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. The regulator will fight back, the MFSA source said.
HMRC ACCUSED OF IGNORING ONLINE VAT FRAUD WORTH £1.2 BILLION A YEAR
The Guardian on 6th May reported that campaigners say no rogue traders have been prosecuted for selling wares on Amazon and eBay without VAT. The accusation comes after a senior official said that his department had never seized goods from traders suspected of being part of a £1.2 billion-a-year VAT fraud via Amazon’s marketplace and other online sites. The scam involves foreign companies warehousing products in the UK and selling them without charging VAT via internet marketplaces. HMRC has recently introduced new “fulfilment house” regulations to seek to control the problem.
EU COUNCIL OF MEMBER STATES APPROVES NEW LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR TRADE DEFENCE MEASURES
On 4th May, HKTDC reported that on 16th April, the Council of Member States’ ministers approved the so called “modernisation package” of the EU’s trade defence rules. The modernisation was first proposed by the Commission in 2013 but met resistance in the Council among Member States opposed to greater protectionism. The Council’s approval paves the way for the final adoption by the European Parliament. The modernisation of the EU’s trade defence instruments complements the recently approved Regulation on the introduction of the EU’s new anti-dumping methodology, which came into force on 21st December.
LAST REACH DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION OF CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES APPROACHING FAST
On 4th May, HKTDC reported that on 31st May, the third and final REACH registration deadline will expire. By this date, all Hong Kong entities selling registrable existing chemical substances, or mixtures or articles containing such substances, will have to ensure that those substances (imported into the EU in quantities between 1 tonne and 100 tonnes) have been registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It is a key date in the EU regulatory calendar, as after that, if such substances sold in the EU have not been registered, they will no longer be allowed on the EU market. If an EU-based entity manufactures chemical substances or imports them from outside the EU above 1 tonne per year, that entity may have registration obligations under REACH. Additionally, if it manufactures or imports a product (mixture, article), it may contain substances that need to be registered individually. If the entity concerned has pre-registered substances it manufactures or imports from outside the EU above 1 tonne but not more than 100 tonnes per year, and has not already registered them, the REACH registration deadline of 31st May applies.
BRIBERY HIGH IN TAIWAN: SURVEY
In its 7th May edition, the Taipei Times reported that only a quarter of Taiwanese firms reported being victims of economic crime, likely because they tend to be cautious and are less aware of the associated risks, a PwC Taiwan survey showed. Taiwanese companies reported fewer economic crimes than their global or regional peers, but more cases of bribery and procurement fraud, a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Taiwan has shown. Misappropriation of assets is still the most common type of fraud in Taiwan, accounting for 39 of all fraud, followed by bribery and corruption at 35%, the survey showed. Bribery and corruption is higher than the global 25% rate and the Asia-Pacific region’s 30%.
GARDAI RAID ECSTASY PILL FACTORY LINKED TO KINAHAN CARTEL
The Journal on 6th May reported that the Gardai raided suspected ecstasy manufacturing plant in Kildare and seized €500,000 worth of the drug. Officers discovered the drugs as well as chemicals used to make it. Personal protective equipment was also seized. 3 foreign nationals have been arrested and are being questioned at a number of garda stations. Gardaí said equipment including blenders and an industrial pill making machine along with suspected controlled drugs in powder and pill form were seized.
AHOY CLUB AIMS TO REVOLUTIONISE THE WAY CLIENTS BOOK CHARTER TRIPS FOR SUPERYACHTS
On 6th May, Superyacht News carried an article saying that a new platform called Ahoy Club hopes to make chartering easier, cost-effective and accessible to the wider market. The enterprise, developed by superyacht owner and businessman Ian Malouf, believes that through its user-friendly, efficient platform, it can lower the costs of chartering by around 20%, generating a higher amount of revenue for superyacht owners and encouraging more ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) to enter into the charter market.
SHIPPERS URGED TO PREPARE NOW FOR US-CHINA TARIFFS
Lloyds Loading List on 6th May reported that an array of solutions is available to help shippers avoid the full impact of new US tariffs on Chinese imports due to be implemented this summer, according to one US customs expert, including ‘tariff engineering’. But simply changing the origin or tax code of imported products in a bid to ‘game’ the system could lead to criminal charges, they warned.
US CARD CLUB PAYS PENALTY TO FINCEN
On 3rd May, FinCEN notified that a California company, Artichoke Joe’s, operating as Artichoke Joe’s Casino, a card club located in San Bruno, California which has been in operation since 1916. It contains 38 tables offering card and tile games, including baccarat, blackjack, poker, and Pai Gow. It has agreed to pay a fine of $550,000, with $275,000 stayed for a 2-year period, and agreed to modify its surveillance, work with the city of San Bruno to improve co-ordination with law enforcement, replace employees at the Pai Gow tables, and provide additional training on loan-sharking, illegal drugs, and compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act. It is said that the company had failed to operate an adequate AML/CFT programme.
BANNING AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS IS NOT THE ANSWER, SAYS ARTICLE
Chatham House on 2nd May carried a commentary saying that a simple ban of lethal autonomous systems, as advocated for by some states, misses the complexity of the issue and how highly-automated systems could actually enhance adherence to international law. Possibilities were considered at the UN’s Group of Government Experts (GGE) meeting discussing lethal autonomous weapon systems. The commentary says that the forum is the right place to address the implications of new technology, but it clearly needs to be more specific about the risks it is considering.
ILLEGAL GUNS AND AMMO WORTH US$1.34 MILLION SEIZED IN TAIWAN AFTER PASSING THROUGH HONG KONG
The South China Morning Post on 5th May reported that Taiwan police have confiscated illegal firearms worth at least $1.34 million shipped through Hong Kong in the biggest seizure of weapons headed to the island in 10 years. Officers also arrested 6 people but none of them was the mastermind, a spokesman for the force said. 109 firearms along with 12,378 rounds of ammunition – were found inside 2 large injection moulding machines in a container. The illegal firearms were shipped by a Guangzhou-based courier to northeast Taiwan through Hong Kong.