30th June 2018
REPORT: IRAN SEEKING ILLEGAL MISSILE TECHNOLOGY IN GERMANY
The Jerusalem Post on 29th June carried a report saying that North Rhine-Westphalia, announced that Iran sought to obtain illicit goods for its missile program from Germany in 2017. A report from an agency there is quoted as saying, in connection with illegal Iranian and Pakistani efforts to obtain missile technology, “in the overwhelming majority of the number of cases, however, there occurred no delivery of the particular goods”. It is said to be unclear from the report how many attempts Iran made to secure illegal technology nor the number of attempts that led to the transfer of proliferation merchandise and know-how to Iran’s regime.
PROBE CLEARS FINNISH COMPANY OVER EXPORT LICENCE FOR UAE
Defense News on 29th June reported that an investigation by Finland’s Chancellor of Justice has cleared the government of any impropriety or irregularities in the awarding of a military export licence to Patria to cover the sale of armoured personnel carriers to the UAE. It is said that the export deal complied with all laws regulating the sale of weapons systems and military equipment to foreign states, and thus deliveries can go ahead. The report is quoted as saying that the government made its decision knowing the UAE is involved in a civil war conflict in Yemen. The Finnish state holds 50.5% of the shares in Patria, with the other 49.5% owned by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace.
LONDON ART DEALER IS IN A HIGH COURT BATTLE WITH ARTS COUNCIL OVER THE EXPORT OF A GIOTTO PAINTING
The Antique Trade Gazette on 29th June reported that the 13th Century painting, Madonna and Child, was exported to the UK from Italy in 2007 following litigation in the Italian courts. The London art dealer later applied to the Arts Council [which handles cultural export licensing on behalf of the Department for International Trade] for a licence to export the painting out of the EU, but this was refused in 2015. The Arts Council maintains that it is unable to grant an export licence because the Italian authorities say the painting did not have the necessary licence to be exported from Italy in 2007 and are seeking to have it returned. When originally purchased at an auction in 1990 it was thought to be a copy, but later work revealed it to be genuine, and hence to be worth around £10 million (and not the £3,500 paid for it). The High Court has reserved judgment which will be handed down in due course.
CHINESE UNIVERSITY LINKED TO CHINA’S ARMY CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO VIOLATE US EXPORT LAWS
Info Sur Hoy on 26th June reported that an indictment charged China-based Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU) along with Shuren Qin, a Chinese national living in Massachusetts. The indictment also charged LinkOcean Technologies, a Chinese company headed by Qin, whose clients, according to prosecutors, include Chinese research institutes and the naval warfare branch of the People’s Liberation Army. Qin, 41, was charged with conspiring to commit export violations in 2015/16, exporting 78 hydrophones, devices which can be used to monitor sound underwater, to NWPU, which the indictment described as a Chinese military research institute. He is additionally charged with visa fraud.
MAN INVOLVED IN SMUGGLING GUNS AND AMMUNITION INTO THE UK JAILED
A news release from the CPS on 29th June reported the case of Andrew Billings, 31, who was involved in importing 2 sub-machine guns and a loaded Luger pistol, as well as ammunition and a silencer, conspiring with 2 other men to possess the guns with intent to endanger life. Billings supplied the guns in the Netherlands and worked to find a prospective buyer for them once they were in the UK. He liaised with 2 men to organise a trip to pick up the firearms. They used strong magnets to stow the guns to the underside of a tourist coach returning from Europe and attached a tracker to follow the coach’s journey back to its depot in Coventry before Maynard and Barbary picked the firearms up in a van. Following conviction, Billings was found to have made £50,000 from his crimes. He was also ordered to repay a confiscation order of £11,495. He was given 3 months to pay or would face 7 months in prison. Barbary had a benefit figure of £49,444.58 but had a realisable amount of £100 and was given 3 months to pay. Maynard was found to have made £10,000 but a realisable amount of £1.
EGYPT AND HISTORIC ARTEFACTS – IT HAS ALWAYS HAD A SMUGGLING PROBLEM
Arab News on 29th June carried an article that laments that government policies are overlooking the importance of ancient Egyptian antiquities to the development of our country has encouraged many to engage in the illicit trafficking of antiquities, a practice that has been increasing substantially, especially in the last few years. It says that Egypt is sitting on a treasure trove of precious antiquities — and those that are housed in our museums seem to be only a fraction of what lies beneath the land, and the illegal excavation of antiquities is happening in many parts of the country, with a relatively high success rate. The article refers to the recent discovery of 23,000 ancient Egyptian artefacts concealed in a diplomatic container in Italy. The number of artefacts, along with the smuggling method, made it obvious that the illegal trafficking of antiquities is a well-organised and powerful business in Egypt.
DANISH SMUGGLERS ARRESTED IN NORWAY WITH OVER 100 KG OF CANNABIS
The Local in Norway on 29th June reported that 2 Danes in their 50s and 60s have been arrested in a major narcotics case in Norway, with a large quantity of cannabis seized by police. Both have previous convictions for drugs offences. The older of the Danes, a man in his late 60s, was involved in a spectacular narcotics case in Denmark in the 1990s, when he was behind an operation to smuggle 6 tonnes of cannabis from Morocco to Denmark by boat. The second man in the Norwegian arrest, who is in his 50s, also has previous convictions for smuggling cannabis, including a 7-year sentence from 2001 for smuggling 700 kg of cannabis from the Netherlands to Denmark.
AUSTRALIA: DRIVER CAUGHT SMUGGLING RECYCLABLE CONTAINERS ACROSS STATE BORDERS
The Daily Mail reported on 29th June on the case of a man who smuggled 45,000 empty drinks cans bought from a pub in New South Wales, worth $7,000 across the state border in South Australia, where a refund fee per can was payable. His conviction was the first of his kind in 41 years in the state.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: TRINIDAD & TOBAGO FACING EU SANCTIONS
Trinidad & Tobago Newsday on 30th June carried an article saying that the Attorney General had warned that the European Parliament is applying sanctions as a result of a “mis-characterisation” of this country’s compliance status with the FATF standards. He made this disclosure during debate on a motion to approve a joint select committee report on the Anti-Terrorism Amendment Bill 2018. He warned that if the the bill did not continue its progress the country will not complete the timeline FATF set for it to report on September 5th.
EX-BARCELONA BOSS SANDRO ROSELL TO FACE TRIAL FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
Sundiata and other sources on 29th June also reported that Rosell’s wife, an Andorran lawyer and 3 other people would also stand trial. Rosell, who previously lived and worked in Brazil, is suspected of having siphoned €15 million in illegal commissions from a TV rights deal for the Brazil national team along with the former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation.
STEINHOFF RESULTS – POUNDLAND OWNER PROBLEMS INCLUDE $5.5 MILLION LOSS ON ITS ISLE OF MAN-REGISTERED JET
Business Insider in South Africa on 30th June published an article on the interim results from the Steinhoff group for the half-year to March 2018. It suffered an operating loss of €152 million and its revenue declined by 6% to €9.34 billion. It has also written off billions of euros due to overstatements and other misreporting. The company has been struggling to stay afloat after accounting irregularities emerged in December, which saw its CEO Markus Jooste resign. The police is now investigated fraud at the company, which has lost 98% of its value in 7 months. Amongst the points in the results that the article highlights is that Rainford Isle of Man Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Steinhoff, sold a company for $15.5 million in January, less than a year after acquiring it for $21 million.
A CRASH COURSE ON MICHAEL LOWRY
The Irish Times 30th June provided a summary asking such things as what was he convicted of this week, and why was he described as ‘conscientious taxpayer’? What was the payment made to an Isle of Man entity called the Glebe Trust?
OECD LAUNCHES LARGEST SOURCE OF COMPARABLE TAX REVENUE DATA
On 28th June, the OECD unveiled a new database providing detailed and comparable tax revenue information for 80 countries around the world – and which will expand to cover more than 90 countries by the end of 2018. It was presented at the 5th plenary meeting of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS, held in Lima. The Global Revenue Statistics Database integrates information from the four annual Revenue Statistics publications, which provide tailored insights on tax systems and revenue priorities in African, Asian, Latin American and Caribbean (LAC), and OECD countries.
UN TARGET 2030: ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS
The Spanish Royal Institute Elcano (a think-tank for international and strategic studies that analyses world events and trends from a Spanish, European and global perspective) on 28th June published a Paper that begins by saying that Target 16.4 in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) is a global commitment to reduce the level of illicit financial flows (IFF) and the damage they do. The target stands as a great achievement by civil society organisations, bringing a complex set of issues from the wilderness to the international agenda. But, it says, there remain critical challenges, both technical and political, if progress is to be realised. The second section of the Paper addresses these challenges. ‘Illicit financial flows’ is an umbrella term which covers cross-border movements related to tax avoidance, tax evasion, regulatory abuses, bribery and the theft of state assets, the laundering of the proceeds of crime and the financing of terrorism. The Paper aims to provide a background to the SDG Target 16.4, and the origin of the term illicit financial flows.
According to the Paper, the impacts of illicit financial flows are many and varied, but the common element is that IFF are corrosive to the state’s legitimacy and capacity to act, which in turn undermines the achievement of human rights and development. Figure 1 above highlights just some of these effects, and two key categories can be identified.
IRAN LOOKING FOR WAYS TO EXPORT OIL DESPITE US SANCTIONS
The Times of Israel on 30th June claimed that Iran has set up a committee to seek potential buyers, as Trump calls on Saudi Arabia to boost production to offset lost Iranian exports and stem price hikes. Among the issues discussed, it says, were “suggestions to achieve self-sufficiency… in producing petroleum, and to prevent the vulnerability in the field of energy carriers”.
CYPRUS UNDER THE US COSH? THE CRACKDOWN ON MONEY LAUNDERING
The Cyprus Mail on 30th June reported on the issue on June 14th by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) of a circular letter to all credit institutions advising them to step up their game when it comes to due diligence on shell companies and letterbox outfits, part of a broader drive to crack down on money laundering. It says that, although the CBC officially denies it, rumour has it that the guidance was prompted by US pressure. Is there any truth to that, the article asks? The new rules are to be incorporated into an upcoming revision/update of the CBC’s AML directive. The guidance was issued shortly after the visit to the island of the US Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing.
BILLIONAIRE ART DEALER GUY WILDENSTEIN CLEARED OF TAX FRAUD AFTER SECOND PARIS TRIAL COLLAPSES
Artlyst on 30th June reported that French billionaire art dealer Guy Wildenstein has been cleared of tax fraud after a second trial collapsed in Paris. He was accused of not declaring art worth hundreds of millions of euros to the taxman. French tax authorities claimed the family fortune remained obscured after the death of Guy’s father Daniel in 2001.
MAN CONS LEICESTERSHIRE CAR SHOWROOM OUT OF BMW THEN DRIVES IT TO ROMANIA
Leicestershire Live reported on 30th June that Grigore Codarcea, 33, a Romanian national, disappeared to Romania with a £17,000 BMW that he had failed to pay for. He bought the vehicle from a car showroom, having put down £1,000 deposit and arranged finance on the balance. But he only made 1 monthly payment of £290 before defaulting on the 5-year agreement, made in April 2016. He was arrested on his return to the UK, at Luton airport, in August 2017.
RECORD NUMBER OF FAKE HMRC WEBSITES DEACTIVATED
On 30th June, HMRC issued a news release saying that it had removed more than 20,000 malicious websites during the past year – increase of 29% on the previous year but warned people to stay alert to the threat from online fraudsters. It said that it has brought in cutting edge technology to tackle cyber-crime and target fraudsters.
RUSSIA’S DUTY-FREE THRESHOLD ON IMPORTED ONLINE PURCHASES
Customs Today on 29th June reported that the Russian Finance Ministry has reportedly tweaked its proposed reforms to Russia’s duty-free threshold on imported goods bought online. The new plan would reportedly lower the threshold to €500 a month per customer, w.e.f. July 1st. Starting on July 1st 2019, the policy would change from monthly import totals to individual package values, with the new threshold set at €100 per parcel, but not to exceed €200 in a single month. Previously, you could buy up to €1,000 or as much as 31 kg in a month from foreign online stores without paying a special tax of 30% (not to exceed €4 per kg).
EU CUSTOMS UNION: THE WORLD’S LARGEST TRADING BLOCK TURNS 50
On 30th June, the EU published a factsheet celebrating the 50th birthday of the EU customs union marking 1st July 1968, when all customs duties and restrictions lifted between the then 6 member countries of the European Economic Community (EEC). A timeline of developments 1968-2018 is provided.
IMPERIAL INVESTS IN MEDICINAL CANNABIS
TJI on 29th June reported that Imperial Brands Ventures, a subsidiary of Imperial Brands (formerly Imperial Tobacco), has taken an undisclosed equity share in the medicinal cannabis research company, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT). OCT is a biopharmaceutical company that researches, develops and licenses cannabinoid-based therapies and compounds. OCT is licensed for operation by the UK Home Office.