TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESS TO TIGHTEN INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS & EXPORT CONTROLS TO ADDRESS TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CONCERNS
On 5th June, Baker McKenzie issued an alert saying that the Trump Administration and the US Congress are tightening investment restrictions and export controls to address technology transfer concerns. These measures initially focus on China, but will have broader effects on investments in the US and transfers of emerging technologies. The article says that the investment and export control measures are to be announced by June 30th, and “implemented shortly thereafter”. The Administration is apparently considering restricting a broader range of technology transfers than that related to defense or “dual-use” items, the traditional focus of US export controls. The view expressed is that the Administration will likely use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, which is the statutory basis for most US sanctions programmes, and appears to be contemplating using the model of sanctions – in that case, persons subject to US jurisdiction would likely be prohibited from involvement in targeted China-related investments into the US. The article also cautions that Congress is finalising legislation, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), that would expand the scope of national security reviews of foreign investments in the US and make mandatory for the first time declarations for some foreign investments, and require the Administration to assess and regulate “emerging” and “foundational” technologies under existing export controls.
US TREASURY SANCTIONS VIOLENT COLOMBIAN COCAINE TRAFFICKING ORGANISATION
On 5th June, the US Treasury issued a news release saying that OFAC had identified the Rincon Castillo drug trafficking organization (Rincon Castillo DTO), its leader, Colombian drug trafficker Pedro Rincon Castillo (aka Pedro Orejas), and a key Colombian criminal associate Horacio de Jesus Triana Romero as significant foreign narcotics traffickers. 7 additional Colombian individuals were designated for providing material support to or acting on behalf of the Rincon Castillo DTO. OFAC further designated 7 Colombian companies that are owned or controlled by the designated individuals or the Rincon Castillo DTO.
LEADERS OF CEO FRAUD GANG ARRESTED
On 4th June, OCCRP reported that Israeli and French authorities arrested 4 suspected leaders of a crime group responsible for impersonating executives of companies and ordering employees to wire company money to bank accounts owned by the group. Europol said that the group was responsible for 24 cases of such “CEO fraud” in Europe that caused over €18 million of damage.
WHO AND EU CLASH WITH TOBACCO INDUSTRY OVER PLAIN PACKAGING EFFECTIVENESS
EurActiv on 5th June carried an article saying that the industry says plain packaging has no visible impact on smoking rates while it opens the door to black markets. On the contrary, the WHO insists on the effectiveness of the measure and rules out any link to illicit trade. From its side, the EU has adopted a “wait and see” approach, expecting 2.4 million fewer smokers over a five-year period of the new Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) implementation. New research conducted by consultancy group Europe Economics showed that the introduction of plain packaging has had no statistically significant impact on smoking prevalence in the UK and on consumption in the UK. WHO told EURACTIV that in Australia there was evidence showing that plain packaging clearly contributed to the overall decline in smoking there.
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SEIZE DOCUMENTS FROM MTN OVER TURKCELL ALLEGED BRIBERY CASE
Reuters on 5th June reported that South African police have seized documents from the offices of mobile phone operator MTN Group after Turkey’s Turkcell launched a lawsuit over a disputed Iran licence. Turkcell alleges that the South African mobile company used bribery and wrongful influence to win a lucrative Iran license originally awarded to Turkcell. MTN rejects the allegations.
BELGIAN POLICE DETAIN 13 IN TENNIS MATCH-FIXING PROBE
AFP on 5th June reported that Belgian police held 13 people in an investigation into match-fixing in tennis, prosecutors said, barely a month after a major independent report warned of a “tsunami” of corruption in the lower levels of the sport. Officers swooped on 21 addresses in Belgium while simultaneous raids were launched on properties in the US, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Netherlands as part of an international probe into an Armenian-Belgian criminal network suspected of bribing players to throw games. Belgian prosecutors said the matches involved were on the low-level Futures and Challenger circuits, away from the gaze of television coverage and where prize money is low enough that players are susceptible to backhanders.
UK BRIBERY ACT 2010: POST LEGISLATIVE SCRUTINY MEMORANDUM
On 4th June, the MoJ issued a news release saying that the Bribery Act 2010 was commenced on 1st July 2011 and replaced an old and outmoded mix of common and statutory law and was designed to provide the courts, prosecutors and investigators the tools they needed to tackle bribery in the UK and overseas in the 21st Century. The MoJ has now issued a document which deals with the origins of the Act, its provisions, implementation and enforcement and provides a preliminary assessment of its performance against the policy drivers that informed its content. This memorandum is published to assist in the post legislative review of this legislation by the House of Lords select committee for the review of the Bribery Act 2010.
SCOTTISH MAN CHARGED AFTER SEIZURE OF 3.6 MILLION CIGARETTES
Talking Retail on 5th June reported that HMRC has charged a 58-year-old man after an estimated 3.6 million suspected illicit cigarettes were seized in the Gartcosh village of North Lanarkshire. The cigarettes, worth an estimated £1.3 million in lost duty and taxes, were discovered in a 20-foot container after Police Scotland executed a warrant at a business address.
BVI PLANNING CHALLENGE TO UK’S BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP LAW
Tax News on 4th June reported that the government has appointed legal counsel to advise on a potential challenge to the UK’s move to force its Overseas Territories to set up publicly accessible registers containing information on the beneficial ownership of legal entities.
LITHUANIAN MAN HAS BEEN JAILED AFTER ATTEMPTING TO SMUGGLE ECSTASY WORTH AROUND HALF A MILLION POUNDS INTO NORTHERN IRELAND
An NCA news release on 4th June reported that Lukas Urbutis, 25, a Lithuanian national living in Dundalk, Republic of Ireland, was arrested by NCA officers on 11th September, following a raid on a property in Newry. The operation, which was supported by the PSNI, followed the seizure of a package containing almost 10 kg of crystalised MDMA by Border Force officers at a courier depot near Belfast. The drugs had been sent in the post from the Netherlands.
REPORT – NORTH KOREA WANTS US TO HELP IT BUILD AN INTEGRATED RESORT CASINO IN EXCHANGE FOR CONCESSIONS ON ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
Calvin Ayre on 5th June reported that South Korean media outlet reported that Kim Yong Choi, a top aide to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, had suggested the US help finance a plan for a casino in a proposed international tourist destination in the Wonsan-Kalma coastal region.
MOLDOVA TO EASE CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS FOR INVESTORS
OCCRP on 4th June reported that the Moldovan parliament is divided over proposed amendments that would allow wealthy investors to bypass certain requirements in the citizen application process. The new alterations to citizenship law initiated by the ruling pro-European Democrat Party would no longer oblige such investors to learn the official language or study the constitution, and would also no longer reveal the first or last names of those persons and their families granted citizenship through investment (CBI).
IMMINENT CHANGES TO AUSTRALIAN RULES FOR FOREIGN FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS
Allen & Overy on 4th June published a briefing saying that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has released a consultation paper in respect of potential reforms of the law applying to Foreign Financial Service Providers (FFSP), broadly foreign licensees who deal with Australian institutional clients. The proposals represent a significant change to the existing regime, including a new licensing regime, which will replace the existing “passporting” regime currently allowing FFSP to provide services to Australian clients by complying with the laws in their home jurisdiction.
DIRECTORS’ DUTIES: CAN A DIRECTOR BE LIABLE EVEN IF NOT FORMALLY APPOINTED?
On 5th June, The Lawyer carried an article from law firm Walker Morris that reported that 2 recent cases in the UK High Court have explored the differences between de jure, de facto and shadow directors and looked at when individuals, whether formally appointed as directors or not, can be held responsible for breach of their directors’ duties.
RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE ART COLLECTOR “TO SUE BRITISH AUTHORITIES OVER ‘VANDALISM’ OF ANTIQUES”
RT on 5th June reported that a Russian billionaire art collector, Alexander Ivanov, one of the richest art collectors in the world and the owner of the most expensive Faberge eggs, has threatened to sue Border Force over allegations that it lost and damaged precious pieces from his unique £600,000 collection of antiques while they were confiscated at Heathrow Airport back in 2013.
TRACE PODCAST: FOOTBALL DREAMS
In the latest free TRACE podcast, Sebastian Abbot, author of “The Away Game; The Epic Search for Soccer’s Next Superstars,” talks about Qatar and the biggest soccer talent search in history, as well as the darker side of recruiting for the sport.
WIFE OF EX-MALAYSIA PM QUESTIONED, NEW GRAFT SCANDAL UNFOLDS
Baker McKenzie on 5th June reported that anti-corruption investigators questioned the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak about alleged theft and money-laundering involving the 1MDB state investment fund, as officials announced a probe into other suspicious multibillion-dollar transactions under Najib’s leadership.
THE LATEST RESOURCES ON NORTH KOREA FROM NTI AND CNS
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has provided resources to better understand North Korea’s nuclear programme, created by NTI and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). The resources include the CNS missile test database, an infographic illustrating North Korea’s missile capabilities, 3D missile models, B-roll of North Korea’s latest missiles, a country profile, articles and more.
EU ADVOCATE GENERAL OPINION ON BANK MELLAT SANCTIONS CASE
On 4th June, the European Sanctions Blog reported an opinion from the Advocate General stating that the ECJ should in his view uphold the General Court’s judgment of June 2016 rejecting Bank Mellat’s challenge in case T-160/13 to the non-targeted parts of the EU’s former Iran sanctions regime. Bank Mellat was seeking to challenge the wider restrictions on Iranian banks that had been imposed by EU sanctions pre-JCPOA.
ORGANISED CRIMINALS BRIBING UK PHARMACISTS AND WHOLESALERS TO DIVERT PRESCRIPTION-ONLY MEDICATION
An old article, but on 1st February Illicit Trade reported that an investigation conducted by the MHRA has revealed that organised criminal gangs are bribing pharmacists and wholesalers to supply them with prescription drugs illegally. In a statement, the agency said it made 40 arrests linked to the diversion of legitimate pharmaceutical products last year, including 5 pharmacists, who have been suspended from practice. The MHRA estimates that prescription medication worth as much as £200 million was diverted from official supply chains to illicit markets between 2013 and 2016, placing many thousands of vulnerable people at risk. Prescription-only drugs including benzodiazepines, anxiolytics such as Diazepam and Zopiclone and the painkiller Tramadol were the focus of the MHRA probe.
PANAMA ADOPTS FURTHER RETALIATORY MEASURES AGAINST VENEZUELA
On 10th April, Panama approved further measures against Venezuela with the suspension, for a period of 90 days (a period which may be extended) of all activities of air transport, passengers and cargo of Venezuelan airlines operating in Panama. In March, Panama had included Venezuela in a list of countries that apply discriminatory or restrictive measures to the international economic and commercial interests of the Republic of Panama (the full list is Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Perú, Uruguay, Venezuela, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, France, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Cameroon, Georgia, Russia, Serbia).