2nd August 2018
CIGARETTE SMUGGLING GANG JAILED FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS
Forecourt Trader on 1st August reported that a gang who attempted to flood UK streets with millions of smuggled cigarettes and launder the proceeds by buying and selling high-value cars, have been jailed for more than 25 years. More than 17 million non-UK duty paid cigarettes and 1.4 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco was smuggled into the UK from SE Asia from January 2014. The duty and VAT evaded totalled £4,308,832. The men, from across the North West and Northern Ireland, used a rented flat in Liverpool as their base to plan the 20-month smuggling scam.
MAN ARRESTED IN BVI WITH OVER $500,000 IN REAL AND COUNTERFEIT CASH
BVI News on 1st August reported that a 72-year-old visitor recently held at the TB Lettsome International Airport had more than half-million dollars in real and counterfeit cash. Ecuadorian, Arturo Bansantes, is charged with engagement in smuggling, failing to declare monies to Customs, and possession of proceeds of criminal conduct. A pig farmer and shoe store owner, claims the cash was to purchase a vessel. It is alleged that 18 $20 bills and 1 $10 bill were fake currency.
PAKISTAN: BRITISH FIRM TO PROBE ALTAF IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
The Nation on 2nd August reported that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had informed the anti-terrorism court that a British lawyer firm has been hired to probe Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain over the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) money laundering case; and that details about 69 bank accounts have been collected those were used for illegal transactions. The FIA had named a MQM Senator Babar Ghauri, the Karachi Deputy Mayorand others as co-accused; and had named the MQM founder as a fugitive in the charge sheet. As many as 86 senior leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), including the central leaders of its all four factions, have been shortlisted by the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in a money laundering case. It is claimed it used the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation, and funds collected in charitable activities or through extortion and other illegal means. In 2016, investigations into Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain senior MQM leader Mohammad Anwar and businessman Sarfaraz Merchant were dropped by the Metropolitan Police due, it was said, to lack of evidence.
€4.5 MILLION HIGH-RISK MONEY FROZEN AS LATVIA CLEANS UP BANKING SECTOR
Xinhua on 2nd August reported that roughly €4.5 million worth of high-risk money has been frozen in bank accounts as the Latvian banking sector is rushing to get rid of suspicious non-resident clients to meet AML/CFT rules, the national banking regulator said. The share of deposits made by the so-called shell corporations has now dwindled to 0.03% of the total amount of deposits held by the Latvian banks, according to the latest data released by the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FCMC), and in recent months the banks had severed ties with some 9,000 shell corporations.
WHERE EUROPE’S MIGRANTS ARE
Politico has published an article, with useful graphs and diagrams showing that many of the Continent’s foreign-born residents come from other EU countries. It also points out that EU citizens routinely overestimate the proportion of people in their country born outside the bloc. On average, their estimate is double the actual share; in some cases it’s 10 times reality. It illustrates this point with a helpful illustration.
RUSSIA REACTS ANGRILY AS EU ADDS 6 COMPANIES TO SANCTIONS LIST
Politico on 2nd August reported that Russia reacted to new EU sanctions imposed on companies involved in constructing the Kerch bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimea peninsula. The sanctioned companies now face an asset freeze in the EU, and EU citizens and entities are barred from allowing the companies to access those funds. One of the companies, Stroygazmontazh is owned by Arkady Rotenberg, one of President Putin’s close associates, who is already subject to sanctions over his role in Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
US IRAN SANCTIONS AND THE EU BLOCKING REGULATION – PRIVATE LAW CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES
On 31st July, law firm Stewarts published an article which considers the circumstances that may give rise to private law claims for damages as a result of these new EU measures to counteract the effect of reimposed US sanctions. It says that it is widely accepted that whilst the activation of the EU Blocking Regulation in relation to Iran is a political statement, it does not offer an effective legal protection for EU persons to rely upon in the face of US secondary sanctions. Hence, in order to avoid exclusion from the US market, regulators and advisors may encourage EU persons to abide by the US Iran sanctions regime – leading them to withdraw from contracts, business arrangements and negotiations in relation to activities caught by US Iran sanctions – and face the consequences of defying the Blocking Regulation. If so, there may be the right to recover damages under the Blocking Regulation.
IRAN: US SANCTIONS AND IP RIGHTS
SABA & Co in Lebanon on 31st July published an article claiming that reimposed US sanctions include a waiver that allows the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in Iran, and that regulations mean that certain transactions related to patents, trademarks, and copyrights are authorised – even with the US sanctions reimposed, certain transactions are permitted in Iran.
S&P RAISES MALTA BANKING RISK SCORE CITING PILATUS CONCERNS AND BANK OF VALETTA LITIGATION
Malta Today on 2nd August reported that credit rating agency Standard & Poors has highlighted increased reputational and operational risks for Malta’s banking sector, and referred to allegations of money laundering against the now-shuttered Pilatus Bank and its “perception of poor transparency at some banks” on the island. S&P also highlighted the Bank of Valetta’s legal problems re failed shipping line, Deiulemar, citing risks from potential reputational damage and litigation charges. The Bank has had €363 million frozen by an Italian court on a precautionary warrant, and has bank informed shareholders that it was setting aside €75 million for litigation costs and would not be issuing an interim dividend. The Deiulemar case involves a failed shipping business and the Bank is involved in legal proceedings because it had held the trusts of the holding company. Bond holders are seeking €363 million from the Bank in what they claim are lost savings that were invested in the shipping company. Deiulemar Shipping was a major Italian dry freight group, and was declared bankrupt in 2012 owing more than €500 million.
US CHARGES UKRAINIAN HACKERS FOR STEALING MILLIONS OF CREDIT CARDS
Deutsche Welle on 2nd August reported that 3 men who formed part of the cybercrime group FIN7 have been arrested for targeting more than 100 US companies. The DoJ said that since at least 2015, FIN7 members engaged in a highly sophisticated malware campaign targeting more than 100 US companies, predominantly in the restaurant, gaming and hospitality industries, hacked into thousands of computer systems and stole millions of customer credit and debit card numbers, which the group used or sold for profit.
MASSIVE CORRUPTION SCANDAL ROCKS BELARUS HEALTHCARE
The Digital Journal on 2nd August reported that authorities have arrested dozens of doctors, drug company representatives and bureaucrats on suspicion of siphoning off millions of dollars in state funding. The head of the KGB state security service has denounced what he called a vast system of procurement of drugs and medical equipment at inflated prices. Prices were habitually hiked by up to 60 percent and in some cases even doubled, he said. Those detained in the scandal include deputy health minister Igor Lositsky, doctors at reputed clinics and leading business figures involved in producing and importing medicines. Another is Sergei Shakutin, director of Iskamed group, who is the brother of one of Lukashenko’s close associates.
US ARRESTS EXECUTIVE CHARGED WITH BRIBING VENEZUELAN STATE OIL COMPANY OFFICIAL
VoA on 1st August reported that Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino, 48, a business executive who controlled multiple energy companies that supplied equipment to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has been arrested at Miami International Airport in the latest case to spill out of a broad US bribery investigation. He is charged with conspiring to make corrupt payments to a PDVSA official in exchange for favourable business treatment. Gonzalez is the 17th person to face US charges as part of a larger investigation into bribery at PDVSA.
SENIOR KINAHAN GANGSTERS FLEE IRELAND FROM CAB PROBE
The Irish Independent on 2nd August reported that senior associates of the Kinahan cartel have fled the country in an effort to protect their remaining assets following a lengthy and complex Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation into the gang. As well as the CAB probe, officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) are also continuing investigations into the criminal group which is said to have originated in Dublin but now has interests in Spain, the Netherlands, South America and Dubai.
UK: EMPTY INDUSTRIAL UNITS ARE BEING USED TO DUMP THOUSANDS OF TONNES OF ILLEGAL WASTE
Commercial Motor on 1st August reports on a statement by the Environment Agency. It seems that criminals pose as legitimate tenants in order to rent properties, then store illegal waste there – causing landlords potential clear-up costs. The top land types for illegal dumping are farms 34%; industrial units 24%; abandoned factories 10% and derelict sites 7%.
CHINA ANNOUNCES ACCEPTANCE OF ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS FOR CUSTOMS CLEARANCE
Customs Today on 1st August reported that Customs Authorities in the People’s Republic of China will accept electronic documents (eDocs) at the point of Customs declaration, ceasing to require paper documents as a strict prerequisite for clearance.
IRELAND: THIRD-PARTY FUNDING FROM A THIRD PARTY WITH NO LEGITIMATE INTEREST IN THE LITIGATION AND THE ASSIGNMENT OF A RIGHT TO LITIGATE TO A THIRD PARTY WITH NO LEGITIMATE INTEREST IN THE LITIGATION
Matheson in Ireland on 1st August reported on a n Irish Supreme Court decision (linked to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal) which makes it clear that third-party funding from a third party with no legitimate interest in the litigation and the assignment of a right to litigate to a third party with no legitimate interest in the litigation remain off limits in Ireland for the foreseeable future; and that the assignment of a claim to an unconnected third party with the possibility of profit is trading in claims and such an assignment is unenforceable in Irish law.
WOMEN IN ENGLAND ARE ILLEGALLY TAKING ABORTION PILLS BOUGHT ONLINE, IN ORDER TO AVOID MISCARRYING ON THEIR WAY HOME FROM CLINICS
Rights Info on 31st July reported that currently, the law (under the Abortion Act 1967) states that all abortion pills must be taken in a clinic or hospital – meaning some women end up having an abortion on public transport, or while driving home. However, during the past 3 years, more than 10,000 sets of abortion pills have been seized by customs officers, which had been set to go to addresses in Britain. Campaigners are now calling for women to be able to take the second abortion pill at home, something which has already been legalised in Scotland and Wales.
BVI EMBRACES INNOVATIVE KYC SOLUTIONS FOR THE BLOCKCHAIN REVOLUTION
Appleby on 2nd August published an article saying that changes to the British Virgin Islands’ Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice, 2008 will permit entities in the BVI to use digital verification of identities and receive electronic copies of documents instead of traditional “wet ink” paper-based processes. The amendments, which came into force on 1st August, are further evidence of regulators in the BVI embracing the blockchain revolution and will set a new standard for KYC verification in the region.
NORTH KOREA’S OTHER WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on 1st August reported on other forms of WMD North Korea has, or might have and its rumoured chemical and biological weapons programmes. It says that the Kim regime hasn’t exactly been trying to tamp down speculation about his possible assets. US intelligence assessments from 2002 found North Korea possessed a sizeable stockpile of chemical weapons. Bulk quantities of nerve, blister, choking, and blood agents could be delivered by ballistic missiles, conventional artillery, or aircraft. There are also at least 8 facilities that can produce chemical agents. In addition, North Korea’s biological weapons programme has reportedly been around since the 1960s. It is believed that North Korea’s infrastructure could produce and weaponise biological agents such as anthrax, cholera, and the plague.
FRENCH INSURER CNP FINED €8 MILLION OVER COMPLIANCE BREACHES
On 2nd August KYC 360 reported that France’s banking and insurance regulator imposed an €8 million fine on insurer CNP for breaches in preventing money laundering and failures in preventing the financing of activities deemed to be linked to terrorism. The regulator said it made the decision based on controls carried out between December 2014 and February 2016, while adding that CNP had since announced a series of measures to resolve those issues.
LAW FIRM MISHCON DE REYA HAS FILED A LEGAL COMPLAINT AGAINST NEW ANTI-TAX EVASION MEASURES, ARGUING THAT THEY INFRINGE PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION RIGHTS
The Guardian on 2nd August reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed it had received a complaint against HMRC and the Common Reporting Standard, a system whereby different countries’ tax authorities automatically exchange information. The complaint was filed on behalf of an unnamed EU citizen. The woman is domiciled in Italy, meaning she argues it is her home for tax purposes. It says that the complaint claims that sharing her information with overseas tax authorities would subject her to a risk of her data being hacked, and would infringe European data protection and human rights laws.
REPORT SAYS HUMAN TRAFFICKING, MOSTLY FOR PROSTITUTION, STILL RIFE IN THAILAND
The Nation on 2nd August reported that human trafficking remains a serious issue in Thailand – with most cases involving prostitution – despite years of efforts to tackle the menace by the military government, a report released by the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and Anti-Labour Trafficking Project (ALT) rights groups reveals. Focusing on the situation in 2016 to 2017, said cases of labour trafficking were lower because they might not have been discovered or reported yet.
NORWAY: APPLE TO DROP UNLICENSED GAMBLING APPLICATIONS FROM ITS APP STORE
iGB on 2nd August reported that the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) has succeeded in persuading Apple to drop unlicensed gambling applications from its App Store in order to comply with national gambling regulation and as part of an ongoing effort to protect consumers from developing gambling problems.
DOING BUSINESS IN RUSSIA GUIDE
On 2nd August law firm Dentons published this guide which it says provides insights into the legal framework for investments, including: setting up a business, incentives for foreign direct Investment, taxes, employment and immigration, environmental protection, real estate and construction, resolving disputes and intellectual property.