6th August 2018
INDIA: 3 MEN CAUGHT ILLEGALLY TRANSPORTING MORE THAN 1,000 STAR TORTOISES
NDTV on 6th August reported that more than 1,100 endangered Indian star tortoises, meant to be smuggled to Bangladesh, have been seized from 3 passengers on a train in India. The Indian Star Tortoises are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE ACCUSED OF TRYING TO SMUGGLE CASH IN PRIVATE JET IN HAWAII
On 4th August, The Garden Island reported that the Hawaii representative of a Philippine-based church is accused of trying to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars aboard a private jet. Felina S. Salinas has been charged with bulk cash smuggling for failing to report that she was carrying $335,000 in US currency and $9,000 in Australian dollars in February. She is also charged for helping the church’s founder avoid arrest and prosecution.
IRAN CENTRAL BANK DEPUTY ARRESTED IN CORRUPTION PROBE
On 5th August, Bloomberg reported that Ahmad Araghchi, the deputy for foreign exchange affairs, had been sacked and arrested.
CYPRUS: CLAMPDOWN ON COMPANIES LACKING SUBSTANCE
On 3rd August, Elias Neocleous & Co LLC published an article saying that recent developments have underlined the need for businesses to have real substance in order to operate and benefit from tax residence in Cyprus. Lack of proper substance may not only lead to the denial of benefits under double tax agreements or EU Directives, but may also mean that the company is unable to operate a bank account in Cyprus. In June, the Central Bank advised credit institutions against opening accounts for shell or “letter box” companies. The article also touches on the potential adverse effects from a taxation point of view of companies without “substance”, such as physical presence. It says that the key pillars of substance are sufficiency of management and capital.
SHIP RECYCLING, LIABILITY FOR SCRAPPING, EUROPEAN-FLAGGED VESSELS AND THE EU WASTE EXPORT LAW
On 1st August, Reed Smith published an article about a Dutch court case where a shipowner and 2 directors were found criminally liable for breach of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR). The decision was the first time that a shipowner has been held criminally liable under the EWSR for the illegal export of vessels for demolition. The article explains that the EWSR imposes a trade ban on exports of waste for disposal to non-EU countries; exports of hazardous waste for recovery or disposal to non-OECD countries; and imports of waste from states that are not part of the EU or OECD. It also notes that, w.e.f 31st December, it will apply to EU-flagged vessels regardless of origin, destination and route of the shipment concerned. Hence, from 31st December shipowners who wish to scrap their ships in yards outside the EU without restriction will not only need to avoid sailing their vessel within EU waters at the end of its life, but also have to avoid flying an EU flag. The article points out that, also from 31st December, another new Regulation means that EU-flagged ships may only be recycled in facilities that are set out in what is referred to as the ‘European List’ – there are 21 shipyards included in the List at present, all located in the EU (though third country facilities can, and may be, included) and these will have exclusive access to the recycling of ships flying the flags of Member States of the EU. The article concludes that if shipowners wish to scrap vessels in future, they will need carefully to consider the new rules and determine if there is any EU connection.
IRELAND: TIME TO LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH
On 26th July, William Fry published an article concerned with the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018, saying that it is considerably broader in scope than the legislative regime it replaces insofar as it criminalises both direct and indirect corruption in both the public and private sectors, and that the most significant provision introduced by the Act is the introduction of criminal liability for corporate bodies and senior management for offences under the Act. The article concludes that a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not work and that companies will need to undertake their own assessment of the risk in order to determine what due diligence and training procedures are appropriate to their business.
JERSEY: REFORM OF CIVIL FORFEITURE ORDERS
On 2nd August, Ogier in Jersey published an article about one aspect of the follow-up to MONEYVAL’s 2015 inspection of Jersey’s AML regime and its subsequent report issued in May 2016. This is concerned with a civil forfeiture regime being introduced to compliment the criminal confiscation regime. The Draft Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) Jersey Law seeks to achieve the objectives set by MONEYVAL and it replaces and extends the current Proceeds of Crime (Cash Seizure) (Jersey) Law 2008 (the Cash Seizure Law) and applies to both cash and property held in bank accounts. The article goes on to outline the content of, and procedures under, the new Law as it might affect a bank in Jersey.
RUSSIA: NEW FINES FOR LEGAL ENTITIES IF THEIR FOREIGN GUESTS BREACH VISITING RULES
Baker McKenzie on 31st July reported on new rules coming into force on 16th January whereby legal entities may be subject to a fine if a foreign citizen whom they have invited fails to abide by the rules for his or her stay in Russia. Hence, it will have to ensure that the foreign citizen abides by the terms and conditions of his or her visa and that he or she departs Russia on time.
WHY COUNTRIES STILL MUST PRIORITISE ACTION TO CURB NUCLEAR TERRORISM
On 3rd August, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published an article saying that, according to a new report from the Arms Control Association and the Fissile Materials Working Group – The Nuclear Security Summits: And Overview of State Actions to Curb Nuclear Terrorism 2010-2016 – countries made more than 935 distinct commitments to strengthen and improve nuclear security throughout a 6-year process. These voluntary national commitments resulted in some of the most tangible and innovative nuclear security improvements. 3 entire geographic regions — South America, Southeast Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe — have entirely eliminated highly-enriched uranium (HEU) from their soil, and only 22 countries possess weapons-usable nuclear material, down from more than 50. Despite these positive points, the report says that, although the probability of a terrorist group building even a crude nuclear device or sabotaging a nuclear power plant is low, the international community cannot afford to be complacent and rest on the successes of the summit process. Global leaders must continue their efforts to mitigate the threat of nuclear terrorism even without the summits.
THE FUTURE OF COAL
Chatham House has produced a report that says that most countries are cutting back on coal usage, but not all. Donald Trump wants to buck the trend and create jobs for miners, and Asia’s appetite for the black stuff continues to grow. The report asks if there is a future for old King Coal.
WHISTLEBLOWING – CAN AN ALLEGATION CONSTITUTE A PROTECTED DISCLOSURE?
Morton Fraser on 6th August reported on an Employment Tribunal which decided that certain allegations made by an employee were not “protected disclosures” (i.e. one that protected a whistleblower against unfair dismissal) because they were simply allegations that did not contain sufficient information to meet the definition of a protected disclosure under the Employment Rights Act.
PEACE DEAL CONCLUDED IN SOUTH SUDAN
On 6th August, Defence Web reported that the president of South Sudan and head of the country’s main rebel group have signed a final cease fire and power-sharing agreement. It reminds one that South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011, but civil war broke out 2 years later between the government and a rebel movement. Fuelled by personal and ethnic rivalries, the conflict killed thousands, displaced an estimated quarter of South Sudan’s population of 12 million and ruined its economy that heavily relies on crude oil production. Previous peace agreements held for only months before fighting resumed, which the president blamed on foreign influence.
TURKEY RESPONDS TO US SANCTIONS WITH ITS OWN
European Sanctions Blog on 6th August reported that the Turkish president had announced Turkey would freeze any Turkish assets of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke is responsible for managing the US’s natural resources and cultural heritage.
JERSEY: CUSTOMS WILL BE READY FOR BREXIT
The Jersey Evening Post on 6th August reported that Jersey Customs will be ‘ready for whatever is thrown at them’ when the UK leaves the EU, the Home Affairs Minister has said.
THORIUM POWER HAS A PROTACTINIUM PROBLEM
This article is not as nerdy as it sounds. Published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on 6th August it is concerned with protactinium, a chemical element generated in thorium reactors, could be separated and allowed to decay to isotopically pure uranium 233 — suitable material for making nuclear weapons. In 2005, a report from the IAEA caused the perception (challenged by others) that thorium reactors could not be used to make weapons – or were “proliferation resistant”, to use the term used in the article. The article challenges this perception and remarks on the failure to recognise the importance of protactinium radiochemistry in thorium fuel cycles. It points out that several nations have explored thorium power for their nuclear energy portfolios, and foremost among these is India. Plagued by perennial uranium shortages, but possessing abundant thorium resources, India is highly motivated to develop thorium reactors that can breed uranium-233. It seems that thorium reactors have other potential advantages and they could produce fewer long-lived radioactive isotopes than conventional nuclear reactors, simplifying the disposal of nuclear waste. The article examines the possible scenarios for proliferation involving protactinium and thorium.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S USE OF SANCTIONS DRAWS CONCERN
The Washington Post on 5th August published an article about concerns that the Administration is over-using sanctions as a weapon or tool of foreign policy. It says that most months nowadays, the US issues a similar barrage of sanctions, as the Trump administration pursues an aggressive strategy of using economic tools instead of military might against foes. Increasingly, sanctions are being used to counter other kinds of destabilising behaviour, and not against obvious targets like North Korea. Reliance on them has led to concerns that they are being overused as the foreign policy of first resort, hurting US credibility among allies who complain that they are being forced to bow to US policies and potentially undercutting the US dollar. The administration blacklisted nearly 1,000 people and entities last year – 30% more than were added in President Barack Obama’s last year in office, and tripling the number blacklisted during his first year. A representative of law firm Gibson Dunn, which has produced a report on the subject, is quoted as saying that “Being designated under sanctions is the economic equivalent of the death penalty. It is so seductive for any administration to use sanctions, because they don’t require any prior notice, they don’t require any judicial review and they’re effective immediately. For this particular president, with his personality, it’s extremely seductive”. Most recently, of course, is the situation re the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, and the conflict over them with the EU and others.
INSIDE THE EXPLOSIVE CASE AGAINST ARMENIA’S EX-PRESIDENT
An article from the Carnegie Moscow Center in the US on 6th August which is introduced by saying that the case against ex-president Robert Kocharyan has become the most explosive episode in Armenian politics since this past spring’s Velvet Revolution. It has unnerved Moscow, as well as Kocharyan’s allies in Yerevan, with the former fearing that Armenia is pivoting to the West and the latter accusing the Nikol Pashinyan government of political persecution. But the case against Kocharyan is neither geopolitical nor the beginning of a campaign of terror — it is all about the March 1st affair, Armenia’s Bloody Sunday – when security forces cracked down on street protests over the disputed outcome of the previous month’s presidential election, and the ensuing violence claimed 10 lives — 8 civilians and 2 police officers — and hundreds were injured.