21 August 2018
SWISS BANKING REGULATIONS RE MONEY TRANSMITTING AND REMITTING SERVICES TO COVER VIRTUAL CURRENCIES
On 17 August, Meyerlustenberger Lachenal in Switzerland published an article saying that Switzerland was ahead of the EU, in that, from 1 January 2016, it had widened the scope of certain banking regulations relating to money transmitting and remitting services to cover virtual currencies. It goes on to explain the detail.
LETTERS OF CREDIT UNDER COMMODITY CONTRACTS – KEEP THE FOCUS
RPC on 17 August published an article concerning the timing of the provision of letters of credit under commodity contracts and the importance, from both the buyer’s and seller’s perspective, of keeping an “eye on the ball”; saying that both buyers and sellers can, shall we say, be a little relaxed about the timing of the provision of a required letter of credit, and that this can lead to problems – and can be potentially disastrous for the buyer.
THE BATTLE OVER MONEY LAUNDERING IN LATVIA IS GETTING DIRTY
Politico on 20 August says that, long notorious as a hub for cleaning illicit cash taken out of Russia and other former Soviet states, the Baltic country’s reputation has taken a further battering this year. There has been a backlash, with pro-Russian center-left opposition paand the country’s biggest business newspaper, Dienas Bizness, leading the charge against the government’s plans ahead of a general election in October. Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola has been likened to a mafia boss by Dienas Bizness and has also been featured on fake “Wanted” posters that suggest the national anti-corruption agency is searching for her.
FALCON DEMAND DRIVING GULF BIRD SMUGGLING TRADE
The National in UAE on 20 August reported that demand for prized falcons and other raptors has led to the UAE becoming the number one bird trafficking destination in the world, a new report has found. Cases appear to be coming down, according to statistics – from 2011 to 2012, 23 cases of illegally trafficked birds were discovered in the emirates, whereas only 1 incident was identified last year: customs officials at Dubai airport recorded an intercepted shipment of falcons from Kyrgyzstan. The new study found the high number of animals recovered in the UAE is partially due to the country’s significance as an international transit hub. But research also claimed substantial Emirati demand for protected falcons and other bird species such as grey parrots and lovebirds was also to blame.
SERBIA ADOPTS AML/CFT NATIONAL RISK ASSESSMENT
Payments Compliance reports that the National bank of Serbia had announced on 20 August that the country’s NRA, prepared in conjunction with state and private sector bodies, had been adopted in May.
AS US SANCTIONS LOOM, TOTAL STRUGGLES TO EXIT PROJECT IN IRAN
The Wall Street Journal on 20 August reported that Total SA is having difficulty unloading its stake in a $5 billion natural-gas project in Iran to a Chinese partner, after stopping work on the project earlier this year due to US sanctions.
22 STATES ASK US APPEALS COURT TO REINSTATE ‘NET NEUTRALITY’ RULES
Reuters on 21 August reported that they have asked a US appeals court to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2015 landmark net neutrality rules and reject the Trump administration’s efforts to preempt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet.
GERMANY: A GREAT PLACE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
Handelsblatt on 20 August carried an article saying that lax laws draw criminal gangs from around the world to Germany. Constrained by strict regulation and mind-boggling bureaucracy, police are struggling to fight crime. For example, Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta is believed to launder 80% of illegally gotten gains in Germany — about €40 billion. The group’s money laundering activities go way beyond the real estate sector, according to reports.
LATVIA : NEW GRECO REPORT ON CORRUPTION PREVENTION IN CENTRAL GOVERNMENT AND LAW ENFORCEMENT BODIES
The Council of Europe on 21 August published a report which says that Latvia’s integrity and corruption prevention framework is fairly comprehensive and that, in the past 20 years, significant resources have been injected to curb corruption, strengthen accountability and augment public trust in the 2 sectors covered by the evaluation. Yet, many shortcomings persist.
UK CONSULTATION: REVISING PACE CODES C AND H
On 21 August, the Home Office announced a consultation on revision of Codes C and H, the consultation ending on 1 October. Code C concerns the detention, treatment and questioning of persons detained under PACE, and Code H concerns persons detained under the terrorism provisions.
FINNISH FAMILY FACE PRISON SENTENCES OVER €250,000 STOLEN FROM ONLINE CASINO
Uutiset on 21 August reported that an underage man is accused of aggravated fraud and suspected of stealing money from a Malta casino. His parents are also charged with money laundering. The youth allegedly took advantage of an IT glitch to register as a customer with a fake date of birth. The casino’s system was set up to give clients the option of cancelling the return of their funds so that the refund was paid into an online wallet as well as the customer’s bank account. Over the course of about a month he exploited the bug to transfer a total of more than €252,000 of the casino’s funds to his bank accounts.
DENMARK EXPANDS LEGAL CAMPAIGN TO RECOUP TAX FRAUD BILLIONS
Reuters on 21 August reported that Denmark said it is targeting US and British companies and individuals as it expands a global campaign to recoup billions it alleges were paid out in fraudulent tax refunds between 2012 and 2015. Danish tax authorities said they have opened 388 civil cases against firms or individuals in several countries, including Britain and the US, bringing claims to $1.95 billion.
CPH Post Online reports that, according to the judicial news site Law 360, 71 individuals and companies from the UK are being sued for taking part in the huge swindle. SKAT reportedly filed 71 lawsuits at the High Court in London in late July.
UK CYBER EXPORT CONTROL SEMINAR, 21 NOVEMBER
In the UK, Notice to exporters 2018/20 advised that the Export Control Joint Unit, in co-operation with the National Cyber Security Centre, has arranged a cyber export control seminar for 21 November.
UK AIR PASSENGER DUTY AND REGIONAL AIRPORTS
On 21 August, the House of Commons Library published a briefing note saying that APD is charged on all passenger flights from UK airports and that some regional airports have campaigned for lower rates of tax being charged on flights from the regions.
US CUSTOMS “TO TEST BLOCKCHAIN FOR IMPORT VERIFICATION”
Customs Today on 21 August quotes American Shipper magazine as saying that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin to “live start testing” blockchain functionality to verify certificates. It is said that CBP will use blockchain technology to verify NAFTA and CAFTA certificates produced in September. If all goes well, the technology would allow the agency to obtain and verify more accurate information about suppliers and origins of imported goods.
ITALY ARRESTS CALABRIAN MAFIA BOSS
OCCRP on 21 August reported that Italian police announced that it arrested one of the most wanted criminals, a Calabrian mafia (‘Ndrangheta) boss, Luigi Abbruzzese, 28, who was hiding from authorities for over 3 years after having been sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking.
ISIS IS PREPARING FOR ANOTHER WAR WITH 30,000 FIGHTERS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA: UN REPORT
Homeland Security Today on 15 August reported that 30,000 committed Islamic State (ISIS) fighters are preparing for new wars across the globe, waiting for their chance to launch new offensives and re-establish the short-lived state, suggests a new UN report.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS HALT CONSTRUCTION AT ARMENIAN GOLD MINE
Bellingcat on 21 August reported that dozens of residents of Armenia’s Jermuk community and several other surrounding regions, including the villages of Gndevaz and Kechut, have been blocking all roads leading to the Amulsar mountain, a site targeted for gold mining to be operated by Lydian Armenia, a subsidiary of offshore-registered Lydian International.