27 August 2018
SWITZERLAND: AMENDMENTS TO ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT – CONSULTATION PROCESS INITIATED
On 27 August, CMS von Erlach Poncet published an article saying that on 1 June the Federal Council initiated the consultation on a number of amendments to the Anti-money Laundering Act. The Bill marks the third bundle of legislative measures to comprehensively implement the recommendations of FATF in its latest mutual evaluation report on Switzerland. The amendments extend the Act to cover providers of services relating to establishing, managing or administering companies and trusts; explicitly require financial intermediaries to verify information on beneficial owners; reduces the threshold for cash payments in precious metals and gem trading to SF15,000; and extends coverage to non-profit organisations.
HOW NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS USED CHINA TO REMIT MONEY HOME
The South China Morning Post on 27 August reported on how North Koreans smuggle money home to their families. Relatives travel to the border and use smuggled Chinese SIM cards to tap into telecommunications signals across the Yalu River. It says remittances vary but a 2016 survey found that about 60% of the 200 respondents sent $900-$1,800 each year via agents in China and North Korea while one person reported sending $9,000 a year. About 70% said they transferred money regularly. Money was sent via a network of trusted Chinese and North Korean brokers, including smugglers who carried the cash across the border, together with other smuggled Chinese goods – and brokers take a heavy cut, usually 30% of the total, according to defectors.
SHIPOWNERS FACE DRUG SMUGGLING THREAT AT BRAZIL PORTS
Tradewinds cautions on 27 August that much of cocaine reaching Europe thought to have moved through Port of Santos. Shipowners using Brazilian ports have been warned that drug smugglers may target their vessels in a bid to export drugs to the west.
ISRAELI SAILOR HELD IN COLOMBIA ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING 234 KG OF COCAINE
The Times of Israel on 27 August reported that story of Roy Arez, who Colombian authorities say they are holding an Israeli sailor on suspicion of drug trafficking after more than 200 kg of cocaine were found on board his yacht. It is said he had been in Panama and agreed to take on 2 Israeli passengers. After 3 days of sailing, he dropped the pair off in Panama and then set off alone for Jamaica. At some point while he was out at sea, a fishing boat, apparently operated by pirates, caught up with him and forced him at gunpoint to take on a man he had never met before.
REPORT TO US CONGRESS ON IRAN’S THREATS, THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ, AND OIL MARKETS
USNI News on 27 August provided an August 6th US Congressional Research Service Report, “Iran’s Threats, the Strait of Hormuz, and Oil Markets: In Brief”. The report says that the exchanges of threats between members of the governments of Iran and the US, including the presidents of both countries, have again raised the specter of an interruption of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz (the Strait), a key waterway for the transit of oil and natural gas to world markets.
“MISSING” TANKER DOCKS IN TOGO
Defence Web on 27 August reported that a tanker – the Panama-registered Pantelena – with 19 crew members on board docked at a port in Togo after going missing for over a week in a suspected hijacking off the West African coast, 2 Russian nationals and 17 Georgians are aboard the vessel, a dual purpose oil or chemicals tanker managed by Athens-based Lotus Shipping. The Gulf of Guinea is an increasing target for pirates who steal cargo and demand ransoms.
QUALIFIED, NOT ABSOLUTE, PRIVILEGE APPLIES IN A CASE WHERE DEFAMATORY STATEMENTS WERE MADE IN THE COURSE OF A US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION
An article from Hodgson Russ on 27 August reported that according to a recent decision from New York’s highest court, a person providing a statement to an investigatory body is not completely immune from a defamation suit based on the statement, unless the subject of the statement has an opportunity to contest it. In the case, a doctor alleged that the representatives of her former employer made defamatory statements to the Food and Drug Administration during its investigation. In line with US defamation law, the burden of proof will be on the plaintiff to show that the defamatory statements were made with malice.
SYDNEY AIRPORT SEIZURE OF PHONE AND LAPTOP ‘ALARMING’, SAY PRIVACY GROUPS
Customs Today on 25 August reported that a British-Australian citizen travelling through Sydney airport has had his devices seized, and believes his laptop password cracked and his digital files inspected by Border Force officers, in what privacy groups say is a worrying development. Nathan Hague, a 46-year-old software developer, was detained apparently at random for 90 minutes while the officers took his phone and password-protected laptop into a back room. The ABF acknowledged that Hague’s devices were examined, but declined to comment on whether the files had been copied. Under the Customs Act, officers have the right to examine travellers’ personal items, including accessing electronic devices and making copies of their files. The Customs Act imposes no legal threshold or requirement that officers need to meet in order to use this power.
IRAN CALLS ON INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE TO BLOCK US SANCTIONS
Jurist reported on 27 August that the ICJ heard from Iran’s legal counsel in a lawsuit filed by Iran alleging that US sanctions violate the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights.
EU INVESTIGATION SHOWS HOW HUNGARY RIGGED PUBLIC TENDERS
OCCRP reported on 27 August that OLAF found evidence of “serious irregularities” and “conflict of interest” in the way government contracts for the modernization of streetlights throughout Hungary were awarded and this was reported in January 2018. A local NGO obtained the information after a court order forced the city of Vac to respond to the NGO’s freedom of information request. For 2 years OLAF was investigating how EU funds were spent on the project. It found serious irregularities and conflicts of interests.
UN REPORT INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF MYANMAR’S TOP MILITARY GENERALS FOR GENOCIDE, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND WAR CRIMES
Jurist on 27 August reported that the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called for the the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s top military generals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
FORMER PAKISTAN PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI SUMMONED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
Baker McKenzie reported on 27 August that Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister in a money laundering and fake bank accounts case.
SUSPENSION OF ENTIRE LOCAL POLICE FORCE SHOWS DEPTH OF MEXICO CORRUPTION
Insight Crime on 27 August reported that authorities disarmed and relieved of their duties an entire municipal police force in Tehuacán in central Puebla state amid suspicions of corruption and ties to organised crime. 205 were disarmed, another 113 officers, including the municipal police director, are suspected to have gone on the run.