6th September 2018
CAMEROON MILITARY SEIZES OVER 800 FIREARMS IN CRISIS-HIT ANGLOPHONE REGION
Xinhua on 6th September reported that Cameroon Government statistics show that there has been an increase in the circulation of illicit firearms in the country since the beginning of the Anglophone conflict. In April, the Cameroonian government banned the purchase and sale of firearms and ammunitions in 6 regions of the country. It says that armed separatist forces seeking to secede from the French-majority Cameroon to form a new nation called “Ambazonia” have been clashing with government forces in the Anglophone region since November last year.
ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE MORE THAN £40,000 CASH THROUGH DOVER
Kent Online on 5th September reported that in April a woman tried to smuggle thousands of pounds in a pair of tights wrapped around her body. More cash was found hidden in the lining of a handbag when Suzanna Sokolli, 57, and her son, 24, who were Albanian, were stopped in Dover. She had declared that he had £7,000 and produced a bag full of banknotes. A search of her and her car produced the rest. A quarter of the cash was in Scottish pound notes. Police also seized a mobile phone belonging to Mata and found it contained photographs of bundles of cash. The 2 have been convicted at Canterbury Crown Court.
VALUABLE ART SEIZED AFTER ATTEMPTED SMUGGLING INTO EGYPT
Ahram Online reported on 5th September reported that 14 smuggled pieces of art with historical and archaeological value from a foreign state were seized on upon arrival at a Damietta port, as police acted on a tip that a 52-year-old woman was scheduled to receive a personal shipment with smuggled artwork inside a container. There were no further details.
US MUSEUM RETURNS STOLEN SCULPTURE TO INDIA
Al.com in Alabama reported on 5th September that Birmingham Museum of Art had returned a stolen stone sculpture of the Hindu deity, Shiva, to India. The sculpture was returned nearly 3 years after it was discovered as part of a $100 million international smuggling racket organised by New York-based art dealer, Subhash Kapoor. A a non-profit corporation that supports the Birmingham Museum of Art had purchased the sculpture in 2008 from Kapoor, who worked for the Art of the Past gallery and was placed on loan to the Birmingham Museum of Art, where it remained on display until last month. In 2011, Kapoor was extradited to India to face charges over the multimillion dollar international antiquities looting operation through which he secretly sold illegally-acquired artefacts to unsuspecting buyers using falsified paperwork.
€21,000 WORTH OF SMUGGLED CIGARETTES SEIZED IN CORK
RTE reported on 5th September that more than 36,500 smuggled cigarettes have been seized during a search of a house in Mallow, Co Cork, after a quantity of the seized cigarettes were discovered in a freight consignment originating in the UK that was identified as “advertising stuff”. A Polish man has been questioned about the find.
FORMER ARKANSAS LAWMAKER SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS IN PRISON
KOAA on 5th September reported that Jon Woods, a former Arkansas state senator has been sentenced to more than 18 years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme in which prosecutors said he and another state legislator worked to steer state money to a private Christian college.
PRAMOD MITTAL’S GLOBAL STEEL HOLDINGS FIGHTS WINDING-UP IN ISLE OF MAN
On 4th September, local media in the Isle of Man reported that Isle of Man-registered Global Steel Holdings Ltd had applied to the High Court for it to rescind a winding up order following the company being put into liquidation earlier this year by court order. The company is the holding company for investments of Pramod Mittal, a member of the prominent Indian business family and the younger brother of global steel tycoon Laxmi Mittal. It is said to have outstanding debts of over $200 million. The State Trading Corporation of India is said to have asked for time to properly consider its position and the hearing was adjourned. It has been reported that the company’s operations in Bulgaria and Nigeria have encountered severe problems, and it is said to have featured in the Panama Papers leaks. Pramod Mittal is said to live in London and is also reported to be the subject of investigations by authorities in India, though he denies any wrongdoing or of avoiding return to india.
UK LAW COMMISSION SAYS ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES ARE AS VALID AS HANDWRITTEN ONES
Hogan Lovells published an article on 21st August saying that the UK Law Commission has confirmed that electronic signatures can be used to sign formal legal contracts, having published its conclusions on the issue. A consultation has been launched on whether a new law is required to reinforce the validity of e-signatures, but the Law Commission said that it was “not persuaded at present” that this is necessary in England and Wales, because the law is already in force.
EUROPEAN BANKING FEDERATION PROVISIONAL COMMENTS ON FATF PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON DRAFT RISK-BASED APPROACH GUIDANCE FOR THE SECURITIES SECTOR
On 17th August, the EBF, described as the “voice of European banks, has published its initial comments on the draft FATF Guidance. Amongst the matters raised are the following. It points out that the UK Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG) Guidance adequately draws a distinction between wealth management, private equity and execution-only stock brokers and to make for workable AML standards, the EBF proposes that the Guidance to be “repurposed” to focus solely on the retail sector, because considerable redrafting is required for it to adequately incorporate wholesale securities without resulting in unintended consequences. On the other hand, if the Guidance were to cover both sectors it recommends changes. In respect of correspondent banking, the response says that it is important that the Guidance adopts the approach taken by the JMLSG that not all correspondent banking relationships pose the same level of risk, and securities providers should therefore adjust the type and extent of EDD measures to account for the risk posed by the respondent. The response also suggests that some suspicious activity red flags are a repetition of general red flags that can probably be omitted in this specialised document.
The EBF website is at –
EUROPEAN TRAVEL INFORMATION AND AUTHORISATION SYSTEM (ETIAS): COUNCIL ADOPTS REGULATION
On 5th September, the EU Council adopted a Regulation on ETIAS that will allow to identify those who may pose a security threat before they reach the EU and deny them the authorisation to travel. It will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. Before boarding, air carriers and sea carriers will need to check whether third country nationals subject to the travel authorisation requirement are in possession of a valid travel authorisation. After 3 years this obligation will also apply to international carriers transporting groups overland by coach. A travel authorisation will be valid for 3 years or until the end of validity of the travel document registered during application, whichever comes first. The new system should be operational by 2021.
ALL EXPORTS FROM ARGENTINA TO FACE 12% DUTY
HKTDC on 6th September reported that to stem a deepening financial crisis, the Argentinean government has established a 12% duty on all exports for consumption. Certain soy products will face an export duty ranging from 11% to 18% in addition to the general 12% tariff. It is due to remain in place to 31st December 2020.
PILOT AML PROJECT IN MONGOLIA TO MEET FATF STANDARDS
BNE Intellinews on 5th September reported that a technical assistance fund jointly established by the Slovak Republic and the International Investment Bank (IIB) has successfully finalised a pilot 8-month project provided technical assistance for the Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (FRC), with the aim of improving the Mongolian national regulatory framework for AML/CFT to comply with the international standards set by FATF.
DRUGS MONEY LAUNDERED THROUGH BEAUTY SALON IN SHROPSHIRE
On 6th September, the Shropshire Star reported that an owner of a Shropshire beauty and hair salon who money laundered her partner’s drugs cash has been jailed for 14 months with her partner receiving 6 years and 4 months for setting up a cannabis farm at his furniture business. Maxine Knott passed money made by Simon King, through the Gorgeous Hair and Beauty Salon in Oswestry.
BELGIAN GOVERNMENT ISSUES CRYPTOCURRENCY FRAUD WARNING
Coindesk on 6th September reported that Belgium’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services and Market Authority (FSMA), has issued a new warning about cryptocurrency scams, saying that “cryptocurrencies are the hype of the year”. The regulator said that would-be investors should beware of would-be fraudsters who are peddling the idea of big profits through crypto-sales that ultimately prove to be fictitious.
AUSTRALIA: SECOND LIVE SHEEP EXPORT LICENSE CANCELLED
On 5th September, Maritime Executive reported that Australia’s Department of Agriculture has cancelled the livestock export licence of a second exporter, EMS Rural Exports, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emanuel Exports, the company at the centre of the animal welfare debate that has divided Australia after footage of thousands of sheep dying en route to the Middle east was aired.
SITUATION OF BUDDHISTS IN THE SOUTHERN BORDER PROVINCES OF THAILAND
On 6th September, ETH Zurich published a briefing paper that provides an insight into the concerns, viewpoints and situations of the Buddhist minority in the conflict-affected provinces of southern Thailand. More specifically, it outlines the information gathered through interviews, dialogues and other activities by Weaving Peace Together (WTP), which was established in 2015 to help understand and find solutions to conflicts between the local Buddhist and Muslim communities. The publication also includes WPT’s recommendations on how to further the ongoing peace dialogues as well as inter-religious relations and peaceful coexistence in the region.
IRELAND: SEARCHES CARRIED OUT IN 5 COUNTIES IN FRAUD CRACK DOWN
RTE on 6th September reported that Gardaí investigating a multimillion euro fraud network are carrying out searches in at least 5 counties in the east of the country. Detectives believe the gang is involved in invoice redirection fraud. 15 homes are being searched as part of an investigation into money laundering and related offences. Detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau are targeting a West African Criminal Network and believe over €15 million is involved. Gardai have asked the banks here to close around 350 accounts suspected of being used in the fraud and they have also identified another 170 suspect accounts in Europe, West Africa and China.
BELGIUM ADDS 28 WEBSITES TO CRYPTOCURRENCIES BLACKLIST
BTC Manager on 6th September reported that Belgium’s chief financial regulator, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), has issued warnings about the spread of illegitimate crypto and blockchain platforms, adding 28 new websites to its blacklist on September 4th – the names of which are included in the article.
WHAT DOES UK AID FOR AFRICA MEAN FOR TRADE POLICY?
On 6th September, Gowling WLG published an article saying that Theresa May’s recent trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya saw the announcement of additional funding for Africa, and a shift in the UK’s approach to international development funding. This article examines this change of dynamic and consider what this may mean for UK trade.
COURT OF APPEAL DELIVERS LANDMARK JUDGMENT CLARIFYING THE APPLICATION OF HASTINGS-BASS RELIEF IN GUERNSEY LAW
On 6th September, Carey Olsen published an article providing an update on the application of the relief in Guernsey. The Hastings-Bass relief rule says that –
“Where a trustee acts under a discretion given to him by the terms of the trust, but the effect of the exercise is different from that which he intended, the court will interfere with his action if it is clear that he would not have acted as he did had he not failed to take into account considerations which he ought to have taken into account, or taken into account considerations which he ought not to have taken into account”.
The article says that the Court of Appeal has handed down a landmark judgment in M v. St Anne’s Trustees Limited, in which Carey Olsen acted for the trustee. Setting aside the first instance decision, the Court of Appeal has provided welcome clarification of the application of the rule in in Guernsey law. It says that the decision is important as it is the first time that the Guernsey Court of Appeal has considered the scope of the rule under Guernsey law, and the extent to which it will follow the English law position; and whilst the Court of Appeal considered that the scope of the rule in Hastings Bass applies in Guernsey to “like effect” as in England, the door remains open to further adaptation of the rule by the Guernsey Courts.
PROJECT CARGO – PUTTING THE BRAKES ON CARGO THEFT
A Europol news release on 6th September marked the launch of Project CARGO, an EU-financed project led by the German State Office of Investigation of Saxony-Anhalt targeting mobile organised crime groups specialised in cargo theft. It says that cargo theft in Europe is increasing in numbers of incidents and also in the cost of lost goods. Criminal groups, originating mainly from Eastern Europe, are becoming more organised and frequently target high-value products, such as electronics, tobacco and pharmaceutical products. Most of these crimes are thefts from trucks at unsecured parking sites, but violent crimes such as high-jacking and robberies are occurring more often. Industry loses billions to cargo theft each year – in Germany alone, this figure was estimated at €2.2 billion for 2016. Running for an initial period of 2 years Project CARGO will target the organised crime groups involved in cargo theft through regular operational meetings and joint investigations.
NEW POST-STUDY WORK EXPERIENCE VISA PROPOSED BY UK UNIVERSITIES
Out-Law on 5th September that a new visa allowing international students to stay in the UK and work for up to 2 years after graduation would benefit employers and make the UK a more attractive place to study, according to Universities UK.
IRISH REVENUE PREPARING FOR FULL CUSTOMS CHECKS POST-BREXIT
The Irish times on 6th September reported that the Revenue Commissioners are preparing for full customs checks involving officials from a number of Government departments in case no deal is reached on Brexit, a senior Revenue official has said. The worst-case post-Brexit scenario also involved economic goods being profiled and subjected to checks and most animal and “plant origin” products being subject to Border controls. It is said that said the Revenue’s status for authorised economic operator (AEO), or trusted trade status – thought to be a way of expediting cross-Border trade post-Brexit – was “of no benefit” to agri-food producers and suppliers as border inspections were required to check agricultural products.
IMPORTANT NUCLEAR SECURITY PROGRESS NOW IN JEOPARDY
On 5th September, the Washington-based National Threat Initiative reported that, after years of progress on nuclear security, the 4th edition of the NTI Nuclear Security Index finds that the steps countries have taken to reduce the threat of catastrophic nuclear terrorism are jeopardised by a deterioration of political stability and governance, an increase in corruption, and the expanding presence of terrorist groups around the world. The 2018 NTI Index also finds that many countries remain poorly prepared to defend against rapidly expanding and evolving cyber threats to nuclear facilities. 22 countries have weapons-usable nuclear materials, compared with 32 when the first NTI Index was released in 2012. In the past 2 years, Argentina and Poland have joined the list of countries that have removed or disposed of all highly enriched uranium (HEU) within their territories. Furthermore, of the 44 countries (and Taiwan) that have nuclear facilities where an act of sabotage could cause a dangerous release of radiation, 78% improved their Sabotage Ranking scores by implementing greater on-site physical protection, enhanced insider threat prevention, improved response capabilities, and other security measures.
THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA – A SYMBOLIC STEP, BUT STILL A LONG WAY TO GO
On 6th September, Control Risks published a report saying heads of state of 44 of 55 African Union (AU) member states in March 2018 signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) during an extraordinary summit in Kigali. The AfCFTA marks a significant step towards continent-wide integration. The report examines the implications. AfCFTA hopes to double intra-African trade, which currently accounts for 16% of overall trade, by removing non-tariff and tariff barriers on a wide range of goods and services. However, the AfCFTA itself will now need to be ratified domestically by each signatory country and will not enter into force until at least 22 countries have completed this process. Significantly, to date neither South Africa nor Nigeria – some of the continent’s key economic players – signed the agreement. The report highlights that inefficient bureaucracy and poor infrastructure are likely to pose a major challenge to the implementation of a continent-wide free trade agreement; as well as poor transport links and infrastructural deficits in low-income countries that continue to pose significant hurdles to intra-regional trade, which would likely be mirrored on a continental scale. Meanwhile, uneven or fragmented power and water supplies, as well as inefficient ICT structures and cumbersome cross-border customs processes across African countries, will continue to hamper efforts to deepen international trade flows.
THE STATE OF PLAY IN SINO-DPRK RELATIONS
Specialist website, 38 North, on 5th September published an article saying that Sino-DPRK relations have undergone major changes since the beginning of 2018, and considers the effects of North Korea’s “charm offensive” launched on China since the beginning of this year. It looks at what effect, if any, sanctions have had on China-North Korea trade. Data suggests supplies have falling, and the article says that it is easy to understand why China, even if it wanted to, wouldn’t simply resume the import of North Korean coal or seafood – shipment of such large commodities is a pure violation of UN sanctions and is too easily caught by satellite surveillance; but this doesn’t mean that China cannot increase its support of North Korea in other ways. It says that China has lifted most of the unilateral sanctions it imposed on North Korea since 2017, including the resumption of suspended Chinese group tours to North Korea and flights between Pyongyang and Beijing as well as Shanghai; and continues a range of assistance classed, broadly, as “humanitarian”.
PROTECTING THE OCEANS AND THE HIGH SEAS – WORKING TOWARDS A LEGALLY BINDING INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENT ON THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF MARINE BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
On 6th September, the International Maritime Organisation published an article about the UN oceans conference being held in New York 4th-17th September. The conference is taking the first steps towards developing a legally binding international instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction – known as BBNJ. The series of conferences to develop the new BBNJ legally-binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is expected to conclude in 2020.
BALKAN FUTURES – 3 SCENARIOS FOR 2025
On 6th September, the EU Institute for security studies published a briefing paper that asks what will the Western Balkans look like in 2025? Will we witness Republika Srpska declare independence, a worsening of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and the rise of ethnic tensions across the region – or will we celebrate Montenegro and Serbia joining the EU, with good reason to hope that the rest of the region will soon follow? Each of the 3 scenarios offered take account of the impact of underlying megatrends (trends that are unlikely to change by 2025) on the future trajectory of the region: the scenarios do not just spell out what 2025 could look like, they also explain how decisions with far-reaching consequences taken at critical junctures (called game-changers) will shape this future between today and then. The worst-case scenario (scenario 3) involves violent ethnic clashes breaking out again…
KASHMIR – THE “FORGOTTEN” PROBLEM
Pass Blue has published an article following release of a “blistering” report on Indian (and Pakistani) abuses in the disputed territory of Kashmir nu the retiring UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It is said to be a story that Indian governments have long tried to keep out of sight internationally; and also covered Pakistani violations on its side of the “line of control,” as the de facto border is known. The Kashmir problem dates back to partition of what had been British India in 1947 and has involved conflict, and even war, continually ever since. The main thrust of the report focused almost entirely on the severe repression employed by the occupation force of hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and other security forces against a majority Muslim population in the Kashmir Valley and its environs. The article also relates how the current Indian administration has sought to frustrate UN attempts to investigate and report on the situation in the region; a UN human-rights reporting team being denied access to Indian as well as Pakistani-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, and a group of UN military expert group was denied visas by India, effectively barring them from the country (though they were able to visit the Pakistani side).
8-YEAR BAN FOR SECURITY COMPANY DIRECTOR OVER MISSING RECORDS
Accountancy Daily on 6th September reported on the case of Lee Garvey, a director of an Essex security company, Security Management Services Ltd (SMS), who has been disqualified for 8 years having failed to ensure the company maintained proper books and records, after an Insolvency Service investigation found it was not possible to verify over £600,000 of cash withdrawals from the business.
JOINT FATF/EAG FINTECH AND REGTECH FORUM IN CHINA
On 6th September, FATF reported that it had held its third FinTech and RegTech Forum on 4th and 5th September, hosted by China. Over 140 participants from the FinTech and RegTech sectors, financial institutions, and FATF members, associate members and observers attended the event. Since 2016, it says that FATF has engaged a constructive dialogue with FinTech and RegTech sectors, in order to support innovation in financial services, while addressing the regulatory and supervisory challenges posed by emerging technologies. As part of this ongoing dialogue, governments and private sector experts discussed important issues such as digital ID, distributed ledge technology, virtual currency. More broadly, they also discussed how technologies such as artificial intelligence can contribute to AML/CFT compliance, risk assessment and management.
ITALY’S LEAGUE PARTY IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE AFTER COURT RULING
Politico on 6th September reported that Italy’s ruling League party faces bankruptcy and may even have to change its name after an Italian court ordered the immediate seizure of €49 million following a fraud investigation. An appeals court backed a decision by Italy’s highest court calling for party funds and other assets to be confiscated, in connection with a case involving its founder, Umberto Rossi who was convicted in July 2017 of embezzling hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds between 2008 and 2010. He was given a 30-month jail sentence and resigned as party secretary, although he continued to represent the League in the Senate and Party treasurer Francesco Belsito was sentenced to just under 5 years in prison.
CONSULTATION ON REVISING PACE CODES C AND H
On 6th September, the Home Office issued a news release on a combined draft version of Codes C and H, the consultation being open to 1st October. Code C concerns the detention, treatment and questioning of persons detained under PACE, and Code H concerns persons detained under the terrorism provisions. The extent of the proposed changes is said to be limited both in content and scope.
VICTIMS OF AN IMPRISONED EGYPTIAN CAREER WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL ARE ASKING HOW HE WAS ABLE TO OBTAIN A CBI PASSPORT FROM DOMINICA
Kenneth Rijock in his blog on 6th September asks this question in connection with the case of Ahmed Amin Khalil. He is now believed to be serving a term of imprisonment in Dubai, and he has a prior conviction in Egypt, allegedly carrying a 23-year sentence, according to his victims, who are asking how he was able to pass due diligence, and obtain a CBI passport.
CUSTOMS SEIZES SMUGGLED ONIONS AT MANILA PORT
ABS-CBN News on 6th September reported that customs officials have seized nearly a quarter of million dollars’ worth of onions at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) amid soaring prices of vegetables, including onions and other staples, as inflation continued to rise to a new high in almost a decade. The shipment contained 2 layers of apple cartons on the front but was filled with bags of onions inside.
US TO HELP NATIONS REPLACE IRANIAN OIL AND MAY CONSIDER WAIVERS
KYC 360 on 6th September published an article saying that the US will consider waivers for Iranian oil buyers such as India but they must eventually halt imports as sanctions are imposed on Tehran, the US Secretary of State has said. The US is pushing all countries to halt oil imports from Iran.
UNDERSTANDING CHINA’S ROLE IN THE PRODUCTION AND SUPPLY OF SYNTHETIC OPIOIDS
On 6th September, the RAND Corporation in the US published testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. The testimony seeks to explain China’s role in the production and supply of synthetic opioids. It says that synthetics are now involved in about 60% of all opioid overdose deaths in the US, and that China is an important source of synthetic opioids and fentanyl precursors that enter North America. To address the problem, the author suggests lawmakers look beyond traditional drug policy tools.