12th September 2018
RICE REMAINS TOP ITEM SMUGGLED INTO NIGERIA
The Vanguard in Nigeria on 12th September reported that sea ports of West African countries are still receiving large quantities of the commodity, apparently for onward shipment to Nigeria through land borders. Consequently, the commodity still tops the smuggling chart and seized items by the recent records of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, with a total of 124,407 bags of rice seized in the first half of 2018.
CRYPTO INDUSTRY LEADERS ESTABLISH WASHINGTON-BASED LOBBY GROUP
Coin Telegraph on 12th September reported that a group of US-based blockchain and cryptocurrency companies have announced they will form the Blockchain Association, the “first” lobbying group representing the blockchain industry in Washington DC. It will represent mainstream companies that look to operate within the political system, primarily addressing policy issues and the treatment of cryptocurrency by US tax law., and at the same time, the group will work closely with lawmakers on AML and KYC policy development within the industry.
IMF URGES MARSHALL ISLANDS TO RECONSIDER ADOPTING DIGITAL CURRENCY AS SECOND LEGAL TENDER
Coin Telegraph and others on 11th September reported that in a report the IMF stating that the introduction of digital currency as an official form of legal tender – a cryptocurrency named the Sovereign (SOV) – will pose risks to the country’s financial integrity, as well as relationships with foreign banks. The IMF is quoted as saying that the potential benefits from revenue gains appear considerably smaller than the potential costs arising from economic, reputational, AML/CFT, and governance risks. In the absence of adequate measures to mitigate them, the authorities should seriously reconsider the issuance of the digital currency as legal tender.
ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENTS IN THE BVI
On 10th September, Harneys published a guide which starts by saying that foreign money judgments can be enforced in the BVI pursuant to the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act 1922 (if the judgment was obtained from certain countries) or under common law by way of a simple debt claim. Non-money judgments are not directly enforceable in the BVI – but if the claimant has a foreign judgment based on a cause of action recognised under BVI law the judgment may be enforced by issuing a fresh claim in the BVI and then relying on the principle of issue estoppel. Foreign arbitration awards (made in a New York Convention state or otherwise) can be registered and enforced in the BVI in accordance with the provisions of the Arbitration Act 2013. The article goes on to explain the detail. In the “public policy” section, one notes that BVI courts will not enforce the revenue law of another state or enforcement which would involve the indirect enforcement of another state’s revenue laws.
FROM ANTIGUA HIDEOUT, INDIAN BANK FRAUD FUGITIVE FRETS ABOUT EMPLOYEES, SHAREHOLDERS
On 12th September, NDTV in India reported that one of India’s most wanted men, Mehul Choksi, who fled the country in January, and speaking from his current home in Antigua, has blamed the Indian government for the uncertain future he says his 6,000 employees and shareholders are facing. The government has been trying to extradite him and his nephew, celebrity diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, and went to live in Antigua and Barbuda in the wake of the PNB Bank scandal breaking, and which granted him citizenship of last year. It says that Mehul Choksi has alleged that the cases against him are a result of political conspiracy, after which India’s extradition request was put on hold by the Interpol.
US: FINANCIAL ADVISER PLEADS GUILTY TO MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGE IN CONNECTION WITH BRIBERY INVOLVING ECUADORIAN OFFICIALS
On 11th September, the US DoJ published a news release relating to a scheme to pay bribes to officials of Ecuador’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Empresa Pública de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador (PetroEcuador). Jose Larrea, 40, a US citizen from Miami, is the 4th individual to plead guilty in this case. In addition to Larrea, 2 former officials of PetroEcuador who received bribe payments and a contractor have previously pleaded guilty to date in connection with the government’s ongoing investigations into the PetroEcuador bribery and money laundering schemes.
IMF – CARBON TAXATION FOR INTERNATIONAL MARITIME FUELS: ASSESSING THE OPTIONS
On 11th September, the IMF issued a Working Paper 18/203 which says that the IMO announced in April 2018 a target of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector by 50% below 2008 levels by 2050 and subsequent meetings of the IMO will develop a strategy for making headway on this commitment. This Working Paper seeks to inform dialogue about the possibility of a carbon tax as a key element of GHG mitigation policy for international maritime transport. The paper discusses the case for the tax over alternative mitigation instruments, options for the practical design issues, and then presents estimates of the impacts of carbon taxation and other instruments from an analytical model of the maritime sector.
CRIME GANG SNAPPING UP FAKE EURO NOTES ONLINE TO FLOOD IRISH MARKET WITH COUNTERFEIT CASH
Dublin Live on 12th September reported that organised criminals buy the dodgy cash from a popular website and a network of handlers buy items across the country. The website, which is not not identified, has dozens of images of fake euro notes of all denominations.
CHANGES TO UK AVIATION SECURITY RESTRICTIONS
On 11th September, the DfT issued a news release saying that large phones, laptops and tablets are now allowed in the cabin on the majority of flights to the UK. Restrictions on carrying large phones, laptops, tablets and accessories into the cabin of UK-bound flights from Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia were introduced in March 2018. The news release details which airports or countries affected – Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. It says that restrictions are no longer applied on any airports in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia.
UK IVORY FINGERPRINTING KITS TO HELP IN FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
On 11th September, the FCO issued a news release about the official handover of 100 forensic fingerprinting kits to fight the illegal wildlife trade. The kits, specially designed to lift fingerprints from ivory, have been donated by IFAW and will be distributed to countries attending the upcoming London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in October. The new fingerprinting technique, developed by the Metropolitan Police and King’s College London, can reveal prints up to 28 days after poachers have touched the ivory, compared to the 2 or 3 days with current conventional powders. This will significantly increase the chances of identifying the criminals behind the illegal ivory trade.
3 MEN JAILED AFTER THEY WERE CAUGHT WITH MORE THAN 1.5 MILLION ILLEGAL CIGARETTES DISGUISED AS ROAD SURFACING MATERIAL AT A SOUTH SHIELDS WAREHOUSE
On 11th September, Commercial Motor reported that HMRC officers searched the premises in March and discovered 24 pallets loaded with packages containing 1,508,300 non-UK duty-paid cigarettes. The cigarettes were hidden in wooden containers coated in bitumen, often used for road surfaces, and wrapped in packaging. The 3 men were found hiding at the back of the unit and were arrested.
MAN GOES ON TRIAL ACCUSED OF HOLDING WITCHCRAFT ITEMS IN UAE
Customs Today on 11th September reported that a 43-year-old Asian man has gone on trial accused of carrying 2 bags containing witchcraft materials and trying to smuggle the illegal items into the UAE. Officers seized the sorcery items and sent them to officials at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments to establish what exactly the products were. The Islamic scholars also recommended that the sorcery materials be destroyed to protect members of the community. Prosecutors charged the Asian man with attempting to carry sorcery materials into the UAE to practice witchcraft, which is against UAE laws.
5,000 AFGHAN BIRDS SMUGGLED IN A YEAR
Customs Today on 10th September reported that smugglers have stolen nearly 5000 birds out of Afghanistan in the past 12 months, taking them to various countries particularly the Gulf nations, Afghanistan Environment Protection Agency (AEPA) said. Geese and falcons are the most popular birds for smugglers, mostly taken from the northern provinces.
417 KG OF COCAINE FOUND ON CONTAINER IN URUGUAY
Maritime Herald on 11th September reported that a 40-foot container with 368 packs of cocaine hidden in bales of wool in a container belonging to an Uruguayan company, destined for Antwerp, and the largest seizure ever made in Montevideo.
US CUSTOMS ENVISIONS STREAMLINING CUSTOMS ENTRY VIA TEXTING
On 11th September, Travel Weekly reported that US Customs and Border Protection would one day like to speed up the entry process through the use of text messaging. The vision was laid out at the Future Travel Experience Conference in Las Vegas, but the initiative does not have any sort of implementation timeline. CBP is presently in the process of implementing biometric entry and exit via facial recognition at airports around the country – it is currently testing facial-recognition entry, eliminating the need for travellers to present their passports, at 15 airports; and facial-recognition exit at 14 airports.
THE RULE OF LAW IS UNDER ATTACK IN MOLDOVA
Chatham House on 12th September carried a report saying that Moldova has long struggled with corruption in its politics, but a series of events over the course of the summer indicate that democracy and the rule of law are coming under increased threat. Western partners should take these red flags seriously and re-evaluate how they engage with the Moldovan government.
TRUMP’S IRAN SANCTIONS: AN EXPLAINER ON THEIR IMPACT FOR EUROPE
The first part of a mini-series assessing the likely impact of US sanctions on economic ties between Europe and Iran has been published by the European Council on Foreign relations on 12th September.
INDIA AND BANGLADESH OFFICIALS CALL FOR GREATER ACTION ON CROSS-BORDER COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY SMUGGLING
Illicit Trade on 8th September reported that border officials from India and Bangladesh have met in New Delhi to discuss new ways of working together to prevent human trafficking, drug smuggling and the illegal transfer of counterfeit currency between the 2 countries. It was said that while the smuggling of fake Indian currency across the countries’ shared border had dropped “considerably” after the Indian government removed high-value banknotes from circulation in 2016, the transfer of counterfeit cash remained a significant issue; and counterfeit Indian banknotes were being produced by a “friendly neighbour” (presumed to mean Pakistan), which was using Bangladesh as a transport hub for the fake currency.
PODCAST: VENEZUELA – A RICHES TO RAGS STORY
People in Venezuela are murdering each other at the highest rate in the world. Workers are fainting on the job because of hunger. Citizens have lost 20 lb on average since the country’s economic crisis began. It is a nation in collapse with no clear way out. How did Venezuela, once one of the world’s richest countries, plummet so far? Keith Johnson of Foreign Policy helps us understand.
YOUR GUIDE TO RUSSIA’S MAFIA, THE VORY
On 18th July, the War College website in the US published the transcript of its podcast about Mark Galeotti’s book, “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia”. In the podcast, Galeotti takes us through the history of Russia’s mafia and how that history helped to shape Vladimir Putin’s state.
CAN LAWSUITS SOLVE THE US OPIOD CRISIS?
On 5th September, Medium published an article the US is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, affecting millions of Americans and claiming thousands of lives. Is suing drug companies, retailers and doctors part of the answer? Many people trace their opioid dependence back to their doctor’s office, the drugs prescribed for pain after an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. Were these painkillers over prescribed? Did drug manufacturers exaggerate opioids’ effectiveness while deliberately underplaying their danger? Did drug distributors and retailers take necessary steps to ensure that pills weren’t falling in to the wrong hands? In the article, Michelle Mello, an expert in health law, and Nora Freeman Engstrom, an expert in tort law and complex litigation, both professors at Stanford University, explain the scope of the opioid problem and discuss the latest cases and legal challenges. Some 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, and the epidemic has already claimed 300,000 American lives, including 42,000 in 2016 alone. The typical defendants in lawsuits are opioid manufacturers, distributors, and big retail pharmacies.
AN ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE OPERATIONS AGAINST US COUNTER-PROLIFERATION EFFORTS IN SYRIA
On 12th September, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies published an Occasional Paper which seeks to analyse the tradecraft, trends, themes, and possible effects of disinformation produced by suspected synthetic actors (i.e. bots, trolls, and cyborgs) on Twitter concerning chemical weapons use in Syria. Although it is highly likely these synthetic actors exist on other social media platforms as well, this analysis focuses exclusively on Twitter, since the open nature of the platform allows for study without special access. It identifies a well-coordinated network of synthetic actors deployed for the primary purpose of discrediting the reports of the Assad regime’s CW use in order to influence the US counter-proliferation response. The report concludes with recommendations for both policy makers and social network companies.
ISLE OF MAN UPDATES ITS SUDAN/SOUTH SUDAN SANCTIONS LEGISLATION
On 12th September, the Isle of Man advised that the European Union (South Sudan Sanctions) (Amendment) Order 2018 and South Sudan Sanctions (Amendment) Regulations 2018 came into operation on 11th September. The Order applies the provisions of Council Regulation (EU) 2018/116, as amended, as part of Island law. That Regulation gives effect to the measures imposed by UN SCR 2428 (2018), the UN Security Council having decided that until 31st May 2019, all Member States will prevent the supply, sale or transfer to South Sudan from or through their territories of arms and related material, and withhold training, technical and financial assistance related to military activities or materials. In addition, it lays out several exemptions to the country’s arms embargo including for material and activities related to humanitarian activities and measures to be taken in relation to the inspection of shipments and cargo bound for South Sudan.
SWISS PARLIAMENT APPROVES CORPORATE TAX OVERHAUL
Reuters on 12th September reported that the Swiss parliament has approved a corporate tax overhaul that it hopes will stave off the danger of it landing on a EU blacklist of unco-operative tax havens.
IRELAND: FACIAL IMAGING SOFTWARE HAS BEEN USED TO DETECT €4 MILLION WORTH OF IDENTITY FRAUD
The Journal in Ireland on 12th September reported that software deployed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has recorded 28 cases of identity fraud to date in 2018. According to the department, the cost of operating the facial imaging software system “is self-financing” as the value of fraudulent activity detected since its application is in excess of €4 million.
ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK FREEZES SOMALIA PROJECT OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
VoA on 12th September reported that the Islamic Development Bank has suspended a multi-million dollar project in Somalia due to accusations of corruption and mismanagement. It started in October 2016, and the Dryland Development Project was being conducted in 3 rural villages to help pastoralists build resilience to drought, give them access to health and education services, and develop livestock and crops. The project was set to cost $5 million overall.
CYPRUS: POLICE OFFICERS REMANDED IN TRAFFICKING AND CORRUPTION CASE
The Cyprus Mail on 12th September reported that 3 police officers and 2 others were remanded in custody in Nicosia in connection with people trafficking and corruption. The officers are accused of receiving bribes to turn a blind eye while serving at passport control at the airport and let through women from third countries who were later employed at a bar in Nicosia.
SECURING UK INFRASTRUCTURE: 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY & INVESTMENT REFORM PROPOSALS
On 12th September, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner published a briefing saying that the UK Government published in July a White paper on proposed national security and investment reforms which would significantly enhance its ability to review transactions, such as company takeovers, which might raise national security concerns. It outlines 10 key features of the UK proposals which infrastructure operators and investors need to know. The new regime is not expected to be introduced until 2020.
6 ARRESTED FOR ILLEGAL TV STREAMING IN UK AND IRELAND
A news release from Europol on 12th September said that after a year-long complex investigation coordinated by Europol, authorities in Hampshire, south-east England, Scotland and Ireland have arrested 6 people, suspected of illicitly distributing premium TV channels by using Internet Protocol television (IPTV) technology. The arrests are the result of a complex investigation, involving a number of law enforcement agencies (Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Police Scotland, Trading Standards and UK IPO) and private sector partners, such as the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).
MASSIVE SHARK FIN SEIZURES TOTALLING 12 TONS RING ALARM BELLS
The Taiwan News on 12th September reported that shipments totalling 8 tons of shark fin en route to mainland China and Hong Kong were confiscated in India – worth more than $6.2 million and led to an additional seizure of 4 tons of “dried ray skin” believed to be shark fin in Malaysia, making this one of the largest combined seizures of shark fins in recent history.
US TO PUSH NEW RULES FOR DRONE AGREEMENT IN NOVEMBER
Defense News on 11th September reported that the US is preparing a new push to change how unmanned systems are categorized under an international arms agreement, MTCR, as part of a broader effort to make it easier to sell military drones abroad. The Missile Technology Control Regime covers large unmanned systems, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, because of a technicality that identified such systems as once-use missiles and not aircraft which will be reused multiple times; advocates argue that designation makes no sense for the way large UAV are used. The article explains that systems which carry 500 kg payloads for more than 300 km are considered “Category 1” systems, which comes with a “presumption of denial” which means countries tied into the MTCR need to have a very compelling case to sell them.