15th September 2018
LEGAL ACTION THREATENED AGAINST UK GOVERNMENT FOR EXPORT OF SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT
Ekklesia reported on 14th September that legal action has been threatened against the UK government by social justice organisation Global Justice Now regarding the granting of export licences for surveillance equipment to countries with poor human rights records. The surveillance equipment in question includes intrusion software, mobile telecommunications interception equipment and internet protocol network communications surveillance equipment and could be used by the importing countries for blanket and targeted surveillance. Global Justice Now believes that between 1st January 2016 and 31st March 2018, the Secretary of State granted export licenses for various items of surveillance equipment and technology to a number of states with a record of internal repression, including Turkey, Egypt, Bahrain, Honduras, the UAE, the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL IS STILL MISSING IN MALAYSIA: CAUSE FOR CONCERN?
The Bulletin for Atomic Scientists on 14th September reported that a radioactive source was reported missing in Malaysia on August 10th. Malaysian authorities have expressed growing concern about the possible use of this material in a terrorist attack. The reality is that this material could be used to build a radiological dispersal device (RDD), commonly known as a “dirty bomb,” and it can be found virtually in any country in the world. The missing device is an industrial radiography unit with an iridium 192 isotope used for non-destructive testing. It says that, according to records from the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board, there have been more than 16 cases involving theft or loss of radioactive materials since the 1990s, with the last incident reported in February 2017. The article goes on to discuss not just the current case, but also the general situation, the IAEA guidelines in place, and calls for governments and civil society to do more to curb risks.
EFFECTS OF THE BLACK MARKET ON THE LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY IN THE US
Equities.com on 14th September carried an article saying that whilst it is easy to believe that celebrity-branded, high-quality marijuana is a no brainier, the majority of consumers aren’t cannabis connoisseurs and simply want the most bang for their buck. If the government set prices are too high, there’s not much of a contest. People will stick with the black market. In order to explore the problem, it has consulted 6 leading cannabis industry executives.
SPAIN: PRICKLY CACTUS UNDER THREAT FROM SMUGGLING AND ILLEGAL UPROOTING
News EG pro has published an article on the problems facing the iconic prickly cactus plant. It says that most serious problem is illegal smuggling. Despite the international ban on uncontrolled trade in cacti, policing the smuggling faces many problems and semi-professional hunters continue to uproot plants to order. This is in addition to other threats, such as in southern Spain, where the plants are being devastated by the cochineal beetle, and even narco-tourists mining desert regions for small, psychotropic peyote plants and so feeding the market for mind-altering drugs. It says that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has categorised cacti as belonging to 2 groups and that these are listed in the 2 Appendices to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).
LEGAL PROFESSIONAL PRIVILEGE IN SWITZERLAND
On 14th September, Bärr & Karrer produced an article providing an overview, as well as describing recent developments and trends regarding LPP in Switzerland.
BERMUDA DIGITAL ASSETS BUSINESS ACT COMES INTO FORCE
On 14th September, Walkers produced an article saying that the Bermuda Government is now well underway to implementing its strategy, announced in November 2017, to embrace blockchain technology and digital currencies. The Digital Assets Business Act 2018 (DABA) became operative with effect from 10th September, creating a legislative framework for digital asset business and services to be operated within a regulated environment in or from within Bermuda – covering issuing selling or redeeming virtual coins, tokens or any other form of digital asset; payment service provider business utilising digital assets; operating an electronic exchange whereby digital assets of any type are exchanged for cash or other digital assets; provision of digital assets custodial wallet services; and digital asset services vendors. A “digital asset” can be digital coins, security, equity or utility tokens and anything intended to provide access to an application, product or service by means of distributed ledger technology. The article provides a concise introduction to DABA, and includes a section on AML/CFT aspects, saying that licensed undertakings will become regulated financial institutions and will be required to comply with AML/CFT legislation. Specific guidance on AML/ATF applicable to digital asset businesses has been issued, which requires the licensed undertaking to apply a risk-based approach to obtaining adequate due diligence on and verifying the identity of its clients and to conduct ongoing monitoring and report any suspicious activity.
THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL INNOVATION NETWORK (GFIN)
On 14th September, McCarthy Tetrault in Canada published an article about GFIN, established in August and including 11 financial regulators, including the FCA in the UK and Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) and Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF). Other members of the groups are Abu Dhabi Global Market; Australian Securities & Investments Commission; Central Bank of Bahrain; US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Dubai FSA; Guernsey FSC; Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Monetary Authority of Singapore; and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. It says that the setting up of GFIN follows a White paper issued by the FCA in February calling for the creation of a “global sandbox” to enhance regulators’ ability to collaborate on innovation-related topics, and provide innovative firms with greater efficiencies in their interactions with regulators. GFIN would provide a forum for joint regulatory policy discussions, with a view towards supporting the work of standard setting bodies and facilitating closer policy dialogue and knowledge sharing, thereby reducing the potential for regulatory arbitrage – with AML/CFT, payments and cross-border identity verification seen as examples of issues that could benefit from a common approach across jurisdictions.
FINCEN TO POTENTIALLY GAIN MORE TEETH TO INVESTIGATE INTERNATIONAL, CRYPTO-BASED CRIMES
ACFCS on 14th September reported on the passage of 2 Bills through the US House of Representatives. One, the FinCEN Improvement Act of 2018, focuses on strengthening the ability of US Treasury to gather and share information with foreign FIU to cripple criminals and terror groups using crypto assets to support their illicit networks.
EGYPTIAN COURT ORDERS ARREST OF MUBARAK’S SONS IN CORRUPTION CASE
Aawsat reported on 15th September that an Egyptian criminal court ordered the arrest of former President Hosni Mubarak’s 2 sons, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, together with 7 other men, on charges of stock market manipulation.
EL SALVADOR PROSECUTORS REQUEST EXTRADITION OF FORMER PRESIDENT FUNES
Reuters on 15th September reported that El Salvador’s attorney general has asked a judge to approve a request for former President Mauricio Funes to be extradited home to face corruption charges. Funes, who governed El Salvador between 2009 and 2014 and is currently in Nicaragua, is accused of embezzlement and money laundering involving $351 million. The attorney general’s office has just won a case against another former President, Antonio Saca, who pleaded guilty to similar charges, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for diverting $301 million from state coffers during his term.
FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CHINA WELFARE LOTTERY ISSUANCE MANAGEMENT CENTER, WAS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR SUSPECTED CORRUPTION
Calvin Ayre on 15th September reported that China’s sole form of legal gambling simply can’t escape allegations of corruption committed by the officials in charge. Wang Suying, 57, began working for the welfare lottery in 2008, eventually rising to director of the Management Center in 2015 before retiring in May 2017; and he is the 5th lottery official to have been accused of corruption in the past 18 months.
TECH’S NEW PROBLEM: NORTH KOREA
On 14th September, the Wall Street Journal carried a report saying that, hiding behind social-media fake profiles, a group linked to Pyongyang solicited technology work to send hard currency back home. It says that North Korean operatives have sought to use US technology and social media networks to evade US-led sanctions and generate income, taking advantage of many of the same shortcomings that allowed Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. Cloaking their identities, the North Koreans have been able to advertise jobs and find clients on US job-search exchanges such as Upwork and Freelancer.com. Hiding behind fake profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, the group solicited IT work, the investigation shows. The technique, replicated more widely, could be bringing millions of dollars in hard currency to the country.
US BILL WOULD SEEK INFORMATION ON HOW IRAN USED SANCTIONS RELIEF
Homeland Preparedness News on 15th September reported that 2 Republicans have introduced a Bill, ran Payments Accountability Act of 2018, into the House of Representatives that would require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to submit a report to Congress on Iran’s use of assets received from sanctions relief. The report would also include whether the assets were utilized to sponsor terrorist organisations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, fund military operations in Syria, facilitate illicit narcotics operations, or attack US nationals, or members of the US Armed Forces. If so, the Bill would require the Secretary of State to demand the repayment of these US funds through any means necessary, including through the imposition of new or increased sanctions.
ISLE OF MAN: ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING AND COUNTERING THE FINANCING OF TERRORISM (AMENDMENT) CODE 2018
On 14th September, the Isle of Man FSA published a news release saying that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Code 2018 came into effect on 14th September; and gives effect to recommendations made in the 2016 Mutual Evaluation Report issued by MONEYVAL following its 5th Round Mutual Evaluation of the Island. The main additions to the 2015 Code contained within the Amendment Code are:
- The introduction of requirements to establish, maintain and operate procedures in relation to sanctions screening;
- The introduction of the need to consider whether the relevant person has met the customer in the course of business when conducting business and customer risk assessments;
- The introduction of Paragraph 10A which places requirements on a relevant person to undertake certain considerations where an introducer is assisting with the customer due diligence process;
- Expansion of the requirements of Paragraph 21 to address recommended actions from MONEYVAL; and,
- Amendment of Paragraph 23 to ensure that it only deals with instances where a relevant person places reliance on an eligible introducer.
SWISS CONFIRM RUSSIANS TRIED TO HACK LAB ANALYSING SKRIPAL SAMPLES
Rferl on 15th September reported that the Swiss government has confirmed reports that Dutch authorities had arrested and expelled 2 suspected Russian spies earlier this year after they allegedly tried to hack a Swiss laboratory that conducts chemical weapons tests. It summoned the Russian ambassador to protest an “attempted attack” as Moscow rejected the allegations. The alleged target was the Spiez Laboratory, which analysed samples from the March poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
US CALLS URGENT UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING TO DISCUSS NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS
On 15th September, Rferl reported that the US has called an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council for September 17th as it steps up pressure on countries it says are violating sanctions against North Korea. US Ambassador Nikki Haley on September 13th accused Russia of altering an independent UN report to cover up Moscow’s alleged violation of the sanctions. Haley and other diplomats claim that Russia pressured independent monitors to amend the report.
NOVEL LOBBYING TECHNIQUE AT THE EU PARLIAMENT…BEFORE THE DEBATE ON NEW ONLINE IP LAW