9th October 2018
UK NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRIME CENTRE COMMENCES OPERATIONS ON 31st OCTOBER
The UK’s National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) is due to commence operations on 31 October 2018. Sitting within the NCA, its staff come from not only the NCA, but also HMRC, FCA, City of London Police and the private sector. It will be responsible for leading response to financial and economic crime and the UK’s FIU also comes under its umbrella.
SOUTH KOREA CRACKING DOWN ON AMPHETAMINES FROM TAIWAN
On 8th October, Focus Taiwan reported that South Korean authorities have seized over 62 kg of amphetamines worth around $175 million, from Taiwan and said to have been smuggled into South Korea via Incheon and Gimpo airports, and indicted 20 Taiwanese nationals on related charges since February.
EGYPT RECOVERS COVER OF WOODEN ANCIENT COFFIN SMUGGLED TO KUWAIT
Egypt Today on 8th October reported that since 2017, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has seized and restored many ancient artefacts. Previously, Egypt received 118 ancient Egyptian artefacts that were smuggled to Italy. Kuwaiti Customs seized the cover of a wooden ancient coffin among an air cargo coming from Egypt.
TAIWAN: CAPTAIN OF FISHING BOAT SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS FOR SMUGGLING KETAMINE
Taiwan News on 8th October reported that over a tonne of ketamine was seized from the fishing boat in February what was the largest recorded drug bust Taiwan had seen. The 63-year-old captain was detained by police and the 5 Indonesian crew members were arrested but later turned over to their hiring agency. It is said that 126 black plastic bags were thrown from a Chinese fishing boat into the sea and recovered by the Taiwanese boat.
BVI HIRES $400,000 LAWYER TO AVOID EU’S BLACKLIST
International Investment reported on 1st October that the BVI has retained a UK attorney, Michael Furness QC, at a cost of up to $400,000 to draft a piece of legislation in the field of ‘economic substance’, in other words the existence of a tax regime without any real economic activity underpinning it, for the territory’s financial services industry as it needs to meet EU requirements to avoid being put on a blacklist.
NEW ZEALAND: SFO ALERTED AND PROPERTY SYNDICATE’S FORMER DIRECTOR’S ASSETS FROZEN
Stuff on 9th October reported that alleged “accounting anomalies” has seen a High Court judge freeze the assets of a former director of 3 property syndicates which own millions of dollars of commercial property, including a high-profile Auckland high-rise. The director and syndicates are named as Neil Barnes, First NZ Properties, Superstore Properties and Springs Road Property.
HOW LONG DOES THE IRS HAVE TO PURSUE TAX FRAUD?
Forbes on 8th October carried an article answering this question, in the light of Trump family revelations, saying that the normal 6-year limitation period can be overridden where the taxpayer filed a false tax return, the taxpayer wilfully attempted to illegally evade paying taxes or the taxpayer failed to file a tax return. If pursued purely as a civil monetary matter, the article points out, the 6-year time limit can be expanded to an unlimited amount of time.
Statute of Limitations Chart: Copyright 2018 Gassman, Crotty & Denicolo, P.A.
CHECK IF YOU NEED A UK VISA
UK Visas & Immigration on 8th October published an updated application allowing one to check if you need a visa to visit the UK, and what documents that are needed whether you do or not.
PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL LINES AND IBM SINGAPORE TO DEVELOP A BLOCKCHAIN-BASED ELECTRONIC BILL OF LADING
Lloyds Loading List on 8th October reported that the partners are to develop a blockchain-based electronic bill of lading that will cut the traditional paper trail and streamline the process. The article explains that a bill of lading, and as old as trading itself, is intrinsic to trade financing. It is usually mailed to various parties, leaving it open to fraud, loss of the original document, document handling costs and various other constraints that result in inefficiencies across the supply chain. PIL and IBM have proposed using an electronic Bill of Lading to streamline and replicate the paper trail online on a blockchain ledger created by IBM. The e-BL will do away with the hard copy paper trail, cut unnecessary handling costs and the possibility of fraud. Earlier this year the parties successfully completed a trial using IBM’s Blockchain Platform, to track and trace a cargo movement. The team plans to extend the e-BL to shadow an end-to-end shipment in real time.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION PUBLISHES NEW ADR STANDARDS FOR GAMBLING DISPUTES
CMS Law on 8th October published an article saying that on 1st October, the Gambling Commission published new guidance on alternative dispute resolution procedures in the gambling sector. The article provides a link to the guidance details its contents. It explains that ADR processes (such as mediation or adjudication) enable gambling operators and consumers to resolve disputes without going to court; and that, in the gambling sector, ADR is only used to resolve “disputes” – a type of complaint about either contractual obligations in sales or services contracts or the customer’s gambling transaction (including management of the transaction and related customer accounts) that has not been resolved through normal complaints procedures. The guidance takes effect from 31st October, along with licence conditions and a code of practice requiring operators to improve their complaints processes, including the imposition of an 8-week deadline for complaints to be resolved.
UK CORPORATE INSOLVENCY REFORMS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Allen & Overy has published a briefing about planned changes to the insolvency framework in the UK, saying that some of the proposed changes could be significant for borrowers, creditors and distressed investors, potentially impacting their decision-making in future restructuring scenarios – though the reforms are unlikely to be imminent and key questions remain as to their detailed provisions. The briefing summarises, and provides the law firm’s initial thoughts on, the key reforms set out in the UK Government response on 26th August to submissions to the consultation on Insolvency and Corporate Governance issued in March.
INTERNATIONAL ILLEGAL LOGGING – A RISK FOR RETAILERS
On 9th October, The Lawyer published an article from Walker Morris saying that 2 recent prosecutions by the Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS) highlight that the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulation 2013, implementing the EU Timber Regulation, could represent a real risk. The EU Timber Regulation has been enacted to counter trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products by imposing a number of criminal offences. Any retailer whose business involves the buying or selling of timber for commercial purposes, or otherwise placing internationally-sourced wood or wood products on to the market needs to comply with the Regulations.
FIATA BEST PRACTICES GUIDE FOR CONTAINER SHIPPING FOCUSING ON THE CHARGING OF DEMURRAGE AND DETENTION
An e-Flash from FIATA on 8th October reported that the organisation had published a guide which provides best practices that may help reduce supply chain costs and inefficient operations leading to unnecessary detention and demurrage charges.
BAUXITE MINING BOOM IN GUINEA THREATENS HUMAN RIGHTS AND LIVELIHOODS
Ekklesia on 9th October reported that Guinea’s fast-growing bauxite mining industry (for aluminium production) is threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Guineans, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch (HRW): What Do We Get Out of It?. It says that mining has destroyed ancestral farmlands, damaged water sources and coated homes and trees in dust. Recent developments have transformed Guinea into the world’s third-largest exporter, and its government should take immediate steps to better regulate companies and protect communities, says HRW. It says that Guinea has an abundance of natural resources, including the world’s largest bauxite reserves, but remains one of the world’s poorest countries. The demand for Guinean bauxite in global markets has increased in recent years as other countries, notably Indonesia and Malaysia, banned exports, in the latter case partly due to the industry’s environmental impact. Guinea is already the biggest exporter of bauxite to China, the world’s largest aluminium producer; and with several new mining projects preparing to begin exports, Guinea’s bauxite boom shows no sign of slowing down.
The report is available at –
CHECKLISTS OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES SUBJECT TO SANCTIONS
In March 2018, Thompson Coburn LLP published this checklist of countries that are subject to a variety of US and EU-imposed restrictions affecting international trade. The countries are grouped into different categories based upon their nature; several of the countries are subject to more than one category of restriction.
REPORT: UK CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY’S RESPONSE TO THE MODERN SLAVERY ACT
The Home Office on 9th October published a report from the Chartered Institute of Building on modern slavery within the building industry. The types considered include –
- “debt bondage” or bonded labour – a specific form of forced labour, in which the element of compulsion is through debt. It is characterised by a creditor-debtor relationship in which the worker is trapped by an unsustainably high debt to their employer; and
- human trafficking – recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion…to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.
Its conclusions include that there is little doubt that UK construction supply chains are at risk of being infiltrated by criminal activities such as modern slavery.
NEW EU CUSTOMS ACTION PLAN TO PROTECT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ADOPTED BY THE COUNCIL
An EU news release on 9th October reported a new action plan will cover the years 2018 to 2022. The EU Commission is invited to prepare a roadmap by Spring 2019 on the implementation of the new action plan, as well as to monitor this implementation and to submit annual reports to the Council.
PHONE SCAMMERS CHEAT BELGIUM’S FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICE OUT OF €1.2 MILLION
The South China Morning Post on 9th October reported that part of the cash ended up in Hong Kong account. An employee of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs was duped into thinking a contractor that had been carrying out construction work for the office had called her. The employee, then deposited €1.18 million into what she thought was a new bank account for the contractor.
UK GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES COUNTER-FRAUD PROFESSION
Civil Service World on 8th October reported that the Cabinet Office has launched a new counter fraud profession which is bringing together 10,000 specialists from across government. The intention is to deliver standards, guidance and tools to help tackle online and offline fraud in the public sector, and provide formal recognition of counter fraud experts in government and raise the profile of the work they do.
NEARLY 400 TONNES OF FAKE MEDICINES HAVE BEEN SEIZED OVER 2 YEARS IN IVORY COAST
The Daily Mail on 9th October reported that the main city Abidjan is a West African haven for counterfeit drugs, the health ministry has said. Counterfeit medicine is the scourge of Africa and the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually on the world’s poorest continent, according to WHO. It is said that in Ivory Coast, 30% to 40% of medicines are bought off the streets. The illicit sector has a turnover of at least 10% of the world pharmaceutical business, meaning that it earns tens of billions of dollars a year, the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum estimates, adding that the figure has nearly tripled in 5 years.
FORMER GUATEMALA VICE-PRESIDENT SENTENCED IN CORRUPTION CASE
The Daily Mail on 9th October reported that former Vice-President Roxana Baldetti has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for involvement in a fraudulent state contract.
MEN ARRESTED AND FUEL LAUNDERING PLANT SHUT
Commercial Motor on 9th October reported action by police and HMRC across mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, and a suspected fuel laundering plant was taken apart in south Armagh where 22,500 litres of fuel was seized, along with 3,100 litres of marked gas oil, 350 litres of kerosene, 12,700 litres of lubricant, 2 trucks, a caddy van and a forklift.
FIRST UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDER CHALLENGE TREADS FAMILIAR GROUND FOR COMPLIANCE PROFESSIONALS
White & Case on 8th October published an article about the recent unsuccessful challenge to UWO in the UK, saying that the judgment covers a number of issues which are familiar to compliance professionals, such as whether a firm was a state-owned enterprise and an individual’s source of wealth.
HOW DO POLICE OFFICERS DISMANTLE SYNTHETIC DRUGS LABS?
Europol on 9th October reported on a training course on dismantling illicit synthetic drug laboratories held in Belgium. The course was attended by 21 participants from 15 EU Member States and Colombia.
NATIONAL INTERESTS DELAY EAST AFRICA CUSTOMS UNION, EVEN AS TECHNOLOGY KICKS IN
The East African on 9th October carried an article saying that 14 years after the East African Community’s Customs Union became operational, the Community has continually postponed the date of its full implementation. The article says that the region was expected to achieve full implementation of the Customs Union in 2010, but that currently Customs Union implementation benefits politically-connected traders importing goods into the EAC and a larger number in India and China. The community has also failed to come up with a deal on internal taxes like VAT, excise duties and income taxes. Even though the Common External Tariff had been fully achieved, partner states are now choosing to go it alone because of slow implementation at the regional level – such as with Uganda and Kenya, which have gone ahead and implemented the 35% external tariff on steel products to protect their industries.
UK AND CAYMAN OFFICIALS HAD REACHED AN AGREEMENT ABOUT THE SHARING OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION
Baker McKenzie on 9th October reported that the 2 governments have released a statement confirming that British and Cayman officials had reached an agreement about the sharing of beneficial ownership information that will provide for “close and effective” co-operation. The agreement does not affect the threat that the UK may impose public beneficial ownership registers in the overseas territories through an order in council, if they have not been implemented by 2020. The Cayman Compass reminds one that last month a director of the NCA criticised a lack of co-operation from the Cayman Islands – the FCO blaming problems on Cayman’s withdrawal from the so-called exchange of notes between the countries, which provides for the delivery of beneficial ownership information in response to British law enforcement requests within 24 hours and in urgent cases within 1 hour.
BREXIT TOOLKIT FOR TRADERS
Customs software provider AEB has responded to the letter sent by HMRC to businesses that deal only with EU countries by producing a free downloadable “UK Customs Guide for Traders” that offers a step-by-step guide to getting started with customs clearance in the UK. It contains the 6 steps to get started, from obtaining an EORI number from HMRC to storing data data relevant for importing and exporting – such as commodity codes, EORI number, Incoterms – correctly and up to date in your company’s systems from the beginning, tells you how to get access to HMRC systems and how to register for CHIEF or CDS.
BRANDS AND MARITIME OPERATORS PROPOSE BEST PRACTICES FOR TACKLING COUNTERFEIT GOODS IN MARITIME SUPPLY CHAINS
On 26th September, the International Chamber of Commerce reported that a new “Know Your Customer, Due Diligence and Maritime Supply Chain Integrity” Best Practices Paper launched at Global Intellectual Property Crime Conference in Dubai. Representatives from major global brands and maritime companies have developed a set of best practices for the maritime industry to reduce the volume of counterfeits shipped around the globe through checks on their customers and supply chains.
DELTA AIRLINES AND CATHAY PACIFIC VIE TO INTRODUCE END-TO-END TRACKING FOR CUSTOMERS
On 8th October, Loadstar reported that airfreight customers will soon be able to track shipments from warehouse to destination using bluetooth technology, with bluetooth in unit load devices (ULD). US airline, Delta, has said its real-time tracking could now be extended beyond the airport into customer facilities, and would be ready to launch in January. The article says that not only will the technology help track cargo, but it will also eliminate all paperwork at the dock door when ULD are loaned out. A digital uniform control receipt will be emailed directly to the shipper and customers will receive customised push notifications, with full tracking available. Since March, Delta has deployed bluetooth tracking technology at 80 airline warehouse locations. Cathay Pacific is also close to delivering end-to-end visibility in its cargo shipments following successful trials of bluetooth tracking with ULD partner Unilode.
JET-SETTING COUPLE TO REPAY £350,000 FROM VAT, NI AND TAX FRAUD
On 9th October, Accountancy Daily reported that a Liverpool couple who ran a pub and a car repair garage were jailed for 7 years over their failure to pay any VAT, NI or income tax on the businesses they ran, while also fraudulently claiming benefits. They have been ordered to repay £355,000 or face more time behind bars. HMRC investigators discovered that the pair had enjoyed extravagant trips and spent £24,000 on a new kitchen. A search of their home uncovered a wealth of jewellery, including Rolex watches and Royal Mint gold sovereign coins, as well as bundles of cash totalling almost £40,000 stashed in handbags.
THE FUTURE OF THE ISLAMIC STATE IN EAST AFRICA
On 6th October, Homeland Security Today in the US published an article which opened by saying that the slogan of the Islamic State (IS) is “remaining and expanding” (baqiya watatamadad), and at the end of July 2018, the Islamic State in East Africa could claim to be doing both. It says that the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) had survived an onslaught by its far more powerful rival, al Shabaab, and had established a secure base in Puntland and is challenging the dominance of al Shabaab. Al Shabaab remains far stronger, and ISS will suffer if al Shabaab begins to see it as a greater challenge to its dominance.
THE SECOND RESURGENCE OF ISIS IN SYRIA AND IRAQ
On 3rd October, Homeland Security Today in the US published an article and map and said that Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) is reconstituting a capable insurgent force in Iraq and Syria, retains nearly 30,000 fighters across Iraq and Syria and is “more capable” than Al-Qaeda in Iraq – ISIS’s predecessor – at its peak in 2006–2007. It warns that ISIS could regain sufficient strength to mount a renewed insurgency that once again threatens to overmatch local security forces in both Iraq and Syria. It says that ISIS is finding new sources of revenue was able to smuggle as much as $400 million out of Iraq and reinvest it into legitimate businesses across the wider Middle East. It also continues to engage in lucrative criminal activity including extortion, smuggling, theft, and money laundering; and is engaged in efforts to generate additional revenue.