12th November 2018
2 LEBANESE RESIDENTS ARRESTED IN SEATTLE OVER SCHEME TO ILLEGALLY EXPORT FIREARMS TO LEBANON
The Imperial Valley News on 11th November reported that 2 men, including a Canadian citizen who lives in Lebanon, were arrested after they travelled to a Seattle warehouse and began hiding firearms in a vehicle they planned to ship to Lebanon.
1,000 ANCIENT IDOLS SMUGGLED OUT OF INDIA EVERY YEAR
India Express on 11th November reported that industry-scale looting sees auction houses sending their top executives to pick and choose art pieces while some are sharing the pictures on social media. This is according to Singapore-based Indian-origin shipping executive. He has detailed the artwork theft in a book “The Idol Thief”, which was launched in Singapore. The US is the biggest market for these stolen pieces, followed by the UK and now it is moving to Australia, he says. He refers to the case of jailed Subhash Kapoor, where US authorities have recovered stolen Indian art worth $100 million from his warehouses and galleries and named him “one of the most prolific commodities smugglers in the world”.
MALTA: THE ROADMAP TO 17 BLACK
An article in the Times of Malta on 11th November which charts the notable events towards building a new power station, in light of the revelation that the mystery company 17 Black is owned by power station businessman Yorgen Fenech, and allegations of possible corruption.
KUWAIT ASKS DUBAI TO RELEASE $500 MILLION FROZEN IN MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE
New Stage in Nigeria carried a Reuters report on 12th November that Kuwait’s prosecutors have asked Dubai to release $500 million in funds belonging to a Kuwaiti private equity fund that were frozen as part of a money laundering investigation, according to a letter seen by Reuters. They were frozen at the behest of the UAE central bank in November 2017, and sent from BDO Unibank, a bank in the Philippines to Port Link private equity fund’s account in Dubai to the Kuwaiti. The letter is said to say that 2 local government entities – the country’s port authority and its pension fund – were owed a total of around $200 million.
SOUTH AFRICA RESERVE BANK FINES HSBC FOR AML/CFT WEAKNESSES
Business Day in South Africa on 11th November reported that the SA Reserve Bank said that it had fined HSBC’s local business around £810,000 for weaknesses in its processes that could fail to detect money laundering and terrorism financing. The fine follows an inspection in 2016.
AARON BANKS AND JIM MELLON – HOW MELLON MADE HIS MILLIONS
On 10th November, the Open Democracy UK website published an article which purports to show how Jim Mellon, friend and supporter of beleaguered Aaron Banks of Brexit fame (or infamy), made his millions in Russia, and saying that he still had financial exposure there.
IS PRESIDENT TRUMP CHANGING HOW US FOREIGN BRIBERY LAW IS ENFORCED?
On 12th November, Hogan Lovells published an article reminding one that Trump called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) a “horrible law” and argued that it is “absolutely ridiculous” that the DoJ brings criminal charges against companies and individuals for alleged FCPA violations. However, to date the DoJ has not made any dramatic changes to the enforcement philosophy followed during prior administrations. The Trump Administration may have changed many things, but it has not altered the DoJ prosecutions of foreign bribery – at least not yet.
UN SANCTIONS FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN LIBYA APPROVED, BUT RUSSIA RESISTED
Pass Blue on 11th November reported that a decision by the UN Security Council to add sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence should have gone smoothly. Resolution 2441 was passed on November 5th, but there were 2 abstentions – from China and Russia.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 4th AML DIRECTIVE IN FRANCE
On 9th November, White & Case published a briefing which says that the Directive was transposed into French domestic law by Ordinance 2016-1635 of 1st December 2016.
CRIMINAL SENTENCE HANDED DOWN FOR COMMERCIALISATION OF COUNTERFEIT FC BARCELONA PRODUCTS
On 12th November, an article from Grau & Angulo about a Spanish court case that involved the commercialisation of various products which infringed the trademark rights of Futbol Club Barcelona. Having sold various products featuring the FC Barcelona trademarks for 15 years, as an official licensee, in 2013 the defendant also began commercialising illicitly-traded products alongside the genuine products.
IRELAND: OVER A THIRD OF SME TARGETED BY FINANCIAL FRAUD
The Irish Independent on 12th November reported on a new survey which also says that of those targeted, 1 in 18 of the attempts are successful. The common types of scams used to target SME are phishing emails (72%), vishing, a phone-based phishing scam (26%) and invoice redirection scams (21%). The survey was launched to mark the beginning of National Fraud Awareness Week which will focus this year on financial fraud prevention.
CYPRUS: NEW GUIDELINES ON SHELL COMPANIES IMPROVES AML PRACTICES
On 12th November, the Financial Mirror reported that a new Central Bank of Cyprus directive that formally and narrowly defines what constitutes a shell company is credit positive for Cypriot banks, says ratings agency Moody’s. It also notes that Moneyval plans to conduct another assessment of AML/CFT systems in Cyprus next year.
ZIMBABWE: ILLEGAL FOREX DEALERS FACE 10 YEARS IN JAIL
ZBC in Zimbabwe on 12th November reported that a new law that will see illegal foreign currency dealers sentenced to 10 years in jail and it is hoped to put a stop on informal currency traders who continue defying the money laundering law.
VIETNAM: TRIAL OPENS FOR MAJOR ONLINE GAMBLING RING
Viet Nam News on 12th November reported that a People’s Court has seen brought to trial 2 former senior officers of the Ministry of Public Security and 90 accomplices for their alleged involvement in a major online gambling ring.
GERMAN PASSES MARKETPLACE VAT LIABILITY LAW
VAT Live on 12th November reported that, on 9th November, the German Parliament passed a new law that makes online marketplaces potential liable for unpaid VAT by third-party merchants on their platforms. The move follows similar legislation in the UK which came into force in March, and the EU is planning to replicate this in 2021.
VAT ON SHARE DISPOSAL COSTS RECOVERABLE IN CERTAIN CASES
On 12th November, Loyens & Loeff published an article about the CJEU case involving C & D Foods and said that VAT on costs incurred in connection with an envisaged share disposal is in principle not recoverable. However, if the reason for the disposal lies in the VAT taxed activities of the parent company, VAT on the disposal costs may be recoverable. Proper and timely documentation of such reasons will play a deciding role.
OWNER OF UNAUTHORISED SCRAP YARD HIT FOR £200,000 IN FINES, COSTS AND CONFISCATION
Local Government Lawyer reported on 12th November that Andrew Taff, the owner of an unauthorised scrap yard in South Staffordshire was last month fined £24,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £28,280 at Birmingham Crown Court. This followed the conclusion of a successful Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) application brought by South Staffordshire Council, supported by financial investigators at Birmingham City Council with a £150,000 confiscation order. Taff did not have planning permission for his unauthorised scrap yard, which was built on Green Belt land.
UNLICENSED OPERATORS THRIVING IN SWEDISH GAMBLING MARKET
iGB reported on 12th November that unlicensed operators are continuing to take business from firms licensed in Sweden, according to the last quarterly figures that will be published by the country’s gambling regulator before the introduction of new iGaming regulations in January 2019.
UN SANCTIONS RELIEF FOR ERITREA PROPOSED
J=anes.com on 12th November reported that the UK has drafted a proposed amendment for the immediate removal of sanctions against Eritrea. Previously, in September the US, backed by the UK, had argued that Eritrea must address human rights and other concerns before being granted sanctions relief. However, the UK also reportedly stresses the importance of Eritrea and Djibouti resolving their territorial dispute over the Doumeira Mountains.
SPICE THREAT AND HARM ASSESSMENTS COULD LEAD TO RECLASSIFICATION
Police Professional on 12th November reported that the Home Office has asked the NCA to investigate the level of threat posed by the synthetic drug Spice. The synthetic cannabinoid could be upgraded from a Class B to a Class A drug after the Home Office also asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to assess its harms.
OIL TANKER OWNERS CASH IN ON IRAN SANCTIONS AND TRADE TENSIONS
The Wall Street Journal on 12th November reported that US sanctions on Iran and the trade battle with China have become a boon for owners of tankers, with daily freight rates at their highest in 2 years as ships shift their routes to load up crude from other oil-producing countries. Crude exports from Iran, the world’s fifth-biggest oil producer, have fallen about 50% since May.
COMPANIES FAIL TO MEET HUMAN RIGHTS BENCHMARK, STUDY FINDS
The Wall Street Journal on 11th November reported that a new study claims that major companies in the resource extraction, agricultural and clothing industries are failing to demonstrate respect for human rights, according to a study based on principles from the UN. The study tracks how companies perform across 100 indicators built on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as additional industry-specific standards.
See the report at –
FDA TO PROPOSE BAN OF MENTHOL CIGARETTES
The Wall Street Journal on 9th November reported that the FDA in the US plans to pursue a ban on menthol cigarettes, according to senior agency officials. It could take a year or more for a rule banning menthol to be finalised, and then another year for it to be enforceable in the marketplace.
ISLAMIST TERROR GROUP ADDED TO EGYPT TERROR LIST
Defence Web on 12th November reported that a Cairo criminal court added Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya as well as 164 of its leaders and members to a list of terrorist entities. The group waged a bloody campaign against Egypt’s security forces in the 1990s but later gave up violence and entered mainstream politics. Travel bans and asset freezes are automatically imposed on those on the terrorist list.
US SPEAKS OUT AGAINST TANZANIAN MOVES TO CUT BACK HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
Defence Web on 12th November reported that the US has spoken out against Tanzanian moves to cut back human rights and civil liberties, including arrests and harassment of “marginalised” people including homosexuals. The US earlier this month warned its citizens in Tanzania to be cautious after Dar es Salaam announced a crackdown on homosexuality, a criminal offence.
On November 2nd, the EU had recalled its ambassador to Tanzania “for consultation concerning the human rights situation in the country”.
BANK OF ENGLAND REFUSES TO REPATRIATE VENEZUELAN GOLD
Panam Post on 12th November reported that President Maduro is demanding the repatriation of $550 million in gold bars, but the Bank of England claims Maduro will use the gold to avoid money laundering sanctions, and personal benefit.
HMRC SEIZES 411,000 ILLICIT CIGARETTES IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Talking Retail on 12th November reported that HMRC officers, accompanied by PSNI, searched commercial premises in the Newry area. The cigarettes and tobacco, believed to be worth about £5 million in lost duty and taxes, were discovered inside — the site of a suspected illicit tobacco factory.
INTERNET CON MEN RIPPED OFF PATHE NETHERLANDS FOR €19 MILLION IN SOPHISTICATED FRAUD
Dutch News on 12th November reported that the Dutch operation of the Pathé cinema group was ripped off by internet con men. It cost both the chief executive and financial director of the Dutch operation their jobs, and it is unclear if any of the money has been recovered.
THAI ACTOR PLEADS HIS INNOCENCE OVER $24 MILLION BITCOIN SCAM
Crypto Daily on 12th November reported that 3 brothers from Thailand are being pursued by a 21-year-old Finnish investor for Bitcoin fraud committed against him worth $24 million. In the court, the criminals have pleaded their innocence for the charges against them. One is the popular actor from the country Jiratpisit Jaravijit. They are charged with convincing the Finnish investor Aamai Otava Saarimaa to invest in Expay Software Co.