20th November 2018
SAUDI ENERGY MINISTER SAYS KINGDOM LAUNCHES URANIUM EXPLORATION PROGRAMME
Reuters reported on 19th November claims that Saudi Arabia had launched a uranium exploration programme and initial indications were positive, and that a project to construct 2 nuclear plants was proceeding at an excellent pace according to plan.
PANAMA AND NAMIBIA PLAN TO REVEAL FISHING FLEET DATA VIA ONLINE MAP
Mongabay on 19th November reported that Panama and Namibia have planned to publicly share information on their fishing fleet in their waters via the open-access mapping tool by Global Fishing Watch (GFW) to improve transparency in fisheries management and protecting their oceans. Last month, Panama was one of 4 countries from Latin America that signed a MoU with GFW and the environmental foundation PACIFICO to develop a joint strategy to improve transparency in fisheries management at the regional level, but the MoU had stopped short of committing the countries to sharing fishing boats’ data with GFW.
CHINA: GARBAGE GANGSTERS
ECNS in China on 20th November reported that China’s ban on recyclables imports has led to a boom in illegally smuggled trash across its borders. Since January, Chinese customs officials have broken up 39 garbage gangs and investigated 248 cases, totalling 95.6 tons of smuggled wastepaper, textiles, plastics, and other household and industrial cast-offs, all destined for ad hoc “recycling villages” on the south-eastern coast, eventually to be processed and reused as raw materials for local factories. China began importing waste in the 1980s, to meet urgent demand for materials for its industrial boom.
MALTA: FORMER NATIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER FACING FUEL SMUGGLING CHARGES IN ITALY NOW BACK IN MALTA
Malta Today on 19th November reported that Darren Debono, the former national team football player was under house arrest in Catania after being arrested by Italian authorities on the island of Lampedusa last year. He was arrested in October following an investigation by Italian police into a Libyan-Italian fuel smuggling using Debono’s fishing vessels.
FRANCE’S FAILURE TO TACKLE CIGARETTE SMUGGLING
Euronews on 19th November carried an article by a Czech MEP saying that according to a recent study conducted by the Royal United Services Institute, France is the most affected member state with the highest volumes of illicit cigarettes present on its territory. Around 30% of the total originates from Algeria, and according to the report, the flow of legally manufactured cigarettes in Algeria smuggled to France increased by 300% between 2012 and 2016. Mentioning the terrorist threat that could be involved, he says that “if we want to be serious about tackling the illegal trade of cigarettes, we need more effective co-operation between the Member States, the OLAF, Europol and Eurojust to stop these criminals operating all over Europe”.
VENEZUELAN TV MOGUL WITH US REAL ESTATE FORTUNE CHARGED IN SOUTH FLORIDA
The Miami Herald on 19th November reported that Raúl Gorrín, a Venezuelan TV network mogul has been charged in South Florida with siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars from Venezuela’s government and laundering the illicit money through US banks and luxury real estate investments, according to an indictment. The US investigation of Gorrín initially focused on Alejandro Andrade, a former high-ranking Venezuelan treasury official who had worked as a bodyguard for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Gorrín is accused of paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to Andrade and another official in the national treasury office by funnelling the money to them through a Venezuelan banker in the Dominican Republic.
DANSKE BANK’S €200 BILLION MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL EXPLAINED
The Epoch Times on 19th November carried a short summary of how Danske Bank has been caught up in one of the largest-ever money laundering scandals.
JAPAN: BANKS CLAMP DOWN ON MONEY LAUNDERING – RESTRICTING CASH SENT OVERSEAS
NHK on 19th November reported that increasing numbers of banks in Japan are turning away customers who want to send cash overseas – part of a drive to combat money laundering that could be used to fund terrorism. The government-backed Shoko Chukin Bank has stopped accepting overseas remittances of cash, whether over the counter or via new deposits. At least 40 regional banks have also essentially put a block on all overseas transfers of cash in recent months.
EXPORTING GOLD FROM GHANA; THE NEED FOR DUE DILIGENCE
On 19th November, Legalstone Solicitors LLP published an article intended to throw light on the procedures and legislative framework established for the sale and export of gold from Ghana. It cautions that it is a regulated industry, governed by laws with established institutions mandated to ensure compliance. These institutions include the Minerals Commission (MC) of Ghana and the Precious Mineral Marketing Company (PMMC) among others. It is not only advisable to undertake due diligence on the local entities and individuals in Ghana but is imperative to avoid being scammed by unlicensed entities. It explains the role of licences and local legal representatives (LLR).
NEW ZEALAND: WOULD YOU RATHER GIVE UP YOUR PASSWORD OR PAY $5000? A REVIEW OF THE CUSTOMS AND EXCISE ACT 2018
On 16th November, an article from Wynn Williams Lawyers about the Act which, from 1st October, not only allows customs officers at airports to undertake initial and full searches of data in electronic devices including cell phones, iPads, Android tablets, hard drives, laptops, and digital cameras; but it also permits a customs officer to require you to provide access to your electronic device. The key concern is that whether an initial or full search is undertaken, a customs officer has the power to require you to provide access information and other information or assistance that is reasonable and necessary to allow him or her to access the device. Refusal without reasonable excuse can mean a fine of $5,000. However, it points out that in 2017, only 550 electronic devices were examined – of the 14 million passengers travelling to and from New Zealand each year.
ISRAELI POLICE RECOMMEND CHARGING INTERIOR MINISTER WITH FRAUD AND TAX OFFENCES, PERJURY AND MONEY LAUNDERING
Haaretz on 20th November reported that police have recommended charging Arye Dery, who had previously served 22 months for bribery and fraud after being convicted in 2000. He is suspected of receiving large bribes from businessmen.
CHINA’S CHALLENGE TO INTERNATIONAL TAX RULES
A new paper from the LSE examines how China has destabilised the long-held consensus around the “Arm’s Length Principle”, which underpins OECD-led international agreement on the distribution of multinational companies’ tax bases through transfer pricing. It reports in China’s tax regime and its aims and interests. It says that China adopts a rhetoric of common cause with developing countries, but pursues an agenda that is designed to maximise only its own share of the tax ‘pie’. It flirts with outside options such as the UN, while enjoying a privileged position within the G20-OECD complex at the heart of international tax rule-making, and diverging from existing rules when it finds this to be in its interest.
BLACK PUDDINGS IN TRUCK HID SMUGGLED CIGARETTES
Commercial Motor on 19th November reported the case of a Polish truck driver who has been sentenced to almost 3 years in prison. Border Force officers stopped an HGV at the Port of Dover on 17th September and a search revealed 6.4 million Richmond Blue and NZ Slim cigarettes worth approximately £1.8 million in lost duty, inside pallets of black puddings.
MIAMI BANK TOLD TO IMPROVE AML PROCEDURES
In October, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Eastern National Bank entered into a Consent agreement to address multiple compliance deficiencies – including with its SAR, foreign correspondent accounts, enhanced due diligence (especially of wire transfers) and internal audit of its Bank Secrecy Act/AML programme.
ARMED UAV IN CONFLICT ESCALATION AND INTER-STATE CRISIS
The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) has produced a report which seeks to encourage policymakers to reflect on how the increasing ubiquity of armed UAV may influence international crises and affect conflict escalation dynamics. That armed UAV could carry particular risks in inter-State crisis and conflict situations might seem counter-intuitive. It gives examples of how UAV use has given rise to increased tension. It explores challenges and suggests it would be desirable for States to develop some common understandings to form the basis for appropriate standards and best practices to reduce risks and inform crisis management processes.
MONEY LAUNDERING: DEUTSCHE BANK ‘PROCESSED $150 BILLION OF SUSPICIOUS CASH’
KYC 360 on 20th November reported that top banks in Germany and the US are alleged to have processed the bulk of the $234 billion tranche of suspicious transactions central to Danske Bank’s money laundering affair, which has been billed Europe’s biggest scandal.
BOOSTING MARITIME SECURITY IN GULF OF GUINEA
On 19th November, the IMO carried an article on a regional workshop for participants from a number of countries in the Gulf of Guinea, held in Ghana to help build national capacity to enhance port security. Lectures addressed piracy, armed robbery and other illicit maritime activities. The countries involved were Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
THIRD COUNTRIES CONTINUE TO ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS ON THE REPUBLIC OF GUINEA AND BURUNDI
On 20th November, the EU announced that Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia had aligned themselves with the EU decision to extend sanctions in respect of Guinea to 27th October 2019, and Burundi to 31st October 2019.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU ON RESTRICTIVE MEASURES AGAINST THE PROLIFERATION AND USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
On 20th November, the EU announced that the following third countries had aligned with the new EU sanctions regime established by EU Council Decision 2018/1544/CFSP, and will ensure that their national policies so that they align with those of the EU – Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Norway and Georgia.
TANZANIAN EXCHANGE BUREAUX RAIDED ON SUSPICION OF MONEY LAUNDERING
Reuters reported on 20th November that Tanzania’s central bank has raided foreign exchange bureaus in the northern city of Arusha to investigate suspected money laundering.
MAN JAILED FOR £3.8 MILLION BASILDON COMPANY FRAUD
The BBC on 20th November reported that Paul Hawkridge, 37, an accounts manager at Orient Worldwide Shipping Ltd, stole £3.8 million from a shipping company, forcing it into liquidation to fund his gambling lifestyle, and causing 30 redundancies. He had worked for the family-run firm in Basildon since he was 18 before being arrested in 2016. He has been jailed for 6 years.
AUTHORITIES FIND €227,000 IN OFFICE OF HEAD OF STATE AGENCY FOR BULGARIANS ABROAD
The BTA news agency in Bulgaria on 20th November reported that the Specialized Prosecution Office (SPO) has seized Bulgarian leva and foreign currency worth around €227,000 from a safe deposit box belonging to the Chief Secretary of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad (SABA), Krassimir Tomov. Tomov and SABA’s former head Peter Haralampiev are charged with corruption and malfeasance in office.
“OVER $150 MILLION EMBEZZLED” IN CONSTRUCTION OF RUSSIA’S FAR EAST SPACEPORT
The Moscow Times on 20th November reported that Russian prosecutors have said that over $150 million was embezzled during construction of the country’s new $5 billion spaceport in the Far East. More than 140 criminal cases have been brought against an estimated 1,000 officials and contractors who have been brought to justice since 2014, it said.
2 DIRECTORS AND FORMER SOLICITOR BANNED FOR 21 YEARS FOR FORGED SALES DOCUMENTS FRAUD
On 20th November, Accounting Daily reported that Liberty Durant, Joseph Price and David Borland appeared at Lincoln Crown Court where in addition to the director disqualifications, they received suspended prison sentences. They conspired to remove close to £700,000 worth of property from a failed caravan company, Classic Caravans Ltd, based in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, using forged sales documents.
AUSTRALIA: MINING COMPANY BHP TO PAY $386 MILLION TO SETTLE SINGAPORE HUB TAX DISPUTE
On 20th November, Compelo.com reported that mining giant BHP has agreed to settle a transfer pricing dispute with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regarding its Singaporean marketing operations by paying around US$386.43 million in the form of additional taxes. The dispute revolves around the amount of Australian tax payable following the sale of BHP’s Australian commodities to its Singapore marketing business.
8 GAUDY VILLAS ILLEGALLY BUILT BY CASAMONICA MAFIA MOBSTERS IN ROME ARE SEIZED BY POLICE – ALONG WITH THEIR TASTELESS DECORATIONS
Mail Online on 20th November reported, with photos, on how the Italian police seized 8 luxury villas and kicked out 30 members of a powerful Roman Mafia clan in dawn raids involving 600 officers.
WCO-UPU CONTACT COMMITTEE ENDORSES JOINT GUIDELINES ON THE EXCHANGE OF ELECTRONIC ADVANCE DATA ON POSTAL ITEMS
The WCO on 20th November reported that experts on behalf of it and the Universal Postal union (the world body for postal authorities) have approved the Joint WCO-UPU Guidelines on the exchange of electronic advance data (EAD) between Posts and Customs. These Guidelines are aimed at providing policy and technical guidance to designated postal operators and Customs administrations on how to establish the exchange of EAD, as well as gain support within the respective organisations for the adoption of this development project on a priority. They should be published in June 2019, once approved by the WCO Council. The experts also considered progress with the development of a user-friendly and easily accessible list of prohibited and restricted articles in the postal chain to improve compliance was also presented.
TRUMP IS REPORTEDLY GETTING READY TO PUT VENEZUELA ON THE STATE SPONSORS OF TERROR LIST
Business Insider and The Hill on 20th November reported that the Trump administration is reportedly preparing to escalate its campaign to isolate and pressure the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela by adding the government to the US’s state sponsors of terror list. This would mean that – like Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Iran – it would face restrictions on US foreign assistance; a ban on defence exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual-use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
BIRMINGHAM RESTAURANT OWNERS SERVED UP JAIL TERMS FOR £800,000 FRAUD
On 20th November, Accountancy daily reported that 4 men who ran a chain of upmarket Indian restaurants in the Midlands have been handed jail sentences totalling 10 years for an £800,000 fraud that saw them pocket staff tips and hide sales to evade tax. HMRC has recovered more than £538,000 so far, but confiscation proceedings to recover the remaining proceeds of crime will follow.
EU COMMISSION WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT SCREENING FRAMEWORK
On 20th November, a news release from the EU saying that the European Parliament, the EU Council and the Commission had reached a political agreement on an EU framework for screening foreign direct investment. The package agreed is intended to ensure that the EU and its Member States are equipped to protect their essential interests while remaining one of the most open investment regimes in the world.
For details of the proposals see –
SMUGGLERS IMPORTED 5 TONNES OF SNUS, FINNISH CUSTOMS SAYS
Uutiset on 20th November carried an article about a case where Finnish Customs say an Estonian man orchestrated the smuggling of some 5,000 kg of snus from Sweden to Finland this year. The oral tobacco was then distributed to sellers on the black market. Finnish Customs regularly reports major incidents of snus smuggling. The most recent previous case was a group found to have smuggled some 12 tonnes of the tobacco to Finland in 2016-2018.
US MILITARY SUPPORT FOR SAUDI ARABIA AND THE WAR IN YEMEN
A report from the Center for International Policy (CIP), an independent non-profit centre for research, public education and advocacy on US foreign policy, published this month.
NORWAY ENDS DEFENCE EXPORTS TO SAUDI ARABIA
Janes.com on 13th November reported that Norway has enforced restrictions on sales of defence-related technology to Saudi Arabia in response to the current controversies surrounding the Middle Eastern country, including its involvement in the conflict with neighbouring Yemen.