6th December 2018
UK ‘GOLDEN VISA’ SCHEME TO BE SUSPENDED AND REVISED DUE TO CORRUPTION FEARS
The Guardian reported on 6th December that the “super-rich” hoping to live and invest in the UK will face new visa restrictions as part of Home Office reforms designed to tackle organised crime and money laundering. The Tier 1 visa, which provides a fast track route to settlement for people willing to invest millions in the UK, will be suspended from 7th December until new rules are put in place in 2019. The reformed visa will require applicants to provide comprehensive audits of their financial and business interests, and show they have had control of the £2 million of investment funds for at least 2 years, and they will no longer be able to invest in government bonds as part of the reforms, and must invest in active and trading UK companies.
CHINA TELECOMS GIANT HUAWEI CFO ARRESTED IN CANADA
Reuters and others reported on 6th December that Canada had arrested Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s global CFO in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the US. The arrest is related to alleged violation of US sanctions and export controls.
“NIGERIA LOSES $3 BILLION ANNUALLY TO ILLEGAL GEMSTONE TRADE”
On 6th December, the Daily Trust in Nigeria reported claims that Nigeria is losing $3 billion annually through illegal trade in gemstones. If you want to take gemstones abroad, you need to get an export licence from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and pay royalties. It is said that the export is of raw, unpolished gemstones, and that an attempt is being made to encourage the polishing and processing of such gemstones in Nigeria.
MOROCCO SEIZES 10 TONS OF CANNABIS
Xinhua reported on 6th December that Moroccan police had announced the seizure of 10 tons of cannabis in the coastal city of El Jadida. The banned substance was set to be smuggled through the sea as evidenced by the methods of packaging and lamination, it is said.
NORTH KOREAN SEAFOOD IS BEING SOLD ACROSS THE CHINESE BORDER
The Epoch Times on 5th December carried an article saying that recent reports show that crab and other seafood from the seclusive communist state is being sold in Dandong, a Chinese city located across the Yalu River that forms the natural border between North Korea and China.
HORSES RIDDEN BY VENEZUELAN OLYMPIC SHOWJUMPER SEIZED BY THE FBI
Horse and Hound reported on 5th December that horses ridden by Venezuelan Olympic showjumper Emanuel Andrade have been seized by the FBI in November, according to the Miami Herald. They belong to the showjumper’s father, Alejandro Andrade, the ex-treasurer of Venezuela, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for money laundering in a case involving Raul Gorrin, the owner of Venezuela-based TV network Globovision, who is alleged to have paid bribes to Andrade.
GOVERNMENTS AND SPORTS BODIES TO ANALYSE CORRUPTION IN SPORT
The Council of Europe on 5th December said that from fraud to bribery, from illegal betting to doping, from match-fixing to money laundering, corruption in sport is a global phenomenon threatening the integrity of the overall industry and posing a major challenge for today’s societies. The International Partnership Against Corruption in Sport, a multi-stakeholder initiative to strengthen efforts to eliminate corruption and promote a culture of good governance in the field, is organising a High-level event in London bringing together senior figures from governments, sports bodies and international organisations to analyse sport’s vulnerability to corruption.
PATRICK HO CONVICTED OF BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION SCHEME FOR PRESIDENT OF CHAD AND PRESIDENT AND FOREIGN MINISTER OF UGANDA
A news release on 5th December from the US DoJ provided details of the conviction of Chi Ping Patrick Ho, aka Patrick CP Ho, aka He Zhiping, 69, from Hong Kong.
NEW SUBSTANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR ISLE OF MAN COMPANIES FROM 1ST JANUARY
A briefing paper from Dixcart says that from January 2019 companies engaging in “relevant activities” will have to demonstrate that they meet specific substance requirements, to avoid sanctions. This follows a comprehensive review that was carried out by the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation (COCG) in order to assess over 90 jurisdictions, including the Isle of Man against standards of tax transparency, fair taxation and compliance with anti-BEPS (base-erosion profit shifting) requirements.
CAMBODIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST CHINESE NATIONALS WHO ALLEGEDLY KIDNAPPED AND TORTURED TWO CUSTOMERS WHO COULDN’T PAY THEIR GAMBLING DEBTS
Calvin Ayre on 6th December reported that Cambodian authorities have arrested a number of Chinese nationals who allegedly kidnapped and tortured 2 of their countrymen who couldn’t pay their gambling debts.
VIETNAM SEIZES OVER 1 TON OF IVORY SMUGGLED IN FROM AFRICA
Customs Today on 6th December reported that authorities have seized 1,356 kg of smuggled ivory at a Vietnamese port where some 6 tons were seized last year. The ivory seized in Cat Lai port had been packed with sawdust and layers of plasters and asphalt to hide it, and was transiting through Vietnam to its destination in neighbouring Cambodia.
TAX REVENUES CONTINUE INCREASING AS THE TAX MIX SHIFTS FURTHER TOWARDS CORPORATE AND CONSUMPTION TAXES
An OECD news release on 5th December said that tax revenues in advanced economies have continued to increase, with taxes on companies and personal consumption representing an increasing share of total tax revenues, according to new OECD research.
CAYMAN ISLANDS AML GUIDANCE NOTES AMENDMENT
Ogier on 5th December published an article saying that the ongoing industry consultation by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) has resulted in further clarification in respect of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and the Guidance Notes issued in December 2017. The article also reminds one that the deadline for regulated funds to notify CIMA of the appointment of an AML Compliance Officer, Money Laundering Reporting Officer and a deputy is 31st December; although appointments should have been made by 30 September 2018. For unregulated funds are reminded that they also have an obligation to appoint AML Officers and should have these appointments in place by 31st December, but are not required to confirm such appointments to CIMA.
UK IMPORTS OF FIREARMS & AMMUNITION
On 21st November, the Department for International Trade issued Notice to Importers 2903 of 15th November which sets out the licensing arrangements for imports of firearms and ammunition into the UK. It replaces all previous Notices to Importers on this issue. It has been updated to explain the new firearms marking requirements and information of firearms licensing when the UK leaves the EU.
UK NOTICES TO IMPORTERS ABOUT SANCTIONS PROHIBITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS
On 21st November, the UK Department for International Trade published Notices to Importers 2908 to 2912 dated 15th November and providing information on the effect of various sanctions regimes on imports into the UK.
UK IMPORT RESTRICTIONS – TORTURE EQUIPMENT ETC AND ANTI-PERSONNEL LANDMINES
On 21st November, the Department for International Trade published Notices to importers 2906 and 2905. 2906 deals with the import of certain equipment and products which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Information includes a derogation for museums that may import under a licence certain goods for public display.
2905 is concerned with the landmines Act 1998, which banned the import of anti-personnel mines and components. This ban was introduced to comply with the UK’s obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and their Destruction.
UK CERTIFICATES OF FREE SALE
On 21st November, the Department for International Trade published Notice to importers 2913, which is concerned with Certificates of Free Sale (CFS). These are part of the product registration process that is required before you can place goods on the market in many countries. A CFS confirms that goods that come into contact with humans or animals are safe to be sold because they are already sold on the UK/EU market which has high product safety standards. A CFS avoids having your product range retested for product safety in every export market.
UK: POLICE WARN OF FAKE FOREIGN CURRENCY EXCHANGES AFTER £8.5 MILLION IS LAUNDERED FOR LONDON GANGS
On 5th December, Baker McKenzie reported a Daily Mail article saying that police have warned people against using fake foreign currency exchanges after a money laundering gang were jailed.
NEW-LOOK EU ID CARDS TO HELP COMBAT €2 BILLION IDENTITY THEFT APPROVED
KYC 360 on 6th December reported that the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee have approved plans for a new single identity card to be adopted by member states in an effort to improve ID card security and curb document fraud. It says that there are currently at least 86 different versions of identity cards and 181 types of residence documents in circulation in the EU, and the security features of current ID cards, as well as residence documents, also varies significantly across EU countries, thereby increasing the risk of identity fraud and of documents being falsified.
CAUGHT IN RUSSIA-UKRAINE STORM: A CARGO SHIP AND TONNES OF GRAIN
Hellenic Shipping News on 6th December carried an article saying that when the Island Bay cargo ship arrived from Beirut at the Kerch Strait, gateway to the Azov Sea, it sailed into a perfect storm of geopolitics and bad weather. The ship remained at anchor outside the strait, lashed by gale force winds and sleet, its hull icing over while cargo ships amassed on either side. Meanwhile, its cargo of 5,500 tonnes of wheat, destined for flour mills in Libya, waited in the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk. The article says that the saga of the ship is a window on the leverage Moscow has over Ukraine’s Azov seaboard, affecting dock workers, port operators, brokers and farmers who depend on the route.
CHINA-NORTH KOREA BORDER TRADE THRIVES AGAIN, DESPITE SANCTIONS
Nikkei Asian Review on 6th December published an article saying that, despite UN on North Korea remaining in place, trade at China’s border with the country appears to be thriving again. The number of trucks making their way across the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge increased sharply in November, according to an executive of a housing materials supplier in the border city of Dandong. About 70% of China-North Korea trade passes through Dandong. About 10 km to the south lies the New Yalu River Bridge, which is expected to replace the older crossing as the main cross-border artery when it opens. It says that Chinese authorities toughened controls on imports of clams, crabs and other seafood from North Korea immediately after the sanctions were imposed, but several wholesalers said smuggling in the Yellow Sea had picked up again this past spring.
EU TO ADD 14 NAMES TO RUSSIA SANCTIONS LIST
EU Observer on 6th December reported that EU ambassadors had agreed to add 9 people to a Russia blacklist for their organisation of recent “elections” in Russia-occupied east Ukraine, and the EU also aims to blacklist 5 others for violations of anti-chemical weapons accords in Russia’s use of a nerve agent to try to assassinate a former spy, Skripal, in the UK in March.
MIGRANT SMUGGLING: EU COUNCIL APPROVES A SET OF MEASURES TO FIGHT SMUGGLING NETWORKS
A news release on 6th December announced that the EU Council approved a comprehensive and operational set of measures with a law enforcement focus to step up the fight against migrant smuggling networks. This follows a call by EU leaders at their meeting in October. Measures include the operational and analytical capacities of the European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC) at Europol will be increased, so it can better support member states in migrant smuggling investigations. The fight against migrant smuggling is one of the priority areas of action of the EU policy cycle to fight crime (EMPACT), and a joint liaison task force on migrant smuggling will be established within the EMSC, with co-operation on the financial investigation component and the judicial component also being strengthened. The capacity of the EU internet referral unit within Europol will be strengthened so as to increase the number of referrals of pages to be taken down by online service providers, as well as to map and disrupt the technical infrastructure used by smuggling networks.
NORDIC TELECOMS COMPANY TELIA SELLS BRIBES-TAINTED UZBEK TELECOMS HOLDING
BNE on 6th December reported that Telia has sold its direct holding in Uzbekistan’s Ucell to the Uzbek government for $215 million on a debt-free basis, as part of its strategy to exit its Eurasian businesses. Ucell became corruption-tainted during a major bribes-for-licences scandal that last year resulted in massive fines. The company announced it was pulling out of Central Asia amid an international investigation, in which Telia, as well as Russian companies VimpelCom (later renamed VEON) and MTS, were accused of paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to win licences for the Uzbek market. Dutch bank, ING, was also fined for shortcomings connected to the scandal.
SHELL REVIEWS DEALS INVOLVING FORMER EXECUTIVE ACCUSED OF BRIBERY
Business Day in South Africa on 6th December reported that Peter Robinson, a former vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, is one of several former Shell employees involved in a trial in Milan, in which Shell and Italy’s Eni are accused of corruption related to the $1.1 billion purchase of a giant Nigerian offshore field, Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245. Shell is also pursuing Robinson saying he took bribes in the $390million sale of onshore Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42 to a Nigerian company. Both the OML 42 and OPL 245 deals were signed in 2011. Shell, Eni and Robinson deny any wrongdoing in the OPL 245 case. Robinson also denies any wrongdoing in the OML 42 sale.
UK BREXIT QUESTIONS IN NATIONAL AND EU COURTS
On 6th December, the House of Commons Library issued a briefing paper saying that several cases have been brought by UK citizens living in other EU Member States, while other cases have been interesting for their implications for the UK’s future relations with the EU. This paper looks at issues that have been the subject of legal action in UK and EU courts.
POLICE SEIZE ALMOST 1 MILLION CANS OF BEER IN LINCOLNSHIRE RAID
The Drinks Business on 6th December reported that Lincolnshire police and HMRC officers made the discovery after executing a search warrant on storage containers housed in Alma Park Industrial Estate in Grantham. The raid took place on 27th November after a tip-off from a member of the public. It is believed to be the largest single seizure of alcohol to have ever taken place in the county.
UK: FRAUDULENT HAULAGE OPERATOR’S PRISON SENTENCE EXTENDED
On 6th December, Commercial Motor reported that a Birmingham haulier has been sent to prison for a second time for failing to pay back money he stole in a tax fraud. Craig McDougall, 47, was sentenced to 4 years in prison in July 2017 for evading income tax, NI and VAT by lying about the takings. In January, McDougall was ordered to pay back £75,777 within 3 months, but he failed to repay any of the money and was sent to prison for a further 20 months on 14th November.
INSIDE THE MAFIA-RUN COCAINE NETWORK SHATTERED BY EUROPEAN POLICE
On 6th December, OCCRP published an article showing how the mafia coalition that trafficked drugs to Europe from across the world operated.
UK: NATIONAL OPERATION TO RE-TEST MANIPULATED FORENSIC SAMPLES CONTINUES
The National Police Chiefs Council on 6th December reported that after a report to Greater Manchester Police of alleged data manipulation within laboratory processes, a team of experts identified that thousands of cases had been affected and a major national retesting programme was commissioned. The NPCC, working with the Forensic Services Regulator (FSR), the CPS, the Home Office and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), has identified more than 10,500 cases across 42 force areas that may have been affected by manipulation. Of the highest priority cases, nearly 90% (approx. 800) of cases have been retested, with the rest to be completed by April 2019. Of the 2,700 cases which have been fully revisited, approximately 3% (a minimum of 90) of outcomes were affected. All 90 are road traffic cases.
SPANISH POLICE ARREST 37 MEMBERS OF AN INTERNATIONAL GANG CHARGING 730 VIETNAMESE MIGRANTS €18 000 EACH TO BE SMUGGLED TO SPAIN
A Europol news release on 6th December says that the irregular migrants were smuggled from Vietnam via South America and finally into the EU in groups of 6 to 12 individuals. Each group was led by an English-speaking smuggler who travelled with them from the beginning and facilitated the communication during the journey. The victims either they paid the fee in their home country, gave up their land and property, or they paid in kind once in Europe through unpaid work. It is estimated that the criminal network gained over €13 million. After an 11-month investigation, the Policía Nacional discovered that the migrant smuggling group was primarily based in Barcelona – officers then searched 10 houses and inspected over 100 beauty salons across the country, seizing 4 vehicles, several devices and more than €60 000 from the searches.
GDPR: MORE THAN 8,000 DATA BREACHES NOTIFIED TO ICO
On 6th December, Out-Law reported that more than 8,000 data breaches have been reported in the UK since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May, the information commissioner has said.
US CUSTOMS INVESTIGATING SYNTHETIC TURF IMPORTERS WHO EVADE TARIFFS
On 6th December, US Customs and Border Protection was reported on Cision by the Synthetic Turf Council (STC) to be investigating US importers of synthetic turf that may be wilfully evading tariffs placed on synthetic or artificial turf.
TAXATION ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS FOR BVI AND CAYMAN ISLANDS
On 27th November, Harneys provided an update on the position in the BVI and Cayman Islands, which had both made a commitment to address the concerns of the EU Code of Conduct Group around economic substance and to introduce appropriate legislation addressing this issue before the end of 2018.