19th December 2018
SHOULD THERE BE A SYSTEM FOR TRACKING IRELAND’S ANTIQUES WHEN THEY LEAVE?
Dublin Inquirer on 19th December carried an article which explains the current system for the licensing of export of cultural goods from Ireland. Applications for licences for documents and manuscripts can be obtained from the National Library, with licences issued by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Paintings and drawings come under the National Gallery, and archaeological objects are looked after by the National Museum. These procedures are said to be in line with the relevant EU Directive. The article says that an expert review group had proposed a licensing system for furniture and other fine arts but this was not pursued.
PAKISTAN: ASSESSMENT FOR FATF IDENTIFIES PRIMARY SOURCES OF TERRORIST FUNDING
The Express Tribune on 19th December reported that a Terrorism Financing Risk Assessment report has been approved by the government. It identifies foreign funding, drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, robbery and bank heists as primary sources of funding in Pakistan. The report has been prepared as part of implementation of an action plan that FATF gave Pakistan as a prerequisite to exit from its grey list. The report will be presented at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Joint Group in Australia, and the Asia Pacific Group will then present Pakistan’s case in the FATF plenary in February 2019. It is said to be the first comprehensive risk assessment report that has been jointly prepared by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and has identified sources of terror financing and given recommendations for plugging loopholes.
LA FASHION DISTRICT EXECUTIVES GET PRISON FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
The Center Dispatch on 19th December reported that brothers Morad and Hersel Neman, executives of a textile company in the Los Angeles Fashion District are going to federal prison for conspiring to launder money for international drug cartels. Prosecutors say in 2013 the brothers used their company, Pacific Eurotex to launder $370,000 supplied by an undercover agent posing as a courier for a drug cartel. As part of a plea deal, they agreed to forfeit more than $3 million. The case was part of a sweeping investigation into drug money laundering in L.A.’s Fashion District, during which authorities seized more than $100 million.
CUM-EX DIVIDEND TRADE INVESTIGATIONS
On 17th December, law firm Ropes & Gray published a podcast (a transcript is also available) in which investigations now underway in Europe involving so-called “cum-ex dividend trades” are discussed. In the podcast, the trades are described as “aggressive dividend arbitrage trade” and “the biggest tax swindle in the history of Europe”.
AUSTRALIA: LAW CHANGE FAVOURS PARALLEL IMPORTERS
On 13th December, Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick in its POF Blog reported that, in August, section 123 of the Trade Marks Act 1995 was replaced with a new section 122A. It says that this amendment favours parallel importers in Australia, which may cause brand owners to reassess their commercial strategies. Parallel imports, also called grey imports, are genuine goods imported by someone other than the trade mark owner or an authorised licensee. The new section provides a limited defence to parallel importers who make “reasonable inquiries” in relation to the trade mark before the time of use. The changes also provide that parallel importers only have to prove that it was reasonable to assume that the registered owner had actually applied or consented to the application of the trade mark to the goods. Brand-owners may still be able to take action against a parallel importer if the products present a risk to public health and safety, or do not comply with Australian labelling requirements.
FRANCE: AN AGREEMENT FOR THE SALE AND PURCHASE OF AN AIRCRAFT BETWEEN A FRENCH SELLER AND BUYER MAY NOW BE MADE IN FOREIGN CURRENCY
On 19th December, Odi-Se Avocats reported a change in French commercial law. It says that since the 1930s, French law has made it clear that parties to domestic contracts must make payments using French currency. While there was an exception to this rule for international payments, the criteria for making international payments were unclear, and this had a direct impact on the aviation industry. Following further amendments, since 1st October the currency limitations do not apply to transactions of an international nature or transactions between professionals where payment in a foreign currency is common practice in the relevant industry. The aviation industry was directly targeted by the reference to ‘common practice’.
AUSTRALIA: POLICE SEIZE $2 MILLION CASH FROM TRIO TRAVELLING IN CAR
ABC News on 19th December reported that 2 Australian citizens and a Chinese man have been remanded in custody after facing court over a major cash seizure in the Western Australia Goldfields. Police say the people were in a four-wheel-drive vehicle driving from Perth to the eastern States. It is the second high-profile cash seizure by police in the area this year. In an unrelated matter in June, detectives found more than $1.3 million cash in a suitcase on a train, and 2 Malaysian women were charged with possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property.
OVER 100 CUSTOMS OFFICERS FIRED DUE TO CORRUPTION IN AZERBAIJAN THIS YEAR
The Trend news agency on 19th December reported that Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee fired over 100 employees due to corruption in 2018 and over 30 facts of corruption in the customs system were revealed.
US STATE DEPARTMENT DESIGNATES SERBIAN MAN UNDER HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
On 18th December, the US State Department designated Goran Radosavljevic, a Serbia national and former Serbian police general, due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights. It says that Radsosavljevic was credibly implicated in the 1999 murder of the Bytyqi brothers, 3 Albanian-American brothers killed in Serbia after the Kosovo War. He is thus barred from entering the US.
RAMSAY’S ‘BEST UK CHINESE RESTAURANT’ OWNERS BANNED FOR UNDER-DECLARING TAX
The Caterer on 18th December reported that the owners of a restaurant which was chosen as Best UK Chinese restaurant by Gordon Ramsay on Ramsay’s Best Restaurant have been disqualified after under-declaring the company’s full cash takings to the tax authorities. The Yu and You Restaurant and Bar, a Chinese eatery in Lancashire, featured on the Channel 4 programme in 2010.
UK: TOBACCO SMUGGLING TRUCK DRIVERS SENT TO PRISON
Commercial Motor on 18th December reported that 2 truck drivers who attempted to smuggle more than 1.5 million cigarettes into the UK hidden between bags of wood pellets, have been sent to prison following an HMRC investigation. Marin Vasilev, 40, of Cambridge, was caught in May 2018 at the Port of Dover. Vasilev was arrested, the cigarettes seized, and the case referred to HMRC. Venelin Nikolov, 45, from Sofia, Bulgaria, was traced 2 months later in connection with the seizure.
US SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN CONSIDERED BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
The latest edition of the Trust & Verify newsletter from Vertic included an article saying that in October the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the US to ease sanctions it had re-imposed on Iran after withdrawing from the JCPOA. The judges did not request the US to lift all of the new sanctions, but to remove any resulting impediments to the free exportation to the territory of Iran of goods and/or services required for humanitarian needs and the safety of civil aviation. It says that the decision raises a number of legal and political issues related in particular to the background to the case, the Court’s reasoning, the consequences of the decision, including the US reaction, and the extent to which the JCPOA and UN SCR 2231 are relevant and applicable.
US POISED TO HIT NICARAGUA WITH FURTHER SANCTIONS
World ECR reported that new legislation – the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act – is set to bite Ortega government. It says that the Nicaraguan government could soon find its access to the international financial markets restricted, following passage of the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act. It imposes conditions upon US approval of international loans to the Nicaraguan government, which the US holds responsible for serious human rights violations and sustained corruption.
The Bill is available at –
UK COUPLE WHO NAMED BABY AFTER HITLER JAILED FOR TERROR GROUP MEMBERSHIP
The Guardian reported on 18th December that a neo-Nazi couple who named their baby son after Adolf Hitler and made their home a “shrine to extreme racism” have been jailed for membership of a terrorist group. They and 4 others jailed over National Action membership.
REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BILL INTO US CONGRESS TO PUT FINANCIAL PRESSURE ON IRAN
Homeland Preparedness on 18th December reported that the Blocking Iranian Illicit Finance Act is claimed to be to protect the global financial system from Iranian illicit finance and impose maximum financial pressure on Iran. One Congressman is quoted as saying that said that withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was just the first step in ratcheting up pressure on Iran.
MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE (MAS) INCREASED THE BAN AGAINST MR TIM LEISSNER TO A LIFETIME PROHIBITION ORDER
On 19th December, a news release on Mondo Visione reported that this follows Mr Leissner’s admission to criminal charges brought against him by the US DoJ. Leissner has pleaded guilty to involvement in funds flows related to 1MDB.
PIRATES SEIZE 8 POLISH CREW AND 3 OTHERS FROM SHIP OFF NIGERIA COAST
Hellenic Shipping News on 19th December reported that pirates boarded a container ship, MV Pomerenia Sky, off the coast of Nigeria, seizing 11 crew including 8 from Poland, the vessel’s management firm and Polish state media reported.
PODCAST: LOTTERY FRAUD
In the latest TRACE podcast on tax evasion, money laundering and fraud, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein describes his research – and that of colleagues – into the surprising forms of financial crime associated with lotteries. Their research was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
BRAZIL ARRESTS MORE THAN 50 POLICE OFFICERS ACCUSED OF TAKING CARTEL BRIBES
The New York Times on 18th December reported that more than 50 police officers who patrolled the same area in São Paulo, Brazil, have been arrested, accused by state prosecutors of taking bribes from the country’s largest drug gang to allow its members to sell narcotics.
TRAVELLING IN THE COMMON TRAVEL AREA IF THERE’S NO BREXIT DEAL
On 19th December, the Home Office issued an update to the Notice which confirms the approach to the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements and the associated rights and privileges of British and Irish citizens if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal. It clarifies that British and Irish citizens are not required to take any action to protect their existing entitlements.
MORE BREXIT-RELATED GUIDANCE (FOR IF THERE IS NO DEAL)
The UK continues to roll out Brexit-related guidance and information. On 19th December, the Home Office issued updated information on –
- How travelling with a European Firearms Pass would be affected if the UK leaves the EU with no deal;
- Travelling to the EU with a British passport if there is no deal;
- How trading in drug precursor chemicals would be affected if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
The Department for International Trade published –
- How exporting controlled goods would be affected if the UK leaves the EU with ‘no deal’.
The Health & Safety Executive published –
- How the export and import of some hazardous chemicals would be regulated if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal.
UK COMPANY DIRECTORS DISQUALIFICATION ACT 1986 AND FAILED COMPANIES
On 19th December, The Insolvency Service published an updated version of a document which contains information related to Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 and failed companies. It seeks to answer such questions as: what is director disqualification?; what is a disqualification undertaking?; what penalties are there for contravention of a disqualification order or undertaking? What is unfit conduct?
ACTIONS AGAINST BANK ACCOUNT SCAMS IN THE UK
On 19th December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper saying that “push payment” scams are a growing form of financial fraud. The industry, financial regulators and the police are working together to try to reduce its impact, it says. This document outlines some current initiatives.
POLISH POLICE SMASH VAT FRAUD GANG
On 19th December, Mobile News reported that Polish police have smashed £25 million VAT carousel fraud involving mobile phones and other high-value electronic goods. Around 17 people suspected of the VAT fraud were arrested. The case covers 3 years of the gang selling electronic equipment market without paying the due VAT and investigators found carousel fraud where multiple trades were done on the same goods between successive Polish and foreign companies. There is also a video of a raid on the website.
HEAD OF COLLAPSED INVESTMENT GROUP ARRESTED FOR SUSPECTED MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES IN THE ISLE OF MAN
The local media in the Isle of Man has (eventually) reported the arrest of Dr Alan Louis on suspicion of money laundering last week. He was arrested as he left the courthouse at the close of disqualification proceedings against him and 2 other directors of Louis Group IOM. There were said to be some 120 separate Louis Group companies in the Island, with Dr Louis saying he employed or relied upon some 40 staff in the Island. The total losses of investors’ money has been estimated at £50 million by liquidators. The investors came from the Isle of Man, UK and South Africa; seemingly attracted by a “low-risk”, property-backed investment and the values the company projected. Liquidators are said to have found a “culture of absolute control, fear and intimidation, hidden fees and highly questionable retrospective or missing documentation”.
POLICE IN SPAIN RECOVERED HUNDREDS OF LOOTED ARCHAEOLOGICAL ITEMS
OCCRP on 18th December reported that artefacts included a prehistoric ax mould and a medieval seal, that were stolen from sites in the Tietar Valley more than 3 decades ago. In addition to great historic value, the Spanish Civil Guard said the 257 antiquities, which span from prehistory to the 15th Century, are worth an estimated $350,000.
BRAZIL’S ANDRADE GUTIERREZ CONSTRUCTION COMPANY TO PAY $381 MILLION FINE TO SETTLE GRAFT CHARGES
Baker McKenzie reported on 19th December that the deal to settle corruption allegations against it with Brazilian federal authorities is part of the so-called “Car Wash” graft investigation. It is one of more than 30 construction companies being investigated in the sprawling probe.
CHINA’S CUSTOMS SEIZE 91,600 TONNES OF SMUGGLED WASTE
Xinhua on 19th December reported that China’s customs authority seized 91,600 tonnes of illegal trash imports in its latest round of crackdown against “foreign garbage”. The smuggled rubbish included waste plastics and mineral residue, and nearly 857 customs officers in 11 provincial regions including Guangdong and Tianjin detained 129 suspects and broke up 38 smuggling rings during the action.
GERMANY: TIGHTER CONTROLS ON FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
On 19th December, Clifford Chance published an article which says that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has adopted amendments to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance subjecting even more deals to its review process. The amendments are expected to come into force at the beginning of 2019. A recent case involving a Chinese company was the first-ever deal to be formally authorised for prohibition by the German government.
80,000 TONS OF NUCLEAR WASTE SITTING IN LIMBO IN THE US
Futurity on 17th December carried an article saying that thousands of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel are in temporary storage in 35 US states, with no permanent solution in the works. It says that experts now show how to end this status quo. The waste is spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and millions of gallons of high-level nuclear waste from defence programmes sit in pools, dry casks, and large tanks at more than 75 sites throughout the country. A new study recommends that the US reset its nuclear waste programme by moving responsibility for commercially-generated, used nuclear fuel away from the federal government and into the hands of an independent, non-profit, utility-owned and -funded nuclear waste management organisation.