20th December 2018
BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP: OECD AND RUSSIAN DEFINITIONS COMPARED
On 19th December, Kinanis LLC in Cyprus published an article comparing the OECD and Russian tax service definitions of beneficial ownership. It says that a new interpretation was issued by the Russian tax service on 12th April which adopts a strict approach to defining the concept – saying also that the burden of proof in relation to the qualification of the beneficial ownership concept, has shifted from the tax authorities to the taxpayer.
US MAY HELP OTHER COUNTRIES HANDLE NUCLEAR WASTE
Oilprice.com on 19th December reported that the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is considering helping other countries handle their nuclear waste with US-owned and operated technology in a bid to stay competitive in nuclear disposal technology globally. However, it is reported that the approach the US is working on does not involve reprocessing of nuclear waste (banned by President Carter because it results in purer uranium and plutonium that could be used to make nuclear bombs). It is said that the US could send the technology in a “black box” the size of a shipping container to other countries, but the technology would be owned and operated by the US. The article briefly explains the 3 possible methods for such processing, noting that one of these, “pyroprocessing”, reduces waste volume but boosts uranium and plutonium concentration, making this process a potential security and proliferation risk.
IRELAND: CAN A DIRECTOR OR MEMBER OF A COMPANY REPRESENT THE COMPANY IN COURT?
On 19th December, law firm Arthur Cox posed this question, answering it by saying no, except in exceptional circumstances. It explains that, unlike natural (real) persons, who can represent themselves as litigants in person, directors or members of a company who are not qualified lawyers do not enjoy a right of audience in court and therefore cannot represent the company. This is so even where the company is a single-member company or has only one director. It goes on to explain the general rule of rights of audience in court, and the “exceptional circumstances” that might nevertheless allow a director etc to appear, including “lack of funds”, or as a matter of “courtesy” or, naturally, in the interests of justice.
TAIPEI ISSUES MULTI-LANGUAGE WARNING AGAINST MEAT SMUGGLING
CROWN DEPENDENCIES TRY TO SHAKE OFF EU ‘TAX HAVEN’ TAG
On 20th December, an article from the BBC about the introduction of the “economic substance” test for companies based in the Dependencies. It says that Britain’s Crown Dependencies are home to 76,000 companies – slightly fewer than 1 for every third person living there, whilst in 2017 the UK had 5.7 million businesses, about 1 for every 11 people. By bringing in the new laws, Britain’s dependencies hope to avoid finding themselves on the 2019 EU tax blacklist.
EU PLANS TO UPDATE ITS BLACKLIST OF TAX HAVENS TO INCLUDE NEW CRITERIA AND AN EXPANDED GEOGRAPHIC REACH
On 13th December, Bloomberg reported that the 2019 blacklist of tax havens will include those that have not adopted the OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which includes the US. The standard calls on countries to obtain information from their financial institutions and automatically exchange it with other countries every year. It says that the new criteria for the blacklist adopted for 2019 will require countries to apply the OECD’s base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) minimum standard — requiring companies with a $750 million global turnover to report country-by-country tax and profits to national tax authorities. It also says that EU Member States agreed a year ago to establish a grey list – a roster of countries that currently don’t comply with EU transparency and fair corporation criteria but made commitments to do so by the end of 2018. Member States are due to decide by March 2019 whether the grey list countries have either met their commitments or should be placed on the blacklist.
CFIUS REFORM AND ITS LIKELY IMPACT ON INWARD-BOUND US INVESTMENT
On 19th December, HKTDC, from a Hong Kong perspective, looks at developments in the scrutiny by US authorities of foreign direct investment in certain US technology sectors under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) regime. Currently, CFIUS filings are voluntary unless the Committee requests or initiates a review in a specific case. A recent change to the law will require filings in deals where a foreign government will obtain a “substantial interest” in a US business, and potentially in transactions involving certain critical technology. As a result, CFIUS filings may become mandatory for many more investment deals. An interview looks at the short-term and long-term effects on the CFIUS filing process and on what Hong Kong and mainland Chinese companies can do to improve their chances when investing in the US in the future.
CANADA ENDS FAKE WITCH BAN
The Brisbane Times on 20th December reported that Canada recently passed legislation that says pretending to be a witch to dupe people into paying, a seemingly unusual crime, is no longer a crime. However, authorities have charged Tiffany Butch, 33, with pretending to practise witchcraft over an incident that allegedly occurred in October, weeks before the law was scrapped. The article says that the witchcraft law was in place in Canada since the late 1800s and largely remained unchanged. It originated from a 1735 British law under which those who pretended to practice witchcraft would be subjected to a minor punishment. Previously, the British law classified witchcraft as a felony.
VENEZUELA GOLD TUG-OF-WAR WITH BANK OF ENGLAND
Zero Hedge on 19th December carried an article (from Bullion Star on 18th December) providing an update on the story that the Bank of England was refusing to allow the withdrawal and repatriation of 14 tonnes of gold belonging to Venezuela’s central bank, the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV). It goes into depth on the background of the gold, pressures and discussions, and how the amount held at the Bank is a lot less than held in the past. The gold remains in the Bank’s vaults.
IRELAND: HUNDREDS OF JOBS AT REFINERY SAVED AS US LIFTS SANCTIONS
The Irish Independent on 20th December reported that hundreds of jobs at Aughinish Alumina are set to be saved, ending months of uncertainty about the future of the Limerick refinery which supplies up to a third of all aluminium in Europe and is one of the most important employers in the mid-west. OFAC has notified the US Congress of its intention to terminate the sanctions imposed on a series of companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Limerick Alumina Refining Ltd (LARL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rusal, one of 3 entities controlled by Mr Deripaska.
NCA: 3 CHARGED IN CRICKET SPOT-FIXING CASE
On 20th December, a news release from the NCA reported that 3 men have been charged with bribery offences as part of a NCA investigation into cricket match spot-fixing in tournaments organised by national cricket boards from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
STABLECOINS – CRYPTO-ASSETS PEGGED IN VALUE TO FIAT CURRENCY OR OTHER ASSETS
On 19th December, Allen & Overy published an article saying that over the recent months there has been a proliferation in the development of stablecoins. It says that while the price fluctuations of other crypto assets make them perhaps more attractive for speculation, the relative stability of stablecoins offers the possibility of cryptocurrencies being adopted for use in everyday transactions and of becoming a digital form of cash. The article provides an overview of the main stablecoin models, and explores the potential advantages of stablecoins and discuss how these need to be balanced against regulatory and policy goals covering matters such as consumer protection, financial services regulation, market integrity and financial crime.
LAUGHING GAS LAWS NOT WORKING, SAYS EX-CHIEF CROWN PROSECUTOR
The BBC reported on 19th December that the law governing the sale of nitrous oxide, widely known as laughing gas, is simply not working, a former senior prosecutor has said. Legislation introduced in 2016 made it illegal to sell the gas, also known as “noz”, for psychoactive purposes, but undercover BBC journalists easily bought nitrous oxide by phone, online and in person at 2 Manchester shops.
EU STATES ENDORSE NEW PLANS TO SUPERVISE BANKS ON MONEY LAUNDERING
KYC 360 on 20th December reported that EU Member States have agreed on a plan aimed at strengthening the European Banking Authority’s supervisory powers in order to better address money laundering problems following a rise in banking financial crime scandals. It will be able to –
- directly handle bank cases if national authorities fail to act;
- be able to collect information from Member States about problems surrounding the failure to prevent money laundering or terrorist financing;
- be tasked with performing risk assessments on competent authorities to evaluate their capabilities to address AML risks; and
- will facilitate co-operation with non-EU countries on cross-border cases.
The EU Council recommended that a “post-mortem” analysis of recent money laundering cases in EU banks would be carried out to understand how they came about and to help shape possible additional actions.
RESULT OF EU INVESTIGATION INTO GIBRALTAR TAX
Gibraltar Chronicle on 20th December reported that the European Commission investigation has found that aspects of Gibraltar’s corporate tax laws – relating to certain interest and royalty income and on certain tax rulings – were illegal under EU state aid rules and that, as a result, 5 companies will have to return around €100 million in unpaid taxes to Gibraltar. The report claims that the Commission analysed 165 tax rulings and, while pointing to issues in 5 cases, found no problem with the other rulings, or with the practice itself, but that preferential tax treatment is illegal under EU State aid rules.
FCA BANS DARREN LEE NEWTON OF FIRST STEP FINANCE LIMITED FROM WORKING IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
A news release from the FCA on 20th December reported that the FCA had discovered he used customers’ money for the purchase of the debt management firm, First Step Finance Limited. This showed a serious lack of honesty and integrity and the FCA has decided that he is not a fit and proper person. The former owner, Mrs Whitehurst and her husband, Adrian, were banned by the FCA in October 2017 for dishonestly misappropriating money.
UN ANTI-CRIME CHIEF SPOTLIGHTS ALARMING DRUG TRAFFICKING TRENDS IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA
A news release from the UN on 19th December reported that, once limited to transiting cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs to destinations abroad, West and Central African countries have now become both users and producers of those substances, the UN anti-crime chief told the Security Council. The new movement of opioids is largely due to the rising use of the painkiller tramadol, but Africa has also seen a rise in the seizures of cocaine, heroin and precursor substances such as Ephedrine and Phenacetine. Several delegates from nations in West and Central Africa confirmed that the illicit trafficking in drugs and drug precursors pose a serious threat to their countries’ public health, social fabrics and political stability.
EU AGREEMENT TO CRACK DOWN ON ILLICIT TRADE IN CULTURAL GOODS
On 19th December, a news release from the EU saying that the EU Commission welcomes the political agreement reached by the European Parliament and EU Member States on preventing the illicit trade in cultural goods, in particular when it contributes to the financing of terrorism. The EU already prohibits the import of cultural goods from Iraq and Syria but there is no general EU framework for the import of cultural goods from other countries, and this lack of rules can be exploited by unscrupulous exporters and importers who circumvent prohibitions by exporting the goods into the EU from a different non-EU country. The actions listed in the news release are intended to ensure that the importation of illicit cultural goods becomes much more difficult. These include A new common EU definition for ‘cultural goods’ at importation, and a new import licensing system. For other less sensitive categories of cultural goods, importers will now have to exercise a higher degree of due diligence when purchasing the items as they will be required to submit to customs a signed statement or affidavit that the goods have been exported legally from the third country. The provisional agreement must now be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. Further technical work will also be needed in order to adopt the necessary implementing measures which will lay down procedural details.
BRAZIL TOP PROSECUTOR INDICTS PRESIDENT TEMER FOR CORRUPTION
Reuters on 20th December reported that Brazil’s Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge has charged President Michel Temer with corruption and money laundering uncovered in an investigation into graft related to port concessions. Temer, who leaves office on January 1st, is under investigation for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for issuing a decree in 2017 that allowed 2 port contracts to be extended for up to 70 years.
US TO REVIEW NORTH KOREA TRAVEL BAN
CNN on 19th December reported that the US is considering reviewing a travel ban put in place barring most American citizens from traveling to North Korea, and appears to only be looking at changes that could allow American aid workers inside the country. Currently, Trips can be made if they are deemed of US national interest or if the traveller is a journalist reporting on the country. Exceptions are also made for representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross or the American Red Cross traveling on an officially sponsored mission, or if a trip is justified by “compelling humanitarian considerations”.
UK PUBLISHES REGULATIONS FOR REDUCTION IN FOBT MAXIMUM STAKE
On 20th December, the UK published the Gaming Machine (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocation) Regulations 2018 which provide for various changes, including the reduction from 1st April of the maximum stake for playing FOBT to £2.
DIGITAL PROTECTIONISM, TRADE AND THE WTO
On 19th December, law firm Gowling WLG published a podcast (accompanied by a transcript) which, it says, aim to bring one up to speed with the latest developments in this area. It explores the UK’s position at the WTO during the course of Brexit and beyond, and the possible outcomes for the rules-based multi-lateral trading system – addressing in particular the recent proposals for WTO reform proposed by the EU, Canada, India and others and what might happen as a result of the US rejecting these proposals. It also considers what this means for China in the context of the ongoing US-China “trade war”.
RARE WHISKY MARKET FLOODED WITH FAKES, SAYS DEALER
The Guardian on 20th December reported that a whisky dealer has warned that the rare whisky market has been flooded with fakes after laboratory tests found one-third of samples were counterfeit. The fakes included one purporting to be a bottle of Ardbeg 1885, a single malt; a rare Thorne’s Heritage early 20th century blended whisky; and an Ardbeg malt allegedly bottled in the 1960s.
AIRBUS ‘FACING US CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION’
The Dundee Courier and others on 20th December reported that, citing French sources, the US DoJ has opened an official investigation into alleged corruption by European plane-maker Airbus Industrie. British and French authorities are already investigating alleged fraud and bribery related to Airbus’s use of outside consultants in commercial plane sales.
TAX POLICIES IN THE EU: 2018 SURVEY PUBLISHED
Accountancy Daily on 19th December says that the Tax Policies in the EU 2018 Survey examines how EU Member States’ tax systems help to promote investment and employment, reduce tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, address income inequalities, and ensure social fairness. It also analyses taxation as an environmental policy instrument, the implications of new forms of work for labour taxation and the influence of the overall tax mix on progressivity in the EU.
The report is available at –
VIETNAM JAILS TYCOON AT CENTRE OF CORRUPTION SCANDAL
On 20th December, Reuters reported that a court in Vietnam has handed a 17-year prison sentence to a tycoon at the heart of a corruption scandal that has already ensnared several senior police and government officials. Phan Van Anh Vu, aka “Aluminium Vu”, former chairman of Bac Nam 79 Construction Co, was already serving a 9-year sentence for deliberate disclosure of state secrets. Since his arrest in January, Vietnam has arrested or prosecuted several senior officials accused of involvement in businesses or schemes controlled by him.
SLOVAKIAN JAILED FOR 22 YEARS FOR ORGANISING THE IMPORTATION OF A SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPON AND A LARGE QUANTITY OF AMMUNITION INTO THE UK
A news release from the NCA on 20th December reported that Marek Platko, aged 28, of Liverpool, was found guilty after a week-long trial at Canterbury Crown Court. Border Force officers stopped a van at Dover in April this year following a vehicle scan and a search. A foam-filled concealment on the front of the van contained a Slovakian manufactured self-loading semi-automatic firearm, 8 kg of loose ammunition in a canvas bag, a further 3 boxes of ammunition and 2 magazines. The van driver stood trial alongside Platko and was acquitted. A Czech man, Radek Dobias, aged 38, who was living in Bootle, is also wanted for questioning in connection with the importation.
12 CHINESE NATIONALS DETAINED IN ANOTHER PHILIPPINES ONLINE GAMBLING CRACKDOWN
On 20th December, Calvin Ayre reported that the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)closed down another alleged illegal online gambling operation after obtaining a search warrant and swooping on a home where Chinese nationals were reportedly working. Government agents seized 13 computers, 15 mobile phones, and some networking equipment. NBI Digital Forensic Laboratory agents confirmed the devices were being used to communicate with clients, handle funds, and provide maintenance on the operation. This is the second raid of a Chinese illegal operation in a month.
MIAMI COURT POSTPONES EXTRADITION HEARING FOR MARTINELLI SONS
Kenneth Rijock in his blog on 20th December reported that the planned extradition hearing for the 2 sons of former Panama President Martinelli, due on 27th December, had been cancelled. He says that the two are accused of being bagmen who received over $40 million in bribes and kickbacks for their father, in the massive Odebracht construction scandal.
SOUTH KOREA MUST ENHANCE DETECTION AND REINFORCE SANCTIONS TO BOOST FOREIGN BRIBERY ENFORCEMENT
On 20th December, a news release from the OECD said that Korea must step up enforcement of its foreign bribery laws and strengthen the capacities of law enforcement agencies to proactively detect and investigate the offence, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. The report says that enforcement of foreign bribery has weakened since 2011 and the enforcement rate does not correspond to the significant level of exports and outward investment by Korean companies in countries and sectors at high risk for corruption.
CHILE UPS FOREIGN BRIBERY ENFORCEMENT BUT FLAWED CASE RESOLUTIONS ARE INSUFFICIENT TO ENSURE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Another news release from the OECD on 20th December is concerned with a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. The Working Group has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation on Chile’s implementation of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The report says that, since Phase 3, Chile has increasingly resolved corruption cases through conditional suspensions and abbreviated procedures. These instruments have contributed to increasing foreign bribery enforcement. However, some aspects of these resolutions are insufficient to ensure proper transparency and accountability. The report also highlighted positive aspects of Chile’s efforts to fight foreign bribery and Chile obtained its first foreign bribery conviction in November 2016.
US: BROKER IS THE FIRST CHARGED UNDER MONEY-LAUNDERING ‘RED FLAG’ LAW
Baker McKenzie on 20th December reported that Federal prosecutors in New York filed the first criminal charge against a US broker-dealer under a decades-old AML law, accusing a small Kansas firm of ignoring “red flags” about a shady payday lender.
FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE PERUVIAN SOCCER FEDERATION ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION
On 20th December, Insight Crime reported that Edwin Oviedo was arrested for crimes he allegedly committed as a member of the “White Collars of the Port” – made up of business leaders, judges and other judicial officials, among others and based in Callao – including influence peddling and bribery.
UK: ONLINE INVESTIGATIONS INTO TERROR-RELATED CRIMES DOUBLE
On 20th December, Police Professional reported that the number of ongoing online investigations into terror-related activities has doubled in the past year, according to new figures released by the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU). Between January and December 2018, the CTIRU (which was set up in 2010) was involved in supporting 396 counter terrorism investigations, the equivalent of around 33 per month. This figure has doubled since 2017 when the unit was supporting, on average, around 15 investigations each month. The unit also received 1.297 reports of terror-related online content from members of the public since the beginning of the year.
US DoD AND OTHER AGENCIES SEEK TO ENHANCE CONTRACTORS’ CYBER AND SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY
On 20th December, Akin Gump published a briefing saying that the US Department of Defense (DoD) and its component services and agencies are taking several independent steps to assess and enhance their cyber and supply chain security that will directly or indirectly affect DoD contractors and subcontractors. Other federal agencies are also considering or implementing measures to enhance cyber and supply chain security that will directly or indirectly affect government contractors and their supply chains. These initiatives will intensify scrutiny of government contractors and subcontractors, increase their cyber and supply chain security compliance requirements, and affect their ability to compete for, and win, government contracts. This briefing summarises these initiatives and states our view that, despite the proposal and likely adoption of a comprehensive new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) cybersecurity clause next year, federal government contractors and subcontractors are likely to face multiple, overlapping, and possibly conflicting cybersecurity and supply chain requirements for some time to come.
EU COURT RULES THAT COPYRIGHT OWNER’S EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION RIGHT CAN BE VIOLATED BY THE STORAGE OF INFRINGING GOODS
On 20th December, World Intellectual Property Review reported on a CJEU case from Sweden in which a shop was prosecuted, having been found to have copyright material in storage, but not actually offered for sale. At appeal, it was found that the defendant had infringed the law only in respect of the goods in his shop, not those which were in the storage facilities and, although the goods had been stored for the purpose of sale, it cannot be said that they had been offered for sale. The CJEU said that the question arises whether goods bearing a protected motif which are kept, by a person, in storage facilities can be regarded as being offered for sale when that person offers identical goods for sale in a retail shop run by that person. The CJEU held that the court “an act prior to the actual sale of a work or a copy thereof protected by copyright, which takes place without the right holder’s consent and with the objective of making such a sale, may infringe the distribution right” of that copyright owner; and noted that carrying out the sale is not necessary to establish an infringement, but it must be proven that the goods are intended to be distributed to the public without the copyright owner’s consent.
EUROPE’S REGIONAL AIRPORTS ARE RISING IN POPULARITY
OFAC SETTLEMENT WITH US COMPANY OVER BELARUS SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS
On 20th December, OFAC announced a $7,772,102 settlement with Zoltek Companies Inc and its subsidiaries worldwide. Zoltek — a holding company headquartered in Bridgeton, Missouri, and the owner of Zoltek Corporation, located in the United States, and Zoltek Vegyipari ZRT, located in Hungary. The settlement is to settle its potential civil liability for 26 apparent violations of the Belarus Sanctions Regulations. The apparent violations involve the US company approving 26 purchases of acrylonitrile — a chemical used in the production of carbon fibre — between the Hungarian company and JSC Naftan, a Belarusian entity OFAC designated in 2011. The news release from OFAC says that this enforcement action highlights the risks for companies with overseas operations that do not implement OFAC compliance programmes or that implement compliance programmes that fail to address the sanctions regulations administered by OFAC.
DIRECTOR OF ACCOUNTANCY FIRM BANNED FOR ASSISTING CLIENT’S £1.65 MILLION FRAUD
On 20th December, Accountancy daily reported that Paul Manley, from Wembley, north-west London, an accountancy firm director has been given a 12-year disqualification from running companies after he helped one of his clients to defraud creditors of more than £1.65 million.
HMRC REVISES GUIDANCE ON TAX TREATMENT OF CRYPTOCURRENCIES
On 20th December, Accountancy Daily reported that HMRC is said to have listened to public concerns and published revised guidance setting out the tax authority’s approach to taxing individuals who buy and sell cryptocurrencies confirming that capital gains tax (CGT), income tax and NI contributions may apply.
The HMRC Policy Paper on “Cryptoassets for Individuals” is available at –
BRITISH CONSTRUCTION FRAUDSTER FACES EXTRADITION TO FRANCE
The BBC reported on 20th December that Joseph Burnside, 32, a builder convicted of fraud in France has been arrested in North Yorkshire. He worked on more than 200 construction projects in France using a range of company names. A European Arrest Warrant was issued after he was convicted in his absence of fraud and criminal conspiracy.
US CHARGES 2 HACKERS LINKED TO CHINESE INTELLIGENCE
VoA on 20th December reported that US prosecutors unsealed charges against 2 hackers linked to Chinese intelligence – described by officials as members of a Chinese cyber-espionage group known as APT-10 and working for China’s main intelligence service – accusing them of engaging in a campaign of computer intrusions over a 12-year period targeting technology firms that businesses and government agencies around the world hire to store, process and protect their data.
Meanwhile, also on 20th December, a news release from the FCO in the UK says that, along with its allies, the UK has announced that a group known as APT 10 acted on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security to carry out a malicious cyber campaign targeting intellectual property and sensitive commercial data in Europe, Asia and the US.
ASSETS OF WOMAN FROM WALES WHO FLED ABROAD FAILING TO ATTEND FRAUD TRIAL TO BE SOLD
The North Wales Chronicle on 20th December reported that the assets of a woman, Angela Davison, 66, who fled abroad in 2012 and failed to attend her trial for fraud are to be sold off to meet a Proceeds of Crime bill. Her home and her car can now be auctioned. She was sentenced to 2½ years imprisonment for fraud and other offences 6 years ago – and has been unlawfully at large ever since.
ITALIAN GAMBLING OPERATORS PROTESTING GOVERNMENT DECISION TO RAISE TAXES AND REDUCE LAND-BASED SLOTS PAYOUTS
On 20th December, Calvin Ayre reported that the changes were revealed in the so-called ‘maxi amendment’ to the budget, which still awaits a final vote by Italy’s full parliament. Among the major changes proposed is a hike in online casino tax from its current 20% to 25%, effective from January 1st. Online sports betting revenue will now be taxed at a rate of 24% (up from 22%), while landbased betting operators (excluding horse betting) will also face a hike to 20%, and virtual betting tax raises to 22%.
BRITAIN’S PRIVATE MILITARY AND SECURITY INDUSTRY EXAMINED
Action on Armed Violence in the UK has published this article on 20th December saying that Britain has led this privatisation of modern warfare, and that it leads the world in providing armed contractors to ‘hot spots’, be it combating terrorism in the Middle East or fighting pirates off the Horn of Africa. Some of their biggest clients are governments, it says. There is no central database of private military and security companies operating from the UK, and no legal requirement to register with a governing body. Only one dataset offers insight: Companies House provides a code for companies that offer security services and thousands of small business are listed – offering anything from bouncers to industrial site protection. But within this list, researchers are said to have identified 235 UK-registered military and security companies whose websites offered higher-level security work, usually international and involving armed protection. The article says that a clear pattern of “disguised” (bogus?) addresses also appeared from the research. The International Code of Conduct (ICoC) was set up in 2010 under an initiative by the Swiss government (n.b. companies providing anti-maritime piracy security under UK and Isle of Man trade control licences – which covers the movement of weapons and equipment, not the actual operations and operatives – are required to be signed up to ICoC). Yet out of the 235 companies, only 15 are members of the ICoC. Only 7% have a ‘compliance’ section on their websites (out of the 212 functioning sites). More than 90% fail to mention compliance or standards.
EU AND GERMANY MOVE TO FURTHER TIGHTEN FDI SCREENING PROCESS
An article from Wilmer Hale on 20th December was another focused on foreign direct investment programmes, in this case looking at those being introduced by the EU and Germany. It says that the past 2 weeks have seen 2 major developments in relation to the screening of foreign direct investment in the EU for national security or public order reasons. It describes the developments as the latest steps in a further tightening of national security and public order-based review of foreign direct investment in the EU. The firm says that it anticipates these developments to continue over the next months and years.