25th December 2018
WHY USE THE AZORES (PORTUGAL) FOR YACHT IMPORTATION?
A Dixcart briefing on 21st December saying that the low rate of VAT (18% instead of the standard Portuguese rate of 23%) is a major reason why the Azores continues to be a popular location for yacht importation into the EU. The Azores also provides a geographical advantage as it is on the route used by yachts crossing the Atlantic, from the US and the Caribbean, to Europe.
IRELAND: LEGISLATION PUBLISHED TO ESTABLISH THE ‘CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY’ AS STAND-ALONE AGENCY
On 17th December, Matheson published an article about the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2018, by which he Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) is to be renamed the “Corporate Enforcement Authority” and is to be established as an independent statutory agency. The Bill also proposes a number of technical amendments to Irish law to provide clarity in key areas, including in relation to corporate governance.
IRELAND: CORPORATE INVESTIGATIONS
On 21st December, law firm Arthur Cox published the Irish chapter of The International Comparative Legal Guide to Corporate Investigations 2019. It says that publication covers common issues in corporate investigations laws and regulations – including internal investigation, self-disclosure to enforcement authorities, investigation process, confidentiality and attorney-client privileges. Headings include: self-disclosures; co-operation with law enforcement; confidentiality and attorney-client privilege; witness interviews; data privacy; and the investigation report.
VIRTUAL CURRENCY AND AML OBLIGATIONS IN KOREA
The Korea Herald on 25th December published an article saying that the Korean government has not passed any legislation specifically applying to virtual currencies and that there are no legal means to directly regulate virtual currency speculation. The government, it says, has adopted indirect measures to restrict speculation on virtual currencies by temporarily blocking funds flowing into virtual currencies.
SLOVAKIA’S PRESIDENT HAS VETOED HIS COUNTRY’S NEW GAMBLING REGIME
Calvin Ayre on 24th December reported that Slovakia’s president has vetoed his country’s new gambling regime which would have opened up the online market to international operators for the first time, claimed that the new gambling rules contained insufficient consumer protection measures, and criticised the requirement for online gamblers to submit digital copies of their Citizen’s Card for identification verification.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN ALGERIA
An article from the Washington Institute on 12th December which says that corruption in Algeria has worsened recently, and Transparency International’s recent Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 shows Algeria has fallen sharply to 112th place in 2017, down from 88th place 2 years earlier. This increasingly pervasive corruption has had significant disruptive effects on its economy; Algeria had experienced a significant economic upsurge after 1999 due to rising oil prices, but prices have declined since 2014. The oil and gas sectors remain the backbone of the Algerian economy, accounting for a quarter of its GDP and 95% of export earnings. It gives the example of Algeria’s “scandal of the century” in 2002 concerned 49-year old billionaire Rafik Khalifa, accused of engaging in illicit money-making schemes through the El Khalifa Group that included both a bank and an airline. After attempting to escape to the UK, he was extradited to Algeria in December 2013 and subsequently sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2015 for embezzlement from his own bank. Further scandals have erupted since the Khalifa affair. It says that the discussion of rampant corruption has now re-emerged in light of Algeria’s presidential elections scheduled for April 2019, and there are fears that the anti-corruption crackdown could be used for political reasons.
STOLEN UK IDENTITIES SELLING FOR AS LITTLE AS £10 ON THE DARK WEB
The Independent on 25th December reported that stolen personal data of UK citizens is selling for as little as £10 on the Dark Web, offering hackers all the information needed to carry out online fraud and identity theft. It says that so-called “fullz” – hacker slang meaning a “full ID” package – of UK citizens are being listed on several popular online black markets. A full ID package typically contains an individual’s name, address, online passwords, banking data and other key identifying information.
RUSSIA EXPANDS ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON UKRAINE
RTE on 24th December reported that Russia has expanded its economic sanctions on Ukraine, adding more than 250 people and businesses – 245 individuals and seven companies, mostly in the energy and defence sectors – to a blacklist first announced at the start of November. A total of 567 individuals and 75 Ukrainian companies now face Russian economic sanctions, which put a freeze on any assets they have in Russia.
26th December 2018
NETHERLANDS TO IMPLEMENT TOTAL BAN ON IVORY TRADE
Customs Today on 26th December reported that the Netherlands will implement a total ban on the trade in ivory in March next year. Currently ivory trade is allowed in the Netherlands as long as the ivory in question dates from before 1990.
COCA CULTIVATION AREA IN PERU INCREASED BY 14% DURING 2017
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime on 21st December reported that coca cultivation area in Peru increased by 14%, or by 6,000 hectares between 2016 and 2017, reaching a total of 49,900 hectares.
CYPRUS BANKS WORRY PROGRESS ON AML GOING UNNOTICED
On 26th December, Ekathimerini reported that the chief of the Cyprus Association of Banks said Cypriot lenders are concerned that their adoption of some of the toughest AML regulations in the world has not been fully recognised abroad, saying that a more rigorous supervision and directives have led to the closure of a “significant number” of bank accounts since 2014.
PODCAST: WINE FORGER EXTRAORDINAIRE
In this TRACE podcast, the amazing story of wine fraudster, Rudy Kurniawan, who duped so many experts with his counterfeits. Peter Hellman of the Wine Spectator tells the story in his excellent book: In Vino Duplicitas.
SWISS RULING PAVES WAY FOR DOCUMENTS TO BE SHARED IN NIGERIA OIL BRIBERY CASE
On 26th December, Energy Mix Report reported that a Geneva prosecutor is reviewing material in a suitcase (including documents, an external hard drive, British and African passports, and USB keys) seized nearly 3 years ago from a Nigerian national, following a court ruling in November, to decide what can be shared with Italian authorities in a case involving oil majors Eni and Royal Dutch Shell and corrupt payments in Nigeria.
FORMER SINOCHEM GENERAL MANAGER JAILED FOR 12 YEARS FOR CORRUPTION IN CHINA
The South China Morning Post in its 27th December edition reported that Cai Xiyou, the former general manager of state-owned Sinochem Group, one of the world’s largest chemical conglomerates, has been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was put under investigation in 2016, suspected of accepting bribes.
MORGAN STANLEY FINED $10 MILLION FOR AML FAILINGS
The New York Post on 26th December reported that FINRA had fined the brokerage unit of Morgan Stanley $10 million for compliance failures in the firm’s AML programme – with the lapses spanning more than 5 years, from January 2011 until April 2016. Morgan Stanley has taken “extraordinary steps” since 2013 to improve its AML programmes, including a new automated process for monitoring of penny stock transactions and potential insider trading, FINRA said.
UAE TO BAN IMPORT OF CIGARETTES WITHOUT NEW DIGITAL SEAL
The National on 26th December reported that the UAE is to ban the import and sale of cigarettes that do not have a new digital stamp, as authorities ramp up efforts to tackle tobacco smuggling and tax evasion. An import ban starts from May 1st, and the sale of these cigarettes will be banned from August 1st. It says that cigarettes are first to be targeted but the scheme will be extended to all other tobacco products in the coming months. UAE levied a 100% tax on tobacco last year and it is believed that half of the smoking population have turned to illegal cigarettes.
US GUN DEATHS REACH HIGHEST LEVEL IN NEARLY 40 YEARS
The Hill on 13th December carried an article saying that last year marked a record-high for gun-related deaths in the US in nearly 4 decades, according to reports released from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s WONDER database. The 39,773 recorded deaths from firearms marked an increase of more than 10,000 compared to the 28,874 deaths recorded in 1999. An estimated 14,542 people are killed in homicides with guns.