15th January 2019
GIBRALTAR PUBLISHES RULES IMPLEMENTING EU RULES AGAINST TAX AVOIDANCE
On 14th January, Isolas in Gibraltar published an article on regulations that transposed into Gibraltar income tax law EU Directive 2016/1164 which provides for uniform legislative implementation in the EU of some of the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) recommendations, and applying to financial periods starting on or after 1st January.
REPORT TO CONGRESS ON US SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
On 14th January, USNI News published an article about, and a link to, a report to the US Congress Congressional Research Service report. This reviewed existing sanctions regimes, including the lesser known Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017, which codifies Ukraine-related and cyber-related Executive Orders, strengthens existing Russia-related sanctions authorities, and identifies several new targets for sanctions. It also establishes Congressional review of any action the President takes to ease or lift a variety of sanctions.
ISRAEL COMPANY ADMITS SPYING ON EMIR OF QATAR
The Middle East Monitor on 14th January reported that the CEO of Israeli spyware company NSO Group has admitted that its software was used to spy on the Emir of Qatar. Its “Pegasus” software – which can be used to remotely infect a target’s mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device – was used to intercept phone calls and text messages, and was seemingly undertaken at the behest of the UAE. The Israeli Defense Export Control Agency (DECA) licensed 3 deals with the UAE, worth around $80 million, for the sale of NSO software, despite the fact that DECA is only supposed to give authorisation for the “purpose of fighting terrorism and crime”.
IRELAND: SECRET CODES REVEALED SMUGGLERS’ €100 MILLION TURNOVER
Infosurhoy on 14th January reported that a secret coded ledger seized by CAB 2 years ago has revealed how one of Ireland’s biggest cross-border crime gangs turned over a staggering €100 million in 7 years. CAB recently raided several premises linked to the crime gang, said not to be linked to Brexit but seen as a pre-emptive strike on the cross-border gangs that trade in everything from smuggled alcohol, cigarettes, fuel and even Viagra. CAB suspects that the gang even purchased an entire “ghost estate” in the border region, part of a portfolio of distressed properties it believes the gang has purchased over the past 7 to 8 years.
SERBIA: COMPANIES TO REGISTER UBO BY 31ST JANUARY
Wold Theiss published an article on 14th January which says that Serbian companies, institutions, as well as branches and representative offices established by foreign investors in Serbia, are among the entities designated by the Serbian Law on Central Register as entities whose legal representatives have a duty to register their ultimate beneficial owners with the Central Register by no later than 31st January. Once registered, any changes must be notified within 15 days.
FCA INVESTIGATING ALLEGATIONS BANK STAFF MISTREATED AFTER COMPLAINTS OVER COMPLIANCE CULTURE
KYC 360 on 15th January reported that the FCA has reportedly launched an investigation into working culture at investment bank RBC Capital Markets following the dismissal of workers who were mistreated after they raised concerns about compliance issues at the bank.
GHANAIAN GOLD DEALER WANTED BY INTERPOL ARRESTED IN DUBAI
The National reported on 15th January that Nana Appiah Mensah, or Nam 1, as he is known in Ghana, is the CEO of Menzgold, a gold dealership and investment company which promised customers returns of between 7% and 10% on gold bought and deposited with the company.
INDONESIA TAKES STEPS TO TRACE STOLEN ASSETS HIDDEN ABROAD
Asia Times on 15th January reported that Indonesia and Switzerland will soon ratify a Mutual Legal Assistance agreement. Recovering stolen assets has become a top priority on Indonesia’s anti-corruption agenda. It says that Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) suspects the late president Suharto hid significant illicit assets in Switzerland that have not yet been identified and therefore remain untouchable.
EU FINES GREECE MORE THAN €200 MILLION OVER CHINESE TAX FRAUD NETWORK
Ekathimerini on 15th January reported that OLAF has issued a fine of more than €200 million to Greece for failing to stop a wide-scale tax fraud by Chinese criminal gangs importing ultra-cheap goods through the country’s largest port of Piraeus, and which dodged import duties and VAT on imported footwear and clothing items.
INDIA EASES DEFENCE LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
Janes.com on 15th January, reported that a revised list of defence items published by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has removed a requirement for local companies to require licences to produce a range of defence parts, components, and subsystems. The 2019 rules outline licensing requirements for “defence aircraft”, “warships of all kinds”, allied electronic and armoured equipment, tanks and armoured vehicles, and arms and ammunition.
CHILD LABOUR – A PRIORITY FOR EU HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION
On 15th January, the EU Parliamentary Research Service published a briefing paper saying that the use of child labour persists in many areas of the world, particularly in developing countries; and in sub-Saharan-Africa, it has even increased in recent years. It says that one needs to distinguish child labour – which entails harmful forms of work – from other forms of children’s involvement with work that are acceptable and have an educational component. The EU protects children’s rights through both its internal and external policies.
CHINA’S REVISED CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW EXPANDS POWERS FOR CORRUPTION TRIALS
Baker McKenzie on 15th January reported that the revised PRC Criminal Procedure Law introduces, among other things, the “default judgment” and “immediate judgment” procedures in criminal trials. It explains that the default judgment procedure penalises defendants who have absconded overseas in respect of bribery and corruption offences as well as activities that severely endanger national security (e.g., terrorist activities); and the immediate judgment procedure expedites prosecution of defendants who plead guilty and accept penalty proposals.
MALAYSIA: POLITICAL LEADER ARRESTED, TO BE CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
The Straits Times on 15th January reported that a leader of the Umno political party (which ruled the country prior to the 1MDB scandal) – Umno supreme council member Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim – has been arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). He was being investigated over allegations that he had demanded kickbacks to help interested parties secure government contracts.
FEDEX AGREES TO PAY $35 MILLION IN NEW YORK TO SETTLE CIGARETTE-SHIPMENT LAWSUITS
The Wall Street Journal on 14th January reported that FedEx’s ground-delivery unit agreed to pay New York City and state $35 million to settle lawsuits that alleged the company knowingly transported hundreds of thousands of untaxed cigarettes. throughout New York City and state over a decade.
GLENCORE GAVE LOANS TO BUSINESSES LINKED TO SUSPECT DR CONGO DEALINGS
The Wall Street Journal on 14th January reported that Swiss mining giant Glencore PLC provided nearly $1 billion in loans and advances to companies associated with an Israeli businessman accused of having corrupt ties to government officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This, it says, highlights the financial ties between Glencore and Dan Gertler during their decade-long partnership in the DRC.
FCA HAS DOWNGRADED PROBE INTO CREDIT SUISSE OVER MOZAMBIQUE LOANS
Reuters on 15th January reported that the FCA has dropped a criminal probe into Credit Suisse related to an alleged fraud in Mozambique, but is still checking the bank and individuals for any breaches of conduct rules. It had launched an investigation in 2016 into around $2 billion of loans to state-owned companies that pushed the country into a debt crisis.
NIGERIAN CHIEF JUSTICE FACING CHARGES OF FAILING TO DECLARE ASSETS
The Jurist website on 15th January reported that Nigerian Chief Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen is to stand trial on charges of allegedly failing to declare assets and holding foreign bank accounts.
TRACE PODCAST TRANSCRIPTS NOW AVAILABLE
On 15th January, TRACE announced that transcripts of a number of its series of “Bribe, Scandal and Steal” podcasts. It also says that additional ones will be added on a selective basis.
CRIMINAL GANG RECRUITING WOMEN INTO SHAM MARRIAGES DISMANTLED
On 15th January, a news release from Eurojust said that an organised criminal group recruiting dozens of women into sham marriages was dismantled by Belgian authorities and the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service. 17 suspects were arrested in Belgium and 3 suspects were arrested in Portugal in an international co-ordinated action. The criminal group was involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by organising sham marriages, predominately between Portuguese and Pakistani nationals.
“SUPERSTAR” DEA AGENT SECRETLY FUELLED A LAVISH LIFESTYLE BY SKIMMING CASH FROM COLOMBIAN COCAINE TRAFFICKERS
The New York Post on 15th January reported on what it described as one of the worst scandals in the history of the DEA. Jose Irizarry, who resigned after being recalled from his post in Colombia, was recently identified in court papers as a co-conspirator of a former DEA informant who pleaded guilty to money laundering in Florida. The traffickers wrote off the money they lost to the scam as the cost of doing business, and Irizarry allegedly fabricated DEA seizure orders or letters from banks in order to pocket the cash.
IRELAND: EXTRADITION TO UK IN MULTI-MILLION EURO VAT FRAUD CASE ‘IS OF VERY SIGNIFICANT PUBLIC INTEREST’
On 15th January, the Irish Examiner reported on an extradition hearing before the High Court in Dublin. Daniel O’Connell, 65, was arrested in 2017 on an European Arrest Warrant. He had been sentenced to imprisonment for non-payment of a confiscation order imposed as an integral part of a sentence for 5 offences of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT in the UK in a court case in 2000. He has so far paid £354,407.41 of the £6 million order. His barrister submitted there was a 17-year gap between his client’s conviction and arrest and therefore the confiscation order was invalid because of undue delay. The hearing continues.
INTERPOL AND AFRICAN UNION SIGN INFORMATION-SHARING AGREEMENT
On 15th January, a news release from Interpol reported that it and the African Union have signed an information-sharing agreement which provides a platform for co-operation with AFRIPOL in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. AFRIPOL will have access to INTERPOL’s nominal, stolen motor vehicles, and stolen and lost travel documents databases.