26 February 2019
Away from home (again) and relying on slow or unreliable wi-fi, so there may be some items missing (to follow later, and hopefully not urgent), and may not be able to highlight separately as many (or any?) important items as I would like…
FORMER SWISS OFFICER SENTENCED FOR FIGHTING AGAINST ISIS
On 25th February, Homeland Security Today reported that a Swiss military court has sentenced a former soldier for fighting against the Islamic State group in Syria. Johan Cosar used his military training to recruit hundreds of men to defend Christian groups from IS. He was found guilty of undermining Switzerland’s neutrality and security by joining a foreign army – and given a 3-month suspended sentence and fined SF500.
EX-SIG SAUER EXECUTIVES ON TRIAL FOR FUNNELLING 38,000 GUNS DESTINED FOR COLOMBIA THROUGH NEW HAMPSHIRE
POLICE SEIZE ANCIENT HANDWRITTEN HEBREW MANUSCRIPTS IN ANTI-SMUGGLING OP IN SOUTHERN TURKEY
Daily Sabah on 26 February reported that Turkish security forces confiscated stolen historical artefacts, including a collection of ancient Hebrew manuscripts, in an anti-smuggling operation in Osmaniye province in southern Turkey. 6 suspects, who were later identified as Syrian nationals, have been detained.
HOW THE TUNA RACKET OPERATES: A DEEP DIVE INTO THE WORKINGS OF THE ILLICIT TRADE
The Times of Malta on 26 February published an article which says its explains that 2 Maltese criminal investigations into the racket of tuna illegally farmed in Malta are still in the early stages and a third ‘audit’ by the European Commission remains in progress. A Spanish-led operation has so far revealed that an estimated 2.5 million kilograms of tuna, worth around €12 million, was being smuggled from Malta to Spain annually.
RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT CLASSIFIES ILLICIT CRYPTO USE UNDER MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS
Coin Telegraph on 26 February reported that the Court has reportedly included the illicit use of cryptocurrencies in the list of criminal offences related to money laundering.
TRUST OR COMPANY SERVICES PROVISION
The Law Society of Scotland has said that an analysis has highlighted a lack of understanding of what constitutes a Trust or Company Service provider (TCSP) amongst Scottish advocates, and so it has provided a straightforward explanation of when you will be considered a TCSP..
CAN CASH CONTROLS AND ‘CARWATCH’ STOP MONEY LAUNDERING IN THE LUXURY CAR MARKET?
CTV News Vancouver published an article on 26 February about a legal loophole that can turn luxury cars and SUV into literal vehicles for money laundering; and that criminals are taking advantage of a lack of controls on cash purchases of luxury vehicles, and are using them as a way to hide dirty cash
INVESTIGATION LOOKING INTO THE SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME FUND’S MISSING MILLIONS
City Press in South Africa on 26 February reported that a former employee at the South African Maritime Safety Authority has spilled the beans about how the multimillion-rand maritime fund was exposed to fraud, theft and corruption. The maritime fund is sustained by money collected as a result of penalties, fines and forfeitures to ship owners who violate certain laws and pollute the oceans.
CHINA ENACTED “BLOCKING STATUTE” FOR INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUDICIAL ASSISTANCE
Ropes Gray on 25 February published a briefing saying that in October 2018, China enacted the International Criminal Judicial Assistance Law, which immediately came into effect. In essence, the ICJAL serves as a blocking statute that requires approval by PRC governmental authorities before any institution, organisation, or individual within the territory of the PRC can provide evidence materials and assistance to any foreign countries’ criminal proceedings. As such, the ICJAL could significantly impact cross-border criminal enforcement and prosecutions, which are increasingly commonplace. The briefing outlines the main features of ICJAL and typical scenarios it might affect.
HMRC CONSULTS ON PLANS TO BE PREFERENTIAL CREDITOR IN INSOLVENCIES
Accountancy Daily on 26 February reported that a HMRC public consultation on plans to make it a secondary preferential creditor for certain tax debts paid by employees and customers on the insolvency of a business, which have been branded a ‘cash grab’ by R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body – the changes would take effect in 2020. Prior to 2003, HMRC was a preferential creditor for certain taxes, but the Enterprise Act 2002 reduced its status to that of non-preferential creditor for all forms of tax. HMRC argues that as a result losses from insolvency have increased. The consultation closes on 27 May.
PODCAST: WEDDINGS, FUNERALS AND LITTLE RED ENVELOPES
In the latest episode of Bribe, Swindle and Steal from TRACE International Barbara Tsai, APAC Head-and Deputy Global Head-of Anti-bribery for UBS, talks through 3 compliance challenges associated with her region: weddings, funerals and hong bao envelopes for the Lunar New Year.
ARE ART ‘FREEPORTS’ TIP OF EU TAX AVOIDANCE ICEBERG?
EU Observer on 27 February carried an Opinion piece saying that recently, MEPs raised concerns about the risks presented by Le Freeport, a 22,000 sq metre high-security facility located near Luxembourg airport, where goods can be stored with confidentiality — and without being taxed. MEPs aren’t the first to point out problems with the Freeport – the article points to reports back in 2014. It highlights another potential problem – ultra-wealthy are increasingly taking advantage of a lack of harmonisation between jurisdictions to store works of art on their yachts – and possibly avoid tax.
SNC-LAVALIN “PAID FOR GADHAFI SON’S DEBAUCHERY” WHILE HE WAS IN CANADA
On 27 February, the Ottawa Citizen reported claims that engineering company SNC-Lavalin’s cosy relationship with the son of former Libyan dictator Gadhafi, including the company allegedly hiring prostitutes for him during a visit to Canada a decade ago.
BELGIUM AND 6 OTHER MEMBER STATES HAVE TRAITS OF A TAX HAVEN, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMMISSION FINDS
On 27 February, the Brussels Times reported on a report by its Special Commission on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Fraud. The report will be put before the Parliament in March.
CORK MAN BEHIND £20 MILLION UK TAX SCAM TO SEEK SUPREME COURT APPEAL OVER PENDING EXTRADITION
The Irish Examiner on 27 February reported that a man from Cork, described as the “controlling mind” behind a tax scam in the UK, is to seek a Supreme Court appeal over his pending extradition to the UK for failing to pay a confiscation order amounting to almost £13 million. Daniel O’Connell, 65, had opposed his extradition on several grounds including delay, and also argued that to imprison him would breach his fundamental rights under the European Convention of Human Rights.
CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE IN THE USA: NOT DEAD YET
On 27 February, an article from Lane Powell PC said that, despite a recent Supreme Court decision, which limited the scope of civil asset forfeiture, the controversial legal process whereby law enforcement officers can seize property they suspect was involved in illegal activities, civil forfeiture is far from finished. The issue considered by the Supreme Court in the case was whether there are limitations to the amount of assets that a state is allowed to seize. In that case, the accused had sold a small amount of heroin to an undercover cop. He was charged and convicted, and his crimes carried a monetary fine of up to $10,000. The state then brought a civil action to seize his Range Rover, which he’d used to transport drugs, but which had been purchased with nearly $50,000 in legitimate funds from an inheritance. However, the article points out, the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the practice of civil asset forfeiture is constitutional – the new ruling simply means that the amount of the seizure can’t be unreasonably large compared to the underlying crime.
PACIFIC DRUG ROUTES FROM SOUTH AMERICA MORE POPULAR THAN ATLANTIC
Insight Crime on 27 February carried an article saying that drug traffickers are turning to the Pacific Ocean to ship their illicit wares to North America.
UK: GANGS USE VACUUM CLEANERS TO STEAL CASH FROM PARKING METERS
On 27 February, ITV News reported that organised crime gangs armed with sledgehammers and vacuum cleaners are stealing tens of thousands of pounds from parking meters, a local authority has warned. Criminals are smashing the meters open or drilling holes in them before inserting vacuum cleaner hoses.