OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 31

31st March 2019

INDIAN GOLD RACKET KINGPIN RAN US CALL CENTRE
The Times of India on 31st March reported that the kingpin of the 110 kg gold smuggling racket unearthed by Indian authorities, Nisar Allyar, 43, ran a call centre in the US.  He also owned 5 companies in Kerala and UAE, including one in Kerala that is said to have produced aluminium products.  seven people for smuggling in gold declared as brass, with the sheen of the gold removed by chemicals.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/gold-racket-kingpin-ran-us-call-centre/articleshow/68651984.cms

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: $90 MILLION IN SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS BY RELIGIOUS GROUPS

Trinidad & Tobago Newsday on 30th March reported that the Attorney General has said that, since 2012, $90 million worth of suspicious transactions by religious organisations has been flagged.  He was speaking as taking the Non-Profit Organisations Bill through the parliament.  He said members of the Islamic community had expressed concerns to him that there might be a prejudice against Islamic organisations sending zakaat (charity) abroad, but the Bill would provide protection for charitable purposes.

https://newsday.co.tt/2019/03/30/ag-90m-in-suspicious-transactions-by-religious-groups/

INDIA: HOLIDAY INN HOTEL ATTACHED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

The Times of India on 31st March reported that a Holiday Inn hotel has been attached (restrained) as part of a money laundering case against corporate lobbyist, Deepak Talwar and his son, Aditya.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/holiday-inn-linked-to-laundering-attached/articleshow/68650999.cms

HMRC’S NEW DIGITAL VAT SYSTEM STARTS ON 1 APRIL – AND 1 MILLION BUSINESSES STILL HAVEN’T SIGNED UP

On 31st March, Which reported that only 4% of UK businesses have registered for Making Tax Digital, the government’s new initiative to digitalise the tax return process, leaving more than 1 million yet to sign up as the deadline to do so approaches.

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/03/hmrcs-new-digital-vat-system-starts-tomorrow-and-1m-businesses-still-havent-signed-up/

THE CORRUPTION CASE AGAINST ECUADOR PRESIDENT LENIN MORENO

On 31st March, Telesur reported that the President is facing a corruption probe involving an offshore company and Chinese company Sinohydro which built the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric dam, which allegedly deposited $18 million in the offshore company.  The offshore company is said to be linked to Ecuadorean businessman Conto Patiño Martinez who transferred money to more than 10 ghost companies in Panama including INA Investments Corp, whose real owner is  Edwin Moreno Garces, brother of President Lenin Moreno, according to the leaked documents.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/INA-Papers-The-Corruption-Case-Against-Ecuadors-President-Lenin-Moreno-20190331-0007.html

A SNAPSHOT OF NORTH KOREA’S SUPPLY CHAIN COAL ACTIVITY

On 9th March, the Tearline programme published the first of a 2-part report saying that, despite increasing restrictions on the DPRK’s coal exports, the country’s larger coal mines have remained active from 2015 to 2019 and improvements have been made to its coal supply-chain infrastructure.  The report takes a high-level look at 2 areas of North Korea’s coal industry: its mining in the South Pyongan Region, and its rail coal transfer stations located along the Taedong River, which flows through the region.  It also examines a few of the key coal ports and the rail transfer yards along the Chinese and Russian borders.  Part 2 was published on 30th March.  The report concludes that whilst continued monitoring of North Korea’s coal industry, especially its supply chain infrastructure, can help identify possible violations of the UN sanctions on the country’s coal export activity, Kim Jong Un’s directions in his 2019 New Year’s Address to redirect coal for domestic consumption may also drive continued mining and infrastructure development.

https://pathfinder.geointservices.io/public_page/north-korea-coal-activity/

https://pathfinder.geointservices.io/public_page/a-snapshot-of-north-koreas-supply-chain-coal-activity-part-ii/

MALDIVES COURT FREES $6.5 MILLION IN EX-LEADER’S ACCOUNTS

The Daily Mail on 31st March reported that a court had ordered the authorities to lift a freeze on former strongman president Abdulla Yameen’s bank accounts holding about $6.5 million but said a money laundering case against him would proceed.  The High Court overturned the Criminal Court’s earlier decision to freeze the 8 accounts over allegations that Yameen had received illicit payments just before he lost his re-election bid in September.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-6870005/Maldivian-court-frees-6-5-mn-ex-leaders-accounts.html

COUNCIL OF EUROPE BODY AWAITING PERMISSION FROM MALTA TO PUBLISH ‘DAMNING’ REPORT’ ON CORRUPTION

The Malta Independent on 31st March reported that the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, GRECO, has drawn up what sources described to this newspaper as a “damning” evaluation report on Malta, but the body is precluded from releasing its findings on the state of corruption in Malta until the Maltese government gives its consent.  A GRECO spokesperson said that it is an “exception” that a country refuses consent to publish – such as in the case of Belarus, not a Council of Europe member state, and which has not yet authorised the publication of any GRECO reports.  Malta’s last evaluation was in 2014.  That report had deemed the Maltese government’s level of compliance with its recommendations on political funding as “globally unsatisfactory”. It also called for action on real or potential conflicts of interest, the introduction of proper laws governing rules on gifts to MPs, the misuse of public resources, the misuse of confidential information, revolving doors and third-party contacts.

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2019-03-31/local-news/Council-of-Europe-body-awaiting-government-s-permission-to-publish-damning-report-6736205922

TAXMAN KEPT QUIET WHILE £8 BILLION FRAUD HELPED FUND BIN LADEN

The Sunday Times on 31st March carried a report saying that criminals have stolen billions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money from VAT and benefit fraud and used tens of millions to fund terrorism, according to police and intelligence files.  The gang, which has links to the 7/7 London bombings in which 52 people died, is alleged to have sent 1% of its gains, or £80 million, to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it funded madrasahs, training camps and other terrorist activities, according to the leaked files.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/taxman-kept-quiet-while-8bn-fraud-helped-fund-bin-laden-wqkcsrdpz

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 30

30th March 2019

UKRAINE’S SECURITY SERVICE SEIZES AMMUNITION EXCEPT ROCKETS IN ODESA

On 30th March, 112 UA reported that military equipment said to belong to JSC Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defence-related and dual-use products, technologies and services.  The equipment included grenade launchers RPG-7, RPG-18, RPG-22, anti-tank shells, anti-personnel mines, and TNT blocks, stored only with the number of containers and estimated weight.  This is said to have followed the seizure of 36 Russian surface-to-air missiles for man-portable “Pechora” air defence systems.

https://112.international/ukraine-top-news/ukraines-security-service-seizes-ammunition-except-rockets-in-odesa-38316.html

MYANMAR SEIZES LARGEST CRYSTAL METH EXPORT HAUL THIS YEAR

Outlook India on 30th March reported that Myanmar authorities seized more than 1,700 kg of crystal meth worth nearly $29 million, the biggest haul of 2019 in a country widely believed to be the world’s largest methamphetamine producer – with a largely unchecked supply of precursor chemicals flooding in from China.   It is smuggled out of Myanmar via sophisticated networks to lucrative developed markets as far away as Japan, South Korea, and Australia.  Myanmar Navy stopped a boat with 7 people aboard off the coast.

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/myanmar-seizes-largest-crystal-meth-haul-this-year/1505953

US BILL WOULD IMPROVE BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP POSITION

An article from Ballard Spahr on 29th March detailed the contents of a Bill introduced into the US House of Representatives that would extend the AML/CFT provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act and seeks to ensure that persons who form legal entities in the US disclose the beneficial owners of those entities.  Although such a law would have broad application, the Act does not include “formation agents”, i.e. those who assist in the creation of legal entities such as corporations and LLC — in the definition of financial institutions subject to the BSA.  The Bill focuses on bolstering beneficial ownership disclosure – the subject of regular criticism of the US system.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/corporate-transparency-act-of-2019-58642/

UK BOOKMAKERS PREPARE FOR STORE CLOSURES AS FOBT STAKE IS CUT

The Guardian on 30th March reported that bookmakers are preparing to shut shops and push customers towards online gambling, as they brace for a reduction in the FOBT stakes (from a maximum £100 to £2) from 2nd April.  Ladbrokes has already chosen 71 out of 1,000 shops that are likely to close.  The Association of British Bookmakers predicted that up to 4,500 shops could shut – more than half of all the shops in the UK – though estimates from the big bookmakers so far indicate a toll closer to 2,300.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/30/bookmakers-prepare-for-store-closures-as-fobt-stake-cut

IRELAND: MEN ADMIT INDUCING PEOPLE TO INVEST €5 MILLION IN FORESTRY SCAM

Bray People on 30th March carried an article saying that 2 men ran a ‘Ponzi scheme’ in which they induced dozens to invest over €5 million in a forestry investment scam.  They were involved in Arden Forestry Management (Arden FM) between January 2014 and mid-2016 during which 143 foreign investors were induced to deposit approximately €5.5 million into the company’s accounts.  It is said that investments would have required around 858 acres of land to be serviced but the company only owned 30.2 acres of land.

https://www.independent.ie/regionals/braypeople/news/men-admit-inducing-people-to-invest-5m-in-forestry-scam-37953541.html

JUDGMENTS OBTAINED BY DEPLOYING FRAUDULENT EVIDENCE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO STAND

On 27th March, Shoosmiths published an article discusses the mantra that “fraud unravels all” and that judgments obtained by deploying fraudulent evidence will not be allowed to stand, in the light of a recent UK Supreme Court decision.  One side argued that the claim involved was an abuse of process as the matter had already been decided and any fraud could have been discovered at the time of the original proceedings.  If so, either cause of action estoppel or issue estoppel (aka res judicata), had to be heard as a preliminary issue and the Court considered both cause of action estoppel and issue estoppel.  The Court of Appeal had held that there was an abuse of process, and the Supreme Court agreed with this – but said that fraud had not been in issue between the parties in the original proceedings, and it was also a matter of public policy that fraud should override the general principles.

https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/client-resources/legal-updates/unravelling-judgments-fraud-and-the-courts.aspx

PAKISTAN: WORLD BANK SUSPENDS $200 MILLION WATER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT LOAN

Pakistan Today on 30th March reported that the World Bank has suspended a $200 million loan due to allegations of corruption in Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project.  The project beneficiaries were supposed to be small-holding farmers and medium-holding farmers engaged in irrigated agriculture, and approximately 42,800 farm households were supposed to benefit from the project’s interventions.  However, after the award of contracts allegations were made about false information being provided and complaints to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about the alleged corruption in awarding civil works.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/30/world-bank-suspends-200m-worth-balochistan-water-development-project/

BBC CATCHES ROGUE TRADERS SELLING BLACK-MARKET RECEIPTS

On 30th March, the BBC reported an investigation which has discovered rogue traders are selling tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of receipts and invoices in a black-market trade to cheat UK taxes.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-47756250/bbc-catches-rogue-traders-selling-black-market-receipts

IRELAND: CORPORATE BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP – CENTRAL REGISTER REQUIREMENTS IMMINENT

On 29th March, McCann Fitzgerald reported that many Irish corporate entities are, since 15th November 2016, required to maintain registers containing their respective beneficial ownership information under the EU (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2016.  This requirement has now been restated and supplemented in the recent EU (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019, which replace the 2016 Regulations from 22nd March.  It details what the new Regulations do, and sets out the deadlines for submitting information – 22nd November for existing entities (i.e. those in existence before 22nd June), and within 5 months of being incorporated for new entities.

https://www.mccannfitzgerald.com/knowledge/company-secretarial-and-compliance/corporate-beneficial-ownership-central-register-requirements-imminent

INDIA: ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENTS 2019

On 28th March, Clyde & Co made available a chapter from International Comparative Legal Guide to Enforcement of Foreign Judgments 2019, which offers a practical cross-border insight into the enforcement of foreign judgments in India.

https://iclg.com/practice-areas/enforcement-of-foreign-judgments-laws-and-regulations/india

GIBRALTAR: THE SPAIN-GIBRALTAR TAX TREATY

On 23rd March, the Gibraltar Chronicle published an article saying that the tax treaty covering Gibraltar and Spain is at the centre of a fierce political row over its implications for the Gibraltar community.  The government insists it is a good deal that normalises tax relations with Spain and includes recognition, for the first time, of the Gibraltarian and Gibraltar’s authorities.  The article says that most of the provisions in the tax treaty are already in place through EU Directives, or could be implemented by Spain unilaterally – in other words, most of the core provisions in the tax treaty, particularly when it comes to individuals, apply already.  For example, the treaty sets out provisions too for the exchange of information on individuals and companies, something which has alarmed many people in the community with interests in Spain – but the reality is that, for the most part, such data already flows across the border in both directions under EU rules on tax information exchange.  The treaty has been agreed signed and, once ratified by the UK – on Gibraltar’s behalf – and Spain, it will come into force.

http://chronicle.gi/2019/03/analysis-interpreting-tax-treaty-complex-business-even-experts/

REPORT ON ALLEGED “ENABLERS” OF RUSSIAN INFLUENCE IN EUROPE

On 27th March, the CSIS Europe Program and the Center for the Study of Democracy published a report – The Kremlin Playbook 2: The Enablerswhich sets out to explore whether jurisdictions and companies could be enabling forces that amplify Russian malign economic influence in some countries in Europe.  The study analysed the following case study countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, and Romania.  The report claims to show that some countries facilitate of enable Russian malign economic influence, and by doing so these enablers actively participate in the weakening and discrediting of their own democratic structures.  It says that the US and its European allies must take decisive action to limit Russia’s malign behaviour in their financial systems.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/kremlin-playbook-2-enablers-0

 

NEW UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION CALLS FOR CRIMINALISING OF TERRORIST FINANCING ETC.

Now available, is the full text of the new UN SCR 2462 (2019) that reaffirms what previous Resolutions said in requiring all States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and to refrain from providing support to those involved in them.  It demands that Member States ensure that their counter-terrorism measures are in compliance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law.  The Resolution also calls upon Member States to conduct financial investigations into terrorism-related cases and to more effectively investigate and prosecute cases of terrorist financing, applying criminal sanctions as appropriate.

https://undocs.org/en/S/RES/2462(2019)

NEW REPORT EXAMINES THE IMPACT OF BREXIT ON GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS IN UK

On 30th March, an article on Ekklesia reported that the structures and functioning of UK government, Parliament and politics have been called into question following the 2016 referendum result, says a new report by the Institute for Government.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/27994

The report itself is available at –

https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/brexit-effect