OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 4

March 4 2019

TEMPORARY BLOCK ON US FIREARMS EXPORT CHANGE

Roll Call on 28 February reported that a temporary block had been placed on a Trump administration proposal to switch oversight authority of firearm sales abroad from the State Department to the Commerce Department, it being argued that the move would significantly weaken congressional oversight and increase the risk of terrorists and criminals getting their hands on powerful military-grade weapons.   The rule change would take firearms off the Munitions List and place them on the Commerce Control List, where they would be subject to much less congressional oversight including the pre-sale notification requirements contained in the export control law. It is also claimed that the Commerce Department is not required to notify Congress, as the State Department is required, when there is evidence that US defence exports have been misused.

https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/menendez-blocks-firearm-export-rule-citing-oversight-concerns

https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2019-03/news/us-firearms-export-changes-meet-challenges

LUGGAGE CAN BE UNLOCKED USING 3D PRINTED COPIES OF TSA MASTER KEYS

Homeland Security Today reported on 28 February that, using a key printed on a 3D printer, investigators discovered that they could potentially open the luggage locks of almost any bag in the world.  It cites a Which report that says that more than 4 years ago, the master keys for luggage locks fitted to the majority of suitcases and cabin bags were leaked, yet the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues to advise travellers to only use its approved locks.

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/02/master-key-to-luggage-locks-leaked-thieves-can-open-your-suitcase-with-a-3d-printed-key/

EMBEZZLEMENT IN UKRAINE’S ARMY: UKROBORONPROM DIRECTORS DETAINED

112 UA reported on 4 March that investigators of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office detained the acting and former directors of the State Foreign Trade Enterprise SpetsTechnoExport on suspicion of embezzling $2,225 million.  

https://112.international/ukraine-top-news/embezzlement-in-ukraines-army-ukroboronprom-directors-detained-37537.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/poroshenko-fires-close-ally-amid-smuggling-scandal/29802411.html

ART WORLD SCRAMBLES TO SHIP ART BEFORE BREXIT DEADLINE

The Art Newspaper on 4 March reported that British institutions and galleries are rushing to ship works to and from the EU before the Brexit deadline of 29 March as uncertainty mounts over the free movement of goods in the event of a no-deal scenario.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/scramble-to-ship-before-brexit

UK: MINISTERS POSTPONE BILL DEBATE TO AVOID LIKELY DEFEAT OVER BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REGISTERS FOR CROWN DEPENDENCIES

The Guardian and others on 4 March reported that Ministers have pulled a financial services Bill from the House of Commons, fearing the government was almost certain to be defeated on an amendment requiring Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to clamp down on money laundering by having public beneficial ownership registers.  The Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Margaret Hodge want the crown dependencies to introduce public share ownership records by December 2020, which the territories resist.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/04/house-of-commons-financial-services-bill-debate-pulled-crown-dependencies

The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing paper on the Bill –

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8493

MEPs HAVE CALLED FOR THE CREATION OF A NEW EU AML WATCHDOG AND A EUROPEAN FINANCIAL POLICE FORCE

On 4 March, the EU Parliament website reported that both recommendations are included in a set of recommendations approved by Parliament’s special tax committee.  The package was described as a “detailed roadmap towards fairer and more effective taxation and tackling financial crimes.”

https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/meps-call-creation-anti-money-laundering-watchdog

PHILIPPINES: GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON CIGARETTE SMUGGLING, COUNTERFEITING

Philstar on March 4 published a special report saying that the illicit trading of cigarettes has become rampant in the Philippines and from smuggling cigarettes to using fake tax stamps, the practice has evolved into sneaking unregistered cigarette-making machines into the country, with small factories producing fake cigarettes bearing famous brands.

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/03/04/1898507/special-report-government-cracks-down-cigarette-smuggling-counterfeiting

US THREAT LOOMS OVER FOREIGN FIRMS TRADING WITH CUBA

EurActiv on 4 March reported that the Trump administration is brandishing the threat of sanctions against foreign companies “trafficking” with Cuba, a move hitherto mothballed by Washington so as not to offend allies. The White House has broken with 2 decades of precedent in threatening to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which extended the US embargo to apply to foreign companies trading with Cuba.  The EU is the largest investor in Cuba. Although the Helms-Burton Act was signed in 1996, Title III was been systematically suspended every 6 months to prevent discord between the US and key partners, including the EU.  But that may come to an end as earlier this year, Trump fixed a 45-day suspension from 1 February 1 that expires on 17 March.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/us-threat-looms-over-foreign-firms-trading-with-cuba/

UK: THE HOLOCAUST (RETURN OF CULTURAL OBJECTS)(AMENDMENT) BILL 2017-19

On 4 March, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper prepared for the remaining stages of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill 2017-19.  It is a Private Members’ Bill, introduced by Theresa Villiers and supported by the Government. The Bill has 2 clauses and would prevent the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009 from expiring on 11 November.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8409

REGISTERS OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP

On 4 March, the House of Commons Library issued a briefing paper that  looks at the development of beneficial ownership registers in the UK and around the world.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8259

CANADA: IN MAJOR BLOW TO TRUDEAU, SENIOR MINISTER QUITS OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

Zero Hedge on 3 March reported that Jane Philpott had resigned as president of the Treasury board as fallout from the SNC-Lavalin/Gadhafi scandal.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-04/major-blow-trudeau-senior-minister-quits-over-corruption-allegations

HAITIAN INSURANCE COMPANY DENOUNCED FOR CORRUPTION

Prensa Latina on 4 March reported that union members of the Office of Insurance against Accidents at Work, Illnesses and Maternity (Ofatma) denounced acts of corruption in the entity and accused its director of misappropriation of funds.

https://www.plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=39418&SEO=haitian-insurance-company-denounced-for-corruption

BREXIT: VAT RECOVERY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES EXPORTS IN A NO-DEAL SCENARIO

On 4 March, HM Treasury issued a news release saying that the Government will allow companies to reclaim VAT on supplies of certain financial services made to the EU 27 in the event that the UK withdraws from the EU with no deal.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vat-recovery-for-financial-services-exports-in-a-no-deal-scenario

BREXIT AND THE UK TRADE IN ROUGH DIAMONDS

On 4 Mcrh, the FCO issued a news release which provided guidance and information about what you may need to do to prepare for trading internationally in rough diamonds once the UK has left the EU.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/brexit-and-the-uk-trade-in-rough-diamonds

RUSSIAN CUSTOMS SEIZE 129.1 KG OF PERFUME AND COSMETICS BOUND FOR NORTH KOREA

NK News on 4 March reported that the authorities in Khasan on the Russian-DPRK border seized a shipment of 129.1 kg of “perfumery and cosmetics” before it could be brought into North Korea, the press service of Ussuriysk Customs said in a statement.  This followed a routine inspection on board the passenger car of a train.  The cache was said to consist of 634 packs of L’Oréal-branded hand cream and make-up remover, as well as eau de toilette and perfume manufactured by Russian-made Lakes Coast, Sigare Corona Paris, and La Cote Parfum brands, worth almost $2,631.

https://www.nknews.org/2019/03/russian-customs-seize-129-1-kg-of-perfume-and-cosmetics-bound-for-north-korea/

FORMER PRESIDENTS INDICTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING IN EL SALVADOR

Baker McKenzie reported on 4 March that former El Salvador President Elias Antonio Saca is once-again being accused of financial irregularities, stemming from a US$10 million Taiwan grant provided to the country.  The Prosecutor’s Office announced it would proceed with indictments against the jailed former president, along with deceased former President Francisco Flores, exiled former President Mauricio Funes, banker Mauricio Samayoa, and 2 of Saca’s collaborators, Gerardo Balzaretti, and Juan Tennant Wright.

http://www.riskandcompliancehub.com/former-presidents-indicted-for-money-laundering-in-el-salvador/

MAN JAILED FOR FAILURE TO DISCLOSE DIVERTED ASSETS TO FCA

A news release on Mondo Visione on 4 March reports that the High Court had sentenced Robert John McKendrick to 6 months imprisonment for contempt of court.  He had diverted funds and failed to disclose information about his assets in breach of freezing injunctions obtained by the FCA. The FCA had launched legal action in July 2013 in respect of 4 unauthorised collective investment schemes promoted mainly by Capital Alternatives re rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone and reforestation projects.  One of the consequences was a freezing order requiring Mr McKendrick to disclose all his assets and preventing him from disposing of them.

http://www.mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/uk-financial-conduct-authority-takes-action-for-contempt-of-court/

BORDER OFFICERS AT CAIRO AIRPORT DISCOVER MUMMIFIED HUMAN REMAINS IN HOLLOWED OUT LOUDSPEAKERS

Illicit Trade on 4 March reported that, after inspecting the speakers destined for Belgium, which had been hollowed out to accommodate the remains, investigators were able to identify 6 separate body parts belonging to 2 mummies, including feet, hands and parts of a torso.

https://www.illicit-trade.com/2019/03/border-officers-at-cairo-airport-discover-mummified-human-remains-in-hollowed-out-loudspeakers/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

CLAIM THAT LEGAL AND ILLICIT TOBACCO TRADE INTERMINGLED IN SOUTH AMERICA

An article on Illicit Trade on 4 March is concerned with a study into the illicit tobacco trade in South America; which is said to give a clear picture of how legal and illegal are intertwined as long as tobacco products are involved.

https://www.illicit-trade.com/2019/03/illicit-trade-tobacco-south-america/

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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