GERMAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO REPATRIATE LOOTED COLONIAL-ERA ARTEFACTS

The Art Law & More blog reported on 19th March that culture ministers from 16 states have agreed to repatriate artefacts looted in the colonial era from Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.  The committee of ministers aims to create clearer regulation for the restitution of colonial objects from public collections.  In Germany, items were often acquired from former German colonies in Africa or from territories under the rule of European nations.

https://artlawandmore.com/2019/03/19/german-government-announces-agreement-to-repatriate-looted-colonial-era-artefacts/

US IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON VENEZUELA GOLD MINING COMPANY AND ITS PRESIDENT, AND MAKES OTHER DELETIONS AND CHANGES

On 19th March, OFAC announced that it had designated CVG Compania General de Mineria de Venezuela CA, or Minerven, the Venezuelan state-run ferrous metals mining company, and its President, Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata, targeting the illicit gold operations that have continued to prop up the illegitimate regime of former President Nicolas Maduro.  OFAC says that Maduro and regime insiders turned to gold mining as they sought new means by which to enrich themselves at the expense of the Venezuelan people.

Also on 19th March, 12 deletions were made to the Venezuelan sanctions list, with amendments made to 7 other entries.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm631

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20190319.aspx

REPORT: PANAMA PAPERS LEAK LED TO REFORM IN 1 OUT OF 5 COUNTRIES

On 19th March, the Irish Times carried an article on research undertaken at Oxford University.  Nearly a fifth of countries in which the investigation was reported saw at least one instance of concrete reform, researchers found.  The reform included a new law or policy designed to address problems exposed.  “Gauging the global impacts of the ‘Panama Papers’ three years later” – found that 147 distinct outcomes arose from the investigation.

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/panama-papers-leak-led-to-reform-in-one-out-of-five-countries-1.3830625

The report can be found at –

https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/our-research/gauging-global-impacts-panama-papers-three-years-later

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 18

18th March 2019

PANAMA DEFLAGS 59 SHIPS LINKED TO IRAN

Ships & Ports reported on 16th March that the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP) has revoked the registration of no fewer than 59 Iranian ships after the restoration of the US sanctions targeting transportation, oil and banking sectors.

http://shipsandports.com.ng/u-s-sanctions-panama-deflags-59-ships-linked-iran/

MURMANSK RAISES FUNDS FOR SAILORS DETAINED IN CAPE VERDE FOR ALLEGED DRUG SMUGGLING

Rferl on 17th March reported that the Russian city of Murmansk has begun raising funds in support of the sailors who have been detained in Cape Verde since February 1st on suspicion of smuggling nearly 10 tons of cocaine aboard their vessel.  9 of the 12 sailors being detained are from Murmansk.  The drugs were seized during the night after the cargo ship ESER docked at the port of Praia for legal reasons following the death of a crew member. The vessel had been travelling to Morocco from South America.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-s-murmansk-raises-funds-for-sailors-detained-in-cape-verde-for-alleged-drug-smuggling/29825995.html

RE-DOMICILIATION OF FOUNDATIONS TO MALTA

On 14th March, Mamo TCV published a briefing saying that Maltese law allows for the continuation of foreign foundations and associations in Malta.

https://www.mamotcv.com/resources/news/re-domiciliation-of-foundations-to-malta

EU RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE AGREEMENT FOR CO-OPERATION VAT FRAUD AND RECOVERY OF CLAIMS BETWEEN NORWAY AND THE EU

EU Council Decision 2019/415/CFSP sets out the rules of procedure for the joint committee established under the agreement that entered into force in September 2018.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2019.074.01.0067.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2019:074:TOC

COUNTER-TERRORISM (INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS) (EU EXIT) REGULATIONS 2019

These Regulations made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to establish a sanctions regime to further the prevention of terrorism in the UK and elsewhere and to implement international obligations under UN SCR 1373 (2001).  Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, these Regulations replace 2 EU sanctions regimes in respect of terrorism.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/573/contents/made

REGISTERS OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP

On 15th March, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which looks at the development of beneficial ownership registers in the UK and around the world.

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

LAWYERS PREDICT EXTENSION OF BRIBERY CURBS TO OTHER ECONOMIC CRIME

The Law Society Gazette on 18th March reported that the ‘failure to prevent’ offence created by the Bribery Act 2010 is likely to be extended to other forms of economic crime by any review of the act, lawyers predicted after peers described the act as an ‘exemplary piece of legislation’.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/lawyers-predict-extension-of-bribery-curbs-to-other-economic-crime/5069649.article

ISRAEL’S BANK HAPOALIM PROFIT SINKS ON US TAX PROBE PROVISION

Reuters on 18th march reported that Bank Hapoalim reported sharply lower quarterly net profit, weighed down by a large provision for an ongoing US tax evasion investigation – with a US DoJ investigation of the bank’s business with US clients, with a total provisions of $611 million.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-bank-hapoalim-results/israels-bank-hapoalim-fourth-quarter-profit-sinks-on-u-s-tax-probe-provision-idUKKCN1QZ0DW

HONG KONG: KETAMINE HAUL IN AIR PARCELS FROM GERMANY AND THE NETHERLANDS MARKS NEW SMUGGLING TREND

On 18th March, Customs Today reported that about US$1.3 million worth of ketamine concealed in food packages was found air mailed from Germany and the Netherlands over 5 weeks this year, prompting Hong Kong authorities to boost intelligence exchange with European forces.  The 20kg marked a new smuggling trend for the drug – a switch from traditional sources such as mainland China and SE Asia.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/hk10-million-ketamine-haul-in-air-parcels-from-germany-and-the-netherlands-marks-new-smuggling-trend/

HOW RUSSIAN COURTS PENALISE NORTH KOREAN CASH SMUGGLING

On 18th March, an article from NK News in Customs Today informs use that in Russia, undeclared cash transfers are criminalised if they are undeclared imports or exports of currency valued over $10,000.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/judge-juche-how-russian-courts-penalize-korean-cash-smuggling/

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: SEX DOLL SEIZED BY CUSTOMS – SEIZURE TO BE CHALLENGED

On 17th March, Trinidad & Tobago Newsday reported that an e-commerce consultant is suing the Comptroller of Customs after a sex doll he tried to import was seized by customs officials in December. The local law says that, among other things, it is prohibited to import “indecent or obscene prints, paintings and photographs, books cards, lithographic and other engravings, gramophone records or any other indecent or obscene articles or matter”.  In August, a sexologist challenged a similar decision to seize sex toys he had imported, saying that there was no legal basis for a ban on sex toys, and launched proceedings after local courier companies began informing their customers that a list of items, including adult toys, are illegal to import.

https://newsday.co.tt/2019/03/17/sex-doll-seized-by-customs/

US DOJ REVISES FCPA CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT POLICY TO ENCOURAGE ADOPTION OF GUIDANCE AND CONTROLS AROUND WECHAT, WHATSAPP AND OTHER MESSAGING SERVICES

On 18th March, Baker McKenzie reported that the DoJ has modified the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy.  A key change is to now allow the use of “ephemeral messaging platforms”, such as WeChat and WhatsApp, for business communications as long as controls are put in place to ensure appropriate retention of business records.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/us-doj-revises-fcpa-corporate-enforcement-policy-encourage-adoption-guidance-wechat-whatsapp-20190314/

http://www.fcpablog.com/blog/2019/3/18/doj-refines-stance-on-ephemeral-messaging-apps.html

SFO OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO LONDON CAPITAL & FINANCE PLC

A news release from the SFO on 18th March reported that the SFO, working in conjunction with the FCA, has opened an investigation into individuals associated with London Capital & Finance Plc.   On 4th March, 4 individuals were arrested in the Kent and Sussex areas.   All 4 individuals have been released pending further investigation.  London Capital & Finance collapsed into administration at the end of January, taking £236 million of cash with it, some of which was pension savings and money from risk-averse savers or first-time investors.

https://sfo.gov.uk/2019/03/18/sfo-opens-investigation-into-london-capital-finance-plc/

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-6821885/SFO-joint-investigation-mini-bond-firm-London-Capital-Finance.html

AFTER 10 YEARS OF PIRACY IN THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION, IS SOMALI PIRACY STILL A THREAT?

Hellenic Shipping News on 18th March reported that in November the UN Security Council renewed the authorisation for international naval forces to carry out anti-piracy measures off Somalia’s coast.  It is now 10 years since the first Resolution was passed in 2008 to respond to piracy and robbery against humanitarian and commercial ships in the region.  A recent attack was only the second piracy attack off the coast of Somalia reported this year, which is dramatically down from the 160 piracy incidents reported during the height of the problem in 2011. A recent Secretary General’s report on piracy and armed robbery off Somalia’s coast attributes the low number of attacks to successful global collaboration and the ongoing work of regional organisations like the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.  The report also cites the continued enforcement measures of international naval forces.  However, while many of Somalia’s pirate foot soldiers languish in jail, the kingpins remain at large.  It says that the activities of pirate groups must be understood in the broader context of Somalia’s ongoing crisis.  The crisis has allowed the root causes for the emergence and proliferation of these groups to continue.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/after-ten-years-of-piracy-in-the-indian-ocean-region-is-somali-piracy-still-a-threat/

WHY PHONE NUMBERS STINK AS IDENTITY PROOF

In his blog on 17th March, Krebbs on Security posted that phone numbers stink for security and authentication.  They stink because most of us have so much invested in these digits that they’ve become de facto identities.  At the same time, when you lose control over a phone number — maybe it’s hijacked by fraudsters, you got separated or divorced, or you were way late on your phone bill payments — whoever inherits that number can then be you in a lot of places online.  The post asks how exactly did we get to the point where a single, semi-public and occasionally transient data point like a phone number can unlock access to such a large part of our online experience?

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2019/03/why-phone-numbers-stink-as-identity-proof/

ISRAELI BANK POLICY CRITICISED OVER SHUT DOWN OF BITCOIN MINING FIRM’S ACCOUNT – BUT STILL WAS ENTITLED TO CLOSE SUCH ACCOUNTS

The Coin Telegraph on 18th March reported that Israminers had sued Bank Igud (the Union Bank of Israel Ltd.) in May 2018, and had faced problems with cash flow due to the bank blocking deposits which it said was against its terms.  Following a lengthy appeals process, a Tel Aviv district court judge argued that the bank’s policy on cryptocurrency clients was too broad, and should not include automatic rejections.

However, the court ruled that the bank can refuse to deposit funds originating from cryptocurrency conversions.  The court found that the bank’s arguments against depositing such funds were justifiable for fear of money laundering but denied the bank’s request to close the account of Israel-based crypto mining company Israminers Ltd.  Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Tel Aviv-based cryptocurrency exchange Bits of Gold Ltd., whose bank account had been restricted by Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s largest banks.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/israeli-bank-policy-should-not-have-shut-down-bitcoin-mining-firms-account-court-rules

https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3758501,00.html

HONG KONG TOP JURISDICTION FOR OFFSHORE COMPANY REGISTRATIONS

On 18th March, Accountancy Daily reported that Hong Kong has toppled the UK as the top international financial centre (IFC) for global corporate services, while the trend towards moving business to onshore and mid-shore jurisdictions continues to increase, according to research by Vistra.  Hong Kong is now the most popular jurisdiction, while the BVI and the UK are ranked second, followed by the US and Singapore.  In the latest survey, only 35% of respondents expect the UK to become more open to the industry and IFCs after Brexit.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/hong-kong-leapfrogs-uk-offshore-company-registrations

LEXIS NEXIS 2018 CYBERCRIME REPORT

LexisNexis has published its 2018 cybercrime report.  The ThreatMetrix® Cybercrime Report: H2 2018 is based on actual cybercrime attacks from July – December 2018 that were detected by its ThreatMetrix® Digital Identity Network®.  One of the key highlights identified is that the ThreatMetrix now sees a strong networked pattern of fraud, with the same cybercriminals working across different organisations in the same industry, as well as across different industries, illustrating the global and ever-more connected nature of online fraud. This cross-organisational fraud is particularly strong within banking, gaming and gambling, lending and retail.  It also says that, in some regions, fraudsters are shifting focus from desktop to mobile attacks. While mobile attacks still make up less than half the attack volume seen in The Network, financial services is experiencing a growth in attacks, particularly in Brazil, US, Canada and Italy.  The most noticeable growth in mobile attacks is on account logins, as fraudsters attempt to infiltrate user accounts by brute force (using mobile bots) or stealth.  As consumers increasingly adopt a mobile-first approach, it is also likely that fraudsters could adopt a similar mindset, following this volume shift with evolved and highly targeted attacks. The Network has already seen evidence of this during 2018 as what have traditionally been more desktop-based attack vectors – for example bot and remote access attacks – move across onto mobile.

https://risk.lexisnexis.co.uk/insights-resources/white-paper/h2-2018-cybercrime-report

VAT IT SYSTEM CHANGES FOR BUSINESSES OUTSIDE THE UK IF THE UK LEAVES THE EU WITH NO DEAL

On 18th March, HMRC published information on how a business will pay VAT on digital services, reclaim VAT, and check UK VAT numbers if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-it-system-changes-for-businesses-outside-the-uk-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

UK: AUTHORISED ECONOMIC OPERATOR (AEO) STATUS FOR IMPORTS AND EXPORTS

On 18th March, HMRC issued updated information about the benefits of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status, who can be an AEO and how to apply.  One now can only apply online for AEO status.  AEO status is an internationally recognised quality mark that shows your role in the international supply chain is secure, and that customs controls and procedures are efficient and meet EU standards.  It can lead to “fast track” clearance, and may be mandatory (or advantageous) for customs special treatments and concessions.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/authorised-economic-operator-certification#history

SHIPMENTS OF RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES (EU EXIT) REGULATIONS 2019

These Regulations revoke the EU Euratom Regulation and replaces it with similar provisions so that the system of prior written declarations continues to function as it does now insofar as possible.  The Euratom Regulation has 2 key aspects –

  • the requirement to obtain a prior written declaration, which only extends to sealed sources. Under this requirement, before any shipment of sealed sources can take place, source holders are required to obtain a prior written declaration from the consignee of the source (the source receiver) to demonstrate that the consignee complies with national requirements for their safe storage, use and disposal; and
  • requires source holders to submit a quarterly return detailing all the shipments made during the preceding quarter to the competent authority in the destination Member State. This part of the Euratom Regulation extends to both sealed and unsealed sources.

Without action, the obligation for source holders and consignees to obtain prior written declarations and submit quarterly returns falls away in practice as the retained law would not apply to shipments to/from the UK when it is no longer a Member State.  These Regulations revoke the EU Euratom Regulation and replaces it with similar provisions so that prior written declarations are still required. This also provides important continuity and clarity for operators.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/571/contents/made

US-SANCTIONED VENEZUELAN GENERAL “DEFECTS TO COLOMBIA”

Reuters on 18th march reported that General Carlos Rotondaro, former head of a government agency that provided medicine for chronic health conditions, and subject to US sanctions since 2018, is said to have fled to Colombia amid growing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

AUSTRALIA’S TOP TAX DODGERS LISTED

On 18th March, The New Daily reported on the list of the Top 40 tax dodgers.  The top of the list if EnergyAustralia, which is now controlled by a company in the BVI, which is in turn controlled by a Hong Kong energy conglomerate, which is controlled by Chinese shareholders and the billionaire Kadoorie family.  This is said to be a company whose assets used to be owned by Victoria and New South Wales States, by taxpayers, until they were privatised.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/money/finance-news/2019/03/18/top-10-tax-energy-australia

VIETNAM’S GRAFT HUNTERS ZERO IN ON VENEZUELA OIL PROJECT

Nikkei Asian Review on 18th March reported that Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security is investigating a loss-making oil and gas project in Venezuela, as Vietnam probes corruption involving state enterprises.  Vietnamese authorities have asked state-run Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN) to “provide all documents relating to the implementation of the project” to tap and upgrade the Junin-2 oil field in Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt, an area thought to contain the world’s largest oil reserves.  PVN terminated the contract in December 2013, determining that little progress had been made, but the ministry is looking into suspected legal violations before the termination.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Vietnam-s-graft-hunters-zero-in-on-Venezuela-oil-project

LAWLESS DEVELOPMENT, CORRUPTION, FRAUD CAST BIG SHADOWS ON KYIV REAL ESTATE

The Kyiv Post on 18th March reported that, despite a rebounding real estate sector, lawless land development, corrupt schemes and property scams continue to stifle growth and create victims as Ukrainian authorities face accusations of manipulating laws to ensure that, one way or another, new developments are illegal, creating rich opportunities for blackmail and corruption.

https://www.kyivpost.com/business/lawless-development-corruption-fraud-cast-big-shadows-on-kyivs-real-estate-industry.html

UK: POLICE BEGIN CRIMINAL INQUIRY INTO FAILED TRAINING FIRM 3aaa

The Guardian on 18th March reported that police have launched a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud at the UK’s largest government-funded apprenticeship provider, which was training 4,216 apprentices at companies including Ocado, Volkswagen and the National Grid.  The company received £31 million of government money last year, but was placed into compulsory liquidation in October 2018 after the DfE withdrew all funding.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/18/derbyshire-police-criminal-inquiry-failed-training-firm-3aaa-fraud-allegations-department-education

ALEXANDER VLADIMIROVICH ZAKHARCHENKO REMOVED FROM UK UKRAINE SANCTIONS LISTS

On 18th March, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that Alexander Vladimirovich ZAKHARCHENKO had been from the consolidated list and are no longer subject to an asset freeze.  This followed Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/408 of 15th March.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/786870/Notice_Ukraine__Sovereignty__2019_408__002_.pdf

ISRAEL AN INTERPOL PURPLE NOTICE RE TELEGRASS ONLINE DRUGS NETWORK – OUTLINING ITS MODUS OPERANDI AND METHODS FOR DETECTION

On 18th March, a news release from Interpol said that the Purple Notice follows an international Israeli police operation which led to the arrest in 4 countries of 42 people on suspicion of running the drugs distribution network.  The arrests were made in Germany, Israel, US and Ukraine, including the alleged leader of the crime ring who was arrested in Ukraine.  In addition to selling drugs such as marijuana, hashish, cocaine and ecstasy, those arrested are suspected of running an international organised crime ring, also involving money laundering and tax offences.  Investigators say the Telegrass drugs ring was run like a business.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2019/Online-drugs-ring-Israel-requests-INTERPOL-Purple-Notice

IN JAPAN’S FIRST CASE OF ITS KIND, 18-YEAR-OLD SENT TO PROSECUTORS OVER CRYPTOCURRENCY THEFT

On 18th March, Baker McKenzie reported that an 18-year-old boy was referred to prosecutors for allegedly stealing about $134,300 worth of cryptocurrency last year by hacking a digital currency storage website.  The case is the first in Japan in which criminal charges have been pursued against a hacker over cryptocurrency losses, the police said.

http://www.riskandcompliancehub.com/in-japans-first-case-of-its-kind-18-year-old-sent-to-prosecutors-over-¥15-million-cryptocurrency-theft/