11th April 2019
LAW COMMISSION CONSULTATION ON CHANGES TO UK CONFISCATION LAW
An article from BCL Solicitors LLP in March says that the Law Commission of England and Wales is consulting on changes to the regime in Part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for making confiscation orders against defendants convicted of acquisitive crime. Though there is general agreement that the regime has serious problems, it says, there is a divergence of views about what those problems are. It says, amongst other things, that a recurring feature of the regime that helps explain some of its problems, from a defence perspective, is its tendency to use words and phrases that, in the context of POCA, mean something entirely different to what most people might reasonably expect. N Even the use of “confiscation” itself it says is something of a misnomer, and “benefit” takes no account of the extent to which that value has been enjoyed or retained by the defendant. The article argues that perhaps many problems of the regime could be solved overnight if its component parts were either described correctly, or amended so that they better fit their descriptions. The Law Commission plans to publish a consultation paper later in the year.
BANGLADESH: ALERT ON FAKE CHOLERA VACCINE
Blueprint in Nigeria on 11th April carried a story concerning an alert issued in Bangladesh about fake Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine which has reignited the urgent need for the pragmatic implementation of the National Drug Distribution Policy. It is said that the WHO Country Office and Health Authorities in Bangladesh had quarantined the 8,000 falsified packs of Dukoral Oral Cholera vaccine so far identified.
CHINESE POLICE TIGHTEN CRACKDOWN ON CULTURAL RELIC CRIMES
On 11th April, the Xinhua website reported that police in north China’s Shanxi Province have caught 1,179 suspects in cultural relic-related crimes and solved 724 such cases since 2018 – and more than 17,000 historical artefacts were retrieved in the province during the period. The province launched a 3-year campaign against cultural relic crimes such as tomb raiding and relic smuggling in 2018.
82.5 KG RHINO HORN CONFISCATED IN HONG KONG
On 11th April, the Journal du Cameroun reported that the rhino horn was allegedly smuggled from South Africa in a shipment marked as containing motor vehicle parts, destined for Malaysia when it was intercepted by customs authorities at the Hong Kong International Airport following a tip-off.
IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS BUSTS TANKER FOR FUEL-SMUGGLING
On 10th April, Maritime Executive reported that the IRGC had detained a small tanker was attempting to carry about 3 million gallons of fuel out of Iran – the largest amount ever seized by Iranian officials in a single enforcement action. It said that thanks to heavy subsidies, gasoline is much cheaper on the Iranian domestic market than it is abroad – as little as 25 cents per litre.
MOZAMBIQUE BUSINESSMAN FORFEITS SMUGGLED CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT TO THE STATE
New Zimbabwe on 10th April reported that construction equipment worth $122 000 and owned by a Mozambican businessman, Graham Taylor of Kurima nePovho Kubatsirana, has been forfeited after it was smuggled into Zimbabwe via an illegal entry point without necessary documentation.
DUNDEE UNITED STRIKER IS ‘HELD’ IN SWEDEN OVER ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING
The Dundee Evening Telegraph on 11th April reported that a Dundee United player has been accused of money laundering after allegedly being found at an airport with tens of thousands of pounds in cash – being reportedly held along with another unnamed person at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport.
PERMANENT ESTABLISHMENT RISKS ARISING FROM GLOBALLY MOBILE EMPLOYEES
An article from Gowling WLG on 8th April reported that many businesses with cross-border operations (but lacking a branch network or overseas subsidiaries in those jurisdictions) rely on their globally mobile employees to maintain relationships with their overseas customer bases. These practices may have developed over a number of years in line with the growth of the business and frequently without any consideration being given to the potential tax consequences of such assignments. The article reflects on the risk of the business creating a permanent establishment and thus becoming liable to local taxes, saying such things have seen greater scrutiny in recent times. It lays out the UK rules, and the risks involved.
EXTRADITION POST-BREXIT: LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THE EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT EXPERIENCE
On 9th April, Kingsley Napley published an article which says that an expeditious extradition process is crucial for fighting serious cross-border crime, it should not come at the cost of violating suspects’ most basic human rights. The European Arrest Warrant officially came into force in 2004 and has been adopted by all Member States and, in the UK, the provisions were transposed into national legislation with Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003. The article details the findings of a study into the system by the Fair Trails NGO. It concludes that the UK will no doubt have to take a pragmatic approach when negotiating any future extradition agreement, one point it must be unwavering on is ensuring there are adequate safeguards for all defendants’ human rights, and the shortcomings identified in the current EAW system should inform the route which the UK plans to take post-Brexit.
SPAIN: NON-RESIDENT INCOME TAX, GREATLY OVERLOOKED IN YACHT CHARTERING
On 5th April, in its Transport & Shipping Newsletter, law firm Garrigues reported that in the yacht chartering industry, charter operators are often not Spanish residents, so it needs to be asked whether or not those, non-resident, companies are taxable in Spain on the income they obtain from their businesses. It says that, where a company not resident in Spain is going to carry on chartering activities in Spain, besides complying with the associated notification and administrative obligations, it must look into both the indirect tax liability on its operations (VAT, for example), along with any potential direct tax on the income it obtains in Spain (in respect of non-resident income tax).
STOLEN PICASSO PAINTING WORTH £21 MILLION RECOVERED BY DUTCH ART INVESTIGATOR
Boodle Hatfield on 4th April reported that a Picasso painting from 1938, missing for 20 years, has been recovered by Arthur Brand, a legend in the art investigation world, it seems. The portrait was stolen from a superyacht in 1999 in Antibes and, despite a €400,000 reward being offered, French authorities failed to find the valuable Picasso, and its whereabouts has remained a mystery until now.
PERUVIAN JUDGE ORDERS ARREST OF EX-PRESIDENT KUCZYNSKI IN BRIBERY PROBE
KYC 360 on 11th April reported that the judge also ordered a search of Kuczynski properties as part of a probe into a bribery scheme linked to scandal-plagued Brazilian builder Odebrecht.
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: HEROIN’S STEALTHY TAKEOVER OF SOUTH AFRICA
On 11th April, ENACT Africa published a report saying that the heroin route that crosses South Africa has created a regional heroin economy, with severe social and political repercussions. Heroin use has developed in both major cities and small towns. It sheds light on the domestic heroin economy, analyses its implications and proposes responses to its drivers and consequences. It also says that the cash-based and criminalised heroin economy has had a severe corrupting effect on police, who have interdependent relationships with gangs, drug dealers and users. The report highlights the weaknesses and gaps in policy, with a number of important recommendations.
UK EXTRADITION FACTSHEET
In the light of the arrest of Julian Assange, on 11th April the Home Office published guidance on the full extradition process.
ONLINE GAMBLING CRACKDOWN IN CALIFORNIA
On 11th April, Calvin Ayre reported that there have been a couple of major operations held in different parts of California, resulting in the arrest of over 100 individuals involved in a variety of illegal activity. It says that Los Angeles has a lot of illegal gambling operations, according to some estimates, given the accessibility of different locations, and the raid apparently helped to take down a part of a ruthless street gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
REFORMS IN A FEW COUNTRIES DRIVE A DECLINE IN AVERAGE OECD LABOUR TAXES
On 11th April, a news release from the OECD says that income tax and social security contributions declined slightly for the average worker across the OECD in 2018, driven by major reforms in a handful of countries, according to a new OECD report. The “tax wedge” – total taxes on labour costs paid by employees and employers, minus family benefits, as a percentage of the labour cost to the employer – was 36.1% in 2018. This represents a fall of 0.16 percentage points from 2017, and is the fourth consecutive annual decrease in the tax wedge on the average OECD worker.
IRELAND – GAMBLING REGULATION – WHAT’S ON THE CARDS?
On 11th April, Mathesons published an article which explores the legal considerations for the future of licencing and the regulation of gambling in Ireland, following a report from the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling appointed by the Irish Government has published a report on future licensing and regulation of gambling.
The report is at –
ARGENTINA TRAFFICKERS BUYING US ARMS FOR SALE TO BRAZIL GANGS
On 11th April, Insight Crime reported that the intended buyers of the high-powered weapons involved were powerful prison gangs in Brazil and Paraguay, in a case that shows how easily arms move in the lawless Tri-Border region (Brazil/Paraguay/Argentina). A report by an Argentinian judge has revealed the existence of the arms trafficking network several months after authorities seized more than 600 firearms, including hundreds of AR-15 rifles, in 11 locations. It says that rifle parts had been purchased in Miami, and then sent via postal service to Argentina. Each package held sufficient parts for as many as 5 AR-15 rifles.
US CUSTOMS CHALLENGES INNOVATORS TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX ON MASS MAIL SCREENING
On 10th April, Homeland Security Today reported that when US Customs and Border Protection set out last year to stop drug dealers from sending fentanyl and other opiates into the US via mail, the scale of their work was enormous: monitoring nearly 1.5 million incoming packages every day. All incoming international packages arrive at one of 5 CBP service centres, where they are fed into the mail system. They are inspected first with radiation detectors, but often by the container or pallet-load. Parcels identified as high-risk because of information about the sender or recipient are taken out of the mail flow for physical inspection, often including canine detection – but that is just a tiny fraction of the throughput. It has launched a contest between would-be vendors to develop cutting-edge new technology. The winners get prize money and the chance to address a new government market.
SUDAN’S DICTATOR, OMAR AL-BASHIR, IS FORCED OUT OF POWER
The Economist and others on 11th April reported that almost exactly 30 years after Omar al-Bashir seized power in a bloodless coup, shunting aside his democratically elected predecessor, the man who did so much to wreck Sudan has himself been toppled. His fall marks the culmination of 4 months of almost ceaseless protests against one of Africa’s longest-ruling tyrants.
On 11th April, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper looks at recent developments in Sudan.
CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIPS COULD BE TEMPORARILY BLOCKED FROM DOCKING IN THE US
Daily Business Review on 11th April reported that Carnival has been on probation since 2017 as part of a $40 million settlement stemming from a years-long investigation that revealed ships were illegally dumping oil into the ocean and falsifying their logs to hide it from authorities. Federal prosecutors now say Carnival has since violated that probation.
UK IMPORT VAT DEDUCTED AS INPUT TAX BY NON-OWNERS
On 11th April, HMRC Revenue and Customs Brief 2/2019 explained the correct treatment for the deduction of import VAT paid by a taxable person who is not the owner of the relevant goods, and how certain types of business that had been applying the wrong procedure should offset import VAT – these being “toll operators” who import goods (for example pharmaceutical goods), process them and distribute them within the UK for clinical trials; and businesses that sell on the imported goods just before importing them into the UK so ownership and title has passed to the new owner.
SRI LANKA TEA EXPORTS TO IRAN: CRISIS BREWS OVER RECEIPT OF MONIES
The Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka in its 12th April reported that the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) Chairman yesterday said the country faced a crisis over tea exports to Iran in terms of recovering monies, due to the economic sanctions imposed on Iran and that they were discussing the matter with the EU and US government officials to establish a mechanism to ease the situation.
CHARITY EXECUTIVES AND FORMER ARKANSAS STATE SENATOR INDICTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT AND PUBLIC CORRUPTION SCHEME
A DoJ news release on 11th April that 2 former executives of a Missouri-based charity (Preferred Family Healthcare Inc, formerly known as Alternative Opportunities Inc) and Jeremy Young Hutchinson, 45, a former Arkansas state senator have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a multi-million-dollar public corruption scheme that involved embezzlement, bribes and illegal campaign contributions for elected public officials in Missouri and Arkansas.
US: 2 ROMANIAN CYBERCRIMINALS CONVICTED ON 21 COUNTS RELATING TO INFECTING OVER 400,000 VICTIM COMPUTERS WITH MALWARE AND STEALING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
A DoJ news release on 11th April reported that the individuals were convicted over a scheme to infect victim computers with malware in order to steal credit card and other information to sell on dark market websites, mine cryptocurrency and engage in online auction fraud. They were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit service marks, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts each of wire fraud and will be sentenced in August.
UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT CREATES ANTI-CORRUPTION COURT
Rferl on 11th April reported that Ukrainian President Pedro Poroshenko has ordered the creation of a special anti-corruption court. The creation of the court has been a longtime demand of both the US and EU.
IRELAND: TRAINER SAYS HE NEVER SPOKE TO OWNER OF HORSE WHICH WAS SEIZED BY CRIMINAL ASSETS BUREAU
On 11th April, the Irish Times reported that Grand National-winning horse trainer Gordon Elliott has told the High Court that he never spoke to the 90% cent owner of a horse that CAB claims was purchased using the proceeds of crime. CAB alleges John Boylan (32), aka John Power is involved in drug-dealing in Dublin and that he purchased 90% of the horse, named Labaik, through the proceeds of crime.
TAIWAN: 8 LISTED AS SUSPECTS IN PROBE OF SPORTS CORRUPTION
The Taipei Times in its 12th April edition reported that several members of the Chinese Taipei Amateur Softball Association (CTASA) and a senior member of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) were listed as suspects in a corruption probe. They are suspected of rigging bids, filing fraudulent expense claims and submitting forged receipts for athlete training programmes in the US to enrich themselves, and the investigation is focused on CTASA’s travel programme for the softball team’s training in the US last year, which involved government funding of $112,421.
POLICE RAID BRAZIL POWER COMPANY CEMIG IN CORRUPTION PROBE
Reuters reported on 11th April that police had raided the headquarters of the state-controlled power company Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais, known as Cemig – investigating the alleged embezzlement of $10.5 million out of Cemig in a corruption scheme that involved 2 subsidiaries, Renova Energia SA and Casa dos Ventos, and said to involve executives of Cemig and construction conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez.
GUINEA-BISSAU SANCTIONS: UK GUIDANCE
On 11th April, the FCO published guidance to accompany the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and designed to assist people in implementing and complying with the Regulations, providing guidance on best practice re the prohibitions and requirements imposed.
EXECUTIVES OF COLLAPSED DUBAI PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM ARRESTED ON FRAUD CHARGES IN UK AND US
Reuters on 11th April reported that Arif Naqvi, the CEO, and Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, a managing partner of the collapsed Dubai private equity firm Abraaj Capital Ltd have been arrested in the UK and US respectively on US charges that they defrauded their investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
BULGARIA: MORE MPs RESIGN IN APARTMENTS SCANDAL
On 11th April, OCCRP reported that a scandal in Bulgaria dubbed #FlatGate has widened over the past week, with 2 more top officials resigning after reporters revealed they obtained spacious apartments in downtown Sofia for far below market rates.
LAWYER AND ACCOUNTANT ALLOWED AUSTRALIAN BIKER GANG TO LAUNDER MONEY IN NEW ZEALAND
Baker McKenzie on 11th April reported that police have arrested a lawyer and an accountant who they allege helped an Australian biker gang launder money in New Zealand. Police seized about $4 million in assets from 10 locations across Auckland, the result of a year-long investigation into the Comancheros biker gang – who have a growing presence in New Zealand with about 20 members – both locals and deportees from Australia.