18th May 2019
VENEZUELA SELLS $570 MILLION FROM GOLD RESERVE DESPITE US SANCTIONS
The Business Times in Singapore reported on 18th May that Venezuela sold about $570 million in gold from central bank reserves, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It sold about 13.7 tonnes. Venezuela has sold 23 tonnes of gold since the beginning of April. Gold makes up the bulk of Venezuela’s reserves, and includes $1.2 billion worth with the Bank of England, which has blocked repeated withdrawal attempts.
NEW CRYPTO AML REGULATIONS IN THE ASIAN STATES
On 18th May, the Korea IT Times published an article summarising how key Asian states are now experimenting with a number of new policies to combat money-laundering linked to virtual currencies.
GERMANY LABELS ISRAEL BOYCOTT MOVEMENT BDS ANTI-SEMITIC
The BBC on 17th May reported that Germany’s parliament has condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group as an anti-Semitic, it being a movement calling for a cultural boycott of Israel over its policies towards Palestinians. The Bundestag said uses anti-Semitic methods to promote its political goals.
BAHAMAS SECURITIES REGULATOR PROPOSES RULES FOR TOKEN SALES
Coindesk on 17th May reported that the Bahamas’ securities regulator is pushing for a new framework for token projects. The Securities Commission of the Bahamas has filed a draft of the new Bill regulating token offerings not deemed securities, and lays out a procedure for registering such offerings and informing authorities and investors on the details of a token sale.
THERANOS: THE WHISTLEBLOWER WHO EXPOSED FRAUD TO MAKE THE BLOOD RUN COLD
On 18th May, the Irish Times published an article about the Theranos affair, saying that the saga of white-collar crime at blood-testing start-up Theranos only came to light when whistleblowers called time on the company’s dubious practices. It was the start-up everyone wanted to believe in. A young, female, college dropout, Elizabeth Holmes, sets up a biotech company in male dominated Silicon Valley promising a technological breakthrough in blood-testing and becomes a billionaire in the process. But in 2018 the SEC charged her and her right-hand man with “massive fraud”.
IRELAND: 9 FIRMS DISPUTING €2.5 BILLION IN TAX SOUGHT BY REVENUE
The Irish Times on 18th May reported that just 9 large companies are disputing an “enormous” €2.5 billion in tax payments demanded by the Revenue Commissioners. 3 cases are for sums of corporation tax greater than €100 million, a further 3 are for sums between €50 million and €100 million, and another 3 relate to figures between €30 million and €50 million. A further amount which is in dispute relates to an environmental levy of between €30 million and €50 million, rather than a corporation tax figure. The TAC, the office which deals with appeals, is dealing with a massive backlog of cases, with 14 staff last year working on 5,000 cases.
UK RACING INDUSTRY CONCERN OVER £17 MILLION BETTING LEVY SHORTFALL
Calvin Ayre on 17th May reported that the Horserace Betting Levy Board announced that the expected Levy income for the fiscal year ending March 31st will total around £78 million, “materially below expectations”. £95 million was collected last year, the first year the 10% levy was imposed on online operators.
FEARS DUBLIN PORT BAN COULD SIGNAL ‘END OF AN ERA’ FOR CRUISE SHIPS IN BELFAST
Customs Today on 18th May reported that fears that the Dublin Port Company will restricts the number of cruise ships entering its port from 2021 as it increases freight capacity container vessels post-Brexit, and when cruise ships can’t dock in Dublin, then Ireland as a whole could be removed from tour itineraries – which would also impact Belfast.
ELN STILL RECEIVING PAYMENTS FROM COMPANIES IN COLOMBIA
Insight Crime on 17th May reported that the recent arrest of an Argentine businessman, accused of financing the ELN – the National Liberation Army’s or Ejército de Liberación Nacionalin – between 2011 and 2015, has brought the ongoing ties between criminal groups and companies into the spotlight. He is also accused of helping extort other businessmen. In February, the Colombian army had also arrested one of the main public works contractors in Arauca, also on charges of financing the ELN’s Eastern Bloc – his company, Coinsac J&Y Ltda, had obtained 47 public works contracts from the state government and various municipalities. Extortion or “tolls” have also been a regular tactic for the ELN and the now demobilised FARC for decades.
FINANCIAL SYSTEM COULD BE DESTABILISED BY STRANDED CARBON-INTENSIVE ASSETS, WARNS BANK OF CANADA
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on 17th May reported that the shift to a low-carbon economy is “underway” and sectors like oil and gas, as well as the banks that loan money to them, are exposed to risks from climate change that could spill over into destabilising “fire sales”. The central bank listed climate change as one of 6 vulnerabilities in the Canadian financial system in a report. Canadian capital markets hold US$436 billion representing fossil fuel companies, and much of Canadians’ retirement savings and pension funds are also tied up with the sector.
LONDON MARINE INSURERS WIDEN MIDDLE EAST THREAT ZONE AFTER SHIP ATTACKS
Hellenic Shipping News on 18th May reported that London’s marine insurance market has extended the list of waters deemed as high risk to include Oman, the UAE and the Gulf after ship attacks off Fujairah.
AUSTRIAN VICE CHANCELLOR RESIGNS OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS IN LEAKED VIDEO
On 18th May, UPI reported that Austria’s Vice Chancellor (i.e. deputy prime minister) Heinz-Christian Strache had resigned over corruption allegations after a secretly-taped video was leaked. He allegedly offered a woman government contracts in exchange for campaign support and suggested a potentially illegal donation system for the Freedom Party he leads.
NEW ZEALAND: LUXURY CARS AND THE MISSING MILLIONS – TRAIL INTO CONVICTED FRAUDSTER’S ASSETS GOES COLD
Stuff in New Zealand in its 19th May edition carried an article saying that millions of dollars and a rare Mercedes Roadster remain unaccounted for years after convicted fraudster Michael Swann, 64, was released from prison. He was found guilty in 2008 for his involvement in defrauding the Otago District Health Board (DHB) of about $16.9 million, one of the largest fraud cases involving a state employee at the time.
BULGARIA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY FOUND DISCREPANCIES IN DECLARATIONS OF 738 PEOPLE IN POWER
The Sofia Globe reported on 18th May that Bulgaria’s anti-corruption commission said that it had found discrepancies in the statutory declarations of assets of 738 office-bearers at various levels of government filed between January and September 2018.