19th May 2019
KIDNAPPINGS-FOR-RANSOM SPREADING ACROSS NIGERIA
The Kuwait Times on 18th May reported that in Nigeria there were 685 kidnappings countrywide in the first quarter of the year – an average of 7 per day. In Nigeria, it says, kidnappings for ransom have been a risk in the oil-rich south for decades, but in recent years, the practice has spread to other areas, with north-west Nigeria – the home region of President Muhammadu Buhari – an increasingly concerning criminal front. The causes are said to be multiple, including difficult economic times and overstretched security forces facing threats on several fronts – Islamist insurgents and land battles between herders and farmers.
MALAYSIA: AUTHORITIES FOIL ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE 220 CROCODILES FROM INDONESIA
The Star reported on 19th May that a gang smuggling live crocodiles from Indonesia to supply local farms was busted in the south-eastern Tawau district. It is illegal to hunt crocodiles, collect crocodile eggs or remove them from the wild under any circumstances, and only licensed crocodile farms are permitted to sell crocodile meat or leather.
INDIA BUSTS INTERNATIONAL RED SANDERS SMUGGLING RACKET
The Hindu reported on 18th May that the Central Crime Branch busted an international red sanders timber smuggling racket and arrested 13 people. At a press conference, it announced recovery of 4,000 kg of Red Sanders. The gang allegedly sourced red sanders from neighbouring States and illegally exported consignments to Malaysia, China and Vietnam by air and sea.
LATVIAN JUSTICE MINISTER EXPRESSES NO CONFIDENCE IN PROSECUTOR GENERAL
Xinhua on 18th May reported that the Latvian Justice Minister has announced that he had lost confidence in Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers and accused him of a failure to clamp down on money laundering. The justice minister also called for an assessment of the prosecutor general’s job performance, which would effectively start a procedure of his removal from office.
KABUL-BASED IRANIAN BANK CLOSED OVER MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
Tolo News in Afghanistan reported on 19th May that the Central Bank confirmed that a Kabul-based Iranian bank, the Arian Bank, has been closed over money laundering charges. Arian Bank was established in 2004 and is said to have primarily engaged in commercial banking services in Afghanistan.
TAXMAN OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO CLAIMS UBER OWES £1 BILLION IN UNPAID VAT
On 19th May, City AM reported that Uber claims it is exempt from paying VAT because its drivers are self-employed and their earnings fall below the £85,000 threshold. However, HMRC is now looking into whether Uber is a transportation company and should therefore be liable to pay the tax.
THE EU FDI SCREENING REGULATION
On 17th May, McCann Fitzgerald published a briefing which looks at the implications of the Regulation to Ireland and Irish businesses. It says that EU Member States are not obliged to screen FDI, but Member State and European Commission co-operation and information sharing on FDI will increase. The EU Regulation 2019/452/EU on screening of foreign direct investment for possible security and public order risks came into force on 11th April, and its provisions will apply from 11th October 2020.
ANONYMOUS COMPANIES HELP FINANCE ILLICIT COMMERCE AND HARM AMERICAN BUSINESSES AND CITIZENS
On 6th May, the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) Coalition in the US published a report which explains that the trafficking and smuggling of counterfeit and pirated goods is a very profitable illegal activity for many of today’s criminals and illicit networks and that these networks rely on the secrecy provided by anonymous entities to launder their ill-gotten-gains and escape detection.
THE THREAT REPRESENTED BY BDS ACTIVITY TO ISRAEL
In the April 2019 edition of the publication, Strategic Assessment, published by the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, contained an article about BDS. It explains that the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) was founded in 2005, and today encompasses hundreds of organisations all over the world that with no unified hierarchy or directive promote campaigns to boycott Israel, withdraw investments from it, and impose sanctions on it and associated elements. It says that between July 2017 and December 2018, the BDS movement published 4 lists presenting what it casts as significant achievements by the movement during that period. This article analyses the insights and the trends emerging from these lists with reference to the BDS campaign in particular, and the delegitimization of Israel in general. The article determines that the direct impact of many of the apparent achievements was limited, although some earned significant exposure and caused real damage. The main challenge posed by the BDS movement is at the cognitive level, in other words, its aim to instil negative attitudes toward Israel and blacken the country’s image. This article surveys the achievements boasted (rightly or wrongly) by the BNC in the name of the BDS movement (which the German courts recently declared to be unconstitutional under German law).