20th May 2019
JAPAN WEIGHS EXPORT CONTROLS FOR CUTTING-EDGE TECH
Nikkei Asia Review on 19th May reported that Japan is considering restricting exports of advanced technology used in such applications as artificial intelligence and robots, following the lead set by recent American measures aimed at China.
AN ALARMING PICTURE OF ISRAELI EXPORT SALES
On 19th May, Haaretz reported on an Amnesty report is also said to show arms sales to 8 countries which violate human rights – including Mexico, South Sudan, Myanmar and UAE. The report calls for an overhaul of the export licensing system. It points out that Israel signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty, but its parliament has not ratified it. The relevant 2007 export control law does not impose a restriction involving cases where international or humanitarian law may be infringed.
IRAN’S TRICK TO SELL OIL FOR A 30% PREMIUM
Oil Price.com on 19th May reported that Iran has now reached an agreement with the Federal Government of Iraq in Baghdad to expand co-operation between the countries in the economically vital oil sector, including, critically, the sale of Iranian oil under the guise of Iraqi oil. It says that this trick was first used when the last full-scale international sanctions were increased in 2012. The immediate focus of the co-operation on shared fields will be the huge reservoirs under certain oil fields. It says that a key part of the co-operation agreement – which relates to joint pricing and marketing – is also going to be of huge monetary benefit for Iran, whilst bolstering Iraq’s burgeoning status as a top 5 global oil player, and it is said that a vast proportion of all Iran’s oil can be shipped to wherever Iraq oil is welcome, which is every major export destination in the world.
10 ANCIENT GREEK COINS RETURNING TO GREECE FROM THE US
The National Herald on 20th May reported that 10 ancient coins looted from Greece are to find their way back home after they were returned to Greek diplomatic authorities by the Department of Homeland Security in a ceremony at the Greek consulate in San Francisco. 5 of the coins tracked down had originally travelled to the opposite shore of the Atlantic via an internet company based in Munich. The coins had been minted on various Aegean islands and dated to about 600 BC and were then returned on the basis of an agreement signed by Greece and the US in 2011 concerning cultural goods and fighting antiquities smuggling.
DEUTSCHE BANK EMPLOYEES “FLAGGED SUSPICIOUS TRUMP, KUSHNER TRANSACTIONS”
Global News and others reported on 19th May an article in the New York Times that claimed that AML specialists at Deutsche Bank AG recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving entities controlled by President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to FinCEN, but that the Bank rejected employees’ advice and the reports were never filed.
CHINESE FIRMS’ MISSING $6 BILLION TESTS REGULATORS’ RESOLVE
KYC 360 on 20th May reported that the combined $6.1 billion from 2 Chinese companies – Drugmaker Kangmei Pharmaceutical Co Ltd and Kangde Xin Composite Material Group Co Ltd – has dumbfounded investors and forced regulators to take action. Regulators are investigating both cases and neither company has offered detailed explanations for the missing billions.
JERSEY’S TRUST SECTOR – LATEST DEVELOPMENTS AND TRENDS
On 16th May, Carey Olsen published an article which provides an overview of the island’s fiduciary sector, examining the latest developments and why clients continue to choose the jurisdiction.
NEW ZEALAND: POLICE AND CUSTOMS FOCUS ON FENTANYL
Stuff on 20th May published an article and video saying that the authorities, including police and customs, have been closely monitoring incidences of illicit fentanyl importation and overdoses. Police have developed an action plan for implementation should the drug become an issue, due to its high potency, addictiveness, and the harm it can cause to people who suffer from secondary exposure.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES 1,300 POINT OF SALE MACHINES
On 19th May, Newswatch.com reported that more than 1,300 counterfeit items with an estimated retail price of more than $2.4 million dollars were seized by US border officials last month, when officers conducted an inspection of 3 rail cars at the International Falls port of entry destined for Ranier, Minnesota. Officers discovered 1,315 counterfeit point of sale machines in violation of intellectual property rights regulations that have an estimated manufacturer suggested retail price of $2,453,400.
OVER 8 TONNES OF PANGOLIN SCALES SEIZED IN HAIPHONG, VIETNAM
On 16th May, the Voice of Vietnam reported that 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales have been discovered inside a container in the northern city of Haiphong.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE PAYMENTS MARKET?
Banking Tech on 20th May published a White Paper which takes a detailed look at the current state of the payments industry, and future trends that could impact your business.
POLITICAL ELITE RENEWAL IN GEORGIA, MOLDOVA AND UKRAINE
On 16th May, Chatham House published a briefing paper which takes a closer look at the political leadership in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine which reveals no fundamental changes in their modes of governance. This paper examines the factors that shaped the current context for political elite renewal in these 3 states. The legacy of the Soviet past and the challenging transition processes of the 1990s have delayed the emergence of a new generation of reformist leaders who practise the principles and values of good governance. This paper identifies 4 categories of elites active in current domestic politics in these 3 states. Social uprisings have created political openings for domestic reformers and the returned diaspora to take part in high-level politics, but vested interests of the old guard, unequal access to financial resources, and the limited political experience of newcomers have all damaged the potential for a level political playing field in these countries.
LETTER FROM 100 ORGANISATIONS TO US CONGRESS OVER ARMS EXPORTS CONTROL CHANGES
On 14th May, 100 organisations signed a letter to the US Congress expressing “strenuous” opposition to the Administration’s proposal to significantly weaken regulation and oversight of firearms exports. They argue that the transfer of export controls of semi-automatic pistols, assault-style firearms, sniper rifles, and ammunition from the US Munitions List under the authority of the Department of State to the less-stringent controls of the Department of Commerce will thwart congressional oversight and create new and unacceptable risks of exacerbating gun violence, human rights abuses, and armed conflict.
LIBYA: WHY BACKING ONE MILITIA AGAINST ANOTHER IS NOT THE SOLUTION
On 15th May, a Commentary on War on the Rocks reviews the ongoing conflict in Libya and the parties and persons involved. It concludes that there is no question that the decrepit Government of National Accord needs to be replaced with a more inclusive and legitimate body; and that the corrupt and predatory constellation of militias in Tripoli needs to be dismantled – but the way to do this is through a combination of political negotiations and technocratic tools, which were making slow but perceptible progress before Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army attack on 4th April. It is not by backing one set of militias against another.
BRIEFING: COMPREHENSIVE RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORTS/REEXPORTS TO HUAWEI AND ITS AFFILIATES
On 20th May, Baker McKenzie published a Client Alert on restrictions effectively cutting Huawei off from sourcing US products and technology and likely barring its products from being used in US communications infrastructure and networks. The US export/re-export restrictions targeting Huawei. The expected prohibition on the use of Huawei products in US communications infrastructure is likely to take several months to implement. Huawei and 68 of its affiliates (collectively “Huawei EL Entities”) located in 26 countries have been added to the State Department “Entity List” identifies parties (e.g., businesses, research institutes, private and public organisations), that the US Government has found act contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS ADDING OF ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT – KHORASAN (ISIL-K) TO SANCTIONS LIST
On 20th May, a news release advised that ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT – KHORASAN (ISIL-K) had been added to the ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions list, following the decisions of the UN, EU and UK.
ROMANIA TORPEDOES EU DEAL ON ALCOHOL EXCISE DUTIES OVER MOONSHINE
EurActiv on 20th May reported that EU Member States clashed on the reform of alcohol excise duties during a meeting of EU financial ministers, as the Romanian Presidency of the EU tried to raise the maximum limit on home distillation, in pursuit of its own national interest.
EU AUDITORS’ REPORT: TACKLING FRAUD IN EU COHESION SPENDING
On 16th May, the EU Court of Auditors published a report (Special Report 6/2019): Tackling fraud in EU cohesion spending: managing authorities need to strengthen detection, response and coordination. The report says that, despite improvements over recent years, EU Member States’ efforts to tackle fraud in cohesion spending remain too weak. Over 4,000 potentially fraudulent irregularities affecting the EU’s financial interests were identified between 2013 and 2017, and these represented almost €1.5 billion of EU support, 72% of which concerned cohesion policy, including the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund. Responsibility for fighting fraud in these areas lies primarily with the Member States. The findings complement those in Special Report 01/2019: “Fighting fraud in EU spending: action needed”, published on 10th January, which covered the Commission’s management of fraud risk in EU spending. On 29th April, the Commission adopted a new Anti-Fraud Strategy addressing a number of recommendations made in this first report.
The report is available at –
LIBYA’S UN-BACKED GOVERNMENT RECEIVES LARGE ARMS SHIPMENT
On 20th May, Defence Web reported that forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have received dozens of armoured vehicles and other arms, including Turkish-made Kirpi vehicles. The vehicles arrived in Tripoli on 18th May aboard the Moldovan-flagged ro=ro vessel, Amazon Giurgiulesti, which had sailed from Turkey.
FRENCH PROSECUTORS WANT EX-ATHLETICS BOSS DIACK TO STAND TRIAL
RFI reported on 20th May that French prosecutors have recommended that the former head of athletics’ governing body IAAF, Lamine Diack, and his son, stand trial for allegedly delaying doping sanctions against Russia in return for payment, according to the French news agency AFP.
FORMER HONG KONG GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF CONCEALING SWEETENER FROM SISTER-IN-LAW OF GAMBLING TYCOON
On 20th May, the South China Morning Post reported that former Hong Kong government official Wilson Fung accused of concealing HK$510,000 sweetener from sister-in-law of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho. Prosecutors accuse him of serious misconduct in public office. Cheyenne Chan, former HK Express director, was also charged over a 2004 payment made when Fung was responsible for air traffic rights.
$185 MILLION SEIZED FROM RUSSIAN OFFICIAL IN STING OPERATION
The Moscow Times on 20th May reported that Russian authorities have seized $185.5 million from former FSB official Colonel Kirill Cherkalin, making him the country’s richest ex-law enforcement official under investigation for corruption. Cherkalin, former head of the FSB economic security department’s financial counterintelligence support unit, was recently charged with bribery of $850,000.
UK GOVERNMENT EXPANDS USE OF ePASSPORT GATES TO 7 MORE COUNTRIES
On 20th May, the Home Office advised that visitors from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US will be able to use ePassport gates at ports across the UK and juxtaposed controls in a move designed to speed up border controls for low-risk countries. There were over 10 million arrivals in the UK by nationals from these countries in 2017. ePassport gates have been available to British and EU nationals since 2008. EU nationals will remain eligible to use them once the UK leaves the EU. The gates can be used by those aged 18 and over, and who are travelling using a biometric or ‘chipped’ passport. Those aged 12 to 17, and who are accompanied by an adult, are also able to use them. There are currently 264 ePassport gates in operation at 15 air and rail terminals in the UK and juxtaposed controls.
KENYAN GAMBLING OPERATORS SAID TO OWE THE GOVERNMENT$257 MILLION IN UNPAID TAX
Calvin Ayre on 20th May reported claims by the Kenyan government that gambling operators owe the government over a quarter of a billion dollars and these operators’ foreign execs risk deportation if they don’t pay up.
UKRAINE SEIZES COCAINE WORTH $51 MILLION IN CARGO SHIP
Customs Today on 20th May reported that Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) says it has seized a shipment of South American narcotics worth some $51 million. The SBU said it found more than a quarter of a ton of cocaine hidden in “containers with bananas” during an inspection on a South American cargo ship that docked in the Black Sea port of Odesa. The statement did not identify the vessel’s country of origin.
AUSTRALIA PASSES NEW WHISTLEBLOWING LAWS
Out-Law on 20th May published an article saying that new Australian legislation which enhances protections available to whistleblowers will come into effect later this year. The requirements are extensive, and the consequences for failing to comply can be dire. Organisations will need to do prepare for the new laws, it says. The new whistleblowing laws include a requirement for a post-implementation review 5 years after the amendments commence to allow for the examination of the effectiveness of the new regime and to consider whether any further changes should be made.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO CAYMAN ISLANDS TRUST LAW
On 20th May, Appleby published an article which identifies the key changes made by the Trusts (Amendment) Law 2019.
THE JIHADIST THREAT TO MINDANAO’S MORO PEACE PROCESS
An analysis published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) on 20th May says that the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have pledged to work together to implement a landmark peace deal that could end a decades-long insurgency in SE Asia, but the lingering threat from jihadi groups could shatter this fragile peace. Since the early 1970s, separatists have waged an armed campaign against the central government in Manila in pursuit of full independence or greater political autonomy for the region’s oppressed Moro Muslim population. After failed peace agreements and false dawns in 1976, 1989 and 1996, the past year has seen major progress.
INTERNATIONAL PICKPOCKETING GANGS MUST BE TREATED AS SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIMINAL NETWORKS
Illicit Trade on 20th May published this article following a Europol conference.
ROYAL MAIL TO INTRODUCE 1,400 PARCEL POST BOXES ACROSS UK
On 20th May, Parcel and Post Technology reported that the Royal Mail is introducing the UK’s first-ever parcel post boxes in locations across the country, over a 6-month period from August this year, marking the first major repurposing of the post box in the last 160 years. The launch will see the company convert existing boxes, which include a wider aperture and secure design. The initiative follows a successful trial of the boxes in 2018.