OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 10

10th June 2019

 EUROPEAN OIL MAJORS BRAVE SANCTIONS RISK TO SIGN NEW ENERGY CO-OPERATION DEALS WITH RUSSIA

Hellenic Shipping News on 10th June reported that European oil majors including Shell and OMV signed new co-operation deals with Russian energy companies during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, in a sign that they were willing to make new investments despite risks of potential new sanctions. Deals signed included Shell, Gazprom Neft and Spain’s Repsol agreeing to jointly develop hydrocarbons projects in the Russian Arctic, Shell and Gazprom Neft to set up a West Siberian oil joint venture, and Austria’s OMV agreeing to purchase terms for a stake in a gas project in northern Russia, as well as a preliminary LNG deal with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/european-oil-majors-brave-sanctions-risk-to-sign-new-energy-cooperation-deals-with-russia/

UK: STUDENT HOUSING INVESTORS JAILED AFTER ‘PONZI’ SCHEME DEFRAUDS CLIENTS

On 7th June, a news release from the UK Insolvency Service announced that student housing investors have been jailed after establishing a ‘Ponzi’-type scheme to pay-off financiers of their previously failed companies.  Liam James Collins (45) and David James Robert Bone (37), both from Manchester, pleaded guilty.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/student-housing-investors-jailed-after-ponzi-scheme-defrauds-clients

BOLTON CHARITY BOSS BANNED FOR CAUSING LIFELINE PROJECT TO SINK

A news release from the UK Insolvency Service on 6th June reported a 7-year disqualification for a Bolton CEO who caused charity to collapse by entering into contracts that set unachievable targets.  Ian Wardle (70), of Bolton, was the CEO and de facto director of the Lifeline Project, a registered charity established in 1984, employing 1,300 employees across 90 sites throughout the country.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bolton-charity-boss-banned-for-causing-lifeline-project-to-sink

GUNS ARE THE METHOD OF CHOICE FOR ASSASSINATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA

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https://twitter.com/GunFreeSA/status/1137728194143031296

UK: TECH SUMMIT SET TO DISCUSS DISCLOSURE OF DIGITAL EVIDENCE

A news release from the Home Office on 10th June said that the Solicitor General and Policing Minister are hosting senior police, prosecutors and representatives of the technology sector at a meeting aimed at improving the disclosure of digital evidence in the criminal justice system.  They will focus on the handling of digital evidence disclosure in criminal cases and consider how police and prosecutors can be supported to better handle the increasing volumes of digital evidence – to ensure victims get the justice they deserve.  This includes looking at what programmes are currently being used to decipher evidence and considering technological innovations.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tech-summit-set-to-discuss-disclosure-of-digital-evidence

ALGERIA: BUSINESS TYCOON ARRESTED ON GRAFT CHARGES

On 10th June, AA.com reported that an Algerian court has ordered the arrest of Mahieddine Tahkout, a business tycoon affiliated with former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on corruption charges, according to local media.  The businessman was interrogated on charges of obtaining “unjustified privileges” in investment projects.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/algeria-business-tycoon-arrested-on-graft-charges/1500107

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2019/6/10/algerian-motor-tycoon-arrested-amid-anti-corruption-campaign

INDIA: GOVERNMENT AGENCY AWAITS APPROVAL TO PROSECUTE 123 CORRUPT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

Livemint and others on 10th June reported that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is awaiting sanction from different organisations to prosecute 123 government employees, including IAS officers and those working in central probe agencies like CBI, ED and Income Tax Department, for over 4 months for their alleged involvement in corruption.  45 are said to be from different state-run banks.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/cvc-awaits-sanction-to-prosecute-123-corrupt-government-employees-1560156571640.html

IS THE NATIONAL IRANIAN OIL COMPANY GOING BANKRUPT?

An OpEd article in Eurasia Review on 10th June poses this question, saying that Iran’s oil and gas infrastructure has basically become ineffective and is suffering from poor management, chronic corruption, and sanctions.  It starts by looking at the country’s oil industry pre-1979.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/10062019-is-the-national-iranian-oil-company-going-bankrupt-oped

CENTRAL ASIA, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN AND BLACK SEA REGION ESTABLISH NETWORK TO INCREASE CO-OPERATION AGAINST CROSS-BORDER MOVEMENT OF ILLICIT GOODS

On 10th June, UNODC reported that the Heads of Customs Authorities of Afghanistan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan committed to increasing customs co-operation by signing a MoU on an Inter-Regional Network of Customs Authorities and Port Control Units (PCU).  The Inter-Regional Network operates within the framework of the Global Container Control Programme (CCP) which aims to prevent the cross-border movement of illicit goods and was developed jointly by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the WCO.

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2019/June/central-asia–afghanistan–pakistan–and-black-sea-region-establish-network-to-increase-cooperation-against-cross-border-movement-of-illicit-goods.html?ref=fs1

AUDIT REPORT HIGHLIGHTS AUSTRALIAN EFFORT TO BOOST DEFENCE EXPORTS THROUGH CREDIT

On 9th June, Janes.com reported that the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic) – the Australian government’s export credit agency – is increasing efforts to support international sales of Australian defence equipment.

https://www.janes.com/article/89133/audit-report-highlights-australian-effort-to-boost-exports-through-credit

MINING COMPANY FACES LEGAL CHALLENGE TO PLANS FOR GOLD MINING IN COLOMBIA

Ekklesia on 10th June reported that local environmental and community groups in Cajamarca, Colombia, have submitted a legal claim against mining concessions held by South African mining company, AngloGold Ashanti.  They aim to prevent the company and Colombia’s National Mining Agency from overturning a popular vote which halted ‘La Colosa’, a gold mining project in their municipality.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/28403

THE VAT PROBLEM: TOP TIPS FOR YACHT BUYERS AND OWNERS

Keystone Law on 3rd June published a briefing saying that VAT is an essential issue for existing and prospective owners of boats in the EU.  It outlines the necessary considerations and points out the potential pitfalls. It says that yacht owners should be aware that each Member State has a certain level of discretion as regards the interpretation, implementation, administration and enforcement of the EU legislation regarding VAT.  This can cause difficulties in interpretation and of course why different member states charge VAT at different rates.  Topics include: when is VAT due and when can VAT-paid status be lost?

https://keystonelaw.co.uk/keynotes/the-vat-problem-top-tips-for-yacht-buyers-and-owners

VAT CASES BEFORE THE EUROPEAN UNION COURT OF JUSTICE

On 31st May, DLA Piper published an article detailing, and commenting on, cases involving VAT before the CJEU in May.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/luxembourg/insights/publications/2019/05/vat-monthly-alert-may/court-of-justice-of-the-eu/

CHEAP DRONES ARE CHANGING THE CALCULUS OF WAR IN YEMEN

Public Radio International in the US on 3rd June reported that in Yemen, civilians have grown used to the high-pitched whine of drones overhead, with Houthi rebels repeatedly using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) against the Saudi Arabia-led coalition they are fighting.  Drone use has gathered pace in Yemen since the US first used one on al-Qaeda in 2002.  Now, drones take off round-the-clock in Yemen — a sign of how rebel groups and state forces alike have embraced this technology.  In 2018, the rebels claimed to have launched drone attacks at airports as far away as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, in the UAE, a coalition member – a breakthrough for the Houthis, who have no air force and achieved most of their military gains in Yemen with assault rifles, missiles, off-roaders and rocket launchers.  It says that Houthis use “quadcopter” style drones or toy aircraft like those sold on Amazon and fit them with cameras and bombs wrapped in ball bearings.  Saudi Arabia says that arch-foe Iran has provided the Houthis with know-how, UAV and other arms. Iran denies this.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-06-03/cheap-drones-are-changing-calculus-war-yemen

SOUTH AFRICA: COMPANY CHECKING IF JORDAN SOLD ON ARMOURED VEHICLES TO LIBYAN FORCES

The Daily Maverick on 3rd June that Paramount Industrial Holdings in South Africa has denied supplying its Mbombe 6 armoured personnel carriers to any forces in Libya, but it is checking whether the Jordanian government sold on any of its armoured vehicles to forces fighting a civil war in Libya.  Press reports have said that Mbombe 6 armoured vehicles made by Paramount have been seen in the fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-06-03-sa-company-paramount-says-it-is-checking-if-jordan-sold-on-armoured-vehicles-to-libyan-forces/

UN REPORT ON HYPERSONIC WEAPONS

The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs has produced a report on proliferation and related threats from the development and introduction of hypersonic weapons – Hypersonic Weapons: A Challenge and Opportunity for Strategic Arms Control: A Study Prepared on the Recommendation of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.  The study says that the pursuit by several nuclear-armed States of novel long-range strike options has received little attention in multilateral disarmament discussions despite their potentially negative implications for security, arms control and disarmament, and it aims to raise awareness of these implications and to consider possible ways to address them in a multilateral context.  It says that several States are actively pursuing novel long-range manoeuvrable weapons, most significantly hypersonic boostglide systems comprising ballistic missiles equipped with hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV).  HGV are unpowered after separation and do not follow a ballistic flight path after the boost phase.  They may have an enhanced ability to overcome missile defences due to both this manoeuvrability as well as their depressed trajectories relative to standard ballistic missiles.  The study is said to focus on hypersonic boost-glide systems, which may be conventionally or nuclear-armed, and also considers manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/unoda-web/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/hypersonic-weapons-study.pdf

PAKISTAN’S FORMER PRESIDENT ZARDARI ARRESTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

Deutsche Welle and others on 10th June reported that former President Asif Ali Zardari has been arrested in connection with a high-profile money laundering case. Zardari’s opposition Pakistan People’s Party said the arrest was politically motivated.  Zardari and his sister are facing allegations of operating fake bank accounts for money laundering.  Both deny these charges against them.  The arrest came after an Islamabad court rejected a bail extension request from Zardari and his sister, who is also implicated in the case but has not yet been arrested.  Several Pakistani opposition leaders, including former Oresident Nawaz Sharif, have been imprisoned on similar corruption charges.

https://www.dw.com/en/pakistans-former-president-zardari-arrested-for-money-laundering/a-49128576

FORMER RUSSIAN GOVERNOR SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON ON CORRUPTION CONVICTION

Rferl on 10th June reported that a Moscow court has sentenced Vyacheslav Gaizer, a former governor of the Komi Republic, a region in Russia’s north-west, to 11 years in prison after convicting him of fraud, money laundering, and bribe taking.  Gaizer and 18 other people, including the former speaker of the region’s legislature, an ex-deputy governor, and several local businessmen, were arrested in September 2015.

https://www.rferl.org/a/former-russian-governor-sentenced-to-11-years-in-prison-on-corruption-conviction/29991308.html

INDIA: DOCTOR ARRESTED IN ILLEGAL KIDNEY TRANSPLANT CASE

OCCRP reported on 10th June that a Delhi doctor was arrested Saturday for his involvement in an international kidney racket plot, according to Indian media.  The CEO of Pushpawati Singhania Hospital and Research Institute in Delhi has reportedly been charged with the trafficking of organs, criminal conspiracy and cheating.  It says that, so far, 13 suspects have been arrested and 1 doctor who arranged travel visas for international donors is currently on the run.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/9908-india-doctor-arrested-in-illegal-kidney-transplant-case

THE HIDDEN WEALTH OF DRUG PILOTS AND ACCOUNTANTS IN COLOMBIA

An article on Insight Crime on 10th June says that the seizure of a vast fortune from a Colombian drug pilot newly returned from prison in the US shows how lesser-but-still-key actors in the drug trade have earned massive profits while mostly staying out of the spotlight.  It also says that accountants have also benefited from drug trafficking cash, but often manage to stay in the shadows, and gives one example.  That accountant, instead of being paid in cash for his part in preparing overseas drug shipments, allegedly asks for payments in merchandise, such as clothes or other legal goods.  These are then imported and sold through legal businesses to launder the money.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/hidden-wealth-drug-pilots-accountants-colombia/

UN RENEWS LIBYA ARMS EMBARGO FOR ANOTHER YEAR

A news release from the UN on 10th June advised that, through UN SCR 2473, the Security Council has renewed measures designed to implement the arms embargo against Libya for another year, in particular those authorising Member States to inspect vessels on the high seas off the country’s coast when reasonable grounds exist to believe they are violating the ban.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/sc13832.doc.htm

VIETNAM TO CRACK DOWN ON CHINESE GOODS RELABELLED TO BEAT US TARIFFS

On 10th June, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Vietnam has said it will crack down on goods of Chinese origin illegally relabelled “Made in Vietnam” by exporters seeking to avoid US tariffs on Chinese imports.  Vietnamese customs have found scores of such cases amid the ongoing US-China trade dispute, it said.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/vietnam-to-crack-down-on-chinese-goods-relabeled-to-beat-u-s-tariffs/

ABOUT THE NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP (NSG) AND INDIA AND PAKISTAN

A paper from Project Alpha at King’s College London examines the question of Nuclear Suppliers Group membership in the context of applications from 2 states that are not parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but have nuclear weapons.  This includes examining the history of NSG with regard to membership, the recent approaches being taken by the NSG to consider the applications, and the broader implications of the membership applications for both non-proliferation and peaceful uses of atomic energy.  The paper concludes that, when objectively judged, India and Pakistan are similarly-placed candidates for NSG membership, but geo-politics and history has complicated the issue.  However, it is also argued that the question of membership is a distraction from the more significant issues facing the international community, including the need to maintain sanctity of the existing non-proliferation regime in an uncertain future.

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/india-pakistan-and-the-nsg

FRAUD-TAINTED BINARY OPTIONS VICTIMS “RECOVERY” COMPANY CLOSES DOWN

The Times of Israel on 10th June reported that Wealth Recovery International has closed, 3 months after its owner, Austin Smith (aka Avi Smith), pleaded guilty in the US to conspiracy to commit wire fraud – in connection with previous employment in the binary options industry.  It had claimed to have recovered $8.5 million for its clients.  It was one of several Israeli businesses that offered to recover funds lost in binary options frauds, for an upfront fee and a percentage of any recovered funds.  At its peak, the newspaper says, the binary options sector employed thousands of Israelis in hundreds of companies, duping victims of billions of dollars.  It was outlawed in Israel in December 2017 – though some companies are said to continue despite this.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/fraud-tainted-binary-options-victims-recovery-firm-wealth-recovery-shuts-down

US: BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS UNVEIL DRAFT ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING AND OWNERSHIP TRANSPARENCY BILL

The FACT Coalition on 10th June reported that a bipartisan group of 4 US senators had unveiled draft legislation to update federal AML laws and end the incorporation of anonymous companies in the US, as House of Representatives lawmakers prepare to vote on their own bipartisan proposal to address the abuse of anonymous companies.

https://thefactcoalition.org/bipartisan-group-of-senators-unveil-draft-anti-money-laundering-ownership-transparency-bill?utm_medium=press/news-releases

EU REGULATION TARGETING THE IMPORT OF ART AND ANTIQUES INTO THE EU

On 7th June, specialist firm Boodle Hatfield published a briefing about an EU Regulation recently published in the Official Journal.  It says that the EU Regulation aims to crack down on illicit trade and terrorist financing, and intends to stop the import into the EU of cultural goods which have not been lawfully exported from their country of creation or discovery.  The Regulation is drafted to fill a gap in EU legislation; although the EU already prohibits imports of cultural goods from Iraq and Syria there is a lack of framework around imports of cultural goods from other countries.  The intentions of the Regulation are clearly admirable, but it seems unavoidable that this will have a significant effect on the EU’s art and antiques import markets.  The briefing lays out how the Regulation will work.

https://www.boodlehatfield.com/the-firm/articles/the-regulation-targeting-the-import-of-art-and-antiques-into-the-eu/

AMENDMENT TO PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT IN ISLE OF MAN

The June Order Paper for the Tynwald, the Isle of Man’s parliament, includes the Proceeds of Crime Act (Compliance with the International Standards) (No.2) Order 2019.  The amendments are said to seek to address 2 issues which have been identified as adversely impacting the Islands progress towards meeting recommendations made in MONEYVAL’s Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) on the Isle of Man in respect of restraint and confiscation of the proceeds of crime.  The Order introduces a requirement whereby the High Court can seek update reports from the applicant for a restraint order to ensure that the order is being actively managed and that investigations are progressing.  The civilian financial investigators employed by the FIU and Asset Recovery Unit are to have extended activities for which they may have responsibility, specifically within the area of dealing with the proceeds of crime – and i order to undertake this role a financial investigator must be formally authorised in writing to do so by the Attorney General or the Chief Constable.   The Act is amended in respect of the restraint of assets to replace the term “reasonable cause to believe” that assets may be linked to crime with a lower standard of proof – “reasonable grounds to suspect”.

http://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20182021/2019-SD-0263.pdf

ISLE OF MAN CHANGES DEFINITION OF “PAYROLL AGENT” TO WIDEN SCOPE

On the June Order Paper for the Isle of Man Parliament, Tynwald, the Designated Businesses (Amendment) Order 2019 makes various amendments to definitions in the Designated Businesses (Registration and Oversight) Act 2015.  The most important is probably to that of ‘payroll agent’, which was expanded to capture the scope gap identified relating to where the payroll agent is acting as an individual’s employer but the work of the individual is being carried out outside the Island, the work is not directly for the employer (payroll agent) and the work is not the principle trade of the employer (payroll agent).   This amendment is intended to capture the businesses that have previously fallen out of scope therefore more businesses may be required to register under the DBROA as a result.  The changes have effect from 1st June.

http://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20182021/2019-SD-0203.pdf