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.
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.
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.
GUNS ARE THE METHOD OF CHOICE FOR ASSASSINATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.