24th July 2019
LASER AND DUAL-USE EXPORT CONTROL
On 24th July, iHLS (Israel Homeland Security) posted an article concerned with laser, laser weaponry (increasingly being developed or used by naval, air and military forces) and how (or if) they are subject to export controls. It says that the laser field is controlled by the Wassenaar Agreement, including in Israel, as involving dual-use items. It briefly explains what a laser is, and some industry uses of lasers, including in listening devices and in weaponry.
CANADIAN SNOW GLOBES FILLED WITH METH IDENTIFIED AT AUSTRALIAN BORDER
On 23rd July, Global News in Canada reported that the Australian Border Force (ABF) has identified 15 snow globes filled with liquid methamphetamine in a shipment from Canada, being used to smuggle a total of 7.5 litres of meth worth nearly $1 million,
PHILIPPINES: CUSTOMS UNRAVELS HOW 641 CONTAINERS VANISHED
On 24th July, Philstar reported that the Customs bureau declared to have solved the disappearance of 641 cargo containers from the Manila pier last year. Over 12 months, in Manila, and misdeclared as duty-free “ship spare parts”, 641 24-feet containers were released to a false consignee.
NEW ZEALAND: COURT OF APPEAL REJECTS CHALLENGE TO $5.3 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING FINE FOR BANNED FINANCE DIRECTOR’S COMPANY
Radio New Zealand on 24th July reported that Xiaolan Xiao, a banned Auckland finance director who was convicted of laundering dirty money for a multinational drug syndicate in 2017 has lost his latest courtroom battle over a nearly $5.3 million fine for his money exchange company, Ping An Finance – for his “calculated and contemptuous disregard” for AML laws.
NEW ZEALAND: MONEY TRANSFER COMPANY’S BLIND EYE COULD HAVE ALLOWED FOR FINANCING OF TERRORISM
On 24th July, Stuff reported on a court case in New Zealand involving Jin Yuan Finance Limited, which is alleged to have hid bank accounts from authorities as it sent and received millions of dollars. It ceased trading in February 2018 and didn’t oppose a trade injunction brought by the Department of Internal Affairs 2 months later. The DIA alleges that the company had failed to monitor its own accounts, continued business relationships with people without properly identifying who they were, failed to report suspicious transactions and failed to keep its own records over 4 years – in effect turning a blind eye. Jin Yuan had 8 outlets across Auckland and 1 in Hamilton, and employed 19 workers, 10 of whom were “volunteers” and didn’t have work permits.
MALDIVES: CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR DEFENDS HIS DECISION TO REMOVE THE FIU TOP OFFICIAL
On 23rd July, the Maldives Independent reported that the Central Bank Governor has defended his decision to remove the FIU’s top official shortly after he reported suspicious transactions involving former president, Abdulla Yameen. The Public Accounts Committee convened a hearing after the sacked official alleged interference by the governor over FIU, which functions as an independent agency within the central bank. He accused the governor of “obstructing” his duties in reporting 2 suspicious transactions by then-president Yameen (currently on trial) involving the transfer of $1 million to an escrow account set up by the Anti-Corruption Commission, and $1.5 million deposited into his private bank account days before the September 23rd presidential election. The two men exchanged allegations about one another, and the article also highlights the problems with the FIU, including another former head being under investigation.
THE VALUE OF A BILL OF LADING IN THE HANDS OF A TRADE FINANCE BANK
Stephenson Harwood on 23rd July published a briefing saying that, until relatively recently, there has been no detailed consideration by a common law court of the intersection between trade finance law, shipping law, and insolvency law. There are now 2 relevant authorities – one from the Australian Federal Court and one from the Singapore High Court (which is considered in detail in the briefing). Although not determinative, the briefing puts forward the view that the case would be considered persuasive by the English and Hong Kong Courts. In the Singapore case, the High Court recently considered the rights of a trade finance bank seeking to enforce its security over cargoes pledged to it, and the case concerns a standard trust receipt financing scenario, and will therefore be of interest and general application to all trade finance banks. The briefing concludes that the decision confirms that banks can and should act on the face of the documents presented to them – but whether the position would be different if the financing bank had actual knowledge that a particular cargo had been discharged or the bank had consented to the same is an unanswered question.
MODERN SLAVERY ACT: UK GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO INDEPENDENT REVIEW AND PUBLIC CONSULTATION
On 23rd July, an article from Bird & Bird said that the UK government has published both its response to the recommendations made by the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and a public consultation on the proposed changes arising from the review, with the goal of improving the legislation and strengthening the section 54 supply chain transparency provisions. The consultation closes on 17th September.
MOLDOVA: MORE EFFORTS NEEDED TO COMBAT CORRUPTION
On 24th July, the Council of Europe’s GRECO organisation published a report – evaluating the implementation of a set of recommendations issued in a 2016 evaluation report – which called on the authorities in Moldova to step up their efforts to implement measures aimed at preventing corruption in respect of parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors.
IRAQ ISSUED ARREST WARRANTS FOR 11 MINISTERS AND OFFICIALS SUSPECTED OF CORRUPTION
Kurdistan 24 on 24th July reported that the Iraqi prime minister said during a press conference in Baghdad, where he stated that a total of 1,267 corruption cases have been sent to the courts in the last 6 months, with 4,117 other cases across different government institutions still being investigated.
IMF COMMENTS ON PANAMA AML/CFT REGIME
On 24th July, the IMF released a statement following a visit by an IMF mission to Panama on 17th to 23rd July. Amongst other things, it said that in June 2019, FATF placed Panama on the list of countries with strategic deficiencies on its AML framework. Despite recent progress on financial integrity, it said, including the recognition of tax evasion as a predicate offense to money laundering, the legal framework needs to be further strengthened and its effectiveness needs to be demonstrated. The IMF said that the authorities are fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the action plan agreed with the FATF and aim to be out of this list as soon as it is possible. Sustained efforts to enhance the AML framework and tax transparency will be crucial to strengthen Panama’s position as a regional financial centre, the statement said.
UK GOVERNMENT TO SET UP STANDARDS COMMITTEE TO SCRUTINISE HMRC POWERS
On 24th July, Accountancy Daily reported that the committee, which will take advice from a range of independent experts, will consider, among other things, issues relating to the implementation of HMRC powers. It will not consider individual cases or government tax policies. HMRC will publish details of the committee’s membership and terms of reference in the Autumn.
AUSTRALIAN TV EXECUTIVE CHARGED WITH STEALING $8 MILLION FROM CHANNEL 7
On 24th July, the Daily Mail reported that former Channel Seven executive John Fitzgerald, 57, has been charged for allegedly defrauding the TV network of $8 million. He is charged with 8 offences as part of an investigation into the multi-million-dollar fraud against the network.
CORPORATE-LED INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS BECOME A PREREQUISITE TO ENTER INTO A FRENCH DPA
An article from White & Case on 23rd July reported that new guidelines released by both the French Anticorruption Agency (AFA) and the National Financial Prosecution Office (PNF) in June regarding the implementation of the judicial agreement in the public interest (CJIP), a French form of deferred prosecution agreement, are openly inspired by the US approach to corporate prosecutions.
UK: SALES AND PRIZE DRAW LIMITS FOR LARGE SOCIETY LOTTERIES TO RISE FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION RESPONSE
On 19th July, CMS Law published an article saying that on 16th July, the UK Government published a response to its consultation on whether to increase the amount of money that society lotteries can raise for good causes. It seems that there not be any changes for small society lotteries. It felt that increasing the limits would increase the number of lotteries operating in the small society lottery regime which would be too burdensome for local authorities to have to deal with. However, the Government intends to launch a further consultation looking at giving large society lotteries the choice of a £50 million or £100 million annual licence, with regulatory requirements in proportion to their size.
INSIDE US SHIPPING’S RECORD COCAINE BUST
The Wall Street Journal on 24th July published a feature on the seizure of 35,000 lb of cocaine from a container vessel in Philadelphia – described as an audacious effort to use a 9,400-mile commercial trade lane as an international drug smuggling corridor came apart in a night time raid on a ship at sea. It also says that the seizure has dealt a blow to the reputation of shipping line MSC, and that US authorities have temporarily removed the carrier from a list of trusted operators that can move goods through security checks more quickly.
US COURT REAFFIRMS GOVERNMENT SUBPOENA AUTHORITY TO REQUIRE NON-US BANKS TO PRODUCE DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION HELD OVERSEAS
A briefing from Clifford Chance on 24th July said that a recent US court ruling involving Chinese banks reinforces the well understood rule that non-US banks with branches or correspondent accounts in the US must comply with US government subpoenas regardless of their own country’s laws. Under the US PATRIOT Act, non-compliance risks loss of access to the US financial system.
BELLINGCAT PODCAST: MH17, EPISODE 2 GUIDE: A PACK OF LIES
On 24th July, Bellingcat published Part 2 of its podcast on the downing of MH17 over Ukraine and its aftermath.
UK: CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR REFORM OF ‘DIGITAL STRIP SEARCH’ POLICY
On 23rd July, Police Professional reported that 10 human rights organisations are calling on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to urgently revise a new policy to ask victims’ permission to access personal data. Big Brother Watch claimed the policy is unlawful and needs immediate reform, and claims the “digital searches” are highly likely to infringe victims’ data protection and privacy rights and are causing major delays to investigations. It is said that digital evidence consent forms notifying victims, most commonly of sexual offences, that data from their phones would be downloaded are deterring them from coming forward and continuing with prosecutions. The process and forms were introduced after the collapse of trials in which investigators and prosecutors failed to identify vital evidence that weakened a case.
FREE PORTS FAVOURED BY BORIS JOHNSON ARE MONEY LAUNDERING THREAT, SAYS EU
On 24th July, the Guardian reported that Singapore-style tax-free zones favoured by the new prime minister have been identified as a money laundering threat in a report from the EU. The report includes free ports as a concept “potentially vulnerable to money laundering or terrorism financing” in the European single market; and also included “Golden Passport” visa and CBI schemes promoted by some EU countries, professional football and private ATM machines on the Commission’s watch list, which totals 47 goods and services. The article says that EU countries and their dependencies have more than 80 free ports, including one on the Isle of Man, a British crown dependency which is neither part of the EU nor the UK (and whose free port is effectively inactive, at least for now).
NORTH KOREA’S AIR KORYO TO BEGIN TWICE-WEEKLY PYONGYANG-MACAU FLIGHTS IN AUGUST
NK News on 24th July reported that the North Korean national airline is to restore a service that operated in the 1990s.
US VISA RESTRICTIONS ON NIGERIANS FOR UNDERMINING THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS
On 23th July, the US State Department announced that a number of so far unnamed Nigerians for their involvement in activities during the Nigerian elections in February and March 2019.
PODCAST: INCOTERMS 2020
On 24th July, the International Chamber of Commerce announced that, in anticipation of the launch of Incoterms 2020 in September, it has started a brand-new podcast series: “A Day in the Lift of the Incoterms Rules”. This bi-weekly series will tell the real-life stories of the practical uses of the international commercial trade terms, as told by professionals from around the world.
HMRC: DIRECT RECOVERY OF TAX DEBTS
On 24th July, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which discusses the introduction of a new power, initially announced in the 2014 Budget, to allow HMRC to recover debts for both tax and tax credits directly from individuals’ bank and building society accounts. It says that, since its introduction, HMRC’s use of this power does not appear to have proved controversial, and it is not something that has been raised very often by MPs.
UKRAINE: INVESTIGATION INTO POSSIBLE EMBEZZLEMENT DURING CONSTRUCTION OF ‘KLITSCHKO BRIDGE,’ AND QUALITY OF WORK
On 24th July, Interfax Ukraine reported that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) is investigating a case of possible embezzlement during the construction of a new pedestrian bridge in Kyiv.
IRELAND: CAR DEALER GIVEN SUSPENDED JAIL SENTENCE FOR CONTEMPT OVER €4.95 MILLION TAX DEBT
On 24th July, Irish Independent reported that a car dealer who is alleged to be giving the Revenue Commissioners the “runaround” in its efforts to recover a €4.95 million tax judgment obtained 10 years ago has received a 2-month suspended sentence for civil contempt. John Alex Kane was held to be in contempt of undertakings not to interfere with a Revenue-appointed receiver’s efforts to sell lands. Though the judge suspended the sentence, he warned Kane that he would go to prison if any further interference occurred.
THE UK’S ECONOMIC CRIME PLAN: A FIRST STEP ON THE ROAD TO PROGRESS
A Commentary from RUSI on 24th July commented on the UK government’s first-ever comprehensive Economic Crime Plan, saying that it is a step in the right direction, but requires adequate funding. It says that the real barrier to the plan’s success has yet to make the headlines – the lack of public sector funding.
SPAIN SIMPLIFIES YACHT CHARTER CLEARANCE PROCESS
Superyacht News on 24th July reported that a new Service Instruction has been published in order to unify, clarify and simplify the criteria used by Spanish harbour masters’ offices, and it aims to streamline current clearance processes for yachts applying to charter in Spain. One move is that, for yachts over 24 metres, a database has been created to log yachts that are allowed to carry out charter activity in or from Spanish ports, in order to expedite clearance. Another factor is that, in relation to superyachts operated by non-resident entities, the requirement of providing the Spanish VAT number to the harbour master offices prior to obtaining the clearance has been dropped, which it is said will allow a reduction in the clearance time to about 2 weeks, without jeopardising any guarantee for the maritime authorities.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION CONSULTATION ON BANNING USE OF CREDIT CARDS FOR ONLINE GAMBLING
Calvin Ayre on 24th July reported that a 12-week consultation will start next month on the use of credit cards for gambling online. It had called for evidence in February, but the data collected so far failed to offer much insight into customers’ motivations for using credit cards to gamble, or the specific benefits of doing so.
DIVORCEE GRANTED INJUNCTION AGAINST EX-HUSBAND’S HOLDING COMPANY
On 24th July, an article from Out-Law said that the High Court in London has granted an injunction against the holding company to which a wealthy Russian businessman transferred ownership of a luxury yacht in order to avoid enforcement of a £500 million divorce settlement, preventing the company from moving the yacht from where it is docked in Dubai. This is said to be the latest development in a long-running case involving Farkhad Akhmedov, his wife Tatiana and a Liechtenstein holding company. The High Court also agreed to list the individual directors of the holding company’s corporate director, by name, in the penal notice accompanying the injunction, on the grounds that they are the ‘de facto’ directors of the company. This means that the individual director would be personally guilty of contempt of court if a yacht (which the Court had earlier ordered be transferred to the wife – something the husband was ignoring) is moved from Dubai.
OHIO MAN ACCUSED OF TRYING TO LAUNDER $19 MILLION IN BITCOIN FROM THE DARK WEB
On 24th July, Baker McKenzie reported that Hugh Brian Harney has been arrested on charges of trying to launder more than $19 million worth of bitcoin he allegedly earned via drug deals on Silk Road – which was shut down in 2013.
BANKRUPTCY LAWS OF EU MEMBER STATES WILL SOON BECOME MORE LIKE US CHAPTER 11
An article from Clifford Chance on 24th July said that last month, the EU long-awaited Directive on business restructurings officially became effective. It requires each EU Member State to revise their corporate restructuring laws within the next 2 years to ensure that they satisfy certain EU-defined principles. Many of the principles are inspired by US Chapter 11 bankruptcy law.
FACEBOOK TO PAY BIGGEST-EVER PENALTY IN US IN DATA PRIVACY CASE
A release on Mondo Visione on 24th July reported that the DoJ and the Federal Trade Commission have announced a settlement that requires Facebook to implement a comprehensive, multi-faceted set of compliance measures designed to improve user privacy and provide additional protections for user information. The settlement also requires Facebook to pay an unprecedented $5 billion civil penalty — the most ever imposed in an FTC case and among the largest civil penalties ever obtained by the federal government. It ishe alleged that Facebook violated an administrative order issued by the FTC in 2012 by misleading users about the extent to which third-party application developers could access users’ personal information. A complaint further alleges that Facebook violated the Federal Trade Commission Act by deceiving users about their use of this and additional sensitive information.
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