OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 10

10th August 2019

PANAMA COURT CLEARS EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI OF SPYING CHARGES

Deutsche Welle and others reported on 10th August that a court has cleared Panama’s former President Ricardo Martinelli of espionage charges.  He was accused of spying on politicians and journalists while he was president from 2009-2014.  Prosecutors say they plan to appeal the decision.

https://www.dw.com/en/panama-court-clears-ex-president-martinelli-of-spying-charges/a-49974941

MALTA: FUEL TRADER GORDON DEBONO THREATENS LEGAL ACTION AS AUTHORITIES REFUSE TO RULE OUT UN SANCTIONS APPLICATION

On 9th August, the Times of Malta reported that Gordon Debono is contemplating legal action against the government after accusing them of backtracking on a declaration in court that Malta did not intend to push further for international sanctions against him.  The case centres on a request Malta filed with the UN Security Council to introduce international sanctions against Debono and 2 of his associates, former footballer Darren Debono and Libyan businessman Fahmi Bin Khalifa, all three are suspected of running a major oil smuggling operation.  The request was vetoed by Russia.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/gordon-debono-threatens-legal-action-as-authorities-refuse-to-rule-out.727781

WHY THE FIGHT AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORISM IS LOW IN WEST AFRICA

An article in The Guardian in Nigeria on 10th August reports comments by the CEO of the Nigerian FIU.  He says that the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing has remained low in West Africa due to weak governance structure, poor institutional framework, inadequate laws and unstable system of administration.

https://guardian.ng/news/why-fight-against-money-laundering-terrorism-is-low-in-west-africa-nfiu-boss/

MANAGERS OF CALIFORNIA-BASED GLOBAL GOLD EXCHANGE PLEAD GUILTY TO MONEY LAUNDERING

On 9th August, Coinweek reported that Global Gold Exchange LLC (GGEX) and its managers, Jeffrey Morrow and Richard M. Owen, have admitting that they laundered money through their unlicensed money transmitting business by falsely reporting cash transactions as sales of “gold” and other precious metals and agreed to forfeit approximately $2 million.  GGEX laundered cash and funds from a variety of sources –lawful and unlawful – and fraudulently documented the transactions as “a complete gold transaction”.

https://coinweek.com/bullion-report/managers-of-california-based-global-gold-exchange-plead-guilty-to-money-laundering/

TOGO: AFRICA’S LONGEST-LASTING DICTATORSHIP KEEPS HANGING ON

An article on Medium on 8th July considers the background and situation in Togo, which has the oldest military regime in Africa and has so far survived for over 50 years, and where a constitutional change is designed to keep the family in charge in power until (at least) 2030.  Massive protests against the regime in Togo began in August 2017, demanding that Faure Gnassingbé step down as Togo’s president – he having been president since 2005 after the death of his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma – president from 1967 after he came to power through a military coup.  The international community has effectively turned a blind eye to the violence in Togo – and this includes the regional body ECOWAS and the African Union.

https://medium.com/@dwomowale/what-ending-africas-oldest-military-regime-means-to-the-pan-african-struggle-e38320363131

UK RESEARCH SHOWS A “DENY, DELAY, DEFEND” APPROACH TO WHISTLEBLOWING

HR Director on 10th August reported that an All Party Parliamentary Group found that, of whistleblowers surveyed, 77.8% declared that the organisation retaliated against them, 14.2% indicated that organisation was not supportive and just 5.2% said the organisation was generally supportive; which organisations adopting a “Deny, Delay, Defend” approach to whistleblowing.

https://www.thehrdirector.com/legal-updates/legal-updates-2019/research-shows-deny-delay-defend-approach-whistleblowing

 

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FREEPORTS: HARBOURING CRIMINALITY IN BREXIT BRITAIN?

An article from RUSI on 9th August argues that the plan to introduce 10 freeports across the UK after Brexit has drawn attention in recent weeks. Introducing these provenly risky ‘special economic zones’ sits uneasily alongside the UK’s wider efforts to ramp up the fight against economic crime.  It notes that, alongside any normal trading activity, and like other freeports across the world, the zones may also be used to store – without tax – high-value goods, including art, precious metals and fine wine. Such tax-free perks have transformed some freeports into self-storage units for many of the world’s wealthiest people. The UK has had freeports in the past [though these largely died out, as alternative customs warehousing and other regimes – under EU rules – meant many, if not all, the advantages of a free zone could be acquired without being tied to a single, defined physical location, such as a port or airport].  The article says that while freeports offer tantalising business benefits, they are also well-known facilitators of illicit trade and money laundering, citing RUSI research, a recent EU report and UNESCO warning of a thriving trade in stolen antiquities stored and shipped through freeports – in 2014, Swiss and Italian police discovered 45 crates of stolen archaeological relics worth up to €9 million in Geneva Free Port.40.  The article notes that the International Chamber of Commerce in 2017 recommended to all countries that they should specify in law that special economic zones are only outside of traditional customs’ jurisdictions in so far as duties and taxes are concerned – and that all other national laws, and indeed customs inspections procedures, should be observed as normal. The article suggests that this is one way in which the UK should be seeking to minimise the risks of introducing new freeports.  In the absence of a comprehensive plan to mitigate the risks introduced by freeports – or indeed any acknowledgement that these risks exist – the proposal places a further burden on the civil servants and law enforcement agencies.

https://shoc.rusi.org/informer/freeports-harbouring-criminality-brexit-britain

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WHEN OFAC WANTS INFORMATION, EXPORTERS BETTER DELIVER

An article on American Shipper on 9th August focuses on findings of violation against 2 companies recently issued by OFAC which illustrate that it has started making examples of companies that did not take its administrative subpoenas for information involving alleged sanctions violations seriously.  OFAC says that both companies “demonstrated reckless disregard for its US sanctions requirements by failing to provide accurate and complete information in response to an OFAC administrative subpoena”.  However, neither company involved received civil penalties for the wrongdoing involving the OFAC administrative subpoenas at this time, OFAC said.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/when-ofac-wants-information-exporters-better-deliver

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EU ISSUED UPDATED LIST OF PERSONS AND ENTITIES SUBJECT TO TERRORISM SANCTIONS

EU Regulation 2019/1337/EU of 8th August contained an updated list for the purposes of Regulation 2580/2001/EC.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2019.209.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2019:209:TOC

This blog is primarily for my own use, to keep informed and up to date. However, if you would like to say thank you (and perhaps help me get a new, better laptop when I am away…) you can “buy me a coffee” at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y