20th September 2019
GERMAN INTELLIGENCE: IRAN ATTEMPTED TO ACQUIRE WMD
On 19th September, Algemeiner carried an article saying that Iranian academics in Germany sought to gain knowledge about nuclear proliferation in attempt by the regime to obtain WMD in 2018, according to a new German intelligence report. According to an intelligence agency, visiting professors from states such as Iran, North Korea and Pakistan are connected to “proliferation conduct” that is co-ordinated with intelligence services from those countries.
UKRAINE: THE MOTOR SICH AIRCRAFT ENGINE FACTORY AND ITS COVERT TIES TO RUSSIA
On 19th September, the Eurasia Daily Monitor from the Jamestown Foundation reported that the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) has launched a pre-trial investigation against representatives of Motor Sich, one of the largest manufacturers of engines for airplanes and helicopters in the post-Soviet space, over its alleged “subversive activities” against Ukraine, alleging that Motor Sich had supplied military hardware and dual-use products to Russia. Previously, it was alleged that one of its factories funded the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) by paying “taxes” to the militants. Motor Sich is a producer of turbine blades for helicopters, attack aircraft and civil engines.
SMUGGLED ARCHAEOLOGICAL ITEMS TO BE RETURNED FROM GERMANY TO BULGARIA
The Sofia Globe reported that archaeological finds acquired through illegal excavations and illegally exported from Bulgaria are being returned from Germany. They were confiscated after an attempt to sell them on the antique market.
FORMER EL SALVADOR PRESIDENT SACA GETS 2-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR BRIBERY
Swissinfo on 20th September reported that Elias Antonio Saca, 54, president in 2004-2009, and who is already serving a 10-year prison sentence for misuse of public funds and money laundering, was found guilty of having offered $10,000 to a court employee to obtain information about a case against him.
BELGIUM JOINS EU MECHANISM TO TRADE WITH IRAN
On 20th September, KYC 360 reported that Belgium’s is to obtain membership of INSTEX, the EU special purpose company that is required to allow trade with Iran despite American sanctions.
BREXIT AND CHEMICALS REGULATION (REACH)
On 19th September, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which discusses the EU REACH regulation for chemicals and the potential impacts of Brexit including in relation to a no deal scenario. It explains that REACH (the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation) is the main EU legislation for the regulation of chemicals in the EU. It requires substances that are manufactured or imported into the EU to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It then provides a framework to control or restrict the use of hazardous substances based on those registrations. REACH applies in all EEA Member States (the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein). It also points out that the chemical industry is a key manufacturing sector in the UK, accounting for 8.6% of total UK goods exports.
NO-DEAL BREXIT: FURTHER PORTS WILL BE DESIGNATED FOR MOVEMENT OF CITES PROTECTED ANIMALS AND PLANTS
On 19th September, a news release from DEFRA advised that the UK Government has issued updated advice on moving internationally protected animals and plants, including types of fish, birds and rosewood, in the event of a ‘no deal’ EU exit. Belfast Seaport, Dover, Eurotunnel and Holyhead will be designated.
ARGENTINA TRIAL REVEALS CITY CORRUPTED BY MARIJUANA TRAFFICKERS
On 19th September, Insight Crime published an article saying that a high-profile Argentine drug lord is accused of colluding with a vast network of local politicians and police officers to transport large quantities of marijuana in one of the most significant narco-politics trials in the country’s recent memory. The list of the accused reveals just how thoroughly the local officials were corrupted, and includes a former mayor, a deputy mayor and senior police officials. The city involved is Itati, on the border with Paraguay.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES FOREIGN INFLUENCE TASKFORCE FOR UNIVERSITIES
On 19th September, Baker McKenzie reported that, in August, Australia’s Minister for Education announced the establishment of the Taskforce to Protect Universities from Foreign Interference (Taskforce) which will target 4 key strategic areas include: cybersecurity, research and intellectual property, foreign collaboration, culture and communication. The announcement comes amidst growing concerns around the targeting of research and intellectual property at Australian universities by foreign adversaries.
FIRST UK CONVICTION FOR FIREARMS MANUFACTURE USING A 3D PRINTER
On 19th September, Police professional reported that a man has been jailed for 3 years in what is believed to be the first conviction and sentencing in the UK for manufacturing a firearm using a 3D printer. Tendai Muswere, 26, was arrested in October 2017.
US: HYUNDAI TO PAY $47 MILLION FINE FOR ILLEGAL DIESEL ENGINE IMPORTS
American Shipper on 19th September reported that the manufacturer installed diesel engines in construction equipment that failed to meet emissions standards under the Clean Air Act when imported into the US from 2012 to 2015. The DoJ and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached an agreement with Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas and Hyundai Industries Co Ltd. for the companies to pay a $47 million civil penalty for importing diesel engines that were not certified to meet Clean Air Act emissions standards.
US: ENTRY INTO FORCE OF TAX PROTOCOLS WITH LUXEMBOURG AND SWITZERLAND
On 20th September, a news release from the US Treasury advised that the protocols bring the existing tax treaties with Luxembourg and Switzerland into closer conformity with current US tax treaty policy to allow for greater tax information exchange that will enhance efforts to bolster tax compliance and combat tax evasion; and, with protocols with Japan and Spain, are the first updates to US income tax treaties in nearly 10 years.
US AIR FORCE PUSHES 3D PRINTING TO BOOST READINESS
On 20th September, Breaking Defense reported that the USAF is working to ensure that far-flung depots eventually can print their own parts – with a recent first being at Travis AFB, using a brand, spanking new laser printer to print those toilet seat covers built of a new-fangled polymer from its own brand-new printer.
CHINA DETAINS FORMER US AIR FORCE PILOT FLYING FOR FEDEX
On 20th September, the Wall Street Journal reported that a former USAF colonel named Todd A Hohn, was held while waiting for a commercial flight to his home in Hong Kong after flying deliveries throughout Asia from the FedEx regional hub in Guangzhou, people familiar with the matter say. He was said to have been carrying non-metallic pellets used in low-power replica air guns in a checked bag.
US: SALES OF ILLICIT VAPING PRODUCTS FIND HOME ONLINE
On 20th September, the Wall Street Journal reported that a market for illicit cannabis-vaping products and the tools to create counterfeits with users offer products from cannabis oils to vaping devices and packaging materials, and third-party sellers offering empty packaging for vape products. Other sellers offer vaping products containing THC.
LAUNCH OF HONG KONG’S NEW X-RAY SCREENING RULE FOR AIR CARGO HAS BEEN DELAYED
On 20th September, Loadstar reported that the delay was due to concerns over the city’s ailing economy and potential supply chain disruption and that the phased implementation of the ICAO security requirement – starting with 25% screening of all shipments – would be postponed from November until January 2020.
CANADA: LEGAL UNCERTAINTIES HAMPERS TRANSPORT OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS BY AIR
On 20th September, Loadstar reported that since Canada legalised the recreational use of cannabis a year ago, airfreight carriage is booming, including an 800,000 sq ft production facility located at Edmonton International Airport. However, much of its output is not for domestic consumers but medical grade cannabis shipped to international destination markets that have legalised the medical use of the substance. Some airlines are nevertheless not getting involved due to legal uncertainties, and IATA is not likely to address this issue any time soon. For example, Air Canada carries cannabis on domestic sectors but has not taken it on international flights.
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO ISSUED WITH £900 MILLION DUTCH TAX BILL: ACCUSED OF AVOIDING TAX ON MONEY CHANNELLED VIA NETHERLANDS
On 20th September, the Guardian reported that BAT is said to owe £902 million in unpaid taxes, as the maker of Rothmans, Camel and Lucky Strike cigarettes is accused of avoiding tax on money channelled through the Netherlands 2003-16, and concerns internal fees paid by Dutch subsidiaries for loans provided by its UK holding company.
TAIWAN HAS PROPOSED AMENDING ITS LAWS TO CRIMINALISE ONLINE GAMBLING
On 20th September, Calvin Ayre reported that Taiwan has proposed amending its laws to criminalise online gambling, potentially exposing individual gamblers to fines of up to $1,600 and to make it a crime for any citizen to gamble using “telecommunications equipment, electronic communications, internet or other similar means”. The Ministry was reportedly prompted to act after several court cases involving individuals accused of gambling online were overturned on appeal, due to the country’s pre-Internet laws. Meanwhile, police arrested 67 local residents and 7 Chinese nationals operating a China-facing online gambling operation, thought to be Chinese-funded.
OECD: TAXES ON POLLUTING FUELS ARE TOO LOW TO ENCOURAGE A SHIFT TO LOW-CARBON ALTERNATIVES
A news release from OECD on 20th September said that taxing polluting sources of energy is an effective way to curb emissions that harm the planet and human health, and the income generated can be used to ease the low-carbon transition for vulnerable households – but 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions from advanced and emerging economies are entirely untaxed, offering little incentive to move to cleaner energy, according to a new OECD report. The report also says that taxes on road fuel are relatively high yet rarely fully reflect the cost of environmental harm, especially with some road transport sectors offered preferential rates. Taxes on coal – which is behind almost half of CO2 emissions from energy – are zero or close to zero in most countries. Taxes are often higher on natural gas, which is cleaner. For international flights and shipping, fuel taxes are zero, meaning long-haul frequent flyers and cargo shipping firms are not paying their fair share.
WHAT IS A ‘REASONABLE ENDEAVOURS’ OBLIGATION, AND IS IT A SENSIBLE SOLUTION?
A briefing from law firm Walker Morris LLP on 18th September explains what a party needs to do to comply with a ‘reasonable endeavours’ obligation under a contract, and considers whether endeavours clauses are always a sensible solution. It poses the question of what can be learned from recent endeavours obligation cases?
HONG KONG: COUNTERFEIT GOODS SEIZED AT JEWELLERY FAIR
On 20th September, Inside Retail Hong Kong reported that Customs has conducted an operation against the sale of counterfeit goods at a fair held at AsiaWorld-Expo and seized suspected counterfeit jewellery, having received information alleging that counterfeit jewellery was displayed for sale at a booth of the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair held at AsiaWorld-Expo. 3 company directors were detained.
NORTH KOREA PLANS ITS OWN BITCOIN
Fintech Futures on 20th September reported that DPRK is in the early stages of developing its own cryptocurrency in a bid to avoid crippling international sanctions and to circumvent the US-dominated global financial system.
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