OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 30

30th September 2019

BREXIT: EU GUIDANCE FOR TRADERS

The EU has a dedicated website, in all official languages, providing information and links on what EU businesses should do in the event of a UK withdrawal.  This includes a checklist for traders who might do business with or through the UK and a leaflet described as a “Customs Guide for Business”.

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/uk_withdrawal_en

EU: RESEARCH ON THE LINK BETWEEN CRIMINALITY AND JIHADIST TERRORISM

On 24th September, the EU published a paper on for a research project of the the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) on the link between criminality (including organised crime groups, local petty crime gangs or individuals) and jihadist terrorism.  It contains articles in which experts from both organisations carry out an independent assessment of these urgent challenges as they occur in 10 European countries.  The authors of the articles propose a number of bold recommendations to European governments and EU institutions to counter the ongoing threat of the crime-terror nexus.  The project is said to have been sparked by the number of incidents carried out by individuals with a criminal history and the large number of European foreign terrorist fighters with criminal backgrounds.

https://www.epc.eu/documents/uploads/pub_9336_crimeterror_full_version.pdf?doc_id=2198

WHY THE 1MDB SCANDAL STILL TROUBLES MALAYSIA’S AMBANK

On 30th September, KYC 360 carried an article saying that the bank’s best-known legacy customer is Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak, whose accounts were held at AmBank’s branch in downtown Kuala Lumpur.  Najib is on trial in Kuala Lumpur for alleged industrial-scale corruption in relation to the $1.6 billion plunder of 1MDB, the state-owned investment company that he chaired as prime minister.  Najib and 2 other members of his family, notably his handbag-loving wife Rosmah, now face 70 criminal charges between them, charges they deny.  The article says that the bank has only partially admitted that it had “compliance issues” in 2015, without publicly explaining why and what they were, and that AmBank seems to be in denial about its pivotal role in the 1MDB scam.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/why-1mdb-still-troubles-ambank/

HSBC USES CRIME-SPOTTING TOOL TO CHECK NEW BUSINESS

On 30th September, KYC 360 reported that HSBC has converted a financial crime-spotting algorithm using data and AI that it was forced to build in the wake of a money laundering scandal into one that can scope out new business opportunities.  HSBC was forced to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in financial crime compliance as part of a $1.9 billion settlement in 2012 with US authorities over the bank’s failure to prevent money laundering by drug cartels though its Mexican unit.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/hsbc-flips-crime-spotting-tool-to-scope-new-business/

 ASIAN FINANCIAL CENTRES CONTINUE TO DOMINATE TOP 10 RANKINGS

On 27th September, Low Tax reported that the Global Financial Centres Index was released on 19th September and notes that 7 of the top 10 places are now taken by centres in the Asia/Pacific region.  Singapore placed 4th, behind Hong Kong in 3rd. Shanghai is considered the 5th position, followed by Tokyo in 6th, Beijing in 7th, and Shenzhen in 9th.  Then Dubai rose up to the ranks to take 8th place, while Sydney was ranked 10th.  British Crown Dependencies’ performance dipped, with the Isle of Man down 5 places in the rankings, Jersey falling 12, and Guernsey at 92nd, continuing its rapid decline in the index, dropping 17 places.

https://www.lowtax.net/news/Asian-Financial-Centers-Continue-To-Dominate-TopTen-Rankings_97336.html

SCOTS DRINKS BUSINESS TOPS TAX AVOIDANCE SHAME LIST OVER £1.9MILLION UNPAID BILL

On 30th September, the Daily Record reported that Glasgow-based alcohol wholesaler Zamco Limited was hit with £1.7 million in penalties after ‘deliberately defaulting’ on money owed to HMRC.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/scots-booze-firm-tops-tax-20328739

JERSEY CONSULTING ON MANDATORY DISCLOSURE RULES FOR COMMON REPORTING STANDARD (CRS) AVOIDANCE ARRANGEMENTS AND OPAQUE OFFSHORE STRUCTURES

On 27th September, Low Tax reported that the Jersey Government has issued a consultation document on the implementation of mandatory disclosure rules for OECD CRS avoidance arrangements and opaque offshore structures.  CRS replaced the former exchange of information between countries on request, with an automatic obligation to share information on foreign taxpayers to the state that they are tax resident in, to tackle aggressive tax avoidance, evasion, and fraud.  The consultation closes on 1st November.

https://www.lowtax.net/news/Jersey-Consults-On-Reporting-CRS-Avoidance-Arrangements_97331.html

UK REGULATIONS INTENDED TO ENSURE THAT GIBRALTAR-BASED FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS CONTINUE TO HAVE ACCESS INTO UK MARKETS IN A BREXIT NO-DEAL SCENARIO

On 27th September, Low Tax reported that these regulations are the Financial Services (Gibraltar) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Gibraltar (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

https://www.lowtax.net/news/Gibraltar-UK-Releases-PostBrexit-Financial-Services-Guidance_97295.html

GUERNSEY LAUNCHES CONSULTATION ON INTRODUCING LLC

Low Tax on 27th September reported that Guernsey is proposing to adopt limited liability companies (LLC), in a move intended to enhance the island’s competitive position in the US.  It notes that Guernsey adopted LLP in 2013, and it is expected that would be treated as partnerships for the purpose of taxation in Guernsey, but could decide at the point of establishment to be taxed as a company.

https://www.lowtax.net/news/Guernsey-Launches-Consultation-On-Introducing-LLCs_97309.html

US CUSTOMS SEIZES NEARLY $800,000 INSIDE BOAT SAILING FROM PUERTO RICO TO VIRGIN ISLANDS

On 24th September, a news release advised that US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents have seized nearly $800,000 in undeclared currency found inside a 25-foot vessel heading to St. Thomas – being the second incident within one week in which transnational criminal organisations seek to move currency between the two places.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/amo-seizes-nearly-800k-inside-boat-navigating-fajardo-st-thomas

E-MAIL FOOTER COUNTED AS SIGNATURE FOR PROPERTY CONTRACT

On 30th September, Legal Futures reported on a case in which the High Court ruled that a solicitor’s automated email sign-off sufficed as a ‘signature’ for the purposes of a contract involving the disposition of an interest in land, as it indicated “a clear intention” to authenticate or to sign the agreement.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/e-mail-footer-counted-as-signature-for-property-contract

HONG KONG: TIGHTENING THE RULES OF BACKDOOR LISTING

On 30th September, Eversheds Sutherland published a briefing saying that, in recent years, there have been growing concerns over backdoor listings and shell activities in Hong Kong as a result of which new businesses have been able to be listed without going through the listing requirements contained in the relevant rules.  The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited considers that these activities invite speculative trading and may undermine investor confidence and the overall quality of the Hong Kong securities market.  To help address the evolving market practices in backdoor listing, the Stock Exchange has recently tightened the regulation on reverse takeovers, details of which are described in the briefing.  A reverse takeover (RTO) refers to an acquisition (or a series of acquisitions) of assets which results in a change in control of the listed issuer with an attempt to circumvent the new listing requirements under the Listing Rules.  The article concludes by saying that, ever since the market consultation on amendments to the backdoor listing rules took place in mid-2018, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of transactions which attempt to list new businesses without going through the new listing criteria.  In light of the new rules that are formally in place, the article says, the authors expect this trend to continue in the near future.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/global/Hong-Kong/Tightening-the-Rules-of-Backdoor-Listing-newsletter

US PARK RANGERS CHARGE 2 PEOPLE WITH GINSENG POACHING OFFENCES

On 29th September, Illicit Trade reported that law enforcement officers at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky have charged 2 people with illegally poaching over 100 roots of American ginseng.  As well as breaking US federal law by removing a plant from the park, the poachers also contravened CITES, which protects ginseng from harvesting.

https://www.illicit-trade.com/2019/09/us-park-rangers-charge-two-people-with-ginseng-poaching-offences

NASDAQ CRACKS DOWN ON IPO OF SMALL CHINESE COMPANIES

On 29th September, Reuters reported that Nasdaq is cracking down on initial public offerings of small Chinese companies by tightening restrictions and slowing down their approval, according to regulatory filings, corporate executives and investment bankers.  The article says that the shares of most small Chinese companies trade thinly following their US listing, because most of them stay in the hands of a few insiders, and their low liquidity makes them unattractive to many large institutional investors, to whom Nasdaq caters.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-ipos-nasdaq-exclusive/exclusive-nasdaq-cracks-down-on-ipos-of-small-chinese-companies-idUSKBN1WE0P5

A NEW STUDY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR FOUND SCAMMERS ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED USING WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA THAN PHONE CALLS AND EMAILS

On 29th September, the Wall Street Journal reported that a new study of consumer behaviour toward fraudulent schemes found that scammers are far more likely to succeed in engaging and stealing money from potential targets by using websites and social media than through the phone calls and emails.  It says that this has made online marketplaces among the most lucrative venues for scammers to hunt for targets, along with social-media platforms.  Fraudsters often run official-looking websites with fake consumer reviews, and try to lure targets with items including used cars, vacation rentals and tickets to popular concerts and sporting events.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/scammers-find-easy-prey-on-internet-marketplaces-11569784198

US TREASURY SAYS NO PLANS TO BLOCK CHINESE LISTINGS ‘AT THIS TIME’

On 28th September, Bloomberg reported that it seems that there are no current plans to stop Chinese companies from listing on US exchanges, though the Trump administration is discussing ways to limit US investors’ portfolio flows into China.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-28/u-s-treasury-says-no-current-plans-to-block-chinese-listings

CITY OF LONDON POLICE – NATIONAL LEAD FORCE FOR FRAUD

On 30th September, the Home Office published information about the National Lead Force (NLF) agreement between the Home Office and the City of London Police.  The City of London Police has an agreement with the Home Office to act as the National Lead Force for fraud.  The agreement includes –

  • aims and objectives
  • funding
  • accountability and governance
  • performance

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lead-force-for-fraud/national-lead-force-for-fraud

ERICSSON FCPA $1.5 BILLION FINE – ANOTHER FCPA VIOLATION INVOLVING OPERATORS IN AFRICA -PUTS THE SPOTLIGHT ON DJIBOUTI TELECOM

On 27th September, All Africa reported that the investigation covers a period ending Q1 2017 and revealed breaches of the Company’s Code of Business Ethics and the FCPA in 6 countries: China, Djibouti, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.  Djibouti’s monopoly operator Djibouti Telecom signed a deal with Ericsson to build its 3G network and improve its 3G network.  The article relates the roll-call of previous companies across Africa caught violating the US FCPA.

https://allafrica.com/stories/201909300325.html

FRAUD INSIGHTS: PROTECTING SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS THROUGH AN UNFAIR PREJUDICE PETITION

On 30th September, law firm Mishcon de Reya published a briefing saying that, where the affairs of a company are being or have been conducted in a manner that it is unfairly prejudicial to the interests of a shareholder, or an actual or proposed act or omission would be so prejudicial, a shareholder can apply to the Court under through what is commonly known as an “unfair prejudice petition”.  It says that the conduct complained of must be both prejudicial and unfair, and prejudice can be shown where the financial position of the shareholder is damaged.

https://www.mishcon.com/news/fraud-insights-protecting-shareholder-rights-through-unfair-prejudice-petitions

4 TONNES OF COCAINE AND €2 MILLION IN CASH SEIZED BY SPANISH AUTHORITIES

On 30th September, a news release from Europol advised that a joint investigation, Operation Beautiful, co-ordinated by Spain and involving law enforcement authorities from Colombia, France, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and UK and supported by Europol, led to the dismantling of the largest organised crime group in the Spanish Levante area, involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.  The investigation led to the arrests of 81 individuals and various seizures including 4,000 kg of cocaine, €2 million in cash, 3 firearms, jewellery, precious gems, luxury watches, 42 vehicles and a 25-metre-long yacht.  Properties worth €20 million and 800 bank accounts were frozen. At present, those arrested are charged with laundering over €7 million.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/4-tonnes-of-cocaine-and-€2-million-in-cash-seized-spanish-authorities

10 PEOPLE CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT AGENCY CZECHTOURISM

On 30th September, Radio Prague reported that Czech police have begun the criminal prosecution of 10 individuals connected to dubious public contracts issued by the government agency CzechTourism.  A manager has been charged with manipulating public tenders, while the other 9 are suspected of bribery.

https://www.radio.cz/en/section/news/ten-people-charged-with-corruption-in-government-agency-czechtourism

AFRICA: THE ORGANISED CRIME INDEX 2019

ENACT Africa has published the Organised Crime Index, an integral part of the EU-funded ENACT programme (Enhancing Africa’s Response to Transnational Organised Crime), which is implemented by a consortium comprising the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), INTERPOL and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC)   ENACT undertakes in-depth research at continental, regional and national levels, publishes studies, policy briefs and short observers to monitor organised-crime trends, and works to engage policymakers, and build the capacity of practitioners and enforcement officials.  The key finding is that, regardless of current levels of criminality, geographic diversity, economics or governance quality, African countries display very low levels of resilience to the threat. In every region, the criminality score outstrips the resilience score, in some cases by a considerable and troubling differential.  However, a significant number of African countries (20 countries, or 37%) find themselves with both low criminality and low resilience to criminality.  3 countries – Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria – are the gateways and entrepots of criminality in Africa, despite their being probably seen as the most democratic and law-abiding.

https://ocindex.enactafrica.org/assets/downloads/enact_report.pdf

THE UK MILITARY IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

On 12th September, the Oxford Research Group published a Primer which explains what presence, relations and obligations the UK military has in the Eastern Mediterranean region, including Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Turkey.  It points out that retention of the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus gives the UK a permanent military and intelligence presence in the Eastern Mediterranean – and by 2020 this will be the largest concentration of UK forces outside of mainland Britain.  It also comments that UK arms exports to the region are relatively minor but there is an ambition to sell more to major arms importers Egypt, Turkey and Israel, which are not under any arms embargoes.

https://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/org-explains-11-the-uk-military-in-the-eastern-mediterranean

THE STATUS OF THE WORLD’S NUCLEAR INDUSTRY

On 25th September, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article concerned with the latest World Nuclear Industry Status Report from the Central European University in Budapest – an independent assessment of the nuclear industry.  This says that the number of nuclear reactors operating worldwide has increased significantly over the past year – but that the industry is growing too slowly to be sustaining.  It says that 9 new reactors started up in 2018, and 4 more came online during the first half of 2019, a modest upturn mostly driven by China.  However, the total number of reactors worldwide, 417, falls short of the historic peak of 438 reactors in 2002.

https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2019-.html

UK: MONEY LAUNDERERS JAILED FOR ROLE IN £1 MILLION ‘RARE EARTH’ METAL SCAM

On 30th September, Accountancy Daily reported that The Commodities Link gave customers the opportunity to invest in baskets of valuable elements – known as ‘rare earths’ – when in reality the metal they were selling was almost worthless.  3 men behind it have now been sentenced for converting criminal property, and 5 other members of the gang were sentenced last Autumn for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.  Commodities Link ceased trading in September 2013 and was issued with a winding up order in September 2014, and the company went into liquidation in March 2015.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/money-launderers-jailed-role-ps1m-rare-earth-metal-scam

REACH: EXPORT OF CHEMICALS AFTER BREXIT

DEFRA on 18th September published a leaflet and saying that the way you import to and export from the EU will change after Brexit and providing flowcharts which explain the new processes for chemicals.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/834520/flowchart-brexit-chemicals-export.pdf

GUIDE TO BLOCKCHAIN FOR STATE LEGISLATORS IN THE US

On 30th September, Jurist published an article which provides an overview of current US blockchain legislation and a guide for state legislators on the subject.

https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2019/09/maria-hodge-blockchain/

JAPANESE ELECTRIC COMPANY ADMITS EMPLOYEES RECEIVED $2.97 MILLION IN CASH AND GOODS FROM A FORMER DEPUTY MAYOR OF A CITY HOSTING THE COMPANY’S NUCLEAR PLANT

On 30th September, OCCRP reported that a Japan’s tax authorities’ inspection reportedly revealed that Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO) executives had accepted “massive amounts of cash and valuables”.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/10755-japan-kepco-s-officials-apologize-for-taking-gifts

AZERI MP RESIGNS OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS AFTER COMPROMISING VIDEO

OCCRP on 30th September reported that Rafael Jabrayilov, an Azerbaijani lawmaker, has resigned following release of a video that showed him trying to repay a $300,000 personal loan he took from a woman by offering her a government-owned house instead.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/10753-azeri-mp-resigns-after-compromising-video

CANNABIS SEIZURES HIT NEW HIGH IN HONG KONG

The Bangkok Post on 30th September reported that the amount of marijuana seized by Hong Kong customs has surged threefold this year amid the growing use of parcel delivery by drug dealers.  Most of the drugs were smuggled from the US and Canada.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1761904/cannabis-seizures-hit-new-high-in-hong-kong

DRUG TRAFFICKERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF URUGUAY’S LAX CONTROLS

660 City News on 29th September reported that following recent large drug seizures originating from Uruguay in May and July, its customs director resigned. Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have said they had noticed a change in cocaine trafficking patterns from Uruguay, and it is said that senior government officials met with customs agents and exporters to find out what was happening.  An example of reportedly lax controls is given as in the port of Montevideo, where the customs terminal has a single scanner that is operated by officials who work only during office hours, never at night.  The machine is used solely to check imports. Inspecting all the containers leaving the country is impossible because of the costs and delays that would entail.  A computer programme analyses what the merchandise is, its destination and who is moving it to determine which containers are inspected but less than 3% of containers are examined.

https://www.660citynews.com/2019/09/29/drug-traffickers-take-advantage-of-uruguays-lax-controls/

MEXICO’S CARTELS FIGHTING IT OUT FOR CONTROL OF AVOCADO BUSINESS

On 30th September, Insight Crime reported that 4 competing drug cartels are extorting avocado producers in Michoacán (which produces over 80% of Mexico’s avocados – worth around $2.4 billion), showing how the fruit is becoming an increasingly important source of illicit profits in the context of shifting criminal dynamics in the state.  The cartels charge a monthly protection payment from avocado producers and, in addition, avocado theft is rampant, with at least 4 truckloads of the fruit are stolen every day in the state.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/mexico-cartels-fighting-avocado-business/

WHERE AND WHY DO MODERN PIRATE ATTACKS HAPPEN?

On 30th September, an article from Hellenic Shipping Review says that while maritime piracy has seen a decline since its height in 2010, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) still records hundreds of pirate attacks each year with just over 200 in 2018 alone.  Pirate attacks largely occur in a few “hotspots” around the globe and are driven by a number of factors ranging from corruption and institutional weakness to fishing conditions and a lack of economic opportunities.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/where-and-why-do-modern-pirate-attacks-happen/

UK POLICE AUCTION TALKTALK HACKER’S CRYPTOCURRENCY

On 30th September, Engadget reported that, in reportedly the first such case, a UK police force auctioned more than £240,000 of cryptocurrency that they confiscated from the teenage hacker behind the 2015 TalkTalk breach.  The hacker was sentenced to 20 months jail time and ordered to pay back £407,359; apparently, he was also sitting on a pretty large stash of cryptocurrency.

https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/30/uk-police-auction-talktalk-hacker-cryptocurrency

OFAC: AMENDED VENEZUELA-RELATED GENERAL LICENSES

On 30th September, OFAC advised that it has released amended General License 3G (Authorizing Transactions Related to, Provision of Financing for, and Other Dealings in Certain Bonds) and General License 9F (Authorizing Transactions Related to Dealings in Certain Securities).

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20190930_33.aspx

 

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

US TREASURY TARGETS ASSETS OF RUSSIAN FINANCIER WHO ATTEMPTED TO INFLUENCE 2018 US ELECTIONS

On 30th September, OFAC took action against Russian actors that attempted to influence the 2018 US midterm elections, though it says that there was no indication that foreign actors were able to compromise election infrastructure that would have prevented voting, changed vote counts, or disrupted the tallying of votes.  It also further targets Yevgeniy Prigozhin by targeting his physical assets, including 3 aircraft and a yacht, as well as employees of the Internet Research Agency (designated in March 2018), which he finances.  The measures are the first use of sanctions under Executive Order 13848, which the President signed in September 2018 and was intended as a warning all countries that they may face sanctions should they interfere in US elections.  Several members of the Internet Research Agency are designated for being involved in attempting to interfere in US elections – 4 of them already being designated under earlier actions.  The assets of Prigozhin listed include 2 Isle of Man-registered business jets.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm787

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20190930.aspx

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

UK: SANCTIONS POLICY AND IMPLEMENTATION

On 30th September, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper in advance of a Westminster Hall general debate on the ‘Sanctions policy and implementation’ scheduled for 3rd October.  It says that the debate on UK sanctions policy and implementation takes place against a fast-changing background, and that the UK courts are likely to be crucial in shaping policy; it is possible that there will be a big increase in litigation under the new system.

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-2019-0218/CDP-2019-0218.pdf

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

HOW TO MOVE GOODS THROUGH RORO LOCATIONS IN A NO DEAL BREXIT: EU TO UK AND UK TO EU

On 23rd September, the Department for Transport and others published guidance on process flow for freight roll-on, roll-off (RORO) imports and exports between the UK and the EU for a no-deal Brexit (but notably excluding Northern Ireland).  The information is also available in a downloadable pocket guide.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-move-goods-through-roro-locations-in-a-no-deal-brexit-eu-to-uk-and-uk-to-eu

The downloadable guide is at –

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/833286/what-haulier-drivers-should-do-moving-goods-through-rollon-rolloff-roro-locations-eu-to-uk.pdf

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

BREXIT: EU GUIDANCE FOR TRADERS

The EU has a dedicated website, in all official languages, providing information and links on what EU businesses should do in the event of a UK withdrawal.  This includes a checklist for traders who might do business with or through the UK and a leaflet described as a “Customs Guide for Business”.

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/uk_withdrawal_en

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

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 28/29

Back from travels again…

29th September 2019

ARE SANCTIONS WORKING IN VENEZUELA?

On 3rd September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies published a paper that sets out to provide clarity and assess the efficacy of past sanctions, as well as their impact on standards of living in Venezuela.  It also provides recommendations for improving policy in this area.Among the key facts highlighted is that by 2016, the Venezuelan bolívar had already hit an inflation rate of 255%, and inflation has now surpassed 1 million percent and is projected to be 1- million percent by year end; oil production in Venezuela dropped from roughly 2.4 million barrels per day in 2015 to about 1 million at the end of 2018 before broad sanctions against PdVSA were implemented; and, in addition to the EU, 5 countries (the US, Canada, Switzerland, Mexico, and Panama) have issued sanctions.  The paper also mentions the July report from the UN Commission on Human Rights which illustrates the excesses of Venezuela’s authoritarian status – saying that a crippling economic spiral has been exacerbated by extrajudicial killings, political imprisonment without due process, and pervasive violence due to the presence of groups: criminals, pro-government, Colobian FARC etc.  The paper concludes that sanctions can take time to have their intended effect and, even when successful, are not sufficient to dismember and rebuild a government.  They are, it says, simply a tool for coercing good behaviour, but a focus on targeted sanctions is not enough. Having a feasible exit ramp for Maduro and his inner circle while having a compassionate effort at humanitarian assistance are crucial.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/are-sanctions-working-venezuela

190903_VenezuelanSanctions_graphics(web)_LineGraph

https://www.statista.com/chart/19474/biggest-exporters-us-states/

US

UK EXPORT CONTROL SYMPOSIUM

On 27th September, the Department for International Trade announced that the next Export Control Symposium will take place in Birmingham on Tuesday, 26th November.  This event is for companies with fewer than 250 employees and cost per delegate is £150.  Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

https://eu.eventscloud.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=200194331&

ARGENTINA IMPOSES FOREIGN EXCHANGE CONTROLS AND OBLIGATIONS TO REPATRIATE EXPORTS PROCEEDS

On 17th September, DLA Piper published an article saying that on September 1st, the Argentine Government issued an Executive Decree which reinstated certain foreign exchange restrictions that had been in effect prior to 2016.  These new restrictions are effective from September 1st until December 31st, and the article provides a summary of the main provisions of the relevant Regulations.  They introduce a series of restrictions – such as requiring prior approval by the Central Bank to access the Argentine foreign exchange market to make dividend payments or other distributions abroad; the transfer of funds outside Argentina to pay for services rendered by foreign affiliates will be subject to prior approval by the Central Bank, except for credit card companies on account of tourism services; and acquisition of foreign currency/assets will be subject to prior approval by the Central Bank (except for individuals who will be entitled to purchase up to $10,000 per month).  Other restrictions involve exporters of goods and residents are required to transfer to Argentina and settle in Pesos in the FX Market the proceeds from exports, and non-Argentine residents will generally require prior Central Bank approval to acquire foreign currency in excess of $1,000 per month.  The article warns that violation of any of the foreign exchange restrictions will be deemed a criminal offence with fines of up to 10 times the amount of the transaction for the first violation, fines of 3 to 10 times the amount of the transaction or imprisonment for 1 to 8 years Directors, legal representatives, chief executives, managers, and members of the supervisory committee who participate in such transactions will be jointly and severally liable for any fines.

https://www.latamlawblog.com/2019/09/argentina-imposes-foreign-exchange-controls-and-obligations-to-repatriate-exports-proceeds/

DEEP FAKES AND CHEAP FAKES

On 18th September, Data & Society published an article which traces decades of audiovisual (AV) manipulation to demonstrate how evolving technologies aid consolidations of power in society.  Deepfakes, the authors argue, are no new threat to democracy.  They explain that a “deepfake” is a video that has been altered through some form of machine learning to “hybridize or generate human bodies and faces”, whereas a “cheap fake” is an AV manipulation created with cheaper, more accessible software (or, none at all).  Cheap fakes can be rendered through Photoshop, lookalikes, re-contextualising footage, speeding, or slowing.

https://datasociety.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/DS_Deepfakes_Cheap_FakesFinal-1.pdf

PEACE IS A LOSING STRATEGY IN MOZAMBIQUE – ELECTIONS COULD CAUSE ANOTHER CIVIL WAR

On 27th September, Foreign Affairs published an article saying that in August the Frelimo party government and the rebel  group turned opposition party Renamo signed a peace deal that ended the most recent flare-up in an intermittent civil conflict dating back 4 decades.  The plan sets out to decentralise power and established a process through which Renamo rebels can hand in their weapons and join more inclusive national military and police forces.  However, the article warns that elections planned on October 15th could end up triggering yet another round of conflict – if Renamo emerges from the election feeling thwarted by the political process, the party will likely revert to the one strategy that has worked for it time and again: violence.  The August peace deal is the country’s third since 1976, when civil war broke out between Frelimo, which came to power after leading the independence struggle against Portugal, and Renamo, whose support base consisted of traditional authorities and farmers who opposed Frelimo’s efforts to create a socialist, one-party state.  Frelimo has dominated the state since independence, never loosened its chokehold on power.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/mozambique/2019-09-27/peace-losing-strategy-mozambique

RUSSIAN MILITARY HARDWARE DELIVERED TO MOZAMBIQUE

On 27th September, Defence Web reported that a Russian Air Force An-124 transport aircraft has delivered an Mi-17 helicopter and other equipment to Mozambique as reports continue to indicate Russian military activity.  Russian military advisors have apparently been deployed to Mozambique since the end of August, with local media reporting that at least 160 Russian military personnel have been in Cabo Delgado since then to help neutralise attacks in the region.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/russian-military-hardware-delivered-to-mozambique/

3 SCENARIOS FOR SUDAN – NON-VIOLENT REVOLUTION OR DEMOCRATIC REFORM?

On 25th September, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies published an article speculating on the future of Sudan following the ousting of its former President in a coup in April, following a large-scale non-violent uprising against the regime.  The article warns that non-violent resistance does not automatically lead to a more participatory and peaceful society; and that protest movements across the world – from Hong Kong to Algeria and Nicaragua – struggle to maintain their momentum and to evolve from revolution to lasting democratic reforms.  The article analyses the recent civil resistance in Sudan, examines its distinctive characteristics and evaluates the prospects for a peaceful and stable transition in the country; examines why and how non-violent resistance increases the chances of peaceful societal change; goes on to provide an analysis of the recent political events in Sudan – and then outlines scenarios for the transition process and discussing ways to support stability.

https://www.iss.europa.eu/content/three-scenarios-sudan

A GUIDE TO KEY TERMS IN ART LAW

Law firm Boodle Hatfield has published an A to Z as what it described as a handy guide to some common terms that crop up during the course of matters relating to art law, which it says it hopes will provide a useful reference for those involved.

https://www.boodlehatfield.com/the-firm/articles/what-does-it-mean-a-guide-to-key-terms-in-art-law/

FATF REPORTS ON THE HONG KONG AML/CFT REGIME

On 24th September, Deacons published an article reminding one that FATF published the Mutual Evaluation Report on Hong Kong on 4th September, assessing Hong Kong’s AML/CFT regime to be compliant and effective overall.  The article says that regulator SFC issued a circular on 6th September which highlighted some of the focus areas for further work moving forward.  The article highlights the key points which licensed corporations need to note based on the content of the Report and the Circular.

https://www.deacons.com/news-and-insights/publications/fatf-reports-on-hk’s-aml-regime.html

KAZAKHSTAN: A CENTREPIECE IN CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD

ETH Zurich has published a briefing on the role of the country in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  It says that Kazakhstan is a linchpin for trade and transport links on the Eurasian continent – for the BRI and beyond – due to its location, vast landmass and energy reserves.  It is both the object and the subject of Chinese, Russian and Western geopolitical interests.  The Kazakhstani case shows that the shape and success of the BRI largely depend on internal, not external, factors.

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https://css.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/pdfs/CSSAnalyse249-EN.pdf

HOW A SANCTIONS-BUSTING SMARTPHONE BUSINESS THRIVES IN NORTH KOREA

Japan Today on 29th September published an article saying that North Korea is evading UN sanctions to cash in on soaring domestic demand for smartphones, using low-cost hardware imports to generate significant income for the regime, according to defectors, experts and an analysis of North Korean-made phones.  It says that economists estimate as many as 6 million North Koreans – a quarter of the population – now have mobile phones.  The phones feature Taiwanese semiconductors, batteries made in China and a version of Google’s open-source Android operating system, analysis of the North Korean phones revealed.  North Korean phones can only be used to call domestic numbers and have some unique security features, e.g. downloading or transferring files is severely restricted.

https://japantoday.com/category/tech/insight-how-a-sanctions-busting-smartphone-business-thrives-in-north-korea

CARS SEIZED FROM AFRICAN LEADER’S SON WORTH $25 MILLION BEING SOLD AT AUCTION AFTER MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE

On 29th September, the Straits Times reported that an auction house in Switzerland is set to sell 25 luxury cars including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis that Geneva authorities seized from the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president in a money laundering probe.  The auction comes after the Geneva prosecutor’s office announced in February it had closed a case against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue.  Swiss authorities seized the cars and ordered the sequestration of a yacht in 2016.  The yacht was released after Equatorial Guinea agreed to pay Geneva authorities CHF1.3 million “notably to cover procedural costs”.

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/africa/cars-seized-from-african-leaders-son-worth-us185m-are-being-sold-at-auction-after-money

MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORIST FINANCING, AND HAWALA’S DAMAGE TO THE AFGHAN ECONOMY

The Small Wars Journal has published this article which says that money laundering, including the financing of terrorism, along with drug trade, criminal activity, and corruption, is devastating Afghanistan’s already weak economy.  It says that a Ministry of Finance report indicated “only 35% of the financial flows within the country are legal”.  The article argues that providing full visibility of money transfers would allow the government to manage money demand, interest rates, levy taxes and duties, and provide long-term stability for the Afghan economy and legitimacy to its government, all the while cutting off a key element of the CTF efforts against the Taliban, ISIS-K, and Al-Qaeda.  The article concentrates on the risk from the hawala system.  The Arabic word hawala means “change” or “transform,” and those who provide the services are known as hawaladars.  In the 1990s, the article says, the Taliban regime replaced the formal banking system with the hawala market.  The article says that the hawala system in Afghanistan is a covert means to move terrorist funds, but it also serves as the “most effective, reliable, and sometime sole method for moving funds across the country”.  Hence, not all hawala transactions are for illicit activity, but based on the volume, its lack of centralized oversight, and limited monitoring, it is difficult for the economy of Afghanistan to properly maintain sound monetary policy. The article argues that integrating and eventually replacing the hawala system with a centralized banking system will assist the Afghan government with stabilising a volatile economy.  It also says that corruption must be addressed, saying that abolishing the hawala system would obstruct corrupt officials from participating in illegal activity and force them to move assets above the table rather than below it.

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/money-laundering-terrorist-financing-and-hawalas-damage-afghan-economy#_edn13

INDIA: PUBLIC SECTOR UNDERTAKING (PSU) BANKS HAVE EMERGED AS THE NEW PREFERRED CHANNEL PARTNER FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

On 28th September, the Sunday Guardian published an article saying that the FIU has come across multiple instances where the PSU banks have failed to adhere to steps that are required to stop money laundering through banks. In many cases, it says, the FIU has levied penalty on these banks and repeatedly asked them to focus more on AML mechanism, but most of their requests have gone unheeded.  In India, a PSU is a entity owned by the central, state or territorial government.

https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/business/psu-banks-fail-comply-anti-money-laundering-norms-fiu-levies-penalties

UK: USING CUSTOMS PROCEDURES IN A NO-DEAL BREXIT

On 27th September, HMRC issued updated guidance about simplified customs processes for UK businesses trading with the EU in a no-deal Brexit.  Interestingly, the release notes prominently that “This guidance does not apply to importing or exporting goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland”.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/customs-procedures-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal

SOUTH AFRICA: LAW ENFORCEMENT COMPONENT OF MARITIME OPERATIONS

On 27th September, Defence Web carried an article about the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) Green Scorpions law enforcement division being a major contributor to the marine protection services component of Operation Phakisa – a government initiative aimed at extracting value from the oceans around South Africa and is made up of a number of components, including ensuring maritime laws and regulations are effectively implemented.  It is said that the situation pertaining to illegal harvesting of marine resources along the seaboard remains critical, with poachers becoming increasingly aggressive.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/green-scorpions-making-a-difference-in-maritime-law-enforcement/

BELARUS FINDS ILLEGAL UKRAINIAN ARMS SHIPMENTS TO RUSSIA

Customs Today on 27th September reported that Belarus claims to has uncovered an illegal cross-border weapons smuggling network from Ukraine to Russia.  It is said that Belarussian security and customs agencies have shut down a smuggling channel that moved weapons, weapon parts and ammunition from Ukraine to Russia via Lithuania and Belarus.  It is said that Belarus has opened 3 times as many criminal cases into arms smuggling in 2019 as it did in the same period last year.

http://www.customstoday.com.pk/belarus-finds-illegal-ukrainian-arms-shipments-to-russia/

SWISSPORT HAS BEGUN A ROLL-OUT OF SELF-SERVICE CARGO CHECK-IN KIOSKS – AT BRUSSELS AND SCHIPHOL

Loadstar on 27th September reported that these were the first gateways to deploy the system aimed at reducing congestion.  The kiosks identify drivers, scan air freight documentation and direct trucks to the relevant drop-off points, the last step completed by text message.  The service also provides for shipping information to be entered via a kiosk web portal by forwarders, as well as allowing a link to Swissport’s database.

https://theloadstar.com/swissport-unveils-self-service-check-in-kiosks-for-air-freight/

https://www.lloydsloadinglist.com/freight-directory/news/Swissport-introduces-self-check-in-for-airfreight/75091.htm#.XZDVkHdFymQ

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MAY REOPEN LAWSUIT AGAINST ODEBRECHT

OCCRP on 27th September reported that the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) of the Dominican Republic said that that the Brazilian construction giant did not pay a $32 million instalment of a corruption fine, thus creating a possibility for the lawsuit to be reopened.  OCCRP reports that an agreement signed with the Dominican judicial authorities in 2017 required the company to pay a $184 million fine – twice as much as it spent on bribes to obtain public contracts between 2001 and 2014.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/10746-dominican-republic-may-reopen-lawsuit-against-odebrecht

NEW ICC INCOTERMS 2020 RELEASED

On 23rd September, the freight industry body FIATA published its latest e-Flash which included a reminder that the International Chamber of Commerce has launched Incoterms 2020, the newest edition of the renowned trade terms in 29 languages.  Access to the rules have also been made easier through a dedicated Incoterms 2020 mobile app. The article provides some brief highlights –

  • Provides for demonstrated market needs in relation to bills of lading (BL) with an on-board notation on the Free Carrier (FCA) Incoterms®;
  • Aligns different levels of insurance coverage in Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) and Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP);
  • A change in the 3-letter name for Delivered at Terminal (DAT) to Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU);
  • Includes arrangements for carriage with own means of transport in FCA, Delivered at Place (DAP), Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU), and Delivered Duty Paid (DDP); and
  • Includes security-related requirements within carriage obligations and costs.

The ICC warns users to be wary of anything other than official ICC guidance; relying on information found online is a major cause of incorrect usage of Incoterms®, with adverse consequences for businesses and their insurers.  FIATA recommends members to reference the ICC new rules in their day-to-day business dealings.

https://fiata.com/media/e-flash/2019/e-flash-no-209-23-september-2019.html

THE DRONE DATABOOK

Published by Dan Gettinger, founder and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone, this online publication is a study of military drone use, with profiles of 101 countries, a report on military drone infrastructure around the world, and technical specifications of more than 170 types of drones currently available.  The publication evaluates each country’s capabilities, including scope for export of its drones.

https://dronecenter.bard.edu/projects/drone-proliferation/databook/

https://dronecenter.bard.edu/files/2019/09/CSD-Drone-Databook-Web-1.pdf

RED FLAGS: WARNING SIGNS AND POLITICAL DRIVERS OF ARMS TRADE CORRUPTION

The World Peace Foundation has published a report that considers ‘Red Flags’ – the warning signs that can help citizens, NGO, governments, and those companies actually seeking to avoid corruption to identify and avoid corruption risks; and what it terms as the ‘Red Diamonds’ –  the underlying politics and economics of the arms trade that create situations where companies and government actually choose the option of corruption at a high level.  The Foundation says that this report follows its research into more than 40 cases of corruption in the arms trade. The report concludes that –

  • Corruption is very common in the in­ternational arms trade, and seems to occur particularly frequently in certain sectors;
  • Most of the cases involve bribery as the central element of the corruption;
  • Arms trade corruption is not limited to the ‘third world’, or countries with partic­ularly high levels of corruption in general;
  • Nonetheless, processes and institutions do matter;
  • There are a relatively small number of major cases involving the US as a seller; and
  • The extent to which political finance is a common feature of corruption in arms deals.

https://sites.tufts.edu/wpf/files/2019/09/Red-Flags-Red-Diamonds-20190919-1.pdf

ARE WE HEADING TOWARDS A STRATEGIC CRISIS OVER TAIWAN?

The IISS website carried an interview with the author of a new book on 27th September.  Brendan Taylor, author of a new IISS book on Taiwan’s security, explains why, amid shifts in the military balance between China and the US, there is an increasing risk of a cross-strait conflict flaring up and why policymakers should be worried about it.

https://www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2019/09/easia-strategic-crisis-taiwan

eversheds

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/documents/services/litigation/Enforcement%20flowcharts%20-%20EU.pdf

AFRICA’S DRUGS CRISIS STIMULATED BY POOR POLICY

On 24th September, ENACT Africa reported that a looming drugs crisis in Africa is being made worse by ineffective drug policy, fuelled by corruption and organised crime, according to the ENACT transnational organised crime programme.  African consumption of illegal drugs, including non-medical use of prescription opioids, threatens national development and is projected to become a public health emergency.  Sub-Saharan Africa will see the world’s biggest surge in illicit drug users in the next 30 years, with its share of global drug consumption projected to double.  New research suggests that East Africa will experience the sharpest increase in the proportion of its population using illicit drugs, but with West Africa set to remain the continent’s largest regional drug market.

https://enactafrica.org/press/press-releases/africas-drugs-crisis-stimulated-by-poor-policy

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US SANCTIONS EXPLAINED: HOW A FOREIGN POLICY PROBLEM BECOMES A SANCTIONS PROGRAMME

On 22nd September, The Atlantic Council published a feature in which its experts detail the complex route policy makers follow to develop and deploy sanctions.  It addresses a number of questions, such as can the US Congress introduce new sanctions programmes – saying that it can, through legislation and to codify or build on existing sanctions programmes that are introduced by the executive branch (i.e. the President). While Congress has introduced stand-along sanctions legislation, such as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, it is more common for Congress to pass sanctions-related legislation that is complimented and strengthened through a subsequent executive order issued by the President, as in the case of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and Executive Order 13818.

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https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/commentary/feature/sanctions-explained-how-a-foreign-policy-problem-becomes-a-sanctions-program/

EU PARLIAMENT PROPOSES 1 HOUR FOR INTERNET FIRMS TO REMOVE TERRORIST CONTENT

EU Business reported that Internet companies would be forced to remove content promoting terrorism within an hour of being informed, under new EU rules adopted by an EU Parliament committee.  They would have to remove terrorist content when told to do so by the competent national authority, at the latest within 1 hour of receiving the order.  However, MEPs insist that internet companies hosting content uploaded by users should not be obliged to proactively identify terrorist content, something that these platforms claim would be a heavy burden for them. Monitoring the information or actively seeking facts indicating illegal activity should be the responsibility of the competent national authority.  The Parliament also believes that there should be no compulsory use of filters nor automated tools as this could lead to inaccuracies and innocuous content being tagged as “terrorist”.

https://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/terrorist-content.26ec

 

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

HOW A SANCTIONS-BUSTING SMARTPHONE BUSINESS THRIVES IN NORTH KOREA

Japan Today on 29th September published an article saying that North Korea is evading UN sanctions to cash in on soaring domestic demand for smartphones, using low-cost hardware imports to generate significant income for the regime, according to defectors, experts and an analysis of North Korean-made phones.  It says that economists estimate as many as 6 million North Koreans – a quarter of the population – now have mobile phones.  The phones feature Taiwanese semiconductors, batteries made in China and a version of Google’s open-source Android operating system, analysis of the North Korean phones revealed.  North Korean phones can only be used to call domestic numbers and have some unique security features, e.g. downloading or transferring files is severely restricted.

https://japantoday.com/category/tech/insight-how-a-sanctions-busting-smartphone-business-thrives-in-north-korea

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