2nd September 2019
SHIPPING LAWYERS CALL ON UK TO ADOPT NEW UN CONVENTION ON MEDIATION
On 29th August, the Multimodal newsletter reported that shipping law firm Myton Law is calling on the UK to sign up to a new UN Convention relating to the settlement of international commercial disputes through mediation. It says that on 7th August, 46 countries, including the US and China, signed up to the new ‘Singapore Convention’, but the UK and the EU are notable absentees. The Convention could come into force in Spring 2020. The firm says that UK importers, exporters and all involved in international trade and the carriage of goods, stand to benefit from the Singapore Convention, which aims to provide for the enforcement of mediated settlements of disputes involving agreements across country borders.
US MEDICAL ISOTOPE INDUSTRY OPPOSES EXPORT OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM TO BELGIUM
On 30th August, Imaging Technology News reported that the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) has applied for a new licence to export highly enriched uranium (HEU) to create medical isotopes. IRE’s current HEU export license with the US Department of Energy expires in October 2019. A 2012 US law forbids the issuing of new HEU export licences for the purposes of medical isotope production as of 2020 as part of a wider effort for nuclear non-proliferation and to find safer methods to produce medical isotopes without using HEU. As part of this effort, all medical isotope producers have converted to low-enriched uranium (LEU) production, except for IRE. IRE said it needs the HEU to sustain its production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) and iodine-131 (1-131) from the 4th quarter of 2020 through the projected completion of their LEU conversion program in the second quarter of 2022. The article explains that IRE is a Belgian radiopharmaceuticals producer and supplies some US companies with Mo-99, the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m). Tc-99m is used in 80% of nuclear imaging procedures in the US. The article also notes that, for nearly 30 years until late 2018, there was no US domestic production of medical isotopes. However, in 2018, US government agencies took steps to ensure a stable and secure supply of Tc-99m and the FDA approved the NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes’ RadioGenix System to produce Mo-99.
LENGTH OF UK PRISON TERMS FOR MONEY LAUNDERERS HITS RECORD HIGH
On 1st September, the Financial Times reported that research had shown that the average jail term for money laundering offences rose to a record high of 27 months in 2018 following the introduction of tougher new sentencing guidelines – rising 32% in the past decade, from a term of 20.5 months in December 2008.
COSTA RICA TO UPDATE AML/CFT MECHANISMS
On 31st August, Q Costa Rica reported that Costa Rica is preparing with an inter-institutional action plan for the evaluation of its AML/CFT systems in 2020 in compliance with the FATF standards, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and in a process that will take approximately 8 months from September 2nd. In parallel, work will be carried out to address those deficiencies that FATF has pointed out to the country in its Mutual Evaluation Report.
UK SUPREME COURT WIDENS THE SCOPE FOR NON-PARTY ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS FILED IN ENGLISH LITIGATION
Dechert LLP has published an article saying that, in a recent case, the Supreme Court has given guidance on non-party access to documents filed in litigation in the English Courts. The update follows a previous article from August 2018 which considered the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the same case. The Supreme Court decision expands the categories of documents that are potentially available provided the non-party applicant can “demonstrate a good reason for seeking access”. The case involved alleged liability for asbestos losses. The case settled after the trial but before the judgment was delivered. Voluminous documentation was produced and filed with the Court for the trial. By a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court widened the categories of document to which a court can grant access to a non-party applicant and stressed the importance of the open justice principle. The article says that the ruling cuts through fine distinctions as to whether a document has or has not been referred to in court.
The August 2018 article is at –
SUDAN’S AL-BASHIR ADMITS RECEIVING $25 MILLION FROM SAUDI CROWN PRINCE
On 2nd September, KYC 360 reported that Sudan’s deposed former president, has told a court that he received $25 million from the powerful Crown Prince. Questioned in court for the first time, al-Bashir said he used the money for donations and not for his own benefit. He told the court he gave $5 million to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group that helped remove him from power, $4 million to a university and $2 million to a military hospital – but he told the court he had no record of how the money was spent.
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS 19th CENTURY RULE THAT ENGLISH LAW GOVERNED DEBT CAN ONLY BE DISCHARGED BY THE ENGLISH COURTS
In Harneys’ blog on 28th August, it was reported that the Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of the Court of Appeal’s judgment in a case and maintaining the 19th Century “Gibbs Rule” that English law governed debt can only be discharged by the English Courts. In the case, 2 creditors with English law governed debt did not participate in a restructuring and did they submit to the jurisdiction of the Azerbaijani courts. The bank being restructured sought a permanent stay to prevent the creditors pursuing their debts outside the scope of the restructuring.
MONEY AND PRIVATE CURRENCIES: REFLECTIONS ON LIBRA
On 2nd September, the European Central Bank published a speech by Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB. He spoke about Libra, Facebook’s newly announced private currency which is scheduled for release in the first half of 2020. He said that there are 3 key questions here. First, how does Libra differ from other private currencies and from public money? Second, what legal and regulatory challenges does it pose? And third, in the light of its mandate, what position should a central bank like the ECB take towards Libra? He also commented on ECB’s general stance towards financial innovations such as Libra. He concludes by saying that he hopes that the people of Europe will not be tempted to leave behind the safety and soundness of established payment solutions and channels in favour of the beguiling but treacherous promises of Facebook’s siren call.
UK: LAWYER JAILED FOR CONTEMPT OVER FAILED REPAYMENT
On 2nd September, the Law Society Gazette reported that an international tax lawyer has been jailed for 14 months after being found in contempt over breaches of undertakings to the court. Stephen David Jones had been instructed in a multi-million-pound international property deal, but by the time of intended completion of the transaction the firm did not have the money it was supposed to hold, and made what was described by the judge as an ‘elaborate series of excuses’, following a request that the clients provide a further $9.3 million in order to complete the transaction and later agreed personally to transfer the money, plus a further £4.9m into segregated accounts – but failed to do so.
eBAY FAILED TO STOP PAYPAL EMAIL PAYMENT ADDRESS SCAM
On 2nd September, Tamebay reported that eBay has failed to prevent a scam where sellers’ PayPal email payment address is changed diverting funds into scammers accounts. The fraudster sets up a PayPal account with the fake email address, then goes back into eBay, pick a few listings with relative low value but high sell through rates and changes the PayPal email payment address to the fake one. The article asks why eBay has not taken action to stop this PayPal email payment address fraud? It says that eBay blames PayPal and PayPal blames eBay, and neither take responsibility.
CANADA: CARGO TRAFFIC AT EDMONTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (EIA) IS REACHING NEW HIGHS THANKS TO CANNABIS
On 30th August, Loadstar reported that Canada’s legalisation of cannabis for personal recreational use in October added a new commodity to the mix of air cargo, and Edmonton benefited. It says that Aurora Cannabis, one of the biggest operators in the production and distribution of cannabis products, established a production facility right on the airport, with most of its output leaving by aircraft. The building can turn out over 100 tonnes a year, which makes it the world’s largest cannabis production facility, and the company is now building a second facility at the airport. Rather than supplying recreational users in Canada, it is sending most of its output overseas, responding to rapidly growing demand for medical grade cannabis.
RESPONSE TO NOVICHOK POISONING COST £30 MILLION
Police Professional on 28th August reported that Wiltshire Police spent £12 million responding to the Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury in March 2018, the MoD spent £10.9 million on employing personnel to make contaminated sites safe, £6.7 million was spent on specialist equipment and materials while around £286,000 was spent on travel, accommodation and meals for specialist teams and staff. 16 police vehicles and 8 ambulances contaminated by Novichok were written off at a cost of £892,000, including 3 Mercedes Sprinter 519 CDI ambulances, with one worth £137,318. South Western Ambulance Service also had to destroy 5 Skoda Octavia 4×4, costing a combined £93,334.
80 MILLION TONNES OF CARGO TO BE TRANSPORTED ALONG NORTHERN SEA ROUTE IN ARCTIC BY 2024
Hellenic Shipping News on 2nd September reported claims by Russia’s Minister for the Development of the Far East and Arctic Alexander Kozlov that it is planned to synchronise the time of construction of icebreakers, cargo ships and port infrastructure in the Arctic with the implementation of investment projects in order to boost freight traffic along the Northern Sea Route to 80 million tonnes by 2024.
GET READY FOR BREXIT: CHECK WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
You are supposed to use the Checker at this web address to find out what you or your business will need to do to get ready for Brexit.
ISLE OF MAN PUBLICISES CHANGES IN LINKS TO UK SANCTIONS CONSOLIDATED LIST
A news release from the Isle of Man on 30th August reminded one that previous links to the UK Consolidated List of persons entities subject to sanctions changed on 30th August. Isle of Man policy is to maintain its sanctions list so that they correspond to those in the UK – hence one can generally take the UK and Isle of Man lists (if there was such a thing) to be broadly the same.
FRENCH IP BOX CONSULTATION
On 2nd September, Bird & Bird published an article saying that the French tax Authorities’ comments regarding the new regime of the industrial property have been released for public consultation until the 15th September. The regime mostly concerns patents, software and the computation of expenses to be deducted or excluded when determining the net income subject to the favourable regime with taxation at 10% rate.
UK POLICE STOP AND SEARCH POWERS
On 2nd September, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which describes the police stop and search powers and outlines a recent history of their reform. It also discusses the available evidence on the effectiveness of stop and search. It says that a stop and search must be carried out on the basis of a specific power set out in legislation. Each time a police officer conducts a stop and search they should be able to demonstrate that they used the right power and complied with the relevant guidance.
IRAQ SUSPENDS US-FUNDED BROADCASTER OVER ITS GRAFT INVESTIGATION INTO RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS
On 2nd September, Reuters reported that Iraq has suspended the licence of a US Government-funded broadcaster after it ran an investigation alleging corruption within the country’s religious institutions, accusing the network of bias and defamation in their report which alleged corruption within the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim endowments – state bodies that administer religious sites and real estate.
ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR TO REFORM MOLDOVAN JUSTICE SYSTEM
UA Wire in Ukraine on 2nd September reported that the reform of Moldova’s justice system and fight against corruption will be supervised by former Romanian Prosecutor General, who will serve as an adviser to the Moldova government.
CZECH STATE ATTORNEY HALTS EU FUNDING FRAUD CASE AGAINST PRIME MINISTER BABIŠ
On 2nd September, the BBC and others reported that prosecutors appear to have dropped their corruption probe against the Czech Prime Minister. He was suspected of fraud, by allegedly misappropriating EU subsidises for small businesses worth about €2 million, but he denied the claim. The case related to matters some 10 years ago – before Mr Babis entered politics. At the time he was a well-known businessman and one of the country’s richest men. However, the EU is also investigating a potential conflict of interest case involving Mr Babis, and whether he is still benefiting from his Agrofert conglomerate. Agrofert, the business conglomerate built by Babiš since the 1990s, returned the subsidy provided to the Stork’s Nest conference centre after the EU’s auditing body, OLAF, found irregularities in the case. His party rules in a minority coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats, which relies on support in parliament from the pro-Russian Communist party.
UK REGULATIONS TO ENSURE GIBRALTAR-BASED FINANCIAL SERVICES CAN ACCESS UK IN A POST-BREXIT, NO DEAL SCENARIO
On 2nd September, Tax News reported that the UK Government has newly tabled 2 sets of regulations that are intended to ensure that Gibraltar-based financial services firms continue to have access into UK markets, once the UK leaves the EU, in a no-deal scenario. They would make amendments to UK primary and secondary legislation related to financial services passporting rights between the UK and Gibraltar to ensure that Gibraltar-based financial services firms continue to have access into UK market.
LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN ENGLAND TO PUBLISH FULL DETAILS OF HOW MUCH MONEY THEY RECEIVE FROM DEVELOPERS TO FUND LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE
A statement from the National Federation of Builders on 2nd September said that it welcomed the fact that the UK Government has brought in new rules requiring all local authorities in England to publish full details of how much money they receive from developers to fund local infrastructure.
CLAIM THAT SCOTIA BANK WOULD CLOSE ANTIGUA OPERATION RATHER THAN SELL TO LOCAL INTERESTS
On 2nd September, Kenneth Rijock in his blog reported that Bank of Nova Scotia (t/a Scotiabank), a Canadian multinational, has indicated that it will close its Antigua branch, and make refunds to its clients, rather than bow to the demands of Antiguan politicians that it offer to sell the branch to local businessmen and bankers.
NEW ZEALAND: MORE THAN 2,400 DRUGS PARCELS STOPPED BY CUSTOMS
Stuff in New Zealand on 2nd September reported on Project Loco, with Cannabis seeds, MDMA packages, and the aphrodisiac Spanish fly are among the small drug parcels stopped at the border in the past year. Under the Project, police are notified of drug packages that aren’t large enough to necessarily warrant further investigation – but the small packages, which contain “grams as opposed to kilograms” of drugs, can still lead to a knock on the importer’s door, or prosecution.
RUSSIAN CURRENCY CONTROL: SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN FOREIGN ACCOUNTS RULES
On 2nd September, a briefing from Clifford Chance says that Russia has lifted restrictions for crediting individual accounts with foreign banks in OECD/FATF member states which conduct information exchanges under the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS), while imposing more currency reporting obligations on both Russian individuals and companies in respect of their other (non-bank) financial accounts abroad. The briefing notes that Russian currency control law remains restrictive, and it maintains an exhaustive list of payments which may be directly credited to foreign bank accounts of Russian currency residents (i.e. without the funds initially being credited to their Russian bank accounts).
GUATEMALA ARRESTS FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
On 2nd September, Reuters reported that Guatemalan police arrested former presidential candidate Sandra Torres at her home on charges of violating campaign finance rules, just hours before the departure of a UN anti-corruption commission that shook the political class in the country. A former first lady, she finished second to President-elect Alejandro Giammattei in August in her third attempt to win the office.
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