7 September 2019
JAIL FOR GANG CAUGHT LAUNDERING £87 MILLION MADE BY SMUGGLING ILLEGAL BOOZE
On 7 September, ITV News reported that 8 members of a Berkshire-based gang which laundered £87 million they had made by smuggling alcohol have been jailed for a combined total of more than 46 years. The men used a complex system of setting up and then closing companies to distribute and sell on their smuggled alcohol. In the process they created a false trail of paperwork and robbed the public purse of £34 million. A ninth man was convicted of cheating the public revenue, contrary to common law and was handed a 26-week jail sentence suspended for 24 months and 150 hours unpaid work.
BUG SMUGGLING IS BIG BUSINESS
On 7 September, National Geographic carried an article saying that the demand for exotic pets and collectors’ items drives a flourishing illegal trade in beetles, spiders, and more. It says that demand for what most of us may think of as creepy crawlies—live as exotic pets or preserved as collectors’ treasures — has fuelled a massive trade in everything from beetles and stick insects to tarantulas and scorpions. People even want cockroaches. Many insects and other arthropods are captive bred or otherwise sold in accordance with the law, but a global black market flourishes alongside the legal trade. It’s a little known corner of the illegal wildlife trade. There’s no centralised database of seizures, it says, which means there’s no way to estimate the global scale of the illegal trade. But the US Fish and Wildlife Service data obtained by National Geographic show that authorities in the US, a major demand country, seized at least 9,000 live and dead arthropods (not including crustaceans) that were being brought into the country for commercial purposes between June 2018 and June 2019. Scientists worry about the effects of the collecting craze on these small animals, which can be vital to food chains by pollinating crops and recycling nutrients back into the soil.
UN REPORT ON SMUGGLING OF MIGRANTS AND TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA OFF THE COAST OF LIBYA
On 5 September, a report from the UN Secretary General to the Security Council on the implementation of UN SCR 2437 (2018) said that in 2019, thousands have again perished or gone missing en route or have been returned to situations of grave harm and uncertainty. In the period from 1 September 2018 to 31 July 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded a total of 82,236 arrivals of refugees and migrants by sea in Europe, a 26% decrease from the same period in 2018, when approximately 111,200 individuals were recorded to have arrived in Europe by sea. Despite the decrease in numbers, there is considerable evidence that conditions for those embarking on the journey have worsened. Migrant smugglers and human traffickers continued primarily to use rubber boats in departures from Libya. Migrant smuggling groups in the eastern launching area, from Tripoli to Misratah, are also reported to use fibreglass boats occasionally, while groups in the western launching region, from Tripoli to Abu Kammash, employ wooden boats. The operation has found that the individual fare for travel by inflatable boat ranges from €500 to €1,400, and by wooden boat from €800 to €1,500, a decrease from the price reported in 2017. With each rubber boat capable of accommodating up to approximately 120 refugees and migrants, smugglers can recoup up to €168,000 per boat. For wooden boats, which typically hold some 400 people, the figure could be as high as €600,000 per boat. Organised transnational criminal networks continued to exploit the adverse security situation in Libya to conduct migrant smuggling and human trafficking operations, further fuelling instability and undermining Libyan governance structures. Additionally, credible information exists of involvement by State and local officials in smuggling and trafficking networks.
CHINESE BILLIONAIRE ACCUSED OF EVADING $1.8 BILLION IN TARIFFS BY DISGUISING ALUMINUM
Forbes on 1 August had carried an article saying that billionaire aluminium maker Liu Zhongtian has been charged in the US in a 24-count indictment regarding allegations he evaded $1.8 billion in tariffs on aluminium imports.
TAIWAN: PROSECUTORS TO INVESTIGATE SON OF DPP LAWMAKER OVER MONEY LAUNDERING
On 7 September, Focus Taiwan reported that prosecutors will launch a criminal investigation into the alleged laundering of $95,500 by Chen Cheng-ting, son of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ming-wen.
MOMBASA TYCOON AMIN FIGHTS TAX EVASION CHARGES
On 7 September, the Daily Nation in Kenya reported that Abdi Gedi Amin, aka Abdi Ibrahim Ahmed, appeared in court in Mombasa and was charged with several tax evasion charges in 4 different case files.
HMRC UPDATES LIST OF DELIBERATE TAX DEFAULTERS
On 7 September, Accountancy Daily reported that HMRC have updated the list of current deliberate tax defaulters and guidance about details included on the list.
CYPRUS CONSIDERS UPDATING TONNAGE TAX SYSTEM AND PRICING FOR SHIP REGISTRATIONS
The Cyprus Mail on 7 September reported that Cyprus is considering updating its tonnage tax system and its pricing policy for the registration of ships as part of targeted measures to enhance the competitiveness of its shipping industry. Revenue from ship management companies in 2018 reached €1.03 billion, an increase of 9% over 2017, while the gross tonnage on the Cyprus registry increased to 24.5 million, the highest figure recorded since 2010.
THE NEXT STEPS FOR EAST AFRICAN TRADE INTEGRATION
Control Risks on 6 September used the applications by Somalia and the DRC to join the East African Community (EAC) as a starting point to consider the progress made by and challenges facing the regional bloc, and the implications of potential expansion. As a result, despite continuing differences and tensions, it expects further progress on trade integration between member states in the coming years, driven by domestic economic considerations and infrastructure investments by multilateral institutions; and companies will find it increasingly easy to trade within the EAC, given efforts to ease restrictions on the free movement of goods, services and people within it.