9 September 2019
US TREASURY WARNS SHIPPING INDUSTRY AGAINST DOING BUSINESS WITH IRAN AND ‘OIL-FOR-TERROR’ NETWORKS
CNBC on 8 September reported that the US Treasury is warning those in the maritime industry to be wary of involvement with regimes or entities that have been deemed terror sponsors by the US — or face steep costs. This came in an interview with Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
ADRIAN DARYA 1 (EX-GRACE 1) TANKER SAID TO HAVE UNLOADED CRUDE ON MEDITERRANEAN COAST
On 8 September, Al Jazeera and others reported that the tanker, the former Grace 1, that had been detained in Gibraltar, had offloaded its cargo. The Iran state news agency said that it had finally docked on the Mediterranean coast … and unloaded its cargo. Though the destination was not named, the tanker was recently photographed by a satellite near the Syrian port of Tartus, after turning off its tracking device.
UNDER PRESSURE, US UNIVERSITIES START THE YEAR SEEKING TO CURB FOREIGN INFLUENCE FEARS
On 8 September, the South China Morning Post reported that colleges have responded to concern from lawmakers and federal agencies with measures including updated protocols for foreign visitors on campuses; and are becoming ‘much more cautious’ about contractual relationships with ‘foreign entities’ – to root out practices that compromise US research and curb foreign influence. This comes amid fears that they may be conduits of Chinese intellectual property theft and foreign influence, and against a backdrop of rising US-China tensions.
KAZAKHSTAN: A CENTREPIECE IN CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD
ETH Zurich has produced a briefing that contends that Kazakhstan is a linchpin for trade and transport links on the Eurasian continent – for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and beyond – due to its location, vast landmass and energy reserves – and that the shape and success of the BRI largely depend on internal factors in the country rather than external influences.
BANK OF IRELAND NAME LINKED TO GERMAN TAX-EVASION SCANDAL
On 9 September, the Irish Times reported that the Bank of Ireland has had its name linked with a complex tax-evasion scandal (the so-called cum-ex deals, which allegedly took advantage of a German tax loophole), being one of a number of banks and financial services company named by witnesses in the case, though involving a nominee company associated to a subsidiary of the group that was sold 8 years ago.
SOUTH KOREA PRESIDENT APPOINTS CHO KUK JUSTICE MINISTER DESPITE CORRUPTION PROBE
On 9 September, Bloomberg reported that Cho Kuk, who served as the administration’s first Presidential Senior Secretary for Civil Affairs, was officially named the nation’s Justice Minister, and has denied the allegations of corruption and nepotism made against him. Meanwhile, the Korea Herald reported that prosecutors had sought an arrest warrant for the operator of a private equity fund in which Cho Kuk’s family had invested, as part of a widening probe into corruption allegations involving him and his family.
LATEST REPORT ON AMERICAN FOREIGN FIGHTERS
On 3rd September, Homeland Security Today reported that the Program on Extremism at George Washington University has published its latest report on American foreign fighters 2011-19, in which it identifies 36 American foreign fighters who have travelled to foreign conflict zones beyond Syria and Iraq. The majority (74%) travelled to Afghanistan-Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.
The report is at –
US: FEDERAL PARTNERS TAKE NEW EFFORTS TO COMBAT ILLEGAL LOGGING IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
A news release from Immigration & Customs Enforcement in the US on 9th September said that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents joined with various federal partners from the US Forest Service, US Embassy of Botswana, and Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division to facilitate an in-depth law enforcement training workshop in Botswana, and which focused on strategies to combat illegal logging and transnational crime in the protected lands of Southern Africa. It was said that timber is harvested in an under-developed tropical region, such as it, exported to China to be processed and re-exported globally.
US PLYWOOD PRODUCERS WANT A COURT ORDER TO STOP THE CERTIFICATION OF BRAZILIAN LUMBER MILLS
On 6th September, Law.com reported that a false-advertising lawsuit claims Brazilian plywood exports are defective and falsely certified for strength and durability. 10 plywood producers want a court order to stop the certification of Brazilian lumber mills, claiming that the imports don’t meet US durability standards for structures and hurricane resistance.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE SANCTIONS, PIRACY AND THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY
An article for the Shipping Law Review provides a concise primer on the background to trade sanctions as they affect international shipping and imposed by a multitude of authorities, including the UN, EU and various national governments.
A separate article does something similar for sea piracy, defined under the UN Law of the Sea as ‘any illegal act of violence or detention … committed for private ends by the crew … of a private ship … directed … against another ship … or against persons or property on board such ship’ on the high seas or in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state. It looks at, in particular, the continuing (if lessened) threat off the coast of Somalia and that in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as in SE Asia.
US FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION BACKING PROPOSALS AIMED AT REFORMING DEMURRAGE AND DETENTION FEES
On 9th September, Loadstar reported that FMC is backing proposals aimed at reforming how demurrage and detention fees are levied by ocean carriers on shippers. The main change would be that charges be suspended in cases when shippers and their 3PL are prevented from moving cargo out of terminals by factors beyond their control. It is said that virtually all shippers have been assessed these penalties, ranging from $125/ to as high as $325/container per day. Other proposals include the establishment of a shipper advisory board to report on how FMC policies are affecting US importers and exporters.
VAT TAX BREAKS FOR YACHTS – EU COMMISSION FURTHER MEASURES AGAINST ITALY AND CYPRUS
The Transportwatch webpage in Italy published an article on 26th July outlining the further steps being taken by the Commission to end illegal tax breaks in the yacht industries of Italy and Cyprus. The Commission has decided to refer Italy to the CJEU for its failure to address an illegal system of exemptions for fuel used to power chartered yachts; and sent reasoned opinions to Italy and Cyprus for having reduced the VAT base for the lease of yachts.
ISRAEL DETAINS SHIPMENT OF “DUAL-USE” MILITARY FABRIC EN ROUTE TO GAZA
The Jewish Press on 10th September reported that the Israeli authorities confiscated a large shipment of fabric that can be used for the manufacturing of uniforms en route to the Gaza Strip. The shipment was checked by the Land Crossing Authority of the Ministry of Defense, and was found to contain dozens of olive-green cloth rolls. Each roll is 60 meters long and could be used by the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip to produce military uniforms. It says that the fabric is considered a “dual-use” material, products that can be used for civilian purposes as well as for terrorist activities.
UK ASSET RECOVERY STATISTICAL BULLETIN: 2014 TO 2019
On 9th September, the Home Office said it would be publishing an updated report providing a 5-year data snapshot of asset recovery, using Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 powers, as amended by the Criminal Finances Act 2017, and includes data on the use of the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme. The data will be released on 13th September.
MALTA FINANCIAL SERVICES REGULATOR SEEKS STRONG INTERNATIONAL TIES TO COMBAT FINANCIAL CRIME
Malta Today on 9th September reported that the Malta FSA is fostering stronger relationships with the US futures trading regulator to clamp down on financial crime. This was announced at the start of a 3-day workshop co-organised between the MFSA, the US embassy in Malta and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Virtual Assets: The Emergence Of A New Asset Class. It includes the participation of other foreign regulatory bodies including, members from the European Securities Markets Authority, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority and Mauritius’ Financial Services Commission.
UK: EXPORT CONTROL (SANCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ORDER 2019
This Order amends existing statutory instruments which provide for the implementation of EU sanctions regulations in the UK – in response to changes that have been made to EU Regulations. The changes also correct some aspects of existing UK law, with the aim of ensuring that penalties and other provisions in UK law effectively implement the UK’s obligations.
DUTY-FREE PURCHASES OF CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL TO RETURN UNDER NO-DEAL BREXIT
The Guardian on 10th September reported that the UK government will reintroduce duty-free purchases of cigarettes and alcohol with immediate effect if Britain leaves the EU without a deal on 31st October.
CHINESE CUSTOMS INTERCEPTS SMUGGLED METAL DETECTORS
On 9th September, Xinhua reported that Customs authorities in central China’s Henan Province are investigating a smuggling case involving $4.2 million worth of metal detectors. It reports that Customs recently found abnormal changes in the prices of metal detectors imported by a company during an inspection; and an investigation found the importer deliberately made counterfeit contracts, invoices and other documents for customs declaration, and falsified the prices of some products to evade taxes. It then apprehended a suspect from the company and seized more than 200 sets of metal detectors.
BELGIUM: 94 TERROR SUSPECTS CAUGHT WHEN BOOKING AIRLINE FLIGHTS, SAYS REPORT
The Brussels Times on 9th September reported that the system of Passenger Name Record (PNR) in operation in Belgium since January 2018 has managed to track down 94 suspected terrorists and suspects involved in a variety of crimes, according to the government’s crisis centre. It explains that, under the PNR system, airlines are committed to providing all the information they have on passengers who are due to arrive at, depart from or transit through one of Belgium’s 6 airports. The information has to be handed over 48 hours in advance.
EUROPE’S SECOND-LARGEST COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY NETWORK ON DARK WEB TAKEN DOWN IN PORTUGAL
A news release from Europol on 9th September reported that 5 individuals have been arrested and accused of counterfeiting and organised crime, and counterfeit banknotes were seized across Europe, notably in France, Germany, Spain and Portugal, worth over €1.3 million.
US: FORMER MATHS TEACHER GETS 2 YEARS FOR $71 MILLION TICKET SCAM
Baker McKenzie on 9th September reported that Jason Nissen, 47, a former maths teacher was sentenced to more than 2 years in prison for fleecing investors of $71 million through a Ponzi scheme disguised as an operation to buy and sell tickets to high-profile concerts, musicals and sporting events.
MADURO REGIME IS MOVING ITS MONEY THROUGH SPAIN’S CENTRAL BANK
A report from Baker McKenzie on 9th September was that Venezuela has found an ally in the Bank of Spain, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. It says that Venezuela’s central bank is increasingly relying on its Spanish counterpart to transfer and receive funds abroad at a time when US sanctions have prompted many large banks and financial institutions to shy away from any actual or perceived dealings with the socialist regime.
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