13th September 2019
LATVIAN COURT DECLARES PNB BANK INSOLVENT AFTER ECB SUSPENSION
KYC 360 on 13th September reported that a Latvian court declared the country’s sixth-biggest lender insolvent. The decision comes almost a month after AS PNB Banka became one of only a handful of lenders declared by the European Central Bank to be “failing or likely to fail” and joins Banco Popular Espanol SA, Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA, Veneto Banca SpA and ABLV Bank AS.
A BRIEF GUIDE ON THE NEW EU ANTI-TAX AVOIDANCE DIRECTIVE (ATAD II) INTENDED TO TACKLE AGGRESSIVE TAX PLANNING
WH Partners in Malta on 11th September published an article which describes the Directive as new EU legislation on hybrid mismatches between EU and third countries. The amendments aim to combat aggressive tax planning used by (mostly) multinational enterprises to avoid tax liabilities.
JAPANESE ARRESTED IN RAMPANT LIZARD SMUGGLING
The Japan News on 13th September that the smuggling of bobtail lizards (also known as shingleback lizards), which are popular as pets in Asian countries, is rampant and several Japanese involved in such cases have been caught. Relevant Australian authorities are investigating the smuggling cases in cooperation with international organisations, on the assumption that smuggling syndicates may be involved. Australia restricts the export of its wild animals and cases of bobtail lizards being smuggled have been on the rise since 2018.
CHINESE CUSTOMS SEIZE SMUGGLED BIRD’S NESTS
Xinhua on 13th September reported that customs police in southern China’s Guangdong Province has detained 11 suspects who allegedly smuggled 620 kg of edible bird’s nests. The buyers had purchased bird’s nests in Indonesia and Malaysia in April 2017, and gangs had later smuggled the nests into China.
PURPLEBRICKS’ AML PROBLEMS ARE ‘TIP OF THE ICEBERG’ FOR INDUSTRY
The Negotiator on 13th September carried an article about the news that HMRC is ‘in discussions’ with Purplebricks about the online agent’s AML procedures. A compliance company’s MD comments on Purplebricks’ current concerns and Countrywide’s recent £215,000 fine, saying that the costs of non-compliance are now a potential threat to any estate agency.
CHINESE DOMINANCE OF GLOBAL DRUG SUPPLY CREATES POTENTIAL SECURITY RISK, EXPERT SAYS
NBC News on 12th September reported concerns expressed that the vast majority of key ingredients for drugs that many Americans rely on are manufactured abroad, mainly in China, and that this could affect production of vital medicines such as antibiotics. For example, the last penicillin plant in the US closed in 2004. One claim mentioned is that if China shut the door on exports of medicines and their key ingredients and raw material, US hospitals and military hospitals and clinics would cease to function within months, if not days.
ANALYTICAL REPORT: PREPARING ARMED FORCES FOR DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES
A report from the European Policy Center on 13th September looks at the implications new technologies apply on the defence and security sector, focusing its analysis on the impact on the European armed forces. Questions involved include: which disruptive technologies are most likely to have an impact on the European armed forces?; and how is the defence sector preparing itself for the integration of emerging technologies? It says that the armed forces and the defence sector are now facing a challenging and demanding time in general. The report says that 3 major conclusions leading to several recommendations can be highlighted. The recommendations include that co-operation between the private sector and armed forces needs to be strengthened in every EU Member State, and armed forces must have access to the best training on new technologies
MAKING ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS AND ONLINE BANKING SAFER AND EASIER FOR CONSUMERS IN THE EU
On 13th September, the EU published FAQ about the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which aims to further modernise Europe’s payment services for the benefit of consumers and businesses. It promotes the development of innovative online and mobile payments, more secure payments and better consumer protection. It also aims to improve the level-playing field for payment service providers – including new players or FinTechs – and contribute to a more integrated and efficient European payments market.
UK: INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE GROWERS OF LOW THC CANNABIS (INDUSTRIAL HEMP) – FOR THE PRODUCTION OF SEED AND FIBRE ONLY
On 13th September, the Home Office published updated information which explains that if a company or organisation want to cultivate industrial hemp it needs to apply for a controlled drugs domestic licence. The licence only allows for the industrial use of the seed and fibre, which are non-controlled parts of the hemp plant. The licence does not allow for the use of the flowers or leaves (‘green’ or controlled materials).
UK: ACCESS TO CRITICAL MATERIALS
On 13th September, the House of Commons Library published a briefing which explains that critical materials (CM) – such as cobalt, helium and rare earth elements – are key to UK manufacturing, including for the aerospace, automotive, energy and chemical sectors, which rely on materials typically extracted and processed abroad. CMs are vital components of several emerging technologies, including electric vehicles, renewable energy infrastructure such as wind turbines, and digital technologies such as computers and smartphones. The UK imports most of its CM and faces international competition for key resources. This briefing looks at the demand and supply of CM in the UK and ways of improving supply security. Amongst the key points made are that access to CM may be restricted by political, environmental, economic, legal and social factors; the security of supply may be improved by opening or expanding mines, diversifying suppliers and increasing resource efficiency through recycling, reuse or substitution of materials; and that UK industry relies on CM, but the UK Government does not have a specific CM strategy.
UNDERCOVER POLICING IN ENGLAND AND WALES
On 13th September, a House of Commons Library briefing paper sets out to explain the regulatory framework that governs undercover policing operations in England and Wales and the oversight mechanisms intended to ensure compliance with that framework. It also looks at the ‘undercover policing scandal’ which followed revelations that undercover officers had in the past engaged in intimate relationships with surveillance subjects and used the identities of dead children for cover. It explains the resultant litigation and the forthcoming public Inquiry into undercover policing.
MOZAMBIQUE HIDDEN DEBT SCANDAL: THIRD CREDIT SUISSE BANKER PLEADS GUILTY IN US
On 13th September, All Africa reported that Surjan Singh, the third of the 3 former executives of Credit Suisse, charged by the US DoJ in connection with the Mozambique “hidden debts” scandal, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a New York court. 2 other former Credit Suisse bankers, Detelina Subeva and Andrew Pearse, entered guilty pleas earlier in the year, and all 3 have been freed on bail. They were all originally arrested in London in January.
MALTA: MFSA SAYS MOST RECOMMENDATIONS IN MONEYVAL REPORT ALREADY IN PLACE OR IN PROGRESS
On 13th September, the Malta Independent reported claims that most recommendations made in the recent critical Moneyval report have already been implemented or are work in progress.
INDIA: INTERPOL RED NOTICE FOR NIRAV MODI’S STEP-BROTHER NEHAL MODI IN PNB FRAUD CASE
On 13th September, the Telegraph India reported that Nirav Modi’s step-brother, a Belgian national, is suspected to have destroyed evidence on the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case. A Red Notice is “a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action”.
FRENCH RIGHT-WING POLITICAL POWER BROKER JAILED IN FRAUD TRIAL
On 13th September, AFP reported that a French court has jailed for 4 years Patrick Balkany, a right-wing power broker who for decades along with his wife dominated politics in a wealthy suburb of Paris on charges of hiding millions of euros worth of assets from the tax authorities. His wife, Isabelle Balkany, was given a 3-year jail term.
FRAUD INVESTIGATION INTO CASE INVOLVING CZECH PRIME MINISTER HALTED
Radio Prague on 13th September reported that the Chief Prague State Attorney has halted a 4-year-long investigation into suspected EU fraud by the country’s prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and members of his family.
CAN EL SALVADOR’S NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION DELIVER?
Americas Quarterly on 13th September published an article saying that El Salvador’s President has announced an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) to create the International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES). This is said to be part of the President’s desire to shake up El Salvador’s ideologically polarised and corrupt political system. The article says, however, that there are reasons to be cautious about projecting just how successful he and the CICIES will be.
PANAMA STRENGTHENS ITS LAW CRIMINALISING TAX EVASION
On 13th September, Tax News reported that Panama’s Cabinet Council has approved a proposed legislative amendment of Law 70 of January 2019, which criminalised tax evasion for the first time. The amendment would enable errant taxpayers to enter into an agreement with the authority for payment of the tax evaded only once.
UK NOTICE TO EXPORTERS 2019/14: 3 OPEN GENERAL LICENCES UPDATED
On 13th September, the Department for International Trade published Notice to Exporters 2019/14 saying that the Department has amended 3 open licences with respect to exports to Hong Kong.
NORWAY: SEX DOLLS MIMICKING CHILD-LIKE QUALITIES REPRESENT THE SEXUALISATION OF CHILDREN AND VIOLATE CRIMINAL LAW
On 13th September, Jurist reported a Norwegian Supreme Court decision which stems from an attempted 2016 import of a silicone doll from Hong Kong to Norway.
US CUSTOMS TRADE PARTNERSHIP AGAINST TERRORISM (C-TPAT) – AN UPDATE TO THE MINIMUM SECURITY CRITERIA
On 12th September, an article from Clark Hill PLC is concerned with C-TPAT, a voluntary and incentive-based programme that has been an integral part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s cargo enforcement strategy to combat terrorism, illegal contraband, and other threats in the international supply chain since 9/11, bridging the gap between private sector businesses and the federal government in the collaborative effort to improve border security – including importers, exporters, customs brokers etc. Each applicant to join the programme must ensure their supply chain security practices meet certain minimum security criteria, and in return benefit from such things as reduced cargo examinations and shorter wait times at border crossings. The article says the updated MSC is broken down into Corporate Security, Transportation Security, and People and Physical Security, and within each of those main categories there are 12 subcategories where requirements are further broken down.
NEW ZEALAND: NEARLY 1,500 KG OF METHAMPHETAMINE SEIZED BY CUSTOMS AND POLICE IN RECORD BREAKING YEAR
On 13th September, the New Zealand Herald published an article and video saying that for nearly 10 years, a shipment of nearly 100 kg of methamphetamine was easily the largest in New Zealand history. This has changed. More methamphetamine has been seized in New Zealand so far this year than any other.
MIAMI HEALTHCARE EXEC SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS IN BIGGEST MEDICARE FRAUD CASE
Baker McKenzie on 13th September reported that Philip Esformes has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for paying bribes and receiving kickbacks in a massive $1 billion Medicare fraud case touted by federal prosecutors as the biggest in the nation. It is said that his scheme to generate thousands of Medicare patients for his chain of assisted-living and nursing-home facilities in Miami-Dade was “unmatched in our community, if not our country.”
INDIA-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR: CURRENT SITUATION
On 13th September, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing on the situation in respect of Kashmir following the decision of the Indian Parliament to approve the withdrawal of Article 370 of the Constitution, which had guaranteed Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, a high degree of autonomy. India has deployed 46,000 troops, arrested regional political leaders and thousands of activists, suspended internet and communications across the valley, and shut down schools and colleges.
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