3rd October 2019
AN INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF JUDICIAL SALE OF SHIPS
On 20th August, Fenech and Fenech in Malta published an article on a draft international agreement drawn up by the Comite Maritime International (CMI), a long-established not-for-profit organisation based in Antwerp. The agreement is concerned with the recognition of judicial sales of ships, intended to ensure that the vessel sold to the new buyer free and unencumbered from any previous debt, and thus with a clean title. In 2008 the Executive Council of the CMI, set up an International Working Group on Judicial Sale of Ships which in 2012 produced a draft which was finalised and approved in 2014. The draft does not deal with actions on the merits either before or after, and it does not deal with the distribution of the proceeds of the sale – it is limited to the recognition of the judicial sale itself. In 2017, The CMI submitted a proposal to the Secretariat of UNCITRAL, and a meeting of interested parties followed in Malta. In due course, a working group was set up to develop the project and its first meetings were held in May of this year, with the next scheduled for November.
AMAZON SUED OVER ONLINE SALES OF CUBAN CHARCOAL
On 27th September, RFI reported that Amazon is the latest company to be sued under the Helms-Burton Title III US law for profiting from property seized by Cuba’s communist government after the 1959 revolution. It is accused of profiting from online sales of barbecue charcoal produced on land expropriated by the Cuban government. The charcoal, called Fogo, is produced from the marabu plant, or marabou weed, and is popular for its clean-burning properties and often used in pizza restaurants and bakeries.
5 VATICAN EMPLOYEES SUSPENDED AMID FINANCIAL PROBE
Devdiscourse on 2nd October carried a Reuters report that 5 Vatican employees including the director of Financial Control Office have been suspended following a police raid. Vatican police raided the offices of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and its Financial Information Authority, or AIF, and took away documents and electronic devices as part of an investigation of suspected financial irregularities.
POKERSTARS/PADDY POWER BETFAIR MERGER TO CREATE WORLD’S LARGEST ONLINE GAMBLING OPERATOR
On 2nd October, the Financial Times and others reported that the Stars Group, owners of Isle of Man-based PokerStars, had agreed to merge with Ireland-based Flutter, the owners of Paddy Power Betfair, to create the world’s largest online gambling business with combined annual revenues of £3.8 billion. The new merged company will be incorporated, headquartered and domiciled in Dublin with a listing on the London Stock Exchange and a secondary listing on Euronext Dublin. The Stars Group is currently domiciled and headquartered in Toronto, while the Isle of Man is the key operational centre. However, the proposed deal could face regulatory hurdles in the UK and elsewhere, because of the large market share of the merged companies.
DATA PROTECTION LIKE GDPR IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
On 13th September, Harneys published a guide which provides an overview of how the new regime from 30th September will operate and what in scope entities need to prepare for the new regime. The guide says that the new law is similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with which many clients will be familiar.
THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE AML OFFICERS OF FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
On 9th September, Harneys published a guide which looks at the roles and responsibilities of the nominated officers of financial service providers whose job it is to look out for and report suspicious activity and who oversee the compliance function and ensure that adequate systems and controls are in place to comply with the Regulations.
2 GERMAN JUDGMENTS ON THE EU IRAN SANCTIONS BLOCKING REGULATION
On 3rd October, the EU Sanctions Blog reported on 2 court cases in Germany – one of which resulted in an interim injunction requiring a telecoms company to provide telephone and internet access to the claimant that had been targeted by US Iran sanctions; and another where the same court rejected a request from the claimant, an international logistics company, for an injunction under the Blocking Regulation to order the defendant, a savings bank, to maintain the claimant’s savings account.
NORTH KOREA: LUXURY BAGS SLIP BY UN SANCTIONS
On 2nd October, NK News reported that North Korea’s economy is stagnating, but the country’s elite continue to flamboyantly display their wealth and merchants selling luxury items to the elite are ceaselessly targeting them for purchases. It says that consumers can buy luxury items at places outside of local markets, including North Korea’s first supermarket and at several recently opened and renovated stores in Pyongyang. It notes that while UN sanctions include a ban on luxury goods in its list of restricted imports, the sanctions do not specifically refer to luxury bags, and this has created a “loophole” for bags to enter the North Korean market through regular import activities and also enter the country through overseas visitors.
CYPRUS SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION REMINDS REGULATED ENTITIES ABOUT OFAC SDN LIST
On 6th September, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) issued a circular to remind Regulated Entities to consider the OFAC Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanctions list. It says that they are to assess the money laundering/terrorism financing risks involved where they are involved in a significant transaction or in the facilitation of such a transaction, with any person subject to the said sanctions list, and are urged to avoid the commencement of any business relationship with such a customer.
WTO AUTHORISES US TARIFFS IN BOEING/AIRBUS ARBITRATION DECISION
On 3rd October, Baker McKenzie issued a Client Alert saying that, on 2nd October, the WTO issued its decision which authorises the US to impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on EU imports for EU subsidies to Airbus, making the ruling the largest in the WTO’s history and providing a partial conclusion to one of the longest-running WTO disputes. It explains that the Boeing/Airbus litigation dates back to 2004 when the US initiated WTO proceedings arguing that EU subsidies to Airbus violated the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. 9 months later, the EU initiated proceedings alleging that the US was providing WTO-inconsistent subsidies to Boeing. A decision on the EU case regarding US subsidies is expected in the coming months.
AL-SHABAAB WEAKENED BUT STILL REMAINS A THREAT
A report from the RAND Corporation sets out to answer the question: have al-Shabaab’s capabilities evolved over time, and has it grown stronger or weaker? It also asks what are key policy recommendations for Somalia, and are there implications for combating other terrorist or insurgent groups? It finds, amongst other things, that Al-Shabaab has not given up its ambition to control greater Somalia, and it retains the ability to retake territory, and that the US and other Western governments have not committed enough resources and attention to address Somalia’s political, economic, and governance challenges that are at the heart of the conflict.
THE FUTURE OF FENTANYL
A report from the US-based RAND Corporation says that the introduction of illicitly-manufactured synthetic opioids like fentanyl to US drug markets has presented new challenges for policymakers working to reverse this public health crisis. It then says that RAND researchers recently analysed the past, present, and possible futures of fentanyl in the US. It looks at what the future of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids looks like, and traditional and non-traditional policy options for addressing fentanyl problems.
DELHI COURT DISMISSES LOBBYIST DEEPAK TALWAR’S BAIL IN CORRUPTION CASE
On 3rd October, NDTV reported that a Delhi court has dismissed the bail application of corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar in a corruption case related to negotiations allegedly favouring foreign private airlines and causing loss to state-owned Air India. He is accused of acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia by making national carrier Air India give up profit-making routes and timings.
BRAZIL: 12 PROSECUTORS ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED BLACKMAILING OF OPERATION CAR WASH SUSPECTS
On 3rd October, Telesur reported that federal police had arrested 12 Federal Tax Administration prosecutors on suspicion of blackmailing suspects with sensitive information in return for reduced tax evasion fines.
EXPORTING OBJECTS OF CULTURAL INTEREST IF THERE’S NO BREXIT DEAL
On 2nd October, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published updated information on what you need to know and do to export or import objects of cultural interest in a no-deal Brexit.
ITALIAN MAFIA-LINKED GAMBLING ARRESTS COULD SEE 51 ARRESTS AND IMPACT FORMER OWNERS OF A MALTA-REGISTERED AUSTRIAN SPORTS GAMBLING BUSINESS
On 3rd October, Calvin Ayre published an article about Operation Galassia, an investigation which has uncovered a business that was earning revenue of over $4.38 billion each year and which integrated illegal activity into legal operations in order to cover the illicit gambling. It says that prosecutors have determined that the former owners of SKS365, a Malta-registered Austrian sports gambling business, are accused of conducting “the largest-ever tax evasion claim issued against an online gambling company in Italy” and of using the Italian mafia to bankroll its operations while helping it avoid paying as much as $135 million in taxes. It is alleged that SKS365 has links to the Martiradonna crime family and had 2,500 illegal gambling venues running until 2015. The company is behind PlanetWin365, the company’s online casino brand and former exclusive betting partner of the Italian soccer team SSC Napoli.
RETIREMENT OF KENYAN BANKNOTES UNCOVERS SUSPECT CASH
OCCRP on 3rd October reported that the retirement of outdated Kenyan banknotes has revealed tens of millions of dollars that had likely been earned via criminal activity. After issuing a recall of the old 1,000 Kenyan shilling notes, and setting a September 30th deadline for their return, the Central Bank failed to receive currency worth $71.29 million. It is said that if individuals wanted to exchange large sums, they needed to explain the money’s origin – a requirement that probably dissuaded a host of criminals and corrupt elites whose incomes were made illegally.
UK: THE GAMBLING COMMISSION GUIDANCE FOR GAMBLING BUSINESSES THAT CLOSE DOWN THEIR OPERATIONS
On 3rd October, Intergame reported that the Gambling Commission has issued guidance for gambling businesses that close down their operations, setting out the expectation that customers should not end up disadvantaged. The Commission said that, even where a business becomes insolvent, it still may act against both the operating licensee and any relevant personal management licensees if there have been failings. It will also consider a licensee’s conduct in any future licence application they make. If it considers there has been wrongdoing, such as fraud or illegal trading, it says it can refer this to the relevant enforcement agency.
UK COURT RULES FOR INDIA OVER PAKISTAN IN FIGHT OVER £1 MILLION OF FORMER MONARCH OF HYDERABAD
On 3rd October, Jurist reported that the 70+ year dispute revolved around the £1 million that Nizam VII, then-monarch of Hyderabad, transferred to a British bank in 1948 to support the newly-established Pakistan. Pakistan said that the money was compensation for the weapons the government provided to defend Hyderabad against the Indian army prior to its annexation; but India and descendants of Nizam VII countered this argument stating that the money was transferred abroad for safekeeping.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ENHANCING FinCEN REPORTS FOCUSING ON FINANCE INDUSTRY RELATED CRIMES
On 3rd October, Baker McKenzie reported that the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued 4 recommendations to FinCEN as a means of enhancing reports focusing on finance industry-related crimes.
SELLING RESIDENCY AND EU PASSPORTS BRINGS CYPRUS NEAR $1 BILLION ANNUALLY
Baker McKenzie reported on 3rd October that Transparency International said the Cyprus government brings in €914 million annually by selling its “golden visas”; with only Spain making more, and visas being sold across the bloc, including in Greece where Chinese investors have been buying up neighbourhoods to become eligible.
EL CHAPO SAID TO HAVE GIVEN $1 MILLION TO HONDURAN PRESIDENT’S BROTHER
On 3rd October, Baker McKenzie reported that US prosecutors have told a court in New York that the Mexican drug kingpin known as El Chapo delivered $1 million to Juan Antonio (Tony) Hernández, the brother of the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández — money that had been intended to reach the president himself.
ISLE OF MAN FORMALLY REVOKES ITS MALDIVES SANCTIONS
The Order Paper for the 15th October sitting of the Isle of Man parliament, Tynwald, includes legislation to formally repeal the order and revoke the regulations that implemented the EU sanctions regime in the Island. This follows the repeal of EU Regulation 2018/1001 by EU Council Regulation 2019/985 of 17th June.
FCA URGES VICTIMS TO COME FORWARD AFTER OBTAINING CONFISCATION ORDER
A release on Mondo Visione on 3rd October reported that the FCA call came in the wake of confiscation orders against Samrat Bhandari, Muhammad Mirza and Paul Moore, following their earlier convictions and prison sentences for running an illegal investment scheme that lost investors over £1.4 million. Between 2009 and 2014, they systematically misled investors, many of whom were retired and vulnerable, by giving them wholly misleading information about the value and prospects of Symbiosis Healthcare Plc.
ISLE OF MAN FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY ANNUAL REPORT 2018/19
The Order Paper for the 15th October sitting of the Isle of Man parliament, Tynwald, includes this report.
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