5th October 2019
MALTA: NEWSPAPER JUSTIFIED IN PUBLISHING PANAMA PAPERS ARTICLES SAYS APPEALS COURT
On 4th October, the Times of Malta reported that 2 articles published by the Malta Independent in May 2016 and concerning the Panama Papers scandal were “not at all” libellous, an appeals court has ruled in a decision that overturned an initial judgement. They had repeated allegations, made by Daphne Caruana Galizia on her blog, that Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, had used fraudulent documents to open companies in tax havens. However, 2 comments posted by readers on the website went beyond mere expressions of opinion and were defamatory, and there was no evidence that the news outlet had taken steps to remove those comments.
US: OWNER OF BULLION DIRECT INC CONVICTED OF WIRE FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4th October, a local ABC affiliate station reported that Austin, Texas-based man – Charles McAllister, 49, CEO and owner of Bullion Direct Inc – was convicted of federal wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to defraud customers out of millions of dollars. It says that in 2009-2015, McAllister orchestrated a scheme that falsely represented that the funds given by customers were used to purchase precious metals on the customers’ behalf, and that they either shipped directly to the customer or were stored in BDI’s vault.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE UKRAINIAN COMPANY AT THE HEART OF TRUMP’S BIDEN ALLEGATIONS
On 4th October, NPR published an article about Burisma Group, the Ukrainian energy company where former Vice-President Joe Biden’s son once served on the board of directors. It lists an address in Cyprus and in Kyiv. As a privately-owned company, Burisma is not required to publicise its annual results.
IRELAND: PASSPORT SERVICE ‘CLOSING DOWN AVENUES’ OF FRAUD WITH OVER 300 PASSPORTS REVOKED SINCE 2016
The Journal on 5th October reported that the number of frauds detected have risen each year for the past 3 years, with 130 cases identified last year. Though the proportion is small, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that its detection of cases of fraud has improved significantly in recent years due to investment in technology. In 2016, there were 76 passports revoked. In 2017, that number was 82 and rose to 130 in 2018. Figures for this year up to 30 June show that 46 passports were voided. So far this year – to 30 June – 567,141 applications for an Irish passport have been received. Just under 50,000 of them have come from Northern Ireland with another 36,274 applicants from Great Britain.
ECUADOR’S ECONOMY SHELL-SHOCKED BY CHINA SHRIMP BAN
On 4th October, Customs Today reported that sales of Ecuadorean shrimp to China were worth over $1 billion between January and August this year but were suddenly halted in September for sanitary reasons. Only 1 of Ecuador’s 5 companies originally sanctioned to export shrimp is still authorised to do so – the rest are only permitted to sell cooked shrimp meat.
UN EXTENDS POWER TO INSPECT VESSELS SUSPECTED OF TRAFFICKING PEOPLE OFF LIBYA COAST
On 4th October, the UN Security Council adopted UN SCR 2491, thereby extending UN SCR 2357 (2017) and renewed for a further year its authorisation for Member States to inspect vessels in the area, when there are reasonable grounds to believe they are participating in the illicit activities.
DARK WEB DRUG GANG KINGPIN WHO SOLD 850,000 ILLICIT PILLS JAILED BY TEXAN COURT FOR 30 YEARS
On 4th October, Illicit Trade reported that a Texas court has jailed Alaa Mohammed Allawi (who worked as an interpreter for the Department of Defense before being granted entry to the US in 2012) an Iraqi migrant for 30 years after he pleaded guilty to selling some 245 kg of fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone and Xanax on the dark web. Allawi was also handed a $14.32 million money judgment based on the profits he made from his dark web drugs racket, and was told he must forfeit assets including a San Antonio residence worth approximately $270,000, 5 firearms including an AR style assault rifle, some $28,000 in US currency and more than $21,000 in cryptocurrency.
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FORMER FRENCH PRIME MINISTER BALLADUR TO FACE TRIAL OVER PAKISTAN ARMS DEAL
On 4th October, Baker McKenzie reported that former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur is to face court over allegations that kickbacks from a submarine deal with Pakistan helped finance his 1995 presidential campaign. Balladur, 90, served as prime minister of France between 1993 and 1995 under Mitterrand but lost his subsequent bid for the presidency to Chirac.
ATLANTIC CITY MAYOR RESIGNS AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING CHARITY
On 4th October, Baker McKenzie reported that Frank Gilliam Jr, 49, resigned hours after he pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding a local youth basketball program of more than $87,000 and using the money to fund a luxurious lifestyle.
SAUDI ARABIA ESCALATED ITS MISSILE PROGRAMME WITH HELP FROM CHINA
CNN on 5th June had published an article revealing that US intelligence reported that Saudi Arabia has significantly escalated its ballistic missile programme with the help of China. Classified intelligence indicates Saudi Arabia expanded both its missile infrastructure and technology through recent purchases from China. Saudi is barred from purchasing ballistic missiles from the US under regulations set forth by the multilateral (but informal) 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
US REPORT CATALOGUES TRADE-RELATED BARRIERS PERCEIVED TO BE AFFECTING EXPORTS OF US SME TO THE UK
On 4th October, the International Trade Compliance blog from Baker McKenzie reported that the US International Trade Commission (USITC) had announced the release of a report on the trade-related barriers perceived to be affecting exports of US SME to the UK. The report, “US SME Exports: Trade-related Barriers Affecting Exports of US Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to the United Kingdom”, was requested by the US Trade Representative (USTR). It is concerned with barriers that SME perceive as disproportionately affecting their exports to the UK, as compared to larger US exporters to the UK.
The report can be found at –
The UK accounted for 32% of US SME exports to the EU in 2016; and SME exported $20.4 billion worth of goods to the UK in 2016, which accounted for 39% of the known value of US goods exports to the UK. In the report, the term “barrier” is used in a generic sense to include a number of impediments to trade – and this broad definition encompasses both tariff and non-tariff measures that may affect U.S SME exports to the UK.
NEARLY 30 COMPANIES KEEN ON IRANIAN PORT
On 27th September, Port Strategy reported that 29 companies have applied for investment in a port in Iran – Chabahar Port, Iran’s largest port – during the first 6 months of this year. Chabahar Port is described as a gateway to trade with the CIS countries, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
BELFAST UNVEILS MAJOR EXPANSION PLANS
On 2nd October, Port Strategy reported that Belfast Harbour has revealed a $48.9 million expansion to its container terminal at Victoria Terminal 3, as part of its 2035 Strategic Outlook which aims to turn it into a ‘Smart Port’ and the ‘Best Regional Port in the World’. The 3-year project will see it invest approximately $34.2 million in 10 new cranes and undertake major civil works to reconfigure the 27-acre terminal. Initially, it will aim to increase capacity by 30% and boost overall operational efficiency.
US DOJ SAYS ENI PROBE NOT CLOSED FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE AND COULD RE-OPEN
On 2nd October, Reuters reported that the DoJ has described as “misleading” any implication that it had closed a probe into alleged corruption by Italian energy major Eni for lack of evidence and said the investigation could be re-opened if circumstances changed. Eni is currently on trial in Milan on graft allegations surrounding the 2011 acquisition of a giant Nigerian oilfield.