6th November 2019
ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES: WHERE DOES THE UK STAND?
On 5th November, Bird & Bird published an article saying that, following a series of e-cigarette related deaths and lung injuries reported in the US. In particular, flavoured e-cigarette products which mimic the taste of popular sweets and desserts have been criticised for allegedly encouraging teenagers to try e-cigarettes, and several states in the US have banned the sale of flavoured e-liquids. India has announced a complete ban of e-cigarettes citing a rise in vaping amongst young people as the basis for the ban, and China’s National Health Commission has also announced plans to issue legislation for the industry in the near future. The article says that the UK’s promotion of e-cigarettes as an effective smoking cessation aid has come under fire, and asks should e-cigarette manufactures and retailers brace themselves for new stricter regulations in the UK too? It concludes that there is no indication that the UK Government intend to tighten the regulatory framework surrounding e-cigarettes in the near future.
MAURITIUS: FATF PUBLISHES AML/CFT ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP REPORT
On 5th November, FATF published the follow-up report on the AML/CFT systems in Mauritius, originally published by the FATF-style regional body, ESAAMLG.
INDIA: CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION SAYS IT HAS REGISTERED 42 NEW CASES OF BANK FRAUD WORTH ABOUT $1.02 BILLION
On 6th November, The Hindu reported that the cases, mainly of loan fraud, were detected at 15 banks, including the country’s largest state-run lender – State Bank of India. Last month, police alleged that Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC) had used more than 21,000 fictitious accounts to hide loans it made to a single real estate firm; and last year, India’s second-biggest state-controlled lender, Punjab National Bank was hit by a $2 billion after 2 jewellery groups used fake bank guarantees to raise billions of dollars in foreign credit.
UK: IMPORT, EXPORT AND CUSTOMS FOR BUSINESSES
On 5th November, HMRC published an updated list of information sources and links for businesses involved in import and export.
UK HIGH COURT REJECTS CHALLENGE TO IVORY ACT 2018 BY ANTIQUE DEALERS
On 5th November, the Guardian reported that antique dealers have failed in an attempt to overturn a total ban on ivory trading being introduced by the government after the High Court ruled the legislation did not breach EU law.
BREAKTHROUGH ACHIEVED TO CONSTRUCT LARGEST FREE TRADE AREA IN EAST ASIA
On 6th November, Hellenic Shipping News reported that a major breakthrough has been made in the construction of an East Asia free trade area at the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit in Bangkok. 15 member states have concluded all text negotiations and essentially all market access negotiations. RCEP, if reached, will be the largest free trade area in the world, covering 44% of the global population, 40% of global trade and 30% of global GDP.
US RETURNS 6TH CENTURY BCE MARBLE STATUE TO LIBYA
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 4th November reported that ICE had returned a 6th Century BCE marble statue known as the “Head of a Veiled Woman,” during a repatriation ceremony at the Libyan Embassy. The return of the statue was the culmination of an 11-year investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) New York’s Cultural Property, Arts and Antiquities Unit, in conjunction with the US Department of State and US Customs and Border Protection. In June 2008, HSI New York initiated a cultural property investigation in response to information indicating that looted antiquities were shipped to the US from Dubai. The investigation revealed an antiquities dealer illegally shipped 50 items of cultural property originating from various nations to major museums, galleries and art houses in New York City. In August 2008, HSI seized the Libyan marble statue during its shipment from the Dubai-based antiquities dealer. ICE has recovered and returned approximately 12,000 artefacts to more than 30 countries since 2007, including paintings from France, Germany, Poland and Austria; cultural artefacts from China and Cambodia; dinosaur fossils from Mongolia; and illuminated manuscript left from Italy; a pair of royal Korean seals, ancient Peruvian ceramics, and most recently, an ancient gold coffin from Egypt.
NORTH KOREA EVADED UN SANCTIONS THROUGH BLOCKCHAIN FIRM IN HONG KONG
On 6th November, Chosun Media in South Korea reported reports that a UN investigation was launched into allegations that North Korea has used a shipping and logistics business using blockchain in Hong Kong to evade sanctions.
NORTH KOREA BLAMES SANCTIONS FOR ITS FAILURE TO PAY UN CONTRIBUTIONS
Yonhap News reported on 6th November that North Korea is blaming the effect of sanctions on the country for its failure or inability to pay its dues to the UN.
OVER 800 NORTH KOREANS HAVE DEFECTED TO SOUTH KOREA THIS YEAR
On 6th November, Yonhap News reported that so far in 2019 over 800 North Koreans have defected to the South. Last year over 1,000 defected – so it is expected that the final figure for this year will be similar. Currently, about 32,000 North Korean defectors are living in South Korea.
EXXON MOBIL DISPUTES MEANING OF “SERVICES” IN UKRAINE SANCTIONS CASE
KYC 360 on 6th November reported that the US Treasury Secretary has claimed that the company is redefining the definition of “services” to dodge a claim that it violated Ukraine-related sanctions in 2014 by striking a series of oil and gas deals with Rosneft, whose CEO was on the US sanctions lists. OFAC fined the company $2 million in 2017 over contracts signed in 2014. Exxon Mobil sued, arguing it was being wrongfully penalised for doing business with Rosneft, which was not designated under the sanctions, but simply because CEO Igor Sechin signed the deals.
US DoJ TARGETS BID-RIGGING FOR GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS WITH NEW STRIKE FORCE
The Wall Street Journal reported on 5th November reported that the DoJ says it is stepping up efforts to target bid-rigging and other types of collusion that cheat the government in the contracting process.
CHINA IS EXPORTING KILLER ROBOTS TO THE MIDDLE EAST
On 5th November, Defense One reported that China is exporting drones that it advertises as having lethal autonomy to the Middle East, according to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper – the first time that a senior US Defense official has acknowledged that China is selling drones capable of taking life with little or no human oversight.
REPORT: SANCTIONS ARE AN IMPORTANT FOREIGN POLICY TOOL IN RELATION TO AUTOCRACIES
A report in the UK from the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee says that that sanctions are an important foreign policy tool in relation to autocracies and calling on the Government again to impose sanctions in relation to autocratic regimes such as China and Russia. It also calls on the government to explain why it has not used Magnitsky-style human rights abuse sanctions yet. The report also recommends that the government acts with much greater urgency in establishing a power to block listings in the UK on national security grounds — which it describes as a potentially crucial tool in limiting the influence and reach of autocracies in the UK.
CHINESE FIRMS HIT BRIBERY AND TAX EVASION TROUBLES AMID AFRICAN CORRUPTION CRACKDOWNS
KYC 360 on 6th November carried an article saying that, in the past 3 years, a number of Chinese-owned companies have landed in trouble with investigating agencies for tax evasion, and others have been accused of bribing their way to winning lucrative infrastructure contracts, on a continent that has some of the world’s most corrupt countries, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018, compiled by Transparency International. The article provides examples. Citing a 2017 McKinsey report, the article says that Chinese investors in Africa complain that they are forced to bribe to do business there.
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